On spending time with others (notably close ones)

Time to write: 1h36 | Created: 2022-02-10 | Updated: 2022-02-11

My natural inclination is to talk a lot — hours, non-stop, at least with the right people. I’m addicted — pathologically talking too much (I suspect our genetic predisposition to enjoying talking is too strong — maladapted, and misaligned, to our current environment). Also, the opportunity cost of my time is often not as salient as I wished it was, and so I have an illusion of abundance because my immediate needs are satisfied (see video below) (again, I think this is caused by a maladaptation to our current environment). And even when I do want to exit a conversation, my natural inclination is also to have a hard time to do so.


But I don’t want this. I mostly want to talk when it serves an instrumental purpose worth prioritizing or when I don’t have the energy to work* (historically, there has been a lot of periods when that happens each day, so that can still be regular). With people I’m close with, I also value sharing more about our internal experience (more on this below).

*by work, I mean “invest in the future” as opposed to “consuming”, which is a loser definition than most people use

I’ve learned various ways to contain myself, sometimes very successfully, but I still often benefit from people around me supporting me in that goal.

My tendency is to become more rigid/strict(/direct) with my time as I (chronologically?) age. I think my general tendency is also to become more rigid/strict(/direct) with my time after spending a lot of time with someone; I think part of it is valuing freeform conversations as a way to get to know someone and part of it is getting comfortable sharing those desires (although with some people I rapidly feel comfortable doing so); but it’s probably more complex than that, and varies with multiple variables.

I track my time almost 24h/7, and sometimes put timers in discussions which are collaboratively decided on (the goal being to be intentional about our time). I would also like if the default was to more often share the time things take us. There are people with whom I know the exact amount of hours I’ve spent with in my life, although online chatting makes this harder to track as it’s prone to multitasking.

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However, when someone is having an emotional conversation, I think it can be important to not put a timer on it because 1) it can be a more important discussion, and 2) it can be pretty costly, emotionally, to break up the discussion in multiple instances.

In my life, there are a few people I felt very close to, and, as I recall, I felt like I wanted to spend all my time with them — although that wasn’t verified experimentally to the fullest extent; probably partly because the other person wanted a bit less (despite still wanting a lot). I am / can be the crazy girlfriend meme, except I’m not really jealous or demanding (in that way) — it’s never been a big preference; I absolutely still thrive by my own! When shown a boundary, I’ll sometimes take 5 steps back from it, and not come back unless invited to.

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But the way I’d spent time with a close friend in this context has mostly been not talking and independently doing our things, possibly in a container of doing promodoros / focusmates, and sometimes sharing some activities (eating, exercise), projects, anecdotes / emotional support, plans / retros, cuddling, and brain debugging / feedback / rubber ducking — which can still be a lot / filling (and so, maybe I should have frame this full post differently).

I still care about the social needs of close ones, and if/when I can’t meet them myself but they can be met in other ways, if/when that’s welcomed/wanted/helpful, I tend try to support finding other connections/approaches for that.


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