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Featured Trouble being supportive

Discussion in 'Love, Relationships and Dating' started by Bolletje, Jun 7, 2019.

  1. Bolletje

    Bolletje Potato chip wizard V.I.P Member

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    The situation:
    I live together with my not-quite-NT boyfriend of 6 years. He's a very creative (and chaotic) person with whims in which he'll create something. Often bizzare contraptions that don't necessarily serve a purpose. It's fun for him. For instance, last week he spent hours making a contraption that did the following: when I opened the door to the balcony, a pizza box on the balcony opened and revealed a shot glass of liquor. This made him very happy.

    The problem:
    Oftentimes when my boyfriend creates something, or is telling me about one of his plans, I fail to see the point. I do not get enthusiastic, or mildly amused. I do not see the point and fail to understand the why. When he showed his pizza box contraption to me, he was so happy, and all I could say was "Ok, but why? ". I couldn't even force a smile. This is a problem to me, because it crushes his enthusiasm and I want to be a supportive partner. He's so happy showing me his weird inventions and I rain on his parade with my rationality and joylessness.

    Part of the problem is that I'm currently dealing with depression, so seeing the joy in anything is a daily struggle. But I still want to be a supportive partner to my boyfriend.

    I would very much welcome advice on how to be more supportive, even when I'm not really feeling it.
     
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  2. BraidedPony

    BraidedPony Just Enjoying Survival V.I.P Member

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    My first thought is to take care of your depression first. From there you may find joy in life in general.
     
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  3. Nervous Rex

    Nervous Rex High-functioning autistic V.I.P Member

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    Principle the first: If you can't relate to the subject, you can try to relate to the enthusiasm.

    Example story:
    I love math. I've been working for two years now on writing a program to process one specific type of problem. It's exciting to me, but horribly boring to everyone else.

    My brother will come over and talk my ear off about the latest custom work he's doing on one of his motorcycles. I don't care about motorcycles, but I tell myself, "Math is my thing. This is his." Even if I don't relate to the topic, I relate to the enthusiasm. I know that working on motorcycles makes him as happy as working on math make me, so I'm happy for him.

    Principle the second: It's not about the end product, it's about the process.

    Example story:
    I have a friend at work who is into bicycling. We have lunch together a lot and he tells me about his latest riding experiences. But, often, when I tell him about whatever useless-but-interesting-to-me recreational math problem I'm working on, he'll ask, "What good is it for?" I want to say back, "You rode 10 miles in a big circle and wound up right where you started. What good was that?" The answer to both is that it isn't about the end product - it's about the experience.

    Your boyfriend may enjoy the creative process more than the end product.
     
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  4. Judge

    Judge Well-Known Member

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    You could introduce him to the works of cartoonist/author/inventor Rube Goldberg. Though in this instance if he doesn't already know about Goldberg, it might have the comparable effect of steering a Heroin addict to Fentanyl. :eek:

    You can start here, although there are infinite numbers of links you can google about all the silly contraptions he designed. Complex machines to execute simple functions. Though for a cartoonist, I always thought the process was largely a tongue-in-cheek matter. Not a serious inventor like Ron Popeil who could strike out or hit home run$ with the kooky things he invented over the years usually advertised on television.

    Who knows? Your boyfriend might appreciate one of Goldberg's books as a gift. Just a thought. It's also conceivable that your boyfriend's amusement with such things is on a similar "tongue-in-cheek" level. If so, smile and laugh with him, rather than take it seriously. Like one of Rube's cartoons. ;)

    The Story Behind Rube Goldberg’s Complicated Contraptions | History | Smithsonian
     
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  5. shysnail

    shysnail Well-Known Member

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    I feel like your depression and rationality need to be separated here. If you're depressed and can't feel much in the way of emotion for these things your boyfriend creates, I think that is understandable. Hopefully it's something you even feel like you can talk to him about, like saying that it's not a personal thing, your brain just won't let you enjoy things.

