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Why do I feel uneasy when people say i am kind and nice?

Discussion in 'LGBT Later in Life' started by Pole star, May 25, 2018.

  1. Pole star

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    People who are close to me and those I work with tell me that I am kind, nice and adorable. I understand these are good attributes but I don't want to hear them. I feel somehow inadequate and embarassed. It is as if I would rather hear them saying I am wicked or horrible. I can't understand what is wrong with me. Is it because these are perceived by me to be 'soft' attributes and thereby 'gay' attributes? Is it shame and internalised homophobia? Or is it just lack of confidence in myself? Or self esteem issues? I should be happy with these descriptions but I am not. I can't train myself to be hard hearted when I am not.
    It also makes it difficult for me when a guy likes me. I begin to think that he will get fed up of these 'soft' qualities and would want someone with more macho (aggressive) qualities. If he tells me that I am kind that makes me uneasy.
    Has anyone else been through similar issues?
     
    #1 Pole star, May 25, 2018
    Last edited: May 25, 2018
  2. slowmo

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    I can identify with some of what you're saying.

    I, too, have never felt comfortable simply accepting a compliment. Even if intellectually and objectively I agree with the compliment, and even if I know and trust the sincerity of the one complimenting me, I find it very awkward. My tendency is to say something sarcastic or self-deprecating to indicate that I'm not really what the compliment indicated.

    This is something my therapist noticed as well, and we've discussed it. My/our best guess is that this is a symptom of internalized homophobia I'm 59 and have only begun to explore and deal with being gay in the past couple of years. That was several years after exiting a very unhappy 30-year marriage for other reasons. I believe that forcing myself to think and live a "normal" heterosexual existence all those decades fostered a pretty deep disdain for myself inside. Its; not everything and it's not all the time, but it's definitely there. I now can look back and see those feelings come from always having looked at myself as flawed and "less than." Hence, I was not deserving of happiness, let alone worthy of a simple compliment.

    I suppose the good news is that now that I'm out to a few people, I sometimes do start to see a "different me" and one that I think I can be comfortable with. I wish I could tell you every day is always better than the one before, but at least the general trajectory is now heading in the right direction.

    Stay strong and just let the next compliment wash over you -- don't feel the need to respond or assess its veracity.
     
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  3. normalwolverine

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    I mean...I'm a woman and hate when people call me "sweet," and I also don't want to hear anything about being "nice" or "adorable." I don't think any of those words actually apply to me, to be honest, so that's one thing. I hate "sweet" and "shy" the absolute most, though, and "shy" might apply to me but I try not to think about it--don't want to be shy. To me, all those words are weaknesses, except for maybe "adorable"...and with "adorable" I almost always think of some bad little kid who looks angelic but actually behaves like a complete demon. Or I think of an animal, and I don't really like being called an animal.

    But, being a woman and a lesbian, why would hating these words automatically be about being macho and internalized homophobia? It's not.

    So, I'm just saying that's not the answer for every person who feels like this. For me, I know that nice, sweet and shy people usually get picked on and run over by everybody else--I've been there, and that's probably the biggest reason why I'm no longer "nice" or "sweet." So, I think I kind of hear "you're an easy target" when I hear "you're sweet/nice/shy." For you, it sounds like you see these as less-masculine qualities and like qualities that no one would seek in a partner just because you wouldn't seek them in a partner. But not everyone wants to date their replica; in fact, most people don't (not when it comes to masculinity and femininity, anyways). That's why, though a lot of gays and lesbians want to treat it like a stereotype, you do see a lot of butch/femme gay and lesbian couples as opposed to butch/butch and femme/femme. And you see them as less masculine because of what you believe about gender roles/gender identity, which...your beliefs are the same things we've all been fed about gender roles/gender identity. So, you hear "you're not masculine enough" when you hear "you're nice/adorable/kind."
     
