I don’t know how to relate to people who have no affect. I only got to thinking about this later in life, but I’ve realized how much I depend on facial and other expressions in interactions. I feel a bit “stripped” of my powers when someone gives a flat expression pretty much no matter what’s happening. I find myself fruitlessly searching their face for cues and clues, anything, a twitch.
Secretly inside, I’m imagining myself taking these people by the shoulders, burning into their eyes with mine and hollering, “Why don’t you ever have any expression?!?”
In one case, there was an expressionless person who left me not quite cold, but indifferent, detached. Then I saw photos online of the individual smiling and laughing, in fact, appearing quite charming. Now I figure there’s at least two (maybe more) ways to interpret the discrepancy. One, the person doesn’t like me. Or two, they only show the more outgoing side of themselves with people they know well. Oh, I got a third thought. Maybe I only run into them when they are tired or otherwise preoccupied (I don’t know about you, but being that I generally follow certain routines – like, I’m not a night owl for one – I may be coming across the same people under the same circumstances regularly.)
I realize specific conditions might be at work in some cases and lack of expression is symptomatic of those. However, there’s typically other “tells” when that’s the case. Also, there are those people who are very discriminating with their use of expressions; they crack the slightest here-and-gone semblance of a smile, say, when reacting to something they find outrageously funny. But again, that could be observed over time.
I’ve watched particular people to see if they become more animated when interacting with other people (i.e., not me) and still saw no expression. I wonder if these other people notice and if not, why don’t they? I’ve never taken anyone aside and asked, “Why doesn’t so-and-so ever have any facial expressions?” It’s just a private thing I think about – I don’t want to be mean or rude about it as it seems so personal – and besides, I can almost hear the answer: “They don’t? Oh, I never noticed.”