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AngelL
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01 Aug 2021, 10:00 am

(I cut and pasted this from a Word document and the formatting on my outline went to hell. I tried to fix it, did so, hit send and it screwed up the formatting again. Anyway, just know it is supposed to be an outlline)

I began attending daily morning meditation at a local Zen Center last year on Zoom. Although I say 'local' it is too far away for me to drive to regularly, which is why I settled on this one. This gave me the opportunity to gain some of the benefits of this practice, while having a nifty built in excuse why I can't attend when we go back to in-person. To be clear - I avoid social interactions whenever possible.

So, one of the lay leaders blindsided me this last week and asked me if I would join him for coffee this weekend. I explained how I would love to but I simply live too far away, confident that this would settle the matter. He however, was having none of that. "I'll come to you!" he offered. "Let's meet at the city park at 10 a.m., what do you say?" And of course, because I didn't have a prepared objection for that, and couldn't think up something fast enough, I said 'yes'. This meeting is about two hours away now and I'm not sure I have enough xanax for this. Oh, and he's bringing his dog. Joy.

I was trying to prepare for this upcoming punishment when I found myself wondering if anyone else tries to prepare/process in similar fashion when they can't figure out how to escape such a situation (assuming you think of escaping such a situation to be a positive thing). Usually it's done in my head, but writing isn't uncommon either:

1. Regarding meeting Sean this morning.
a. Meeting Sean.
i. Do I take a Xanax before I go, or just take it with me?.
ii. Should I get there early, on time, fashionably late?
iii. How do I find him?
iv. Assuming there is a park bench or picnic table, do I sit first or let him choose?
v. What do we talk about?
1. Ask him about his dog.
2. Ask him how long he’s known the Zen Master.
3. Ask him how long he’s been attending the Zen Center.
vi. How long do I have to stay?
1. Should I tell him I have an upcoming appointment?
a. If so, at what time? One hour from now? 90 minutes?
vii. What are the signs he’s willing to leave?
1. Collecting his trash (empty coffee cup, etc.)
2. Calling his dog back and collecting dog stuff (leash, etc.)
viii. Try to minimize talking.
1. Avoid sensational sub-routines, if possible.
b. He’s bringing a dog.
i. Something else to interact with.
ii. Remember to like the dog – people love their dogs.
1. Do I let it lick me?
2. Do I let it jump on me?
iii. How do I split my attention between Sean and the dog? (50/50? 75/25?)
c. How do I navigate dad’s questions?
i. Avoid telling him if possible.
ii. If unavoidable:
1. Remember to use Sean’s name.
2. Find out and remember the dog’s name.
3. Remember to tell him that I had a good time.
4. Come up with topics I can tell him that we discussed.
5. Tell him we are planning to meet again but didn’t set a time.
6. He’s going to tell you he’s so happy to hear this. Plan a response.
d. It’s too close to my home; what do I do if I see someone I know?
i. What level of acknowledgement am I supposed to give them?
1. Do I wave?
2. If they approach, what do I do?
a. Do I initiate the interruption or?
b. Do I ignore them until they initiate the interruption?
i. Pretend I don’t see them?
ii. Pretend to be captivated by whatever Sean is saying.
c. Idk anyone’s name – how do I get around introducing them?
i. Insert ‘forgot’ sub-routine.

Now that I've shared this here, I suppose there's some stuff that would make no sense. Like my father - he's terrified that I'm going to end up a recluse so he'll be thrilled that I met someone for coffee (Sean said let's grab coffee and meet at the park) but he'll ask questions and won't like my answers so that's why I'm avoiding bringing it up.

Regarding the 'not knowing anyone's name: I've lived in this apartment complex for 14 months but have done a good enough job of avoiding people (thank you pandemic) that I don't know anyone's name. That doesn't mean they haven't introduced themselves, but usually my anxiety is so high that all my attention is focused on smiling, appearing calm, and not saying or doing anything that'll be considered inappropriate. So if any of them approach, I'll be expected to know their names - but I won't.

