Making and maintaining notes on friends / relationships

Does anyone else make and revise over notes on friends?

I feel like a bit of a crazy, though after conversations, when I get home I will remember so many little details about our conversation: I will jot down everything I can remember, format them into notes, and then revise over them as needed.

Let’s say I have a friend called Angela, I will make a ton of notes when I get home, I have a folder called A/Angela—About I will sort notes into, and then over time, when I have time, I will go through that folder, revise over those notes, and break down & connect them.

I have another folder called A/Angela—Speculation, so I will put notes in there I’m not totally sure about, though I feel like might be true. I then have another folder called A/Angela—Current for details which are currently true about her, A/Angela—System for notes on dealing with this person, etc.

I then have a bunch of different Someday-Maybe (SM) folders, some for activities, some for things I want to learn about her some day, etc. like A/Angela—SM/Activities—SM, A/Angela—SM/Learning about Angela—SM.

Is that normal? Everyone else seems to handle relationships just fine without all of that note-taking, though I find it absolutely essential if I want to understand someone on a deep level. It feels a bit obsessive to me, though I feel like it’s that or storing all of that information in my head.

I also learn so much through this process.

What is your process for maintaining information on relationships?

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Yes, that’s weird. If I knew someone would write down every little detail about me, I would be weirded out. I would probably reconsider my friendship with them. Honestly, I would find it creepy.

I’m not sure if you are autistic (this is not meant in a derogatory way) but if it helps you, it’s ok, I guess. Just make sure the other person doesn’t notice it. It can come of as obsessive, creepy and maybe even stalker-like. Especially the speculations.

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Possibly undiagnosed, though I don’t know for sure. My thoughts are that I’m probably a mixture between ADHD & Autism, so neurodivergent. I have the hardest time with relationships.

I’m asking this question because I don’t want to come across as creepy / obsessive, though I also feel like this note-taking is helpful for me. I don’t know.

It’s just the way I’ve found in order to be able to learn about things; in this case it’s a person.

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If it helps you, go for it :slight_smile: You are doing nothing harmful, so I don’t see a problem with it. But, I’d probably keep it a secret from most people you know :sweat_smile:

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I also have active lists on my phone that I go through with people, lists of things I want to talk about with them, learn about them, etc.

When I’m with the person my mind sometimes just goes blank, and if I’m not comfortable with the person then the self-conscious part of me doesn’t pull out the lists at all. I rely on trying to remember the contents of those lists.

I don’t know, while I understand the benefits of note-taking, in actual practicality you have to be able to use your brain for some things. I’ve been meaning to get better at memorising; I feel like I’ve been taking notes for so long that my brain has become lazy when it comes to remembering things. That’s what all the note-taking is for.

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I have never encountered such a problem. Our lives seem to be structured completely differently. I probably would feel anxious having notes and relying on them for everyday conversation. I’d be afraid, that I forget something.
I appreciate a natural flow, and see where a conversation takes me. Of course I might have some points I’d like to talk about, but I never even had the idea of taking notes for that, outside of business meetings.
Really interesting.

Of course I do the whole natural flow too. I can maintain a conversation, I just feel like it’s so random and that it doesn’t actually move the relationship forwards.

As you said, it’s like going into a business meeting without an agenda; you’ll spend a lot of time on small talk and then nothing actually happens. I want to know things about the other person: that’s what the lists are for, so I don’t forget what those things are. I want to talk about certain things. I can’t rely on my memory for that. I just get distracted too easily; I need that structure.

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I’m glad it’s working for you, and the notes themselves seem fine so as long as you keep it to yourself. If I had something important to tell someone the next time we met, or if I wanted to put intentional effort into maintaining long-distance friendships, then taking notes seem useful. I personally just journal in the traditional manner.

I am curious about this idea of moving relationship forwards, however. In my mind, spending time with friends is a terminal goal: I do it for its own sake. If all we do is spend time together every now and then, chit chat about random things, and have fun, then that’s enough. There certainly is this notion of closer friends with whom you can talk about deeper things closer to your heart. However, that sort of trust seems like a product of long friendship and mutual trust, and not a project that you can plan ahead.

