Some people don’t wanna talk…REALLY???

enjoying the view

by Kenneth Justice

~ “I can’t believe it; he blocked me on Facebook!” said the mid-40ish woman who was sitting with us at coffee.

A few of us were sitting at the café the other day and the single woman was telling about us about this guy she met via an Internet dating site,

We talked on the phone 3 or 4 times and things were going really well….but on the day of our first date he texted me in the morning to cancel…and when I tried to call him to ask why he was canceling I learned that he blocked me on Facebook and he also blocked my phone number! I can’t get ahold of him at all!” she said

There’s no way of know what really happened. Did the man sense that the woman was coming on a bit strong? Was he really a married guy that was trying to cheat on his wife and then decided to bail at the last moment? There’s no way to know.

One thing is certain; the guy no longer wanted to talk to the woman anymore….and this was driving the woman nuts, “Kenneth, I can’t stop thinking about this….nobody has ever blocked my phone number before. I want to know what the hell went wrong that he would go to such extreme’s…..he didn’t even have the common courtesy to tell me he no longer wanted to talk to me again!”

One of the problems with situations like this one is that I’m only getting one side of the story. Of course, to be fair, my policy is to accept what the woman is telling me at face value……but obviously there is always the possibility that there is more to the story.

As I was talking to her I was reminded of something that I’ve been thinking about for quite a while; some people don’t wanna talk, they simply want to be left alone….and that is okay.

For the last couple years or so there’s been this one guy who comes into the café religiously every single morning and sits next to me with his coffee and newspaper. I long ago gave up saying hello to him because most of the time he would simply ignore me and not even say good morning. The guy wanted space to be left alone…..and I was more than willing to oblige him.

Yet one day last month, as we were sitting not more than 10 inches from each other reading…..he turned to me and asked me what I was doing for the Christmas Holiday. I was shocked…..we must have sat next to each other more than 600 times with never more than a word spoken in one sitting.

We ended up talking for an hour or so and it turns out that he is a well known journalist for one of the local newspapers; he’s been a writer for the last 30 years. Although he didn’t say this, it dawned on me that perhaps the reason he doesn’t ‘open up’ to any old stranger sitting at the coffee shop is that he doesn’t want to be bothered by people who want to get into his business as a journalist. A lot of people have the tendency to get a little too gaga over celebrities (even minor celebrities) and I could totally understand why this journalist would want to preserve his morning coffee privacy.

Of course, just because someone doesn’t want to talk does not mean we have to be rude; what the guy from the dating site did to the women seems to be entirely lacking in courtesy and decent. Surely we should still be respectful and polite.

And despite this sounding like its a very simple thing to ‘give other people space’ ……I’m not actually sure that people practice this enough.

You see, I notice a lot of people that are constantly trying to ‘get into other people’s business’.

—-) Too many parents have a tendency to suffocate their young adult children trying to find out every little thing that is going on in their life

—-) Too many managers and bosses try to micromanage their employees

—-) Too many people use the Internet to ‘virtually’ stalk others by sending them too many emails, too many Facebook messages, and spend too much time trying to get into other people’s business.

Just because we ‘know’ what someone else ‘should’ be doing….doesn’t mean we are duty bound to talk at them. Sometimes we have to let other people figure out their life….and the best thing we can do is to stay out of their business.

I see a lot of people in this world who have become obsessed with getting into other people’s business. Some people make a career out of it and become a politician!

But ultimately, if we are truly practicing love and grace we will learn how to let people be……some people want to sit at a coffee shop with their newspaper and be left alone…….and that is okay with me.

Time for another coffee,

Kenneth

(P.S. If you haven’t heard I’m going on a national and worldwide tour of 100 coffee houses in 2014 check out my link for the news and stay tuned for dates and locations <link> )



Categories: relationships

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73 replies

  1. Thanks for this loving, graceful post!

  2. Chit Chat sucks. That is all most people know how to do.

    • Ellen,

      Your so right….far too many people only want to chit chat….and the gets old after a while

    • I’m an introvert, which pretty much says it all about my view on “chit-chat.” 😉 That being said, I’m very polite and if I know someone has wished me a good morning I’ll respond in kind – right before I go back to reading my book (or whatever).

      Tonight at a hairdresser’s while I was waiting for my daughter, a young woman with Downs came up and tried to talk to me (twice). I felt so bad that (a) it was very noisy and (b) I couldn’t lip read her sufficiently to actually understand what she was saying – she didn’t form her words “normally” so I was honestly clueless. I ended up just looking at her, smiling politely, doing the “deaf nod,” and saying, “Uh-huh” in appropriate places.

