Social Question

Shippy's avatar

Why do some people become very affected by certain experiences and other do not?

Asked by Shippy (9857 points ) October 11th, 2012

I am curious and have been for a while regards this question. I have a friend for example who was hurt by a woman or maybe two women, and since then will never trust another female. Both times the relationships were not very long, nor very fulfilling. In fact they never even lived together. He is like fort Knox. Also he was bullied at school so now really trusts very few people. I have been honored enough to be pulled into his inner circle. Meaning literally “his” inner circle. His thoughts, his dreams his wishes, but it took years. I think the only people he trusts are his parents and me.

I have been hurt many times, abused, and violated but I still trust. I still reach out to make friends. He does not at all. Why did this affect him so much, and me so little? How can I help him? If it all?
(To have a more rounded life).

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23 Answers

TheProfoundPorcupine's avatar

I think some people find it harder to let go of some parts of the past and I guess we do all react differently to certain situations and while some people can brush off broken relationships or people picking on them others do take things more to heart.

It sounds like he was maybe left to stew over the various things at the time and didn’t really talk about it or get things off his chest and this may have helped both at the time and now. I think it maybe also depends upon how long the different issues went on for as well and as for bullying at school I guess it was maybe around the time where people start to develop and his development was supressed to a certain extent.

You often find that people like this do want to make friends, but that first step is extremely difficult because those negative thoughts come into their mind immediately so they back off. If he is quiet by nature then it makes it even harder.

His trust problems to me sounds like he has built too big and too thick a wall and now he finds it hard to break through that wall. The fact he has let you in to his inner circle is encouraging and he must see something in you that lets him know you are different. I think (there appears to be a lot of thinking in my answer) that the best thing to do is to accept he finds it hard to make friends but do still encourage him to at least try and use yourself as an example of how not everybody is out there to cause trouble.

Coloma's avatar

It’s called the “resiliency factor” and science and psychology really do not understand why some people thrive instead of merely survive even after extreme pain and hardship. I am a thriver rather than a survivor myself and inspite of having experienced quite a lot of pain and hardship in my life I am a very resilient and optimistic personality by nature. I like the saying of instead of whining ” why me?” say ” why NOT me?”
None of us escape the usual curve balls in life, death, divorce, economic hardship etc. and our pain is not any more or less special and important than anyone elses.

Really, there is NO pain that is any worse for one than another and it is arrogant of us to assume that somehow, we should be exempt of the slings and arrows of life.
The conclusions others come to and how they cope with their trials and tribulations is a very personal thing. Some make a comeback, better than ever, like myself and others sink into a permanent state of distrust and despair. All you can do is share what has worked for and helped you with your friend.

The old ” you can lead a horse to water…”

gailcalled's avatar

One way to consider your question is to determine why you remain trusting and able to reach out. Finding what helped on your journey may give you some ammunition to help your friend.

However, changing oneself from a pessimist to an optimist is not the work of an an afternoon.

(You mean affect and not effect.)

Shippy's avatar

@gailcalled Thanks for that I even checked on “word” and it was still wrong!!

Shippy's avatar

@Coloma Yes your answer made a lot of sense, I should share more of what did help with me. Although I am sure I did and it didn’t help. But as you say “You can lead a horse to water”

Shippy's avatar

@TheProfoundPorcupine Do you think if he talked it through it would help? I just get frustrated because he is a brilliant person. But its also nice I get to have him for myself!!

TheProfoundPorcupine's avatar

@Shippy it may do but he may also not really understand why he does it and there is also the chance that it frustrates him as well with the way he is as I think it could get frustrating for me if I was in that situation myself. Surely there is some area where he does feel comfortable?

I guess having him for yourself is a bit of a silver lining lol

Shippy's avatar

@TheProfoundPorcupine Yes! but I want him to have a great life :-)

TheProfoundPorcupine's avatar

@Shippy well that says a lot about you and it is probably going to be him knowing that you want that for him that has helped him to let you into his inner circle. I am sure he is glad he did let you in

gailcalled's avatar

@Shippy: You can be a wonderful friend, but he needs a trained and objective therapist to help him figure things out. Of course, he has to be receptive to this idea.