That phrase “move relationship forward” is used most often to describe romantic relationships, and indicates societal amatonormativity—assumption that romantic relationships are ultimate goal—wherein marriages are valued over unmarried romantic partnerships, which are then valued over friendships. (I understand you didn’t mean that, it’s simply an unfortunate connotation in my mind.) I try not to place relationships on a hierarchy like that, even within friendships. Different friendships are of different nature, and not one is more normatively better than the other.

But, maybe, this is simply a product of how we view friendships differently. You have specific things you want to know about people. To me, it suffices to talk about things that excite me, and listen to my friends talk about things that excite them.

I don’t care to talk about things that excite me; I find talking about my own life and experiences actually kind of boring. I do all this learning about storytelling, though it doesn’t help the fact that when I’m recounting my own experiences to someone I’m not really learning anything, I’m just going over things that have already happened.

I’m also not terribly good at remembering half the stuff I get up to in a day anyway, so I’m often embarrassed at how little I actually hold on to there.

The only time I’m recounting my own experiences is when I’m trying to relate to the other person; other than that, I’m not really narrating my personal experiences. That’s what my journalling / note-taking system is for. I have my own system for dealing with problems and would only go to someone with a problem if I knew they had specific experience in that field.

The conversation I actually value is that deep conversation where I’m learning about the person’s personal history, what their character and personality is like, their insecurities, grievances, their personal problems, everything they’re dealing with at the moment.

The amount of notes I take depends on the friend; in the case of the Angela example, my goal is to get closer to that person. In the case of another friend, we’ll call him Bob, I hang out with them because we have these deep philosophical discussions. I don’t really have as many notes on Bob because I’m not trying to get closer to him. So yes, I don’t have a hierarchy there, I have different goals for different friends, and the amount of notes I take will change depending on the person.

Another thing, I think my definition of “moving the relationship forward” is getting to a deeper understanding of the other person. That’s what the note-taking is for.

It’s also the physical touch / intimacy side of things I guess.

Both of those I can only work on my side; it works a lot better if the other person is as interested in understanding me as I am in understanding them, though it feels weird for me to try and force them to understand me by narrating details about my life; that, to me, happens naturally through the process of relating, me trying to relate to the other person, and happens as a natural consequence of back-and-forth conversation.

I don’t know, maybe as a note-taker I’m pretty dissatisfied with the amount of effort other people put in in learning and understanding me as a person. I guess if I really wanted more effort there I should probably communicate that.

You’re not the only one who takes notes on people they know (searching “people notes” or “person notes” here and on Discord will turn some up, including other “Is this weird?” posts), but of the people I’ve seen post about it I hours may be the most detailed.

I take some notes about people l, mainly things I want to remember (preferences, etc.), and I journal time spent with them, but I don’t do either very diligently. Time spent with friends, especially, can be very information-dense (as I’m sure you’ve found), which can make it difficult.

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I think this is pretty sensible, and less likely to be seen as creepy or weird than the other notes.

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Thanks. Time spent with this person is very information-dense, though I do manage somehow.

I think I realised that maybe a lot of this is due to some subconscious desire for reciprocity; I had no idea I was doing that, though I think what I really wanted was the same level of interest back; I was going over the deep end trying to learn about them in order to try and get that back from them.

Angela has actual diagnosed ADHD/Autism and hasn’t done so well with understanding reciprocity in the past, like I used to give a lot of gifts hoping that she would give me gifts in return, though she never actually did; I never actually communicated that want with her, I just assumed she would do the same thing back again because that’s what I’ve come to expect from people.

I kind of learnt that I actually need to communicate those wants maybe a month or two ago. I feel like I probably just need to talk to them about the whole asking about me thing because that’s clearly something I want, I just hadn’t realised it until I talked this through.

I think if I was asked a similar amount of questions in return, there would both be less information I would need to document per conversation, we would understand each other much better than before, and she would trust me more. The relationship would be more balanced.

I want her to understand me better, and I want that system in place where her understanding about me grows over time.