And regarding the 'sub-routines' - they're just snippets that I've written that I can insert into conversation that give the appearance that I'm being spontaneous. Ironically, many of these come from honest mistakes that I've made and then, realizing that I miscalculated, turning it into a self-deprecating joke - as if it were intended to come out that way for comedic effect. i.e. Many years and primary care physicians ago, my doctor had me schedule a follow-up appointment with him every 30 days while we were monitoring a worsening health condition. So when he joined me in the examination room and asked, "What brought you in today?" it never occurred to me that he was asking about my physical condition because that's not why I was there. I was there because he told me to come back in thirty days. Since he's the one that told me to come back in thirty days, I figured he knew that - and so he wouldn't have wanted me to say, "What brought me in today was you telling me to come in today" - so what came out was, "My car."

I've studied body language in depth. While not instinctive, I can usually determine the message by observing carefully and then cognitively decoding it. His body language was telling me that was not the correct answer. Enter habitual way of dealing with such an occurrence: I look up and give him a big grin, which conveys that I was joking all along and 'I got him' by pretending I was sincere when I answered. Then I back up and re-evaluate the question, settling on, "You told me to come back and thirty days, and since I'm the obedient kind...ta-da!" Keeping my tone of voice playful throughout. The doctor looks instantly breaks out in laughter and moves on. Incidentally, the line 'since I'm the obedient kind' was said by someone I knew many years ago, and it always got a laugh. Since I no longer live in the same area as the person who said it originally, I've borrowed it more or less permanently. You could call that phrase a small sub-routine. The larger sub-routine that is germane to this example though is the whole conversation which I now use on every new primary care physician I get.

As soon as a new doctor asks me, "What brings you in today?" I look confused momentarily and then quip, "My car." I wait for the confusion to set in, but jump in just before s/he tries to clarify (it's always after an in-breath; the deeper the in-breath, the more they are about to say), with a grin and the comment, "I was only kidding/joking/playing. Actually this is a follow-up appointment." (or, if it's not a follow-up, fill in the blank with the reason for coming in rather than the method of coming in which is what s/he asked). Actually, now that I write it out, this one is a really small sub-routine too. Most of the longer ones can last five or more minutes.

Is this craziness anyone else's experience too?



AngelL
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01 Aug 2021, 11:09 am

Eureka! Just thought up the "Better head out before I pee my pants!" as an escape plan, if necessary - the park probably doesn't have a bathroom (crossing fingers).

Btw, any other suggestions...especially if they come in the next hour would be appreciated!



Mona Pereth
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01 Aug 2021, 1:34 pm

AngelL wrote:
(I cut and pasted this from a Word document

I wouldn't use Word to draft plain text, e.g. the messages here. I would use Windows Notepad (which comes free with the Windows operating system).

AngelL wrote:
and the formatting on my outline went to hell. I tried to fix it, did so, hit send and it screwed up the formatting again.

Wrong Planet loses any leading spaces or tabs. The only way to preserve indentation on WP, as far as I am aware, is to use strings of hyphens, instead of tabs, e.g.:

I. Level 1 item.
--- A. Level 2 item.
------ 1. Level 3 item.

AngelL wrote:
I began attending daily morning meditation at a local Zen Center last year on Zoom. Although I say 'local' it is too far away for me to drive to regularly, which is why I settled on this one. This gave me the opportunity to gain some of the benefits of this practice, while having a nifty built in excuse why I can't attend when we go back to in-person. To be clear - I avoid social interactions whenever possible.

So, one of the lay leaders blindsided me this last week and asked me if I would join him for coffee this weekend. I explained how I would love to but I simply live too far away, confident that this would settle the matter. He however, was having none of that. "I'll come to you!" he offered. "Let's meet at the city park at 10 a.m., what do you say?"

That's the problem with excuses of the form "I'd love to do X, but Y." Some people (including myself, sometimes) will take you at your word on the "I'd love to do X" part, and will then offer a creative solution for problem Y.

AngelL wrote:
And of course, because I didn't have a prepared objection for that, and couldn't think up something fast enough, I said 'yes'. This meeting is about two hours away now and I'm not sure I have enough xanax for this.