    In terms of your rational side, there are definitely things you can do about that. While it may mean you never make somewhat pointless inventions yourself, you can still work out ways to say positive stuff about what your boyfriend has created! Perhaps when you're aware your boyfriend is making something, work out what you're going to say about it in advance. It doesn't have to be over the top or full of false emotion. Just something simple like, "You're really creative, making something like this."

    In any relationship, you're not going to have a passion for everything your partner has a passion for. My girlfriend loves skateboarding, and I don't get it at all! So it's not that you have to be desperately emotive. Just monitoring your verbal response, that you say kind things and not discouraging things, I think that's enough.
     
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  6. paloftoon

    paloftoon Well-Known Member

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    To minimize confusion for you boyfriend, tell him your self-awareness of what you said in your initial post to us. The things about how you have depression and that it may be causing you to feel uninterested in his ideas, but that you are trying to be supportive and not intentionally trying to be pretentious. As your boyfriend of 6 years, as long as you're honest and direct with him the entire time, he should understand. Good luck.
     
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  7. Mia

    Mia Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    It sounds as if what he sometimes does is whimsical. And whimsy can be something artists are drawn to. It's often considered outsider art. It's meant to accomplish a reaction of some sort. Not too overt, but it sounds to me as if your reaction is fine. Maybe consider it in and of itself, simply a gesture to make you smile.
     
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  8. Tom

    Tom Well-Known Member

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    I've had similar experiences trying to relate to what makes my wife happy/enthusiastic. No amount of time has changed that I don't share the interest, but I have come to think it is worth it to stop what I am doing and recognize their little accomplishment. As an example my wife loves to find a great sale. Or preferably many of them. Shopping to her, reminds me what it must have been like back when we were hunter-gatherers, and returning with a big haul was cause for clan celebration. But I hate shopping and really don't care that she got pants originally $65.00 marked down twelve times and then put on clearence for 8 cents. But I try to step back a moment and recognize it briefly as she sees it and say something like 'Wow... 8 cents! I don't remember anything so low. Must be a new record for you!'. And must let her show me all the trophies, but quickly because she knows my attention span is limited with shopping. It does require some effort, as in trying to remember something about it and show I actually was paying a little attention. In other words 'Oh, thats nice' doesn't really reward them. Like in your case, look at a moment and try to make some pertinent comment, such as 'Interesting... you never used a Pizza box before' or 'Thats the smoothest motion use so far'. It helped me to see it when the shoe was on the other foot, and I appreciated when she took a moment to let me show her the new toy soldiers I added to the collection (which probably look all alike to her) and was thrilled if she said something like 'Oh... crusaders, very nice!' which showed she had absorbed a little of my special interest babble. One key for us is we now both know to keep such things short!
     
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  9. Gracey

    Gracey Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    I'd try to appreciate the thought behind it.

    If the pizza box and glass of liquor was Intended for me;
    (I can see no other reason for a pizza box opening to reveal a glass of liquor, being on my balcony)

    Instead of looking at it as a pile of junk with a function,
    I'd be trying to understand what he may have been trying to achieve when he designed and made it.

    Perhaps you like to spend time on your balcony enjoying a drink?...
    ...open balcony door and hey presto ! ...there's your surprise drink to enjoy :)

    Not easy to do in the fugg of depression,
    But worth the extra effort.
     
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  10. Bolletje

    Bolletje Potato chip wizard V.I.P Member

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    You absolutely have a point. He made it because it was fun for him, but it was also intended to make me smile.
     
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  11. Bolletje

    Bolletje Potato chip wizard V.I.P Member

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    I'm working on that :) It is a sloooow process.
     
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  12. LadyBird84

    LadyBird84 Well-Known Member

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    My partner has ADD and finds new hobbies quite often. When he does he goes all in. At first I never get it, but once I see how happy it makes him, that makes me happy. I still don't really get the plane building, plant collecting part of it, but that doesn't really matter I don't think. I support his doing it because I support him being happy. But yeah, I think I get what you mean. Sometimes he'll come home with a new plant and tell me about it and I'm like.. 'It's a plant?'. (I try to bite my tongue and not say 'It's yet another plant?' or 'It's a plant like all the others?'.)