DigitalBlue's avatar

I’ve always wondered the same. I feel like I am very easily traumatized. For whatever reason, I have always been very easy to emotionally scar. I wish I understood what mechanisms are at work behind that, so that I could change that about myself.

Shippy's avatar

@DigitalBlue I should mentioned when I say that I was unaffected that of course I was at the time. And long after, I also feel I have learned from those experiences hard lessons. However I continue to believe that life is basically OK and it is basically OK to trust. Within reason. I did however talk through some of the incidences.

gailcalled's avatar

@DigitalBlue: A therapist can help you sort through the objective mechanisms as well as how your behavior affects your life situation
.

Thy are trained to go from “whatever reason” to ‘here’s something to consider.” Your choices and decision-making are tracks in the road. They lead back to something.

DigitalBlue's avatar

@gailcalled I’ve been in therapy off and on since I was 14. I’m 30.

KNOWITALL's avatar

I’m glad to read all this, I’m not trusting and very few are allowed into my inner circle and once out, getting back in is almost always out of the question. It’s hard to change and not easy to fix in yourself.

Shippy's avatar

@DigitalBlue Perhaps one has to be ready for change? Or want to change. I really don’t know the answer, hence asking the question. But for me I wanted to change. A life lead hidden and protected to me ( and maybe poor choice of words) is a living death. I really want to live, I don’t want what others did to me, to spoil what is precious. The chance to live, laugh, hurt and cry. And to find those gems I call friends.

gailcalled's avatar

@DigitalBlue: Have you had any useful insights or behavioral changes during the past 16 years?

Sunny2's avatar

A lot of it is basic personality. An extrovert tends to react towards the outside of himself. An introvert pulls everything into himself. Therapy can help balance the two personality traits. His trusting you, is a very positive thing. Keep what is true between you open and honest so he doesn’t have unrealistic fantasies about you.

wundayatta's avatar

I’ve often wondered about this. Why am I the opposite of your friend? I get killed in love and all I can think of is finding another love.

Perhaps it’s because I literally cannot imagine living without love. I get depressed with I am alone. I get lost. I sink into nothingness. I start thinking about suicide. Without love, I don’t believe I can live. So I really have no choice. I have to keep trying. I have to keep risking. The alternative is death. That’s a powerful motivator.

Other people, I think, get hurt, and the pain of losing love is somehow not as painful as the pain of nothing. It is easier for them to be without love than it is to feel the pain of loss.

I don’t know how to explain this difference. Maybe those other people can get more meaning out of life without being deeply connected to someone else than I can. If I don’t have that connection, I have no idea who I am. I am meaningless without being able to share myself with someone I believe loves me.

I think others might be able to find meaning without being in relationship to others. They probably have stronger walls in their minds, whatever that means. Somehow, they can build up meaning out of activities in isolation. They can play with things and derive meaning from them, whereas I need to do that in connection with others.

Honestly, I don’t get it. There must be a convincing reason. Your friend would probably think I was off my rocker. I think he’s off his. No. Not really. I just think it’s sad. And I don’t understand how he is not motivated to try. How can love not be the most important thing in life?

flutherother's avatar

I think it comes down to personality. Dominant extrovert personalities feel they are in control of situations and relationships. Introverts tend to think that they will be dominated and will lose control and having been hurt they fear this happening again. Perhaps introverts are more sensitive than extroverts.

Your friend feels close to you and this closeness may be enough for him. He may feel he has the relationship he wants. He has a relationship that is close and unthreatening with someone he has learned to trust.

If you want to help him you might introduce him to friends you think he might like. You could meet up with him and a couple of friends in real life. Or you could introduce him to Fluther though God knows this can be a threatening enough environment at times.

Shippy's avatar

@Sunny2 Good point you made there, I will.

Shippy's avatar

@wundayatta It is safe to say then, you are polar opposites. The best would be a moderate medium. However attains that.

augustlan's avatar

I really wish I knew. My childhood was pretty damn horrific, but I’m a fully functioning person today. Therapy helped a lot, but I don’t think that’s all there is to it. I wish I could bottle whatever it so other people wouldn’t have to suffer for so long.

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