  3. What a man! LOL
    I better check my FB.. 😀

  4. What a grace-full reminder. It seems we have been so obsessed with “being connected” that we have lost the art and peace of quiet and space.

    • nicely put! it’s funny too when people don’t respond and we automatically think they are being rude when they are indeed entitled to their peace and quiet in their own space.

    • Nice one Kenneth. Spot on! Funnily, I was talking about it the other day. It seems that with the coming of cell phones and facebook we have developed a new sets of “ethics” and rules of behavior. Nobody would dare call me after 22:30, at home, unless it was a matter of life and death. But everyone feels that can annoy me at my cell phone anytime (fortunately not me, not anymore, because I let them have it). They feel offended if I don’t reply to their messages, but well, if they don’t get it, I’m not to blame. But I always allow them to have a copy of my ground rules before they enter, and that has probably cost me many acquaintances. Never mind, I have good friends! 😉

    • Vassilis,

      A year ago I started turning my cell phone off at 6pm (18:00 for you Europeans) and I don’t turn it back on till the next morning…..it has reduced a lot of stress in my life

  5. I’m the same, I’d like to be able to go and sit at the bar, minding my own business and watching the world go by. But having said that, I’m so keen on meeting new people that if someone strikes up an interesting conversation, I’m almost incapable of resisting the temptation to get involved. Some of the most fascinating people I know were discovered during random chats with complete strangers.

  6. Here’s to the banishment of small talk.

    • Oh, I dunno… I never much liked small talk, but I think maybe it has its place… serving a social purpose even if the words don’t indicate that purpose directly. (It’s also called phatic communication, I believe, and has some sort of scholarly significance)

      I say this as it took me forever to realize that for some people (more often, people who are extroverted, and people that I only know as acquaintances) say “How’s it going?” or somesuch as another way of saying “Hello.” (i.e. they usually didn’t want to REALLY know how I was, or how I went)

    • As an American living abroad, this is something that really confuses people outside of North America. When someone over here asks, “How’s it going?, they genuinely want to know, or if asked, give a lengthy reply, as I found out when I first moved over, much to my dismay.

      I agree that small talk in the office in the form of, “Hot enough for you?” or “How ’bout them Phillies?” is harmless enough, but small talk for the sake of avoiding an awkward silence is not appealing to me.

  7. Well i would have difficulty with the decency he was lacking At least have some balls to say why you end the talks. or block some one.
    But that is me.

    ‘We are used to be connected’. as mentioned above.
    I think we are to used to non-human interaction and forget about the emotions that we humans hold. Finding it to easy to disconnect with a touch of button.

    Lets hope we can still find some decency to respect the others wishes.

  8. This is the problem I end up having – I’m surrounded by people all day long. 150+ students, plus co-workers on top of that, and I’m expected to interact with them all. When I get home, I just want to be quiet and still. My husband gets confused as to why I don’t want to go out and see friends, but he doesn’t understand that I’m always around people. It’s exhausting.

    But I can also see why the lady might be upset. I’ll bet she sees this as a missed opportunity for feedback. She simply wants to know what she did wrong – not pursue the guy. I do think he was wrong for simply cutting her off. It’s confusing and hurtful. He should at least have given her some final statement, however brief. His actions are cowardly.

    • Youve said almost exactly what she was complaining to me about “Kenneth, if he would at least tell me WHY he doesn’t want anything to do with me then at least perhaps I could learn something from this experience”

      And I totally feel ya on wanting peace and quiet when u get home…I feel exactly the same way

    • This reminds me of my mother– she works for Social Security and works with people all day long, too. I thought she was more of an extrovert, but it seems I was mistaken; my father explained to me that after work, she’s not much for catching up and such.

  9. As an introvert, I like to be left alone – and leave those around me to their business – just as much as the next person. What I find interesting though, is how hungry we are to connect virtually, but want to unplug in the physical realm. While I haven’t necessarily found it, there has to be some kind of balance between the two. It would be a shame to lose out on the very real connection by getting to know the man at the next table, so to speak… Much more so than the loss of seeing someone’s Facebook post on how amazing The Real Wives of something was the night before!

    • You’ve hit on a great subject; why are so man people obsessed with connecting virtually….but want to disconnect and be left alone in real life….it’s a dilemma for sure

    • I would like to find more balance myself… I find the overabundance of virtual connections exhausting and would like a few more in the physical space again. Not too much, because I need my alone time to recharge as well, but some.

