A.F.G.O.

Submitted by Discordia on
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This post is about dating, specifically dating for those of us who have never been very good at dating, and those of us who may be a little rusty.

I'll just start by saying that I've been single for about 3 years, as of next month. I dated one person last summer for about three weeks, and it didn't go very well. It was my very first experience sharing the ideas on this website with someone (after having struggled with them in my last relationship for about 2 years), and I severely lacked confidence in myself. Also, the guy wasn't really the sweetheart I thought he was gonna be. I don't think he'd ever dated a female over the age of 21, so he had a problem with women who had opinions and ideas of their own, or even worse, goals and aspirations that did not include him!

Yeah, so that didn't work out. Mostly in the last 3 years, I've managed to reserve my romantic feelings for men who were completely out of my reach. Mostly men I met online, although not on dating sites or anything. Just men I shared common interests with, and from there it would escalate into me making our relationship into something completely unrealistic. This is embarrassing for me to admit, actually. A few of these men, or at least one in particular, could have been a very cool friend to have in my collection of very cool friends, but I think I destroyed all that potential by reading into innocent flirtations too much. The internet can be very seductive, as many of us here have learned.

I think these "relationships" were my way of dealing with the very natural feelings of desiring companionship and love, but without having to actually take all the risks that are involved with real-life dating. The ultimate rejections still hurt, but it's different. You don't have to hear the words or see the look on the face. You just simply stop receiving emails from him or her. That's it, it's done. Anyway, the problem was the worst about a year and a half to two years ago. I officially ended that chapter of my life on New Year's. My only resolution this year was to stop humiliating myself by seeking attention from these men who really don't want any kind of a serious relationship with me. The one I mentioned above, he was the last one. Liberating myself from that bad habit was a very good move on my part.

So, now my focus has shifted more toward real-life, tangible men that I can see and talk to. This is a big step, I think. I meet a lot of people all the time at school, and until recently, I've been kinda sizing up the "possibilities," the available men around me. This happens almost unconsciously, I narrow down the list, and then a couple weeks ago, my list narrowed all the way down to one. I've kinda become fixated on one person, one very cute male person who sits behind me in one of my classes. I don't know how this happened, this fixation. I don't even know if it's a good thing or a bad thing. Infatuation for me has always been kinda torturous, it makes me feel ill. My mom says that I get "lovesick" very easily, which sounds about right. I think I automatically assume that everything is going to go wrong, and I become more aware of all my faults, all the reasons why another would find me unacceptable. It eats away at me. It's amazing that I've ever been able to get past this and have a relationship at all, but luckily, I suppose I do also have some charming qualities.

Anyways, the other thing about this guy is that I don't really know too much about him. I'm not 100 percent sure that he is single, even, but I think he is. He is kinda quiet, but when he does talk, very insightful. And when he does talk to me, which only started happening a couple weeks ago, initiating all this, he is very kind. He is also a history major, and those are my favorite. Wink

This whole week, I've been feeling really outta sorts with all these overwhelming feelings and consuming thoughts. I last saw him on Wednesday, and I barely managed to keep my cool. I mentioned to him that we were going to be having a study group today, Friday, to prepare for the midterm. Today, my day went like this: feeling quite anxious most of the morning, talking myself out of thinking about all the reasons this too should fail, getting to campus and realizing that he wasn't even going to show up, had a fun and productive study group with those who did show up, but then afterward, I could not help but feel like I'd just been totally rejected. I think this is irrational, though, right? I mean, just because he didn't come to the study group isn't really a reflection of me, or what he thinks about me. That would be crazy, right?

I did feel really bad about this for a moment, I did cry a little, then I felt better. A bit more realistic, and maybe a bit less needy. The weird thing about this is that I'm not all that needy to begin with, but only in situations like this do I feel desperate for the approval of others. This is a far cry from where I used to be, so I guess I can't complain too much.