Did you ask him the purpose or main focus of the meeting? If so, what is its purpose/focus?

Personally I have a general policy of not accepting social engagements unless they revolve around a specific, clearly-identified purpose, topic, or activity that I am interested in. I just don't have time or energy for random social engagements for no purpose other than chitchat.

AngelL wrote:
Oh, and he's bringing his dog. Joy.

How well do you relate to dogs? Do you like dogs? (Personally, I strongly dislike dogs and had an intense phobia of dogs when I was a child.)

AngelL wrote:
I was trying to prepare for this upcoming punishment when I found myself wondering if anyone else tries to prepare/process in similar fashion when they can't figure out how to escape such a situation (assuming you think of escaping such a situation to be a positive thing). Usually it's done in my head, but writing isn't uncommon either:

Sometimes I plan like this, sometimes not. Depends how important the event is to me. The more important, the more planning.

Anyhow, one thing I generally don't do is pretend to like things I don't like. For example, if the topic of dogs comes up, I let people know that I'm not a dog person.


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Mona Pereth
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01 Aug 2021, 1:59 pm

AngelL wrote:
Eureka! Just thought up the "Better head out before I pee my pants!" as an escape plan, if necessary - the park probably doesn't have a bathroom (crossing fingers).

Btw, any other suggestions...especially if they come in the next hour would be appreciated!

Sorry I didn't see this within an hour of your post. But hopefully the following might be useful for future reference.

As an "escape plan," I would just say "I need to get going soon." The precise reasons why you need to get going are really none of the other person's business, usually. You don't owe an accounting of your life to a near-total stranger.


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AngelL
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01 Aug 2021, 4:53 pm

Mona Pereth wrote:
AngelL wrote:
(I cut and pasted this from a Word document

I wouldn't use Word to draft plain text, e.g. the messages here. I would use Windows Notepad (which comes free with the Windows operating system).


Noted. :)

Mona Pereth wrote:
Did you ask him the purpose or main focus of the meeting? If so, what is its purpose/focus?


I did not ask; he volunteered enough within a series of e-mail exchanges that I didn't have to. As I said, it is a Zen Center and he is a lay teacher. His goal was to meet a member of the sangha (Buddhist for congregation) and to discuss our practice. Since I am clearly (to him - not necessarily the people here) Buddhist, and clearly have an interest in the teachings and have a practice that is important to me - then discussions regarding one's practice is part of the practice. That's an oversimplification, to be sure, but it's nevertheless pretty accurate. And he's correct in all those assumptions - just attending online is me stretching the limit of my comfort zone. Meeting in person is well beyond that comfort zone. The objection that came immediately to mind was, "OMG, I'd rather have a root canal without anesthesia that meet with you!" but thought that might not be met well. Before I thought up a less offensive way to say it, I realized that waaaaay too much time had elapsed since he asked, I was out of time, had to come up with something, and 'yes' fell out.

I thought about having an emergency and having to go to the emergency room at the hospital - but decided he'd come and visit me.

Mona Pereth wrote:
Personally I have a general policy of not accepting social engagements unless they revolve around a specific, clearly-identified purpose, topic, or activity that I am interested in.


Good policy. Unfortunately, he knows I'm interested in, what is referred to as, 'dharma talks'. The only reason I didn't want to go is because a human was going to be there. I didn't know how to tell him (in a nice way) that my only objection was that he was going to be there.

AngelL wrote:
Oh, and he's bringing his dog. Joy.

Mona Pereth wrote:
How well do you relate to dogs? Do you like dogs? (Personally, I strongly dislike dogs and had an intense phobia of dogs when I was a child.)


I prefer dogs to people but that's not the issue for me. ~thinking~ Let's say you have two friends - Mary and Bob. Mary and Bob end up getting together and falling in love. You enjoyed visiting with Mary, and you enjoyed visiting with Bob - but visiting with Mary and Bob together any more feels like you're a third wheel. Same with a dog - they have a relationship with their dog which adds a whole new, and more complicated social dynamic. Back before Mary and Bob were dating, you might end the friendship with Bob...but now, you're probably kind of stuck with him if you want to continue having a relationship with Mary. I got to tell you: I don't know if I'm making any sense or not at this point - I'm still pretty rattled from the meeting. I probably shouldn't have responded yet...

