This is something I've been wondering about for quite some time now, because people who know me well don't think so, but people I've just met tend to think all I give a shit about is myself. So I was standing outside having a smoke, and thinking about a conversation I had with my dad yesterday about how he spent four hours getting polygraphed for work, and then he found out he's going to have to spend Thanksgiving through Christmas (excluding the actual holidays) on the other side of the country from his girlfriend, and then he got home and found out my brother had passed out and hurt his head while doing homework. I decided not to tell him that I found out yesterday the new VP at my company wants to close down my office as soon as possible. In other words, I just listened to his troubles, which is something I'm actually pretty good at, but somehow it doesn't come across that way for a lot of people. "Why is that?" I wondered. At that point, a fully-formed thought popped into my head out of nowhere: if I had been listening to someone else's problems, I probably would've told them my problems too -- but not because I wanted their sympathy, that's not it at all. I think, because I've had so few friends over the years, that when I meet someone new and I listen to their story, I'm so eager to show them that I understand "what it's like for them" (i.e. that I can relate to them) that I'll basically list off all the similar experiences I've had and how I felt about them, without realizing that what they really wanted was...well, I dunno. I don't know what they really wanted. To me it makes perfect sense to tell someone about things I've experienced that are similar to their experiences, because to me that says I really do "get it" and I'm not just nodding my head and saying "that's nice." But when I'm talking to someone I've known for a long time, they already know me and presumably they like spending time around me, so there isn't any need on my part to let them know how similar we are and how we should hang out together more often. So. Can anyone explain to me what "normal" people expect me to do when they're telling me about themselves, if trying to relate directly by telling them my own similar experiences makes me seem self-absorbed? If I knew what I'm "supposed" to be doing, I probably wouldn't feel like my only other option is to not say anything for fear of offending them, which just makes me look anti-social instead.