What they’re trying to tell you: *Laughter*
What they say: “That’s funny!”
Don’t be offended if we don’t laugh at every joke you tell. It’s not that we don’t find you funny (necessarily), we just don’t feel the need to laugh at everything. But if you do make us laugh, pat yourself on the back, because you’ve magically transformed into Louis CK.
What they’re trying to tell you: “I’m sobbing on the inside. SOBBING.”
What they say: “That’s so sad.”
Crying in front of people is way too vulnerable for the run-of-the-mill guarded person. It’s taken years to rein in these tear ducts, but by golly, we did it, and we’ll wait to break down into tears until we’re well away from all humans.
What they’re trying to tell you: “Please keep talking about yourself, so we don’t talk about me.”
What they say: “Tell me about yourself.”
We’re masters at the art of changing the subject. We’re like Obi Wan Kenobi when he convinces the stormtroopers that those aren’t the droids they’re looking for. You’ll be directing the conversation onto us, and then all of a sudden you’re talking about your cats? How did that happen?
What they’re trying to tell you: “This is one of the few people that I trust completely and I don’t know what I would do without them.”
What they say: “This is my best friend.”
We give very few people in our lives the “best friend” title, because it conveys a level of intimacy that we don’t feel comfortable giving to just anybody. This person has waded through the muck of the swamp we surround ourselves with, tolerating all of the “I’m fine”s and “I don’t want to talk about it”s, until finally they’re just chilling with us at our ogre hut. They’re the Donkey to our Shrek, in the best of ways.
What they’re trying to tell you: “I really do want to open up, but I don’t know how, so this is easier.”
What they say: “I don’t want to talk about it” (said to best friend)
Maybe one day, two years into our friendship we’ll finally be able to tell you why we’re such a closed off robot. And when that happens, sacrifice a goat to the gods, because we’re finally progressing emotionally.
What they’re trying to tell you: “I don’t want to talk about it.”
What they say: “I don’t want to talk about it” (said to an acquaintance)
We have not reached a level of friendship where we’re willing to open up to you, so it’s probably better to just drop the subject. That is, unless you like talking to a wall, in which case, by all means, ask us again about our past relationships.
What they’re trying to tell you: “I need to take a break from you.”
What they say: *Nothing*
You haven’t heard from us in days, and that’s probably because you pried too hard to get us to crawl out of our cozy shell, despite all our protests. We put you in Time Out. Do not pass Go; do not collect $200.
What they’re trying to tell you: “I’m not busy, I just don’t know how to talk to you.”
What they say: “Sorry, I’ve been really busy.”
This usually comes after the aforementioned radio silence. We want to tell you that you pushed too hard to get us to open up and made us uncomfortable, but that goes against our rule / curse of not opening up.
What they’re trying to tell you: “I’m aware of my problem, but it’s easier to joke about it than actually try and fix it.”
What they say: “I’m an emotionless robot”
We don’t want to be this closed off, it just kind of happened. It’s like we started building this wall around ourselves ages ago and then realized after the fact that we forgot to leave space for a door. So now, we’re just hoping to deflect attention off of ourselves until our hair grows long enough that we can Rapunzel our way out of this stupid tower.