AngelL wrote:
I was trying to prepare for this upcoming punishment when I found myself wondering if anyone else tries to prepare/process in similar fashion when they can't figure out how to escape such a situation (assuming you think of escaping such a situation to be a positive thing). Usually it's done in my head, but writing isn't uncommon either:

Sometimes I plan like this, sometimes not. Depends how important the event is to me. The more important, the more planning.

Anyhow, one thing I generally don't do is pretend to like things I don't like. For example, if the topic of dogs comes up, I let people know that I'm not a dog person.[/quote]

~nods~ "I'm not a people person" - I've said this so many times but invariably, I cannot stress that enough - there has never been an exception in 56 years, whenever I say that to someone, they KNOW I'm not talking about them. They KNOW that they are the one exception to that rule. pfft!



that1weirdgrrrl
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01 Aug 2021, 10:27 pm

"If you can't respect my boundaries, we can't be friends."


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starkid
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01 Aug 2021, 11:51 pm

You don't need to think up excuses to reject people's offers. You can just say that you aren't interested. It seems like you've been stressing yourself out by trying to reject/avoid people in some unnecessarily complicated way.



Mona Pereth
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02 Aug 2021, 4:09 am

AngelL wrote:
Mona Pereth wrote:
Personally I have a general policy of not accepting social engagements unless they revolve around a specific, clearly-identified purpose, topic, or activity that I am interested in.


Good policy. Unfortunately, he knows I'm interested in, what is referred to as, 'dharma talks'. The only reason I didn't want to go is because a human was going to be there. I didn't know how to tell him (in a nice way) that my only objection was that he was going to be there.

Could you have offered to have a one-on-one Zoom chat, phone call, or text-based chat, in lieu of an in-person meeting -- if indeed any of these would have been preferable for you?

Personally, even if I have a lot in common with someone, I don't tend to meet in-person very often.

AngelL wrote:
~nods~ "I'm not a people person" - I've said this so many times but invariably, I cannot stress that enough - there has never been an exception in 56 years, whenever I say that to someone, they KNOW I'm not talking about them. They KNOW that they are the one exception to that rule. pfft!

How do you usually phrase it? Maybe we can brainstorm some better phrasing?


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AngelL
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02 Aug 2021, 9:40 am

Mona Pereth wrote:
AngelL wrote:
Mona Pereth wrote:
Personally I have a general policy of not accepting social engagements unless they revolve around a specific, clearly-identified purpose, topic, or activity that I am interested in.


Good policy. Unfortunately, he knows I'm interested in, what is referred to as, 'dharma talks'. The only reason I didn't want to go is because a human was going to be there. I didn't know how to tell him (in a nice way) that my only objection was that he was going to be there.


Could you have offered to have a one-on-one Zoom chat, phone call, or text-based chat, in lieu of an in-person meeting -- if indeed any of these would have been preferable for you?

Personally, even if I have a lot in common with someone, I don't tend to meet in-person very often.


There's so much I want to respond to, I don't know where to begin. Regarding the Zoom chat, phone call, or text based chat: Yes, absolutely; any of these would have been preferable for me. This doesn't simplify the issue for me. I met him on Zoom. Though interaction is limited throughout the week, Sunday mornings, after morning 'services', we have a hour social meeting via Zoom. It's a decent sized room, so one can typically limit one's engagement, by not competing for the floor. Nevertheless, I learn about people through watching and listening. Once a month, members get together with a senior dharma teacher for a 30-minute 'dharma talk' and I'm met with him a couple of times for that. Lastly, we've had conversations via e-mail chains for purposes of further exploring topics that arose during those thirty-minute dharma talks.