  10. This reminds me of another blog I read. Long story short, I agree – people need to take a step back sometimes. So often I see people talking about their relationships or their health or their job and they think every person in the world should be living exactly like they are. They try and tell everyone they are wrong. Here are all the reasons why you are wrong. Live like I do! When that doesn’t work (does that ever work?) they resort to condemnation. I can’t tell you how many times people attribute random hardships as the result of someone living their life differently.

    “He left you because you weren’t submissive enough.”

    “The tornado came because they state passed equal marriage.”

    “You’re poor because you don’t believe in God.”

    …. I’m going to stop because just typing out those statements makes me angry.

    • TK,

      You’ve hit on one of the main things I was trying to get at; too many people are obsessed with trying to tell other people how to live….and they do so without ever even getting asked what their opinion is…they simply want to get into other peoples business…..and what’s annoying is that usually their own lives need work!

    • Just reading such statements gets me upset– I really hate authoritarian bullying crap like that. And I agree with you Kenneth, that it’s really upsetting when the busybodying just starts without even a “and how do you feel about that?”

      Oh, ugh, this is reminding me of a blogger I had to cut off… ugh ugh. I was getting tired of the lectures and criticism.

  11. Truly practicing love and grace….. I’m for that.

  12. Kenneth, I am so glad I decided to follow your blog. I really love reading what you have to say.

    If more would just “get it” that we are all the same, just in a different skin, and live in grace and Love, (sigh), what a world this would be!

  13. Instant communication has done many things. One of them is to make us feel less safe. Another is putting “your tuppence worth in” online (and maybe that becomes a cultural thing – we do it all the time). And a virtual “slap on the face” stings more than a physical one (cos you can’t yell back). Think that may be why your coffee chats appeal. Real conversations we can all “be part of”. And drumroll please: Drinking in the Culture Tour 2014 – it’s the final countdown!!

  14. Great post and so insightful. Hey I just wanted to stop by and thank you for also keeping up with me. I love our world of blogging and getting to know each other in ways of our own choosing. To Blog or not to Blog! That is the question~! I have really been able to utilize my blogging to share of my life’s experiences and I hope it helps others too as they see my journey. It is funny that now that I write more, I talk less when I am with groups of folks in meetings, church, or just out with friends. I figure I put it all out there in the blogging so now it is time for me to listen. Take care, Alesia

  15. I’m an introvert as well and find it awkward when someone, whether I know them or not, speaks to me. Not because of them, but because I am not a social person and that interaction can put a lot of pressure on someone. Part of it is being unsure of how to pursue a conversation, not knowing what to say, not knowing how to react, etc. I’m sure I have come off rude many times simply because I did not know how to respond.

    Online is about the only interaction I get with other people that hold similar or contrasting interests as me. Online I can be quite social, but I also keep it real to. It is an easier way to connect because there is not the pressure of seeing them face to face. It is difficult to explain the thought process. I see a ton of people at work and am forced into situations where I have to talk to them, so, as mentioned earlier by another comment, when I get home, I am tired of dealing with it and would prefer to be left to my own space. Just my two cents 🙂

    • I was forced into a lot of social situations as a child, so despite my painful shyness and natural introversion, I had to cope… and usually that meant blathering up a storm until I could figure out how to re-engage, or the person went away.

      Your comment also got me thinking of how I managed to get into a really engaging discussion on Linux with some dude at Wal-Mart in the electronics department in the middle of the night… he actually told me he didn’t get to talk on such a subject much. Online conversations aren’t necessarily easier for me and so managing such a discussion offline, well…

      So anyways, your comment was worth more than 2 cents to me.

  16. Not sure what I’d do without people who love to talk. It’s nice when someone else begins the conversation. It helps me know what they want or need discussed. Small talk, we can get anywhere. Great discussion, Kenneth.

  17. I agree that as he began talks with this woman he should have seen it through, even if that meant explaining why it wouldn’t work. However I have an unfortunate habit of being a bit of a pushover, I find it extremely difficult to say No. As I am homeschooling, i have many relatives and friends who assume that I am free at home, so they call me up and ask for favours. Whether its to go places for them or help with their work or replying to emails and letters, I have been unable to say No. I’ve been accused of letting people walk all over me for most of my life and have been trying to change this. Therefore I have been guilty in the past of ignoring their calls, as I was unable to help but also to speak up about it. I’ve changed quite a bit in recent years as I am now homeschooling 3 separate grades and really don’t have any time. However, I still feel extremely guilty and upset to say No to anyone. Perhaps this man just didn’t know how to explain and didn’t want to hurt her. I don’t think this is a good quality (especially in a man – as he should be a decision maker) and therefore she’s better off I’m sure. Everything happens for a reason, as there’s always a lesson to learn in every given situation.