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  4. Pole star

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    'Easy target' - I agree with that. It is possible that I think people will use and dump me. Some insecurity perhaps. But I make my own decisions and if I don't want to do something I don't but do so in a way that takes the other person's feelings into condiseration.
    It could also be with gender roles in society which one is subconsciously fed with.
    I am ok with taking compliments but words like 'kind', 'sweet', 'shy', 'adorable', 'nice' - I am uneasy. It is like I feel somewhat deficient when I hear them.
     
  5. SiennaFire

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    You certainly feel uncomfortable with these labels (even though they describe the kind of guy I would date), so it would be good to understand why. It's hard to dissect whether this is internalized homophobia, lack of confidence or self-esteem, or a mix based on what you've written. It sounds like you want to be somebody that you are not. How would you prefer to be perceived by others?

    Sounds like you have issues with vulnerability, that you are afraid of opening up and being yourself with another person and seeking to protect yourself with a more masculine mask. Perhaps that's why you go after questioning guys rather than guys who are emotionally available? Working with an LGBT therapist might be the most expedient way to figure out why you feel this way. It's probably a combination of internalized homophobia, lack of confidence or self-esteem, and having been hurt previously.
     
  6. Pole star

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    Thanks. I guess learning to be vulnerable is a work in progress.
     
    #6 Pole star, May 26, 2018
    Last edited: May 26, 2018
  7. greatwhale

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    It would be wise to make certain important distinctions in the realm of "nice".

    Distinctions should be made between actually being nice, or being perceived as nice; moreover, one can be overly concerned about being perceived as nice, whether one is, or not.

    Until recently, I was a people-pleaser with an undue concern about being perceived as nice; I abhorred all conflict and thus avoiding confronting some uncomfortable truths, about myself, certainly, but about my relationships as well.

    The most important distinction one should make is between being perceived as nice and being vulnerable.

    The moment you stand for something, the moment you defend a value that you espouse, you will make enemies. This is inevitable, and very often deeply painful. To me, that is the proper entry into vulnerability, because you are taking a stand in life, entering into the arena, as it were, you are exposing yourself to potential abuse, not everyone will love you...but they may finally respect you.

    Perhaps the unease you feel is that you may feel disrespected, that you are not perceived as having any controversial points of view, that perhaps you are perceived as easily manipulated or "safe".

    Being respected does not mean being a jerk, it does mean that you are engaging in a life with certain values that you will not tolerate being breached. Being nice is a good thing, being perceived as nice is pleasant, but living a life worth living requires that you stand for something; and that is to be in a most vulnerable state indeed.
     
  8. Pole star

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    Thanks greatwhale for making the distinction clear.It is just that I feel in society people who are nice are usually given the short shrift. This ,I feel, is because of their niceness. Just because I try to be nice does not mean that I don't have an opinion but only voice it when necesary. I have been through some really painful situations in life which make me empathetic to the other person.
     
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  9. PatrickUK

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    Oh, this sounds like a Very British Problem to me. We don't take compliments easily! :smiley:

    In all seriousness, it's important to understand that being nice and kind doesn't equate to meekness or being a soft touch. I'll be as nice as pie until somebody crosses my personal boundaries. I'll be kind to people who need help and support, but sometimes people need a kick up the arse too and it's necessary to take a stronger line to bring them to their senses (because kindness requires that sometimes).

    The way I see it is this. Would I prefer people to think of me as nice and kind or harsh and aggressive? When I think of it like that, I'll happily take nice and kind.
     
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  10. greatwhale

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    You're welcome,

    I recently read somewhere (I cannot remember where) that LGBTQ folk tend to make better bosses. The article went on to speculate that this may be due to their hard-won empathy for other people; having suffered greatly from abuse themselves and their visceral understanding of how bad one can suffer from the contempt, or neglect of others.

    I don't know if the above is true, but it makes sense...with my own direct reports here at work, I try as much as possible to be their support system, sometimes taking a hard line to defend them when other departments exceed their bounds or authority, and to listen more than talk...so far it seems to be working (unless I am completely delusional).
     
    #10 greatwhale, May 28, 2018
    Last edited: May 28, 2018
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