How to train your dragon (A 12-step guide for the perplexed)

Life can be quite a discovery if you happen to be a friend with a dragon i.e. someone who is a hybrid of an extrovert and an introvert. In a way, nothing that you know about people helps you with understanding your dragon; commonly-applied interpersonal rules seem to be out-of-date while the feeling of continuous uncertainly remains. Dragons are both rough and secretive creatures; some people consider them to be frightening, both in roar and appearance (unless you befriend a baby dragon) and even though you begin to know what may be truly happening under that iron-hard shell you cringe each time you introduce your dragon to someone with no training whatsoever for each time you anticipate a complete and utter disaster.

It feels, simply, like surfing in the burning lava on nothing more than a thin egg shell. Why befriend such a creature, one may ask? Well, apart from the hard and inaccessible exterior we have a big, warm and soft heart. We are loving and loyal, ready to devour anyone who hurts any of our family members or friends. We are probably the only creature you can call during the night at any unspecified time and show up at our door-step with a decapitated body at your feet and we will help you dispose of it without asking any questions. Joking, we would ask a question or two while digging the hole in the ground with you.

Bridget Jones
I didn’t say that out loud, did I?

Because we, dragons, also do not exactly understand what is happening to us while experiencing such conflicting tendencies, we appreciate enormously that it takes you, brave and normal creatures, a lot of courage, skill and dedication to even attempt to approach us, let alone befriend us. If you are family then you had a benefit of training us from a very early age when we were tiny, cute and the fire that now burns fields and castles used to be nothing more than a small flame. Pixie dust really.  If you met us later on in our lives, the task may not be that easy, so we thought, therefore, that you may find this training manual useful without spending your entire life trying to figure out what goes with what.

1. We enjoy undisturbed solitude.

However, for enhanced complication, this can change a hundred and eighty degrees depending on the day. If it’s the former then by no chance talk to us more than absolutely necessary ideally in a concise manner about matters of utmost importance. By matters of outmost importance we mean the outburst of the III World War, G-d forbid, or a limited edition of Haagen Daazs ice cream. It doesn’t however mean that you cannot be around. Despite the appearance that the two concepts aren’t mutually inclusive, the reality is quite the opposite. We just simply don’t like chatter, so often opt for silence. Somehow we find it very comforting to know that someone feels comfortable in our presence without the constant need for verbal self-assurance that it is indeed fine with us to be around. You can throw an occasional “move your arse, I want to sit here too” and we won’t be much bothered.

Tip on how to determine the “solitude mode”: If you hear us repeating the same couple of sentences to anything you say it generally means that we are listening to approximately every tenth or fifteenth word only to appear attentive, while being completely engrossed in our own world. The phrases largely comprise of, but aren’t limited to “really? Yeah”, “Mhm”, “Wow”, “remember that everything will work out for the best”, “oh, just don’t worry about it” etc. In order to further determine if we had already entered the “solitude mode” stop talking for few minutes and notice if we voluntarily start a conversation. If we don’t, it means that the “solitude mode” is full-on active and we haven’t heard a word of what you said. Please don’t get offended. We can’t help when our world is calling us.


2. We love being around masses.

Wait… didn’t you just say that you like solitude? Yes, however, we also have the “party mode” when we are able to be the soul of the party, appearing to know everyone and being known by everyone. We very much enjoy that mode, which has an expiry time of few hours at most at a time. We use that skill mostly at work when we need to perform and exhibit exceptional social skills; socially when we are thrown into the sea of people we do not know, but cannot run to our cave and when we are introduced to your friends and family members. I promise you however that after that madness, we revert back to the mode discussed in point one. At that point we need to be left alone to recharge in order to be sociable again.

3. Tributes.

In the olden days we greatly desired gold, precious stones and virgins (I know, try and get past that). We basked in the precious light of stones day and night while we employed the virgins to cook and maintain our caves (Why else would we need them?). We tried to continue with this tradition, but it turned out that these days expecting such tributes is economically unreasonable. Our new tribute requirements consist largely of wine and ice cream.

Tip: Tributes are the best way to buy your way into our surrounding and remain there. It’s very unlikely that we would say “no” to you when you show up at our doorstep with a bottle of a semi-dry red and a tub of our favourite ice cream.