  18. What I don’t understand is why would people that want to be left alone go to a coffee shop? You can be by yourself at home and buy your own coffee. If you don’t want to socialize, stand home away from folks that might want to talk to you.

  19. I agree with giving space but I don’t agree with comparing it to this woman’s situation. That’s simply not the same thing. You’re right. He doesn’t want to talk, but it’s more that he doesn’t want to talk to her. That’s not the same thing. I would be inclined to think that she may have pushed him away in some fashion but it happened so suddenly that I highly doubt it had anything to do with her. There is something going on on his end, probably another woman – whether that person is his spouse or not isn’t clear. I feel like I can say something about this because I have been suddenly dropped so many times it’s depressing. Just dropping a woman is a pretty common tactic because the guy is too wimpy to just tell the truth for whatever reason. I’m not man-hating; I’m just speaking from experience. As for needing space, as a person who lives in a small town and everyone knows everyone’s business… I couldn’t agree more. This is part of why I keep to myself so much because I don’t want everyone knowing what I am or am not doing. Everyone is entitled to privacy, but that’s hard to find especially in small towns with Internet access lol. Sheesh.

  20. Okay Kenneth, what is your business? LOL
    It looks like what happened with the lady… is typical to American Culture. Do not get me wrong, I’m trying not to generalise. Or perhaps is just age matter? Could be. Dating at forty isn’t the same when you are 20s. Anyway, it happend to me with a brother’s acquaintance, american person. I cannot said we were dating…just killing some time there and there. Out of the blue, the guy disappeared. Gonne. Hush. I wasn’t so pissed just…wth? Really? I guess he ran from my English 🙂 Who cares!

  21. I am usually receptive to talking to almost anyone about almost anything…except when I fly, which my job requires me to do regularly. When I take my seat on the plane, I put my earbuds in, fire up my iPod, open a newspaper, a book, open up my laptop, or close my eyes.

    You would think such actions would be sufficient enough to clue the person sitting next to me that I’m not receptive to conversing with him or her. I don’t want to talk. But no, it’s almost inevitable that the person next to me will want to start a conversation. I try not to be rude. I try to point out that I’m reading or working or just trying to nap. But even that often doesn’t deter the chatty person sitting next to me. So that’s when I get rude and, as nicely as I can, tell the person next to me to be quiet, be respectful, and to shut the flock up.

  22. ‘when I tried to call him to ask why he was cancelling’ may say it all. He’d figured her out a bit and reacted accordingly.

  23. Wow, talk about scrolling to comment! (jk) Great post as always. I am pretty much an open book most of the time. However, I have one “friend” from high school on Facebook, and she is so nosy! She always asks really personal stuff right on my page, not even in PM. I would delete her, but dang, I’m too polite. 🙂

  24. This post is so true! For me, I know I need a signifcant amount of time during the day where I’m not interacting with anyone and I can just chill. It’s so important to have time to ourselves, and not everyone enjoys small talk.

  25. I think we should all (including the lady concerned) give this man the ‘benefit of the doubt’. A fit of nerves more than likely caused him to cancel. Maybe he’s just a genuinely shy guy and thought he could manage to approach women online/phone, but just ‘chickened out’.

    That’s the trouble with non face-to-face interaction with others. It give us ‘wings’. When we ‘take off’ we suddenly discover that the ‘wings’ are not really strong enough to keep us airborne at all.

    But the other point to this story is………..why did the lady try to call him back to find out why he was cancelling. Could she not accept his actions in cancelling. Does she have an issue with Rejection?

    If she continually revisits the actions of this man in her mind, is she thinking there is something wrong (with herself)?

    She needs to accept and move on.

  26. Sometimes when someone unexpectedly stops talking to us, it’s easy to get your attention stuck on “what happened”? But, sometimes…it isn’t something we did that caused the reaction. Sometimes it really is something going on with the other person.

    In reality, would you really want to spend that much time with a person who flipped the switch on you. Count yourself as lucky…move on.

  27. As to what happened, who knows? As you pointed out, you got just one side of the story. In general there is a reason why we do the things we do.

