I'm dead inside; why do people want to "be like me"?

It just happened again; someone told me they wished they could “be like me”.

I’m quiet. I take care of my business and I keep to myself. I generally keep my thoughts and opinions to myself. I show little to no emotion, because I don’t really have any: I’m dead inside.

I genuinely don’t really feel anything the vast majority of the time, and I don’t ever wish that I did. Nothing really effects me one way or the other. I honestly have no strong feelings about anything.

Well, not anything, I do have many close friends that I pal around with, I do have a girlfriend who I’ve been with for 4 years and I plan on someday marrying, I do genuinely love her and she is who I express the most emotion to out of anybody on this Earth, and she does love me but even she thinks of me as dead inside.

I am not close with my family, and I really don’t care. They’re not bad people, in fact they are very good people, I just don’t have anything in common with them other than the blood-relative thing.

But to get back to the point, over the years I’ve been told by literally dozens of people that they wish they could be like me. I have no real response for them, because I don’t think they want to know the truth, that I am dead inside. I often fake emotions for appearance, but it’s just an act for others’ benefit. I generally feel like a kind of impartial observer, watching life from the outside, but from the inside, if that makes any sense, like some sort of emotional double agent. Maybe I just inadvertently hang around with highly emotional people who wish they could turn their strong feelings off, but I don’t understand that either. Again, I don’t wish that I were like them, because I’ve seen them be a fucking mess, but I don’t see how the way I am is the better alternative.

what does that feel like?

dang, keep talking…

The short answer is: they only see the external you, while you see the internal you. So they see a person who exudes a quiet competence, who keeps calm in tough situations, who is in a loving and stable relationship, and who has many close friends. Who wouldn’t want to be that person?

And the fact that inside you’re dead or screaming or crying - they never see that version of you. And in the meantime those other people are also dead or screaming or crying on the inside and wish that they were the same on the inside as the person they see you to be on the outside, forgetting that no one is the same on the inside as on the outside.

That wasn’t really a short answer and I think I need a map for that last sentence but you get the point. So the next question is: what do you want to be?

What is it about you that they want to emulate? Skills, talents, money, body…you have to know that answer to understand their comments. Do they ever say?

I’m fine with how I am. I’ve always been this way, even as a little kid, apparently before I was even born; I couldn’t be any different if I tried.

As a teenager I developed a completely monotone voice, not intentionally, I was genuinely expressing myself the way that I felt, which was nothing; people seriously thought I just might be a robot. As I got closer to graduating high school I had learned to force myself to inflect, just to appear more “normal”.

Apparently I exude quiet confidence, I’m the classic “strong, silent type”. I do what needs to be done.

What they don’t know is that I’m not “confident” in the respect that I’m sure I’m capable and/or right, but rather I do things with (what they perceive as) conviction because I don’t really care about the outcome, and because I’m intelligent and generally only do things that I already know how to do, things tend to work out the way they’re supposed to. In fact I have little to no self-esteem to speak of.

I also appear to be completely calm and “together” at all times. It’s not that I’m particularly “good” under pressure or in a crisis situation, I just don’t get rattled for the same reasons I appear to be confident: I just don’t care.

Then tell them “It’s easy. Stop caring about anything.”

See what happens. :stuck_out_tongue:

I admire sociopaths in many ways, because a flat affect would be nice sometimes. I have so much shame, guilt, trauma rolling in my head. to just not care if you are excluded would be great.

do you just not have emotions, or have you just numbed them to numb the bad ones? there is a difference. my impression of you is you are either a borderline sociopath or you are numbed from trauma.

Emotions aren’t all that great either. Anger, jealousy, obsession, guilt, none of those are much fun. People probably see you calm and steady and want to be that way.

As with most things a happy medium would probably be best.

I genuinely don’t have any trauma. I had a very normal childhood. My family has no history of mental disorders. My parents are very decent, if extremely boring, people.

I do have some feelings, but in general I am emotionally “flat”. I’m not evil, I do have a fully functional moral compass, and I usually act accordingly, though I do have a capacity for, um, I guess the word would be “flexibility”.

I do not know why I am this way, and I am not unhappy with my life, but I do often wonder what it’s like to be like “normal” people, whatever that means. I just don’t understand why someone would want to be like me.

People want to be like you because you are unaffected by external events, which seem to control their lives, thoughts, emotions, decisions. They are trapped. You are not.

You appear to have inner peace. Everyone wants inner peace. Everyone wants to live a life unbuffeted by the currents around them. As Wesley Clark, people are guided by shame and guilt. You appear to have neither.

(You sound like you do have shame about why you’re like this, whether fully manifested or not.)

You get to actually make choices. That’s what makes you blessed. Most people are terrified to make choices. The ability to confidentially make decisions is ridiculously rare.

Still, as you say, they’re “wrong.” Inner-peace-not-caring is an actual feeling, joy, wholeness, love. You’re not feeling those And inner peace is not judging, sounds like you’re not there either.

So, your friends don’t want to be like you, they want to behave like you. But don’t over-think it. You’re an okay guy, people like okay guys.

A lot of what you describe seems similar to what I experience - tho I can’t say folk have expressed any desire to be like me! :stuck_out_tongue:

It seems the most reliable emotions I experience are anger and frustration - which I display in various ways. But as far as so many other emotions are concerned, I generally feel as tho I approach things intellectually, doing what I feel is called for out of my sense of “duty” or “propriety.” It’s not to say I don’t derive enjoyment out of anything - just that I can get as much enjoyment out of reading a book by myself, taking a walk or a bike ride, or even taking a nap - as I do from any more involved or more social activities. I can’t think of anything that thrills or excites me - contentment is pretty much what I aspire to. And I generally lack compassion for other folk - which I sort of rationalize by saying I don’t expect/desire compassion from anyone else.