I'm not exactly sure what I'm feeling now. I still feel attracted to him, I'm still looking forward to seeing him on Monday, and plotting ways that I can show him special attention without being incredibly obvious, still hoping that he also has a special interest in me. What else can I do? Anything? Any ideas or suggestions? I need all the help I can get.

That's all for now,
Mari

PS: AFGO stands for "Another F*cking Growth Opportunity," for those who've only recently joined the group. Quite fitting, yes?

Comments

Breathe

...a lot. Slowly and deeply Wink

And *assume* that he has a partner already as you get to know him. That way you will treat him as a friend more easily.

At the same time, trust that there's a good reason for the connection, and be patient as you find out what it is.

*a big hug*

That is a very good idea

I think I can do that, too. There was someone I had my eye on briefly at the beginning of the semester, and I think he may have picked up on that, because his attitude toward me became somewhat business-like. I took it at first to mean he didn't like me, then I realized that he was married, and just being a good guy. I guess I'm not used to that so much. Anyhow, now he and I are becoming friends, so that is very cool.

I noticed last night after going through this wide range of emotions throughout the day, that what happens to me is that I begin to disconnect. Sometimes this takes a few days, in this case a few weeks, but eventually I begin to talk myself out of having any romantic feelings at all. Like the emotional roller coaster comes to an abrupt halt, and I just get off and walk away, wait till the next one comes along. Clearly, this is a means of self-protection, quite automatic, though.

So, it's 4:30 in the morning, and my mind goes between still feeling kinda rejected and wanting him to show me his approval, on the one hand, and on the other, feeling like it's probably not a very good idea anyways, so I should just get over it. However, I still have about nine or ten weeks till the end of the semester, so I have some time to figure it out.

Thank you, Marnia.

I like your openness

[quote] I begin to talk myself out of having any romantic feelings at all. Like the emotional roller coaster comes to an abrupt halt, and I just get off and walk away, wait till the next one comes along. Clearly, this is a means of self-protection, quite automatic, though.[/quote]

I do this too, dammit. For me, it's not thinking that it will go wrong, just that she will reject me. No reason, really, cuz often it's just a vibe thing, but I figure why put myself out there and get hurt when most likely I'll just be rejected anyway. Not a good strategy, obviously.

I'd try to find out why he missed the study group, maybe just a casual, "Aww, I missed ya at the study group!" If he seems like he really wanted to go but couldn't, then I say ask him to go get some chow or something. Nothing serious. Just a feeler. Hopefully after that, since he's the man, he'll ask you out for something more romantic if he's interested that way. Otherwise, he's probably not and it's time to go after someone else.

Thank you, as always

It's nice that I'm not the only one who does this, although it also sucks that either of us do this to ourselves. For me, when I begin to feel genuinely interested in someone, the next step is a lot of anxiety rushing in as I imagine possible scenarios - even scenarios where it could go "right" - then, it all crashes down as I begin the self-loathing thoughts about why in the world would this guy want anything to do with me, anyways?! I don't feel these things so intensely unless I'm in these situations, usually it's just a minor self-loathing, almost barely detectable. Wink Bad joke, but it's true enough.

This is usually followed by expert rationalizations about why the whole thing is obviously a waste of time, and then I just get over it - the end.

I thank you for the suggestion. I'm not sure I'm going to be able to jump from asking him why he missed the group to asking him out. That's kind of a far leap for me. If I was just never gonna see him after that, maybe. But we're in a class together, a small class. I can't do anything that would jeopardize the comfort of the classroom, for myself or anyone else.

Last year, I was in a relatively similar situation. See, I was in a class with a young guy (too young for me, but tempting, nonetheless). Through half the semester, I was completely oblivious to the fact that he was giving me special attention. The rest of the semester, I noticed he would go back and forth between closeness and distance just about every time I saw him, so I wasn't exactly sure what was going on. It was only on the last day of class, as I exited the room after the final, that I knew by the look in his eyes that I could have had just about anything I wanted from that young man.

The one I'm freaking out about currently, J., he is also a bit younger than me - 25, almost 26. Probably less experienced, and in the event that he is actually single, I don't wanna play the whole "he's the man, he should know what to do" game, because in my experience being the "older woman," it's a little different within this dynamic. Does that make sense?

