Skeptical Self-Analysis

“Your true self can be known only by systematic experimentation, and controlled only by being known.”

Francis Bacon

Maybe this will only be interesting to me, but I find it entertaining. This is how I sound when I’m trying to figure out how a part of my brain works and trying to be all sciencey about it (which is pretty much always). Excerpts from an e-mail I sent earlier today, in response to a friend who asked (over the course of an ongoing conversation) whether or not closeness and romance are always tied up with each other for me:

The answer to this is complicated. Let me see if I can map it out.

The single best example of a way in which closeness and romance collide for me is kissing. I have, historically, every now and again, felt like kissing people I was not at all attracted to. It generally happens in moments of closeness. It’s happened with men and women, people I was attracted to, and people I wasn’t.

Sometimes, for me, the most intuitive way to give expression to a shared moment of closeness is a kiss. Attraction, in this case, isn’t the driving factor. Though my impression is that these moments are more likely to happen when there is attraction (chalking this up to “more than one source of motivation for kissing means a lower threshold of Relative Moment Closeness is required to trip the instinct”).

In moments when this has happened with people I wasn’t involved with, I haven’t generally been able to actually follow through and kiss someone, so I don’t really know what happens mentally afterward. Maybe it would’ve directly translated to romance, I don’t know.

Because I buy into norms, too, I think there’s significant potential for a problem of conflation. Closeness –> kiss –> brain goes “Oh, a kiss, FIRE UP THE ROMANCE GANGLION!” –> complicated feelings

That is, if the closeness and romance stuff is indeed separate. Maybe they all play into the same area of the brain for me.

Would that conflation happen at all? I’m not sure. Would it happen if there weren’t some romantic interest unrelated to the moment? I’m not sure.

But in general, no, I wouldn’t say sex/romance feelings are always tied up with closeness. The problem is that I don’t have enough data to predict their relationship with closeness, and it’s not something I can really experiment with unless I’m interacting with someone not in an exclusive relationship. Hence, my generally higher level of comfort interacting with people who aren’t in them. It’s generally easier to gather data and ask the questions in the first place.

So…I guess…let’s see…

In summation, here’s the model I’m working with at present:

There are ways of interacting that are commonly interpreted as romantic that are also instinctive ways for me to express emotions.

Because my brain knows the romantic interpretations as well as anyone, engaging in that type of expression may have the effect of triggering romantic feelings in myself, though it also may not. There is insufficient experimental data to draw conclusions with respect to this.

Opportunities to gather further data on this are limited, since the nature of the experimentation that would be needed isn’t often possible.

A lot of this, as you can probably tell, is pretty conjectural, but it’s the best model I’ve got to work with right now.

Welcome to my brain. I have a fun time with it, hopefully some of you will, too. I’m pretty sure things like the above are the reason people tell me I’m absurdly analytical. I suppose they’re probably right.