I have a someday maybe to come up with a personal process for managing information like this. I wouldn’t collect this information to make inferences about someone through connecting the dots, though: I would rather have information recorded that I want to remember for the next time I interact with them or just in general. The furthest I might go is setting up Anki cards, but I just use the reviews plug-in for those kind of details when I need them eventually.

Right now, I’m just writing down names of people that I meet at social events whom I’ll see again. Then, I have a table of birthdays for people whom I care about tracking birthdays for.

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I have a folder for each person and a template to create a “map” of how I understand the person:

  • what the person wants in life,
  • strength,
  • weaknesses,
  • likes,
  • dislikes,
  • attachment style,
  • personality type
  • ikigai
  • relationship menu
  • communication menu
  • anecdotes
  • etc.

Then I create notes for each interactions with that persons, in the core note I use dataview plugin which easily list my interactions by dates descending.

I also use Excalidraw where I create circles “family”, “friend”, “loved ones”, I use colours for each circle representing a person, blue being distant relationship, and red a closed one (think of it as temperature)

I wish there was an AI plugin that auto organise things a bit. I think this kind of framework might allow you to go beyond Dunbar’s number
Ideally there would be something that sync every interaction with a person to obsidian

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Ok, that makes me feel a bit better.

That seems way more excessive than what I’m doing.

Thanks. :sweat_smile:

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Louis and Markimus, personally… I think it’s a pretty cool idea– depending its purpose. I haven’t done that yet for reasons similar to yours Markimus, and I’ve definitely thought about it.

I’ve realized the fear was more based out of what possible misconceptions someone might have about me since there are several not-so-great ways to interpret someone who’d put very detailed information about their friends in their notes like that.

You’ll get plenty of people who might infer something could be wrong with you when there are several sane and valid reasons for doing something like that– I think in the near future it might even be weird NOT to think smarter by offloading your thoughts to a visualization so you don’t have to use so much brain power remembering everything when it’s not even physically possible to do that. This would allow you to focus more on logic and sound reason, which I hope would help us make much better decisions.

Personally I’m the type of person to want to try to find ways to optimize and improve on different things in my life that are important to me (this includes the happiness and respect for people I care about, and others).

I’d say right now most people are trying to figure everything out almost entirely in their heads, when crap is so complicated these days theres so much room for misunderstandings, miscommunications… not to mention the low amount of information you can store in your head at once to actually make the best decisions.

It’s like trying to solve a sudoku puzzle, but you have no board and have to do everything in your head. When you start putting that information from your head on to a paper or a screen, it becomes something tangible that you no longer have to divert your brain power on (kinda like what your RAM is going towards on your computer)

I say get out as much as you can down so you can spend more time and more brain power figuring out how to solve things than remembering the board, the positions of the pieces, their relationships, etc. like the rest of the world does. The more structured and visual it is that communicates much more information without needing words, the much better you’ll be at making better decisions, at least that’s my perspective.

Do you guys :slight_smile:

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Also Louis… I’m releasing a plugin very soon called Smart Connections Visualizer, a companion plugin to Smart Connections.

In it I’ve redeveloped the obsidian graph view (with more) to show connections between notes based on relevance through AI and more. I believe the ability to do what you’re talking about would eventually be a feature since the main purpose is to visualize your notes– even sub sections within notes. I’d like it to have the ability for full customization for something like that. Though I’m the only one working on it and I have 2 other jobs, so it will take some time… that being said AI is making it easier and easier lol

I’ll let you know when I get there :slightly_smiling_face:

Of course—only good intentions here.

This is pretty much why I do it; because my brain is useless for holding that information and I would rather have it in note-form outside of my head.

It seems excessive, though really it’s just because I’ve spent a lot of time with this person and the notes have grown over time. I think it started from a singular ‘Angela’ folder and then grew out from there. I have a lot more single folders like that on other people.

Sometimes I lump them all into a folder like ‘Chess Club’ and then separate them out into individual relationship folders if I need to, as I get closer to this person. I’m not creating a folder for a person who I’ve only ever met once and have limited information about.

I’m also not stalking them on Facebook etc. to try and find out more information about them. I think that would be weird. I don’t use social media, I’m only keeping these notes to aid me in remembering what they’ve told me in previous conversations.

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