The reason I spelled all that out is to illustrate my dilemma more clearly. Although each of these aforementioned social interactions was challenging for me - I could manage the anxiety around each of them and found each experience...well, I'd like to say it was a net 'win' in terms of positives vs negatives, but it would probably be closer to the truth to say that they were net 'neutrals'. That, for me, is pretty much a win. So here's the issue (for me): I interacted with him the way I wanted. Then I interacted with him the way I wanted. Then I interacted with him the way I wanted. Then he asked me if we could meet the way he wants.

The word 'fair' does not come to mind. Other words do - words like selfish, self-centered, etc. When does reciprocity come into play in these situations? What are societal expectations in this situation?

AngelL wrote:
~nods~ "I'm not a people person" - I've said this so many times but invariably, I cannot stress that enough - there has never been an exception in 56 years, whenever I say that to someone, they KNOW I'm not talking about them. They KNOW that they are the one exception to that rule. pfft!


Mona Pereth wrote:
How do you usually phrase it? Maybe we can brainstorm some better phrasing?


Well, I'm not sure there's a 'usual' way I've been misunderstood - I have certainly tried many different versions of this sentiment without success. "I'm not a people person" or "I find that interacting with people stresses me out" or "I'm an introvert; I recovery from social interactions by being alone" or...

I suspect that if I gave outward signs of anxiety or discomfort, I might be able to get through to at least some of them. Instead though, mask firmly in place, I say like I'm giving a talk in front of a class, or as a pitch man on an infomercial... both of which I've actually done, so I've got a pretty good idea of how I sound doing those. I'm invariably, unconsciously, and instinctively coming across confident, secure and comfortable. It's an act, but one I haven't figured out how to refrain from doing. As soon as I open my mouth, I am either coming across like that - or I'm almost non-verbal. There's nothing in between.



AngelL
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02 Aug 2021, 9:48 am

starkid wrote:
You don't need to think up excuses to reject people's offers. You can just say that you aren't interested. It seems like you've been stressing yourself out by trying to reject/avoid people in some unnecessarily complicated way.


Yeah, you know, you are not the first person to tell me this. In fact, you're not even the hundredth. I guess my issue is that everyone else must have wildly different experiences when they do this than I do. I have said that I wasn't interested in socializing without a reason many times. The overwhelming majority of folks have asked me 'why'. Easily 90%.

I've lost housing after saying this to a property manager.
I've lost jobs after saying it to a supervisor.
I've been ostracized repeatedly by groups in which I tried this.

I can't imagine how or why the people who suggest this to me don't run into this but I do - nearly every time. That's why I began making excuses - so I didn't have to pay the price for saying that I'm not interested. This may seem unnecessarily complicated to others, but to me it is more complicated to try and find a new job, or a new place to live, or a new whatever.



Mona Pereth
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03 Aug 2021, 12:31 am

AngelL wrote:
starkid wrote:
You don't need to think up excuses to reject people's offers. You can just say that you aren't interested. It seems like you've been stressing yourself out by trying to reject/avoid people in some unnecessarily complicated way.


Yeah, you know, you are not the first person to tell me this. In fact, you're not even the hundredth. I guess my issue is that everyone else must have wildly different experiences when they do this than I do. I have said that I wasn't interested in socializing without a reason many times.

Perhaps this might be, at least in part, a regional/cultural difference. In what kinds of places have you usually lived, and in what kind of place to you live now? Cities, suburbs, rural? And what general region of the country?

AngelL wrote:
The overwhelming majority of folks have asked me 'why'. Easily 90%.

I've lost housing after saying this to a property manager.
I've lost jobs after saying it to a supervisor.
I've been ostracized repeatedly by groups in which I tried this.

I can't imagine how or why the people who suggest this to me don't run into this but I do - nearly every time. That's why I began making excuses - so I didn't have to pay the price for saying that I'm not interested. This may seem unnecessarily complicated to others, but to me it is more complicated to try and find a new job, or a new place to live, or a new whatever.

Obviously, people in a position of power over you (bosses, landlords, etc.) have to be treated more carefully than random people -- and are likely to feel more entitled to explanations from you than random people are.

Also, close friends and loved ones are more entitled to explanations from you than random people are.