So - not exactly the same as you, but you are not alone in not “feeling” as much as most people seem/claim to.

If you suspected your girlfriend was cheating would that bother you?

I think the “being unaffected by external events” part is the telling one here… most people I know, to use a nautical metaphor, are sailing vessels on the sea of life. They may have different ships and boats, and possess varying degrees of seamanship, but all are still at the mercy of wind and tide, which in this metaphor would be external events and emotions.

That odd person who seems to have a ship powered by a steam engine is a rarity- they can do what they want, with little regard for wind and tide.

You seem like that steamship- you can sail into the wind, you won’t get blown onto the rocks, you don’t get becalmed, etc… so to them, it seems like a good place to be. However, to you, it seems like you don’t get any of the joys or sorrows of wind and tide- you just chart a straight line between points A and B and go along at 5 knots, with no exciting running before the wind, or knowing the horrors of a lee shore.

I guess it’s a tradeoff of sorts- they’re tired of the ups and downs, and you want a little variance in your inner life. Would it be accurate to say that you’d like to be like them as well?

I don’t know that I would describe it as “shame,” but I am self-aware enough to recognize that I am not like the people around me.

On a superficial level I would like to think so, but if it were to happen, knowing myself, I would most likely, in a very business-like manner, inquire as to her reasons for doing so, and attempt to reach a mutually satisfactory resolution that resulted in our staying together. Failing that, I would just move on. I cannot control the actions of other people, I can only control what I do.

No. I suppose I’m curious what it’s like to experience higher highs that I do, but if the trade-off is low lows, then that’s not something that interests me.

I’ve been around people when they are in crisis and I find them, frankly, insufferable. I mean, I will do what I can to help, but if they are being extremely emotional I’m as uncomfortable as I’m capable of, which is why I stopped pursuing that psychiatry degree. I don’t believe that’s necessarily abnormal, though; who does like being around highly emotional people in crisis?

You may very well be just extremely sane, not a bad thing to want to emulate.

Yeah it sounds pretty good to me.

I feel you, I have many of the same issues. I have no self esteem to speak of. I don’t feel like a “real” human being. I’m great at life like impressions. I talk to my wife about certain situations and I quiz her on how a “normal” person would react & behave. I feel I’m getting worse and I’m just getting older and more set in my ways. I have no idea what the next 30 odd years of my life will be like.

I agree with what somebody upstream said, people like us look like they are unaffected by outside events and many people wish they could have no drama in their lives. Honestly, take the comments in the spirit they are given, as compliments and move on. Trying to analyze it will just drive you nuts. I think to the outside world I seem focused and aloof and I have no ability to change what people think about me. I just live in my internal world.

Question for the OP, how does the GF thing work? I know my wife is kind of damaged like me and we formed a partnership in navigating the world. If I hadn’t found her I don’t think anyone else would have empathized with me enough to stick by me. So consider yourself lucky and don’t dawdle.

She “gets” me. She accepts and loves me the way that I am. Otherwise she’s completely normal. :wink:

Seriously, she’s very normal. She is very sweet and kind, she is very close with her family (a completely foreign concept to me; I thought people were only like that on TV), and I am able to act normal enough around them that they have grown to like me. We have, from what I can tell when observing my friends, a fairly normal relationship. My “way” is a source of both amusement and frustration for her, but we are very complementary: I get practical things done, she takes care of everything else. Faced with anything, I explain things to her in a very cold, objective, rational manner, and she explains to me why that’s insane, and then we figure out the compromise. It works, somehow.

Sounds to me like a classic case of grass is greener. People who are very emotional will tend to see people who aren’t as having certain advantages. Someone who overreacts to a minor slight from a coworker will be envious of someone who can easily shrug it off. The thing is, they don’t see what’s going on inside. If you are, to a large extent, putting on a show, they may actually be underestimating your emotionlessness and may, in fact, see it as too far in the opposite direction. Either way, it’s difficult to really understand how other people see you, because you have all that unknowable information about what you’re really thinking and feeling, and they don’t.

There is a disorder that I think affects about 1% of the population where people just either don’t feel anything or feel very very muted emotions. Is it possible that you have this? I am by no means a psychologist or psychiatrist, but if you’re describing just not really caring and not really feeling anything, that’s at least what pops up to me.

In all of that, speaking from my own experience, I was quite emotionally volatile as a kid and it got me in a lot of trouble when I would get angry or frustrated or bored or hurt, but for all those negatives, I’d also been told that I was just as extreme in other ways like being very affectionate and all of that. Without getting really into it, at one point I pretty much shut down all my emotions and went about 2 years pretty much not experiencing any emotions, and sure nothing bothered me and I didn’t really care, but nothing excited me either. After spending most of my youth so emotionally volatile, it seemed like it would be a lot better. By the end of it, I just generally found life as a whole to be boring.

At least for me, since then I’ve aimed to try to find that balance between them, feeling the emotions, however intense they may be, but also being able to compartmentalize and think rationally as appropriate. At least for me, I’m a whole lot happier this way, but I think it also confuses the hell out of most people because they either expect emotion or stoicism, not a lot of emotion with a rational and reasoned response.

Either way, I can definitely relate with the idea that people looking externally would see your generally rational an unaffected approach to be enviable.