Anyways, thanks. I'm overwhelmed by this, obviously, or else I wouldn't be talking about it here. I appreciate the support.

Ruminating

I used to go through almost the same head games about my crushes as the ones you describe. At this point I've kind of decided that real-life rejection isn't as bad as imagined rejection, because the former you only have to go through once, whereas the latter you can imagine over and over in every possible way and detail, with the added angst of uncertainty. Also, I think things get scary when the level of seriousness you've cooked up in your mind way outstrips the level of interaction that's happened in reality. Then you're not only trying to flirt, but trying to hide your feelings and fantasies which have become pressure cooked through too much dwelling on them.

Dating is a total crapshoot and you can't really get around it, but just flirting or asking someone out openly early in the game, even if it comes awkwardly to you, is actually a lot easier than trying to overthink everything. If someone jives with your personality overall, then they will also jive with however expressing your interest comes naturally to you (once you've gotten over your inhibitions about it).

My suggestion is to ask yourself: "If fear/anxiety were not an issue, how would I want to respond to this person?" Then tell your fear to (insert expletive) and just do it anyway.

Everything you say

Everything you say is so rational. Although I'm not showing it, I do have a rational side, too, it's just in fierce competition with the other side, the dark side. :) I watch myself cook up the fantasies, projection way too far ahead, and have a really hard time stopping myself. I really like your suggestion about simply ignoring the fear and anxiety. I'm asking myself what I would do if fear were not an issue right now, and the answer is... I would just talk to him confidently and friendly, get to know him a bit more as if I already knew that he liked me. And I do already know that he likes me as a person, so this shouldn't be such a big problem.

Dating is such a crapshoot, you're right. There really is no way around it, but I think there must be a way around the anxiety of this intensity. It's like I'm just beginning again, so hopefully I'll improve with time.

Thank you, Amari, for sharing your wisdom with me. :)

You're so cute

Your post is so cute (although I know you don't see it that way)! :) A *BIG HUG* to you. Reading your posts I know you're an intelligent, self-confident, interesting, caring, wonderful woman. Have confidence in yourself because the self-doubt has absolutely no basis. There's no reason for him not to like you.

You asked if you were being irrational about feeling rejected. Yes, you are. I read nothing in your post that sounded like rejection from him. There could be hundreds of reasons why he didn't come to the study group. Perhaps he had another commitment? He may have been looking after someone in his family? Perhaps he doesn't study well in groups? Or wanted to make it in but something came up? A flat tire? A friend called him for help? Or maybe... he didn't want to appear "too interested" in you? There's a general rule most guys use - if a woman shows interest and the guy is interested in her, the guy gives it 3 days before contacting / meeting her the second time. I know it sounds silly but trust me on this from a guys perspective. It adds a little anticipation for the woman which is basically what you're going through right now. I know you're thinking it feels miserable and you would prefer if he just asked you out right away but you couldn't be more wrong. The anticipation amplifies the attraction and makes it even better when he does eventually show interest in you.

Ok, so enough rambling about what a guy does. What can you do next? If you don't feel comfortable asking him out, flirt with him a little. Make fun of him for being uncool because he didn't come to the study group. Or tell him he's a social outcast. Most guys will flirt back and make fun of you for being a big nerd with your silly study group or something like that. When he does that - overreact with a big gasp and give him a shot on the arm. It's all a little fun and play but it very subtly says you find him interesting. It says I like you but doesn't say if you like him as a friend or if you want more. That should be enough of a signal for him to take it to the next step. He'll probably ask for your number or ask you out on Monday. [ok]

Thank you for the compliments, JB

I'll never complain about being called cute, at least not in this context. :) A few of the things you said did cross my mind as possibilities. And I know that I also do the thing where I don't want to appear "too interested." Such a silly human charade! But I suppose it's a defense mechanism. We gotta play the game, but we gotta self-protect, too.