    Your story reminded me of a fellow I met who ended up becoming quite intrusive and – as the days went on – more and more obnoxious. I am the queen of boundaries. He was unfamiliar with the word “boundary.” As you may imagine, the unmovable object and the irresistable force were incompatible. It took me just a few days to sit him down and tell him the texts, the phone calls, and the inappropriate discussion of his intentions towards me with others had to stop. I said it nicely, but firmly – all done. There’s a desperate woman out there looking for a desperate man, but it isn’t me. OMG. You’d have thought we’d been married 20 years, were getting a divorce, and I refused to let him see the family cat the way he acted for weeks after that. Rather than report him to the police for stalking and making threats to mutual acquaintances I blocked his phone, blocked him on FB (why I accepted his “friend” is a mystery to me – and resulted in new boundaries about FB “friends”) and started going to a different coffee shop.

    I moved away and haven’t been to that little Dunkin’ in years, but your post brought those bombastic few days to mind. He’s the only person who ever went haywire like that – on me, but a male friend of mine has been stalked by a crazy woman (I’ve met her and she is a scary dangerous person, IMO) for over a year. She seems so nice and so sincere until you open up the lid on the ugly can of worms that lives in her head. I’d have never thought it until I got to know her.

    Obsessing about someone is allowing them to live in your head rent free.

  28. Nice way of putting it; sometimes you ask because you’re compelled to or just to be nice. Nice can be strong as well i guess. what’s the balance then?

  29. It sounds to me like he is playing some kind of weird game and she has played right into it. I see it as 2 winners and 2 losers. She lost in this sick game of his and he won; and he lost in having a relationship with a nice woman and she won (maybe not the prize she thought she wanted but a prize even better! She just hasn’t met him yet).

  30. This is it!

    “Sometimes we have to let other people figure out their life….and the best thing we can do is to stay out of their business.”

    Happy Weekend!

  31. Right, some people don’t wanna talk. Just like when I’m on an elevator and some person gets on and feels like they have to make some clever comment just to make conversation. Sometimes it’s okay to be silent.

    Anyhow, to the topic at hand, I am leaning on the guy thinking she was too pushy. I say that because, if I realized someone had blocked me, I’d give up and move on with my life. But this woman continued trying to reach the man and questioned “why?” once she figured out that she had been blocked. Perhaps she was part of the reason why the man withdrew so abruptly and blocked her. It isn’t as though they were the best of friends. This was to be a first date. So, I don’t know that I would have been so stressed about why he cancelled, blocked me on Facebook, and also blocked my telephone number. If she had gone out a few times and spend lots of time together and then he had blocked her, then I would understand her dismay. Buy why be so upset at someone you hadn’t even gone out with yet?

    I don’t buy the suggestion that he might have been married and felt guilty and decided to sever all ties. If he went that far as to communicate with her, there would be no additional harm in going out to dinner. So something else must be going on with that situation.

    If I were sitting there with that woman, I’d ask her if anything like that had ever happened to her in the past with other people. It’s one thing to want space. But for him to take such drastic measures, to avoid her, (even prior to the first date) I think that something else is going on, and that woman probably is in denial if she doesn’t have any clue at all.

    That’s my 2 cents on it all.

  32. Beautiful post. I can’t tell you how much easier it is to use social networking sites once you cut out the ‘social” part..:)

  33. Smiling awhile reading. 🙂 My nation is so opposite to American that what you faced in the cafe is not uncommon here. But that wasn’t my focus though. It’s true that many wants to get into other people’s business and life, but too many also allows that. I’m the one. I listened more others than myself. I was a people pleaser and it was almost killing me. I’m glad I’m finally seeing it and finally finding myself and being happy to be me, not anybody else. We all have our own lives and personalities and there is no one better type than other. Thank you for this post. I loved it and as I said it also brought some smile.

  34. Absolutely. I am definitely an introvert, and I am not as outgoing or always big on being social. Even at work, I can spend most of the day focused on my responsibilities and what’s going on in my head. This was misunderstood and I was taken the wrong way at first. But going back to this lady’s experience with the guy just giving no explanation and cutting off communication. It’s hard to know what happened from the other side, and it’s easy to assume, but for whatever reason, it happened. Sometimes, the less said and more we actually listen, the better. And sometimes, the less we know, the better, too.

  35. And to add, I went through something similar myself – someone stopping contact with me for some reason. I will probably never understand or know why. But it can come down to this – sometimes, “he’s just not that into you and you got to move on with your life.”

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