But people not in the above categories don't usually need reasons why you're not interested in something.

(As for bosses and property managers subjecting autistic people to more social interaction than we can handle, that's one of the reasons why we need a bigger and better-organized autistic rights movement, to educate the public on the need for accommodations for us.)


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Last edited by Mona Pereth on 03 Aug 2021, 2:00 am, edited 1 time in total.

Mona Pereth
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03 Aug 2021, 1:59 am

AngelL wrote:
Mona Pereth wrote:
Could you have offered to have a one-on-one Zoom chat, phone call, or text-based chat, in lieu of an in-person meeting -- if indeed any of these would have been preferable for you?

Personally, even if I have a lot in common with someone, I don't tend to meet in-person very often.


There's so much I want to respond to, I don't know where to begin. Regarding the Zoom chat, phone call, or text based chat: Yes, absolutely; any of these would have been preferable for me. This doesn't simplify the issue for me. I met him on Zoom. Though interaction is limited throughout the week, Sunday mornings, after morning 'services', we have a hour social meeting via Zoom. It's a decent sized room, so one can typically limit one's engagement, by not competing for the floor. Nevertheless, I learn about people through watching and listening. Once a month, members get together with a senior dharma teacher for a 30-minute 'dharma talk' and I'm met with him a couple of times for that. Lastly, we've had conversations via e-mail chains for purposes of further exploring topics that arose during those thirty-minute dharma talks.

The reason I spelled all that out is to illustrate my dilemma more clearly. Although each of these aforementioned social interactions was challenging for me - I could manage the anxiety around each of them and found each experience...well, I'd like to say it was a net 'win' in terms of positives vs negatives, but it would probably be closer to the truth to say that they were net 'neutrals'. That, for me, is pretty much a win. So here's the issue (for me): I interacted with him the way I wanted. Then I interacted with him the way I wanted. Then I interacted with him the way I wanted. Then he asked me if we could meet the way he wants.

But the previous ways you interacted were all in the context of the group, right?

Would you have preferred to have your first one-on-one interaction with him be in the context of a Zoom chat, a phone call, or a text-based chat, rather than an in-person meeting? If so, why couldn't you have suggested this as an alternative to meeting in-person?

AngelL wrote:
The word 'fair' does not come to mind. Other words do - words like selfish, self-centered, etc. When does reciprocity come into play in these situations? What are societal expectations in this situation?

When what you have is a need, whereas what someone else has is merely a preference, you aren't being unreasonably selfish by asserting your needs.

AngelL wrote:
AngelL wrote:
~nods~ "I'm not a people person" - I've said this so many times but invariably, I cannot stress that enough - there has never been an exception in 56 years, whenever I say that to someone, they KNOW I'm not talking about them. They KNOW that they are the one exception to that rule. pfft!


Mona Pereth wrote:
How do you usually phrase it? Maybe we can brainstorm some better phrasing?


Well, I'm not sure there's a 'usual' way I've been misunderstood - I have certainly tried many different versions of this sentiment without success. "I'm not a people person" or "I find that interacting with people stresses me out" or "I'm an introvert; I recovery from social interactions by being alone" or...

I suspect that if I gave outward signs of anxiety or discomfort, I might be able to get through to at least some of them. Instead though, mask firmly in place, I say like I'm giving a talk in front of a class, or as a pitch man on an infomercial... both of which I've actually done, so I've got a pretty good idea of how I sound doing those. I'm invariably, unconsciously, and instinctively coming across confident, secure and comfortable. It's an act, but one I haven't figured out how to refrain from doing. As soon as I open my mouth, I am either coming across like that - or I'm almost non-verbal. There's nothing in between.

How about the following, at least with people in your dharma group? "Meeting in-person is a LOT more effort for me than meeting via Zoom, or a phone call, or text-based chat. And besides, I'd rather play it safe during the pandemic." If they then express puzzlement as to why meeting in-person is so much more effort for you, then perhaps say something like, "That's just how I am. Please believe me on this. If we can't agree on how we're going to talk to each other, then I guess we can't talk to each other."


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