Rituals vs Game
In the inspection of personality, all of the most commonly accepted personality models in the psychology world (Five Factor Model, HEXACO model) and the business world (MBTI) universally recognize one trait:
Extroversion — and on the opposite end of the spectrum, introversion.
Most people lie in the middle, as they do on all scales of personality, regardless of the model. It’s all one big bad bell curve as far as biology is concerned.
But for the moment, let’s forget the 67% of people in the middle of the bell curve, and focus on the outside areas of the curve, the deviations from the norm.
Why ignore the majority for the moment? Because when we discover the unique traits that define the edges of the personality, we also define the dual nature in which the majority of people live their lives. It is the exception that proves the rule, after all.
Extroversion is manifested in a series of traits: gregariousness, sociability, enjoyment of new experiences, playfulness, etc. All these traits surround a fundamental truth about the way that Extroverts approach the state of humanity, and that is this:
Extroverts love and enjoy the engagement of social games — and I do mean that quite technically.
Imagine you go up to meet your friends at the bar. You high five a couple of your buddies, shoot the shit, swap stories… each of these are social games. Suppose you approach a girl, start talking, and then you play “Fuck, Marry, Kill” with her — that’s a social game. She flirts, and you flirt back: another social game.
The more extroverted a person is, the more they love the engagement in (assertiveness) and the emotional results of (enthusiasm) social games. That’s why extroverts can commonly be defined by those two very words, since it takes assertiveness to propose a game and enthusiasm is a social communication that the game is fun.
Extroverts love playing social games for the sake of playing social games.
So. On the other hand: Introversion. Do introverts hate social games?
Introverts don’t hate all social games. They just dislike new ones. This is why introverts classically hate going to parties and other large social gatherings: it’s not the people they dislike, it’s the fact that every single time they meet someone they have to play a series of social games, and there’s no predicting which social games will come up, and whether the rules will stay the same from person to person. Even worse, if there’s alcohol involved, that means all the game rules are constantly evolving even more than usual, which means being extra “on their toes” when it comes to engaging in said games. Introverts also don’t generally enjoy playing the game merely for the sake of playing the game. For them, such an activity seems generally meaningless, since they don’t feel a great sense of enthusiasm for said games.
Within the Taoist concept of the world, you might say that introverts are more sensitive to social chaos than extroverts are. The more unpredictable a situation is, the greater the aversion.
This explains why many introverts view social events as a chore which can induce anxiety or withdrawal. For many, the potential negative effects (embarrassment, loss of social status, etc) outweigh the positives, especially in light of the fact that — because introverts usually have less social practice than extroverts — they’re more likely to lose said social games.
This is also a direct explanation for why higher neuroticism results in lowered extroversion (but that’s a conversation for later).
That being said, there is something that introverts do prize more than extroverts:
And by ritual, I don’t mean ceremony and pomp. By ritual, I mean: a type of social game in which the symbolism of the game is more important than the playing of the game itself. “But I thought you said introverts hate social g-” Yes, they hate most social games because of arbitrarily changing rules and the lack of intrinsic meaning. Rituals have implicitly understood rules, and are deep in intrinsic meaning. Here, the intrinsic meaning has more value than the actual words used (exception: where discipline is a part of the symbolism). Here’s an example.
A guy has been dating a girl for a few months. She loves to climb trees. When it comes time for her graduation, he visits with her family for the day to watch her graduate. That night, she takes him on a tour through the campus, and shows him all her favorite trees. But he doesn’t merely say “oh that’s cool” and change the topic — he climbs the trees with her. He plays with her hands, brushes back her hair, and listens to her intently while he guides her through the process of showing him parts of her life. She practically melts into him during and afterwards.
Raise your hand if you saw the ritual. It wasn’t the flirting, hair play, hand holding…
It was the tree climbing. Specifically, the fact that he climbed the tree with her. The symbolism was something like, “I accept you and the fullness of your idiosyncrasies. Our journey will be together, and that journey will embrace all that you are.” — a statement that, done right, is a romantic shot straight to the heart of any woman who is looking for a life partner.
These rituals can be created anywhere, at any time. Many romantic movies are neck deep in rituals, and if you pay attention, you can see them. This is a hint, btw. Next time your gf wants to watch her favorite romantic movie with you, agree — and pay attention to the rituals occurring in the movie. They will clue you in to what your girlfriend values and what symbolism strikes deepest to her core. Back to the first picture in this post: ritual, or game?
Comment which, and why.
Practice ritual, and social games. If your girl is very extroverted, you can have a lot of fun with making up little games for the two of you to play, and there will be a small set of rituals that mean a lot to her. If your girl is very introverted, you can use symbolism and ritual to communicate on a fundamentally deep level — but keep in mind, there’s a small set of social games she’ll like as well, and for the ones that exist between the two of you, those games will also have deep meaning to her. If your girl is in the middle, a healthy mix of ritual and game will keep her connected, in mind and soul.
PS: ROUTINE IS NOT THE SAME THING AS RITUAL.