4. We can be very socially awkward with people we don’t know.  

It’s quite useful, when you want to present us from the best possible side, to pre-introduce us to your friends and family members. It’s very likely that a dragon, depending on the day, in order to avoid breathing fire from its mouth will throw one or two sarcastic comments (or fifty). By pre-introducing us you ensure that our comments are mostly ignored in terms of verbal roughness. It is also useful to have our trainer next to us who, by rephrasing and smoothing our comments, gives us an indicator of the audience’s capacity to cope with our regular selves . Don’t get us wrong, we are great diplomats when we have to. With our forceful character we make great mediators, CEOs or project managers. Increased level of sarcasm usually indicates that we have not entered the “solitude mode” in a while and our social filter needs to be restarted.

Tip: We normally don’t have a heart to attack people that don’t irritate us to the core, so it may be worthwhile to keep those that do at distance until you deem us safe to be introduced to them.


5. Quite often we need to make a conscious effort to say “hello” to people.

We are generally very much analytical creatures. When placed in a group of unknown individuals, while not being forced to talk to them, we withdraw ourselves in order to observe and analyse the crowd. What you don’t know is that from distance we assess each person and form potential alliances while distancing ourselves from potential threats. The same rule applies in one on one interaction only then we get to ask questions. Trying to getting us involved in a conversation about everything and nothing (we don’t do small talk) usually has the opposite effect. The way to get us talk is to say “hello” regardless of whether we have already greeted you or not; this way we will associate your face with that word and it will involuntarily escape our lips each time we see you.


6. We are naturally drawn to strong and competent people.

The highest chance of getting us interested is to have a full life by yourself. If you are confident with yourself and take things at face value, make each word count and if your “no is a no” and “yes is a yes”, we will feel very comfortable about you. We naturally avoid people whom we classify as “loose cannons”, i.e. those whose behaviour cannot be predicted or those that are allies one day and enemies the next day. The general rule is that if we can’t trust you, we won’t have you in our lives. If you keep making excuses about everything, we will feel bored and perceive our time with you to be a waste.

Tip: The best way to get us interested is to do something without involving us that would arouse our curiosity. We like people that are perfectly happy by themselves and embody creative minds. We end up loving interacting with you and we will eventually initiate a meeting.

miranda and incompetence

7. You need to stop caring about what we say.

It’s highly possible that we will say “no” to anything you suggest anyway depending on the mode we are in. This is a very tricky situation though. You need to be able to differentiate between a regular “no” which means “convince me why I should do it” and “no”, which means “never in my life and if you try forcing me I will do the complete opposite simply to annoy you”. If you manage to master this skill, feel free to ignore the former “no” and drag us out with you for some scheneningans. If you sense the latter “no” we suggest staying way clear or, as per point one, sit and do whatever it is you wanted to do independently.

Tip: There is always a chance that we will find your suggestion interesting and decide to join you in defiance of our former resistance. We deeply apologise for this confusing part of our personality.

No Devil wears prada

8. Work with our schedule to make sure that we show up and won’t cancel on you.

We don’t like surprises. They make us feel anxious. If you prepare a surprise party, please do not be surprised that we do not look thrilled, but rather throw you ridiculing looks. We apologise for that. We really cannot help it. We also keep ourselves very busy because we like the buzz of being on the edge. We are therefore very keen on creating our own schedules and following them. If you manage to synchronise mutually interesting activities there is a very high chance that we will enjoy every moment of it and will rarely refuse to meet. We also wouldn’t cancel on pre-arranged meetings.

Tip: Though we do not like surprises, we can be very spontaneous too so we may pull you out of bed and take you to the other side of the country just to see the sunrise together.

devil wears prada

9. We appear either overly passionate or staggeringly cold.

Due to our nature we do not implement the concept of balance successfully. We understand it, but though we strive to live by the letter we erupt either way. We do not know how to behave when we like or dislike someone. We are torn between uncontrollable passion that leads us to being overly affectionate risking hugging you to death and overwhelming reserve when we appear that we wouldn’t notice if you fell under the bus. We simply don’t know our own strength. If we dislike you then we really can’t hide it. We never had to be passive-aggressive before. If anyone offended us we would just fly over their village and burn everyone to death. Suddenly with the Human Rights Act we can’t do it anymore so we need to coexist even with people that strike every nerve in us. In order to avoid unleashing our negative emotions we pretend that you don’t exist. We don’t know when to press a break. There are no breaks in the rabbit hole. Socially, unfortunately, there are. We either have no filter, or we are nothing but a filter. That’s why in social intercourses we are mostly perceived as too much or not enough simply because either we hold ourselves back or we let the dragon devour its prey. If we know we need to engage with many people, we will do so with the battle cry on our lips behaving as if we own the place. It is 100% certain though that we will not engage with anyone on any deeper level, because being unusually sociable is quickly draining our battery.

