Thursday, August 15, 2013

Feelings, Nothing More Than Feelings

It's not easy being (orange/)green

I love personality tests, which in and of itself says something about my personality. While the tests are clearly not gospel, they are pretty accurate in pointing out where my relationships tend to go wrong.

I am...

What does this all mean? I'm a pain in the ass to date. I'm a walking contradiction. Not just in a relationship, but in all parts of my life. I like adventure and a schedule. I act fiercely independent until I seem super clingy. I come across as incredibly calm and emotionless, except for those somewhat inappropriate emotional outbursts. I have to be in charge, unless I have no opinion or disagree in which case I want nothing to do with making a decision. And I need to understand things. Everything.

I feel so alone

There's a great article going around about being an extrovert. I don't seem like an extrovert since I'm often quite quiet until I have something to say. But I love to be around people ALL THE TIME. I could be around people pretty much 24/7, and I would be perfectly ok with that. In fact, it would make me very happy. It's not that I can't be alone. It's just that I very much prefer and am much more energized when I'm around people. Even at work I would prefer a day of meetings to a day spent alone in my office.

Being an E (extrovert) combined with my J (judging) tendencies to have everything planned can be tough in a relationship. My social calendar is often planned out weeks in advance. A weekend spent alone in my apartment sounds like the worst weekend ever. I often tend to date guys that are P (perceiving) and are incredibly averse to planning more than 5 minutes into the future. If the guy is any part introvert, I'll likely drive him crazy since if given the option, I'll be around all day long. I've calmed down about this after years of frustrating relationships, and I'm starting to be better about just scheduling my own things. If he wants to see me he'll figure it out.

If everyone else jumped off a ... <already running out the door to find this bridge and jump>

Oranges are adventurers, risk-takers. I am a complete adrenaline junkie. I've done most of the standard adrenaline junkie activities with the exception of hang gliding, and that's only because it was too windy the day I was supposed to go in Queenstown. This means that a lot of the time my life is super exciting, but it also means I'm often attracted to terrible men. The party guy, the flirt, the alcoholic, the cheater. They're incredibly fun at first, but when my need for schedule and being goal-driven take over, it often ends the relationship in some sort of spectacular fashion. I'm trying now to look for someone who's a bit more balanced and over his Peter Pan phase.

Feelings, nothing more than feelings

Yes, I have feelings. No, you're not going to see them very often. A quote that is becoming popular to explain how ENTJs approach feelings is, "I'm sorry you have to die." It's true. At work, I have to go far outside of what's normal for T (thinking) me to relate to the F (feeling) people. I schedule lunches and coffee breaks, which is very J of me, with my direct reports to try to convey that I do actually care about them as people.

Talking about how I feel isn't always the easiest thing. When I'm dating someone seriously, I often revert to saying "I love you" way too much. I want to express that I'm feeling something and often that's all my brain comes up with. I've been told I trivialize the phrase, which is not at all my intention. In most of my life, it is the purely rational side of my brain that makes decisions. In a relationship, when the emotional side starts to take over I don't like it and I want to go back to my logical thought process.

It also doesn't help that I need to understand EVERYTHING. As a kid I had lots of books with titles like "How Things Work". The N (intuitive) side of me likes systems and how things are interrelated. I often see the patterns in things far sooner than other people. If I can't understand what's going on, I get super frustrated. I had one ex who tried to tell me that there were some things about his behavior I just wasn't ever going to understand and he wasn't going to try to explain. That didn't go over too well and the relationship did not end very pleasantly.

I like swimming, especially winning

At a work debrief of Strengths Finder, the facilitator asked if there was a strength that people didn't understand or made them uncomfortable. One girl raised her hand and said competition. I was one of two people in the large training room with competition as a strength. I have always been competitive, and my parents have no idea where it came from. As a tiny 8 & under swimmer, after a race I once threw a tantrum, hurling my cap and goggles onto the ground. I was upset not because I had lost, but because I hadn't gotten my best time. I had actually won the 25m race by more than 10m. Needless to say, my parents were mortified. After my first big win at championships that season, I was interviewed in the local newspaper. In part of the interview I said, "I like swimming, especially winning." Even as a child, I didn't like to lose.

age 9
ready to race

The competitive thing doesn't play out well in relationships. I don't like to feel like I have to compete for someone's attention. The competitive side of me is often not too likable. I've realized I need to be in a relationship where I can have a calm, rational conversation with my significant other if I'm upset about his interactions with someone else. This is a hard thing to be able to do though.

Alright, enough of my self-absorbed psychobabble. This probably isn't directly relevant to you unless you're trying to date me, but I'm realizing more and more how important it is to truly understand myself. To understand how I react to things, what I need, how I'm perceived, and how that can either strengthen or destroy a relationship. The description of Enneagram Type 3, strikes a chord in me:
Everyone needs attention, encouragement, and the affirmation of their value in order to thrive, and Threes are the type which most exemplifies this universal human need. Threes want success not so much for the things that success will buy (like Sevens), or for the power and feeling of independence that it will bring (like Eights). They want success because they are afraid of disappearing into a chasm of emptiness and worthlessness: without the increased attention and feeling of accomplishment which success usually brings, Threes fear that they are nobody and have no value. 
The problem is that, in the headlong rush to achieve whatever they believe will make them more valuable, Threes can become so alienated from themselves that they no longer know what they truly want, or what their real feelings or interests are. In this state, they are easy prey to self–deception, deceit, and falseness of all kinds. Thus, the deeper problem is that their search for a way to be value increasingly takes them further away from their own Essential Self with its core of real value. From their earliest years, as Threes become dependent on receiving attention from others and in pursuing the values that others reward, they gradually lose touch with themselves. Step by step, their own inner core, their “heart’s desire,” is left behind until they no longer recognize it.
While this is indicative of my personality type, I think it's telling for how easily anyone can lose sight of what's truly important to them. I highly recommend taking a few introspective moments to ponder some of these things about yourself. Or if you're a super E, grab a friend and discuss for a few hours.


  1. Can you append with links to the various tests?

  2. Done! For some you have to buy the book or pay to take the real test.

  3. I so relate ... well done. :)

  4. S - you are my hero... I don't have the courage to look into myself like this... and you put it out for everyone... * bowing down to you *

  5. Thank you, C and Italian Bear :)