    I think it's admirable that you wish to be a supportive partner but I can't help but wonder if this is even a problem for him?
     
  13. Tom

    Tom Well-Known Member

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    I have seen that interest before, but rarely, btw. Inventing contraptions out of spare items and such. Mostly in movies, but also years ago there was a famous comedic inventor named Rube Goldberg. I also see it on You Tube videos where people make amazing sequences of one thing activating another which activates another, etc.
     
  14. Lysander

    Lysander Well-Known Member

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    It's understandable that you don't always share the same interest. For me, what always works best is to take on the "fake it til you make it" approach. He shares his joy with you because he loves you, and that makes it feel double. Just smile, and say "wow! awesome!" and look closely, and make an observation about the ingenuity of his project. That's the "fake it" part.

    The "make it" part happens afterward, because now that you've done the action, you can feel better about your situation. He feels better, and as a result you feel better, and you feel better about yourself too. You also have more experience to lean on every time you make him feel good about his accomplishments, making it cost less and less effort every time.
     
  15. Fino

    Fino Alex V.I.P Member

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    When I read the OP, I thought, "that sounds a bit like me," and then your post helped so much! Thank you! People in my life should be thankful to you. :rolleyes:
     
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  16. Bolletje

    Bolletje Potato chip wizard V.I.P Member

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    @Lysander my problem isn't that I don't share the same interests or that I don't know how to fake enthusiasm. I'm generally very good at that. My problem is that I am currently too depressed to fake enthusiasm believably. Besides, I don't want to fake enthusiasm where my boyfriend is concerned, I want to be genuinely supportive of him.

    @Nervous Rex Thanks, that's interesting advice. I'll try and mentally replace his interest with mine to see if I can conjure up some enthusiasm next time :)
     
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  17. Jojo_LB

    Jojo_LB Brilliant Enigma V.I.P Member

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    I can totally relate to this.

    My husband is wild about various programming stuff, and I can barely show any interest in it whatsoever. I mean, I like my own specific programming languages, he's wild about learning several others and I can't get enthusiastic at all about them.

    So when he's talking about them, I make sure I have a fidget object in my hand so I can focus on it so I don't start looking all around the room bored out of my mind. If I don't have something to stim with I end up blurting random stuff out while he's talking, or interrupting him a lot. Then he gets upset. I get frustrated that he can't understand that I'm not into it and I can't fake being even very slightly into it.

    Either that, or I continue whatever I'm doing but promise him that I'm paying attention (which I show by nodding every so often, occasionally stopping what I'm doing to look at him for a couple seconds, etc).

    And when he's done, I just say something like, "Cool, glad you're enjoying that." or "That sounds kind of interesting."

    He knows I'm not really into it. He knows I often have to force myself to listen to him. But he does really appreciate I make the effort.

    Once in a while, I even go the extra mile and try to listen very hard for about 2 minutes so I can pick something up to ask him one little question about it lol but that's if I'm prepared to see him light up and get all excited and continue on about the topic.
     
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  18. Bolletje

    Bolletje Potato chip wizard V.I.P Member

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    I had another conversation with my boyfriend today and he’s just glad I’m honest with him about not being able to feel enthusiasm at the moment. He wouldn’t want me to fake that, he just wants to know what’s going on in my head.
    He’s also going to look into Rube Goldberg now.
     
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  19. Pinkie B

    Pinkie B Just Me

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    It turns out that depressed people are the most rational. Non-depressed people are almost always just a little bit optimistically delusional. Current theory goes that it's a coping mechanism for reality: too much reality really is depressing.

    So, the good news is that if you can cure your depression you can cure your rationality! (Uhh, I think that's good news, right?)

    Hope you find a way to celebrate your boyfriend. Glad he's at least understanding your desire to be supportive even if your expression isn't quite there. That's important.
     
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  20. AloneNotLonely

    AloneNotLonely Well-Known Member

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    This is guy stuff. You are a woman. You are not obligated to squeal like a fangirl, just like he is not obligated to squeal like a fangirl when you get a new haircut.
    This advertisement explains it perfectly: