A couple months ago I wrote about a guy that I had a crush on, who snubbed me. But he recently said some things and acted in a way that made me think that maybe he did like me. I won't specify what they were, but I thought maybe he was flirting with me.
I've never been very good at reading those signals. In Chicago, I routinely get harassed. Some creeps are aggressive; not only will they yell out profane things to me, they'll lunge at me (some succeeded in grabbing me, and a lot of screaming and running on my part was enough to shake them off). It annoys and scares me. Stuff like that doesn't just happen to me; it happens to a lot of women, not just in Chicago, but everywhere. That makes me keep my guard up, so that I keep my head down, avoid eye contact with strangers (some creeps view eye contact as an "invitation," which it's NOT, at least not for me), and I don't talk to strangers who hit on me.
When the nice guys, like my crush, flirt in much more subtle, less aggressive, and not-at-all creepy ways, my guard is still up and I usually miss the signals they're sending. More than one guy has flirted with me (one guy even casually asked me out), and I didn't even realize it until it was too late.
I've never been very good at flirting. It's difficult for me to ask a guy out in person. I've done it in the past. A few guys said yes, but more guys said no. It was easier to express interest in a guy when I was doing the online dating thing. At least on a dating website, most people's intentions were clear: they were online because they hoped to meet someone they could date. So after exchanging a few e-mails with a guy, it was easy to invite him for coffee or dinner (or sometimes he'd ask me out first), because from the first wink or e-mail we'd already made it clear to each other that we were interested.
But my crush wasn't someone I met online; like I said before, he's someone I've known for a while. I didn't even see him in that way until recently. When it seemed like he was flirting with me, I hinted that I was interested too.
I kept making excuses for why he hadn't asked me out. He's busy with work. Maybe he's as shy as I am. Maybe he thinks I'm not interested. After a while, I thought to myself, He's NOT as shy as I am, and I've known him long enough to know that for a fact. If he really liked me, he would have just come right out and said it. But he never did.
I started going back over all our most recent conversations and saw everything (including him) in a new light. Maybe he did like me. Maybe it was just a flirtation that didn't mean anything to him. But it meant something to me, and I felt angry and foolish for thinking that it meant more to him.
My first reaction was to lie in my bed with the shades drawn and replay Adele's songs. I also couldn't help resenting him, even though he didn't do anything wrong. He can't help what he doesn't feel. As they say, he's just not that into me, and I'm just not the type of woman to try and change his mind.
Even though I have dated more guys than I care to count, I've also been rejected by many more guys, particularly on online dating sites. I built a wall around myself for protection, not just from the creeps out in public, but also from the guys I liked who didn't like me back. Due to all those rejections, I even pushed away the nice guys that were interested in me because it was difficult for me to believe that they could like me. So I felt angry at my crush for breaking through that protective bubble I
kept around myself. He was the first person I felt anything
real for in a long time.
When I finally started to think that nothing would ever happen with him, the walls started going up again. I started to avoid him. Being a workaholic is comforting sometimes, because I can withdraw into my work and escape from those feelings that make everything complicated. It's how I kept my heart closed off for so long.
But one good thing about this whole situation is that my crush on this guy is proof that that part of me is still alive. So it didn't work out with him, but maybe it'll work out with someone else. Maybe I'll join another dating site eventually, or maybe I'll try going to more events around the city and meet someone that way. Or maybe there ISN'T someone out there for me, and at least that way I can focus on my work, which truly is and always will be my passion. You don't have to be unmarried to be successful, of course, but I do know of many successful, happy workaholics out there who stayed unattached. Maybe I'll be one of them. Or maybe not.
What about you? If you're single, what do you think of flirting? If you're in a relationship, did you flirt with your significant other (or vice versa), or was one of you more direct and just asked the other out?
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