We very much enjoy the sense of discovering different universes of people whom we encounter. We want to know and taste all and so we hold little back. We enjoy that place of complete emotional and intellectual nakedness with a person we trust and by giving it we demand the same. We love passionately and openly when we know we are safe. With the slightest hint of danger we hide into our caves and have no courage whatsoever to even peek out for a second. But if you know that this is our defence mechanism do come and give a knock, we may come out after all.

Tip: Because of our inability to properly express our passions and emotions it is very useful to sit us down and talk with us to find out what exactly rumbles through our minds.

skunk love

10. We are very straightforward.

Because our world and thoughts consume us we struggle sometimes to notice those very important social signs that for us couldn’t be less important. Therefore very often we ask you to tell us straight what this that you want from us is so you can teach us too to notice more around us. Each time you see us falling unto our rabbit hole, remember that it’s not because we don’t care, we just can’t sit in one place for too long because our minds are on a constant road to discovery.


11. We have our own world.

Quite simply: it means what it says. It takes many man hours invested into being around us and getting to know us in order to find out what the hell are we talking about. We often talk in quotes, music, concepts, examples, stories and all that is topped up with a hearty dose of sarcasm. We have no patience to explain everything. Our minds swiftly change from one topic to another and it takes quite a lot of skill to follow the thread of familiarity between each concept in order not to get lost. Those that stay around us during these times have really figured out how that works, love us or simply indulged themselves in too much wine in which case everything looks logical. We may appear to be the coldest, most calculated, logical, unapproachable and scary individuals, but in reality, in our heads it’s all pixy dust, pink elephants, flying unicorns, Alice in Wonderland, Hercules Poirot, Jane Austen, universes, politics, social changes, supernovas, falling stars and lost lives. We are simply very protective of this world and quite selective in who we are letting in to see it.

we are all mad here

12. We tend to enjoy hierarchy.

That’s not because we are hungry for power. Joking, we love to be able to tell people what to do. By nature we are quite despotic. Hierarchy gives us a sense of safety. How? Through classifying people into “non-important elements” that we will never have anything to do with because our interests are too far apart, “non-important elements that we will need to socialise with” that forces us to notice a thread of commonalities for future 1-3 minute corridor-passing conversations (mostly applied in work environments), “potentially interesting elements” that we anticipate a fair chance of a higher level of interaction, “oh, interesting elements” where we notice a high level of commonalities and can be intellectually beneficial to one another and, last but certainly not the least, there are people who we classify as “WHAT WAS THAT?”; these are the ones that strike something in us. We enjoy observing one another, understanding small, largely insignificant details, that for us indicate a similar soul and these are called our soul-mates.

alex markow infinity split
Artist: Alex Markow

Ending thought:
Our team of dragons is hopeful that the 12-step guide for the perplexed will clarify many issues. With modern technology, which they have adapted to surprisingly well, they are open to answer your queries and receive your complaints. Our 24-hour emailing dragon-friend service is now open.


3 thoughts on “How to train your dragon (A 12-step guide for the perplexed)

  1. I wish everyone would come with such extensive operating instructions. Even though it’s obvious to me that the simplicity implied by your 12 step approach is entirely negated by the fractal nature of the steps. In the end, you aren’t fooling me. Gentlemen, as dragons go, this one is not for lightweights.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Innocently, may I just say that I have heard “you should come along with a manual!” more than once.
      I thought therefore about giving a favour to anyone who’s not an average individual.
      In addition, I agree that the manual only gives a whiff of what a person is dealing with, but doesn’t provide a more comprehensive set of actual steps that one needs to take.
      And, obviously, friends know best so they can potentially provide a 24-hour telephone or online customer service to make things easier… :))))


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