Objects of Desire

Today’s post breaks my own rules, because it’s about something that is not over, so I’m going to rely on my low readership numbers to protect me from the subject (or anyone else who might know him) reading this.

One of my plans, when I started this adventure — which I am almost halfway through now, you guys! — I had some very strict ideas of how it was going to work. I wasn’t going to “network” for dates. I wasn’t going look for people through my social circles. I wasn’t going to let my friends set me up with their brothers, or single guy friends. The biggest reason for this was that I wanted to keep complications low. If I was dating my friend’s cousin, and things didn’t work out, would I be disappointing her, as well as him? Will I be trying too hard to make a thing work to avoid awkwardness? It’s a lot easier when I can say, “Hey, this isn’t working out, and since we were total strangers before, I’ll go back to never seeing you again! Bye!”

At the end of this 6-month exercise, I’ll see how I feel about relaxing that rule, but for right now, I like the safety and anonymity.

This is why most of my dates have been through services, through online stuff, through programs designed to pair up strangers. It’s a deliberate choice.

On Tuesday of this week, I attended a local Meetup group for geeky singles in my area.

And I knew someone there.

He works with me — not in the same group, but in the same building. Several months ago, we were in a training class together. After the class, we connected on LinkedIn. And… well, and I mostly forgot him.

But he didn’t mostly forget me. When he saw me respond to the Meetup event, he recognized me. He said hi when we passed in the hall. He even spotted my OKCupid profile and sent a message there about how we keep bumping into each other.

On Tuesday, we were the only two there for the first little while, so we talked a lot. I enjoyed talking to him a lot: he’s an intelligent, enthusiastic guy with a lot of shared hobbies with me. As part of the conversation, though, he made a few comments which show that he has been far more aware of me than I’ve been of him. He knows where my office is — not surprising, since he’s not far away from it, but I certainly didn’t know where his was. He’s seen me in the halls, but never said anything, because I always look very purposeful when I walk. He was considering, before the meetup, asking if I wanted to meet for dinner first.

I have this intellectual sense that I should be flattered, and I think I am, but I’m also a bit suspicious, in way that have everything to do with my own emotional damage and nothing to do with him. I have absolutely done this with guys before — guys I noticed, guys who stood out. Guys I had lightweight work crushes on — the kind that makes you a little more enthusiastic about going into the office, and makes you remember to tuck your shirt in and not choose food that sticks in your teeth for lunch. I don’t think those are at all creepy. And in fact, I have this level of awareness of some people I’m not attracted to at all. People who I just noticed for some reason and couldn’t stop noticing: “Oh, that’s where he sits!” or “Aha! He’s going into the Fleebleburton meeting. Now I know a project he’s on.”

But I cannot put that concept into a space where I’m the object of attention or notice. And so I’m looking for ulterior motives, and feeling vaguely edgy, in ways that I don’t think are at all fair. I’m used to thinking that if I don’t initiate, if I don’t push myself out there, I won’t be noticed, and history backs me up fairly well. Every boyfriend I had in high school and college, I made the first move on, and I asked out for the first date. Every online dating conversation that’s led to a meet, I started. I am just not the kind of woman that men look at and say, “Hey. I want to ask her out.” But this is a guy who met me, who noticed me, who continued to be aware of me, and when he found out I was interested in dating, sent out a signal flag to me.

This is the way dating is supposed to happen, right? Why does it seem so strange?

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2 thoughts on “Objects of Desire

  1. Let your defences down a bit and have some fun! He obviously thinks you’re attractive and worth spending some time on, so let him do it. I’m looking forward to hearing if anything comes out of this.

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  2. Thanks, Monica! I’m mostly feeling flustered and off guard because of how and why I set up my rules. The safety margins are lower than I wanted them for this initial run of dating. I just have to keep reminding myself that life is like that: the lines are always fuzzier than you want them to be.

    So far, I’ve had fun talking with him, though we need to try a date where it’s easier to test out physical chemistry: namely, one without a really massive table between us.

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