In this week’s episode of The Baggage Reclaim Sessions, it’s time to rethink our attitude to interest and recognise that interest is a hypothesis. Thinking that someone is interested in us, or trying to figure out their agenda, or trying to make sense of why they’re no longer interested or showing interest the way we want them to is often a huge source of anxiety, confusion, misplaced assumptions and hurt. 

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Some nuggets from the episode

When we’re interested in something or someone, we think about it/them a lot and we’re fascinated. 

  • We think we want to know a bit or a lot more about it or them, or we think that we want to be or do something as a result of the interest. 
  • It’s thinking that we want to know them and for them to know us. 
  • We think that we want to make this a big or our biggest interest. 
  • It’s taking little fragments of information, known, assumed, guessed or outright made-up and thinking that we’re a good fit. Or using this info to decide that we want to be, do or have whatever it is. 

Interest in someone or something is a hypothesis.

  • We have a story in our mind based on whatever we’re feeling and our level of awareness at that time. We use it to explain or even justify our own interest or to assume someone else’s, and we do it on the basis of limited evidence. The hypothesis of that interest is a starting point for further investigation and exploration.
  • We treat interest like a statement of something or a contract.
  • Interest in someone or something isn’t a commitment. And it doesn’t mean that we (or they) know anything or a lot about the object of our or their interest.

Our anxiety about interest is about 1) on some level knowing that we don’t actually know them and we’re anxious about that and 2) feeling responsible for the upkeep of the interest. This plays into outdated notions about relationships including:

  • If someone is interested enough, this overcomes everything from them being emotionally unavailable, grappling with addiction, otherwise occupied in another relationship, a sociopath or narcissist and more. 
  • Someone can know immediately without actually knowing you, and possibly just by judging your appearance, that you are The One. This means that if things don’t work out, it’s because we effed it up. 

Sporadic, snatch-it-away interest from a user is often mistaken for being ‘needed’. 

  • If interest doesn’t materialise into what we think it should or what they implied it would, we determine that it’s our fault. 
  • There’s a big difference between interest and committed. 
  • Sometimes the reason why interest is ‘scary’ is because much as we might fear being wrong, making mistakes and failing, we’re often even more afraid of being ‘right’. In danger of getting what we want. That makes it valuable

We have to decide if we can we be the person who commits? Can we be the person who allows us to go into the unknown?

  • Sometimes, I was interested in proving something about myself. Or I was avoiding being alone. Sometimes it was about seeking validation, getting security, being right, punishing myself. It was trying to right the wrongs of the past from my relationship with my parents. 
  • We only know how interested someone is in us and a relationship by what unfolds, not by working out things in our head.
  • “Commitment means staying loyal to what you said you were going to do long after the mood you said it in has left you.” — Orebela Gbenga
  • As our interest increases, we become a stakeholder in it. We build up in commitments through our actions, attitude and intentions. 
  • When it comes to trying out new things, some people prefer to be the novice who tried out something a few times and appeared to be brilliant or showing talent at that point. They fear developing that experience and running the risk of disappointing and not being perfect or ‘the best’. 
  • It’s difficult for some people to commit on their interest because they don’t know themselves enough.
  • If they want something different to you despite their interest, the relationship isn’t going to work. You don’t share core values where it counts. If how they lead their life means that we can’t meet our emotional needs and we have to be, do and have less than who we really are, interest is far from being enough.
  • In the early stages of dating somebody and you’re trying to predict if this is “it”? You’re trying to gauge the wrong information. You don’t have enough information yet.

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Listener questions can be emailed to podcast AT baggagereclaim DOT com and if there’s a topic you’d love me to talk about, let me know!

Nat xxx

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