Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Personality and dating your ex

Lulu: What do you think about the second letter in Tween 12 and 20?
Q. Tim and I had been dating steadily for three months when suddenly he said that he wanted to "play the field." This hurt terribly because I care for him very much (it could be love), and I didn't want to end our relationship. Last night, he called me and said he still wanted to go out with me, as well as several other girls.

I talked it over with my mom, and she said I should go out with Tim if he called. When my dad entered the conversation, he disagreed and said that Tim was probably only going to call me when he didn't have anything better to do, so I shouldn't go out with him anymore. We all agreed to let you have a say before I make up my mind.

A. Keep dating him, but just make sure you're not sitting around waiting for his call. Put the relationship on your terms, not his. Do things with your girlfriends and family and, by all means, date other guys. Do not break another engagement to go out with Tim — only go out with him if you're not busy.
Ashley: I think it's good advice, for once!

Lulu: I think it's good advice in THEORY, but it's impossible to do in practice.

Ashley: Really?

Lulu: Basically you have to act as if you don't care what he does and how her interacts with you, because you don't want to care, and because you don't want him to know that you care. But if you do care, it's hard to force yourself not to, and it's hard to behave convincingly as if you don't.

Ashley: Perfect advice for Extraverted Thinking personality types though! Since I am one, it made perfect sense to me. Now that you mention it, she did say "it could be love." She might be Feeling or Introverted Feeling. People should be required to give their MBTI types at the beginning of each letter.

Lulu: I'm T--milder than you, I guess--and I just think I would always be second-guessing myself. Suppose he asked me out and I didn't have solid plans, but I had some possible irons in the fire. A lot of times plans don't form until last minute. Do I blow him off, if he asks, on the basis of probable or possible plans? And if I don't, is that prioritizing him? If I say 'yes' because I'm not busy, does it seem like I'm prioritizing him? It seems dumb, but it's easy to overthink when you're more invested than the other person. She would have to have a lot of self-discipline.

And she would also have to be able to distinguish between wanting to see him because she likes to hang out with him (which is a legit motive to go out with him) and wanting to see him because she wants to convince him to come back and be her steady boyfriend. Because if that's what she wants she should not bother.

Ashley: Maybe she should shop around his friends. That's what I would do. In-your-face happiness is the best revenge.

Lulu: I do think the best thing she can do is to live well and go after what she wants. Just because he wants to play the field doesn't mean she has to. It sounds like she wants to go steady so she should go steady with someone else.

Ashley: Right, but if she doesn't have anyone yet, it's too early to pitch a fit. She should date him casually until she finds someone, and then go steady with them.

Lulu: Why bother with him at all? If she's dating to look for a boyfriend, he's already told her he's not interested.

Ashley: Having casual dates will make her look more desirable to other people too.

Lulu: Unless they think, 'Poor her, chasing after whatever crumbs her ex will throw her.' I mean, you see, it could be taken either way. She should assume he'll never be interested in going steady, and go on a date him if and only if she thinks the time she spends will be enjoyable.

Ashley: Practicing dating has its own rewards. Some dates aren't fun. She should learn how to handle them. Isn't it better to practice on an asshole whose feelings you don't care if you hurt?

Lulu: Why make yourself miserable just for a learning experience? I hate that. Anyway, going on a date with someone you went out with for three months is not necessarily an accurate testing ground for going on a date with someone new. You need to line up a series of blind dates with people from the internet with whom you have no evidence that you have anything in common--to be SCIENTIFIC!

Wow, for once we have an approximate equal amount of arguing on both sides of an issue.

Ashley: Big surprise: the extrovert is arguing for going out and doing things, and the introvert is arguing against it.


  1. I like that Lulu calls herself the 'milder T,' then describes how over-thinking gets done.

    I break the MBTI. Well I used to. I used to be a lot more on the cusp between E/I, now I am almost certainly just an E. But I usually was split T/F as well, which may still be true.

    If you are halfsies on half the categories the test starts to really lose its meaning.

  2. Case in point! Took a quick one online (so you know it has to be accurate):

    Extroverted (E) 56.25% Introverted (I) 43.75%
    Sensing (S) 52.94% Intuitive (N) 47.06%
    Thinking (T) 54.84% Feeling (F) 45.16%
    Judging (J) 73.08% Perceiving (P) 26.92%

    Test = broken!

    What this really means is that I tend to answer 3 a lot (when the range is between 1 and 5). But that is how I feel! I am not a consistent person!

  3. Being on the cusp doesn't mean the categories don't apply. All of them are continuums, so the fact that you are in the middle is not a sign of brokenness. You just have a weak personality!

    That said, it does make the 16 categories less descriptive, but it's possible you are stronger one way or the other than the test indicates. Sometimes you have to work backwards from the descriptions to get a true type. For example, the test gives me a cusp between I and E, but you can tell by the way that I behave that I am mostly I.

    Overthinking feelings is pretty F, I think (or feel). Thinking doesn't mean you *think* more, it just means you rely on logical/idea-based arguments rather than emotional/empathy-based ones.

  4. Even though Lulu has already posted, I'm going to leap the MBTI's defense anyway!

    The test isn't broken - it accurately portrays you as being on the cusp of three of the axes. A lot of people don't have strong preferences on all of the axes; for instance, I'm almost perfectly S/N balanced as well. That means that even though I'm ENTP, the "N" characteristics don't always apply as they would to someone who's a more-expressed N.

    However, I agree that the test is more useful for people with strongly-expressed preferences: these preferences result in more predictable behaviors (as described by the test). So, for instance, I'm fairly strongly E-T-P, and you can generally predict that I'll say yes to a spur-of-the-moment party but I won't have any hard feelings if I'm overlooked on the invite list.

    And you can predict the opposite of I-F-J people.

    So your reaction to situations is a little harder to predict, though you can always compare to others - for example, as someone who's "less T" than I am, you probably find it easier than I do to identify and sympathize with other people. In contrast, compared to someone who's, say, 75% F, you'll find it easier to apply logical reasoning to an emotionally-charged situation.

    That's not to say that MBTI is infallible, just that being in the middle of the continuum is in fact allowed by the test's format, and does not constitute an aberrant result.

  5. I don't have a weak personality, I have all the personalities! So I win!

    Maybe I just have one of those personality disorders, actually...

    Not really. In truth I think this sort of DOES characterize my personality, so you're right. I don't break it, it definitely applies.

    PS, did you know that the root of "mediocre" comes from a greek phrase meaning "the middle way"? Apply that as you see fit.