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During my search for management techniques for perseveration, it occurred to me that I would be one step closer to a solution if I figured out why I was stuck on this particular episode (a conversation gone wrong). A few relatively vague reasons came to mind, but the one that stood out was something that had never occurred to me before, something that I quickly decided to call "pre-commitment."

Pre-commitment is a state of mind towards an acquaintance/relative stranger (although I don't see why it couldn't be oriented towards actions as well) that flows from a decision to invest a significant portion of time, energy, attention, etc. in said person. It stands in contrast to the social dalliance in which many people engage; someone who is pre-committed is consciously thoughtful and reflective with respect to judgment towards the target of pre-commitment. The pre-committed give the benefit of the doubt, grant multiple chances, tolerate boredom and awkwardness in the acquaintance phase of the nascent relationship. Such a person is in it for the long-haul.

Pre-commitment marks a pattern of behavior I have adopted to cope with the difficulties of dealing with new people. Specifically, because there are usually few or no available signs by which to ascertain whom of the mass of available strangers would be worth my time, and because dealing with new people is tiring and time-consuming, efficient social management is a must. People must first be categorized by certain important characteristics. Those who are not filtered out by this process are therefore deemed to have a relatively high probability of compatibility. These are the people to whom I will pre-commit.

So one was thus filtered, and I pre-committed to her. I swallowed my suspicions and responded to her rather half-assed overture. I overlooked lapses in the conversation and even put forth uncommon effort to keep it going. Against my better judgment, I even tried to act "normal" a bit by putting of the discussion of controversial issues. This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what I am willing to deal with.

She clearly was not pre-committed to me. And just like that, it was over. The book I was trying to read slammed shut. Judged on less than a thousand words. The life-support I had hooked up to the moribund interaction, the generator keeping the failing motor going, was abruptly disconnected. My investment was gone in an instant.

I'm still not sure about exactly why I'm perseverating on this, though. Am I angry or disoriented because of my irrevocably lost psychological energy? Miffed because my meticulous manœuvring failed to protect me from dabblers? I don't know.


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