It's midterms week, so I've been able this weekend to distract myself and think about other things. This week is gonna be crazy for everyone, and then I won't be going to that class for two whole weeks!! I'm really not in any condition to start actively pursuing him or anyone, but I'm going to try to just be myself, be friendly, and see where that goes.

If I could have anything I wanted, JB, I would want a slow developing relationship where we get to know eachother over time. The only thing getting in the way of that, it seems, is me. I am ruining it for myself with all this worry! Okay, so I'm gonna chill out, and just try and survive this crazy week!

Thank you for your support. :)

Amari is dead-on

about our imagined relationships vs. reality. When we ruminate and fantasize about that person, it is never close (usually) to reality. I am a serious offender. The good news is, you can save a lot of time once you actually get past the initial asking out/rejection/first date. I have sometimes kicked myself thinking "I put a lot of energy into that person and she just was not what I thought at all?" Yep, dating is like gambing. Who knows sometimes? There's trial and error, but maybe we can hold on to some inegrity and not play the game with sweaty palms. I have to say this retained energy does nothing but help and gives me a sense of purpose and in fact minimizes that daydreaming. Again, this is a man's view so I imagine we will be less vunerable and be able to "shake things off" anyway. Let me know how it goes!

I am so lucky

I am so lucky to have such a smart and insightful group of people here to turn to for advice and support. Thank you, ty4time, for your comments. Thinking about it more today, I think that rejection is not so much what I fear, as is finding out that he has a partner. Maybe that sounds weird, but I think it just has more to do with the fact that almost everyone I've been interested in the last couple years (who I've met in person, not online) are always involved with someone else. And they are not all so quick to let that on. This happened last semester, and for some reason or another, it really got to me. It hit me very deeply, and I remember that I actually started lashing out, getting angry at strangers and things like that. Very unlike me. And I say this knowing I'm not the only one, but I'm really getting tired of disappointments like that. And I know that whole idea about divine timing and everything, and in the end it all work out like it's supposed to, and all that jazz, but I'm also getting tired of being patient.

So, okay, I will stop whining. My cute friend did not come to class today. I understand, as it's midterms week, and he's got more to worry about than I do, I'm sure. So, I'll see him Wednesday, but that's our test day, then we have two weeks off of that class. I'm thinking that might be a good thing, giving me some time to get my head back on straight. And anyway, you know what they say about absence, and what it does to the heart. Not that my heart really needs to grow any fonder, but perhaps his does. :)

There is definitely a part of me that would like to just "go for it" and ask him out or whatever, just so I can know something for certain right now. At the same time, my gut feeling says I have to wait. I have to be patient. I think I also have to learn how to not torture myself over things like this. Under other circumstances, if I were feeling the way I'm feeling now, I'd probably just ask him out myself, and get it over with. But, really, I can't do that with half the semester left to go. I LOVE this class, with or without him, and it's very small (about 10 of us, but usually about 8 show up), and I just cannot jeopardize the comfort of the classroom. I think at some point, though, I will know by the way he acts towards me whether or not he is interested. *holding breath* This might not be the ideal time, it might be better to begin afresh after spring break. *still holding breath*

All I know is that I want a date to the new Star Trek movie, dammit, and that is in May. That is my goal. We'll see how it goes. :)

Four Years

Don't feel bad. Once I played this second-guessing game for four years (all four years of high school). Ugh, it was terrible. Four years of agony for what? Nothing! So if you indulge for a few weeks, well, it's not good, but at least you're not me! Wink

When I said to ask him out, I didn't mean for it to be a big serious deal, just a casual kind of thing where if he said no, it would be no big deal to keep seeing him in class. Ha! Easy to say, right? I've never pulled it off myself, but other people who're just friendly in general, not just to people they like but to people in general, can. The trick is to become that kind of person. It just takes practice. I used to do Aikido, and when I was going there, I was constantly getting opportunities to practice this. Got good at it too, but then it was too much, both the Aikido and the socializing, for my health, so I moved to focusing on healing instead. You have no such excuse. Wink