Ive spent most of my life stuck in an unusual sort of rut when it comes to matters of my love life.
Which is to say…. I dont have one. Im 24 years old and Ive never really managed to get past that initial flirty fun stage of meeting someone and going “Hey, they are pretty cute. Im gonna wave at them…. and maybe say hello.” The part where you get butterflies when you see them across the room and are dying to just find out more about them and blush all the time.
Ive always been extremely shy/ quiet and extremely insecure and the older I get the worse it seems to get. I spend a lot of time internally wondering what I look like to other people, mainly…. men, or worrying that Im not likable or wondering what it is that makes every interaction Ive ever had with a man end at or before the casual flirting stage.
For a while I just chalked it up to being fat and unattractive. I convinced myself any perceived flirting has always been a figment of my imagination and gave up on the very concept of dating all together. Ive told myself Im too picky and set the bar too high and Ive told myself that Im unapproachable and unfriendly.
Now though, Im pretty certain thats not the case and I dont know which is worse…. believing you’re too ugly to be loved…. or believing there is something wrong with who you are as a person, like being too socially awkward and making people cringe with your almost autistic levels of social awkwardness.
Im less and less certain that my looks or my believed inability to flirt are to blame because I made a pretty interesting hindsight realization shortly after graduating college.
There were plenty of people in school that I found attractive but I had 5 significant “crushes” within my field of study. All of which I immediately labelled “too cool” or “too attractive” or “too taken” or “too popular” for me to ever approach. So I quietly admired them from a distance. Of those 5, by my 4th year of school, 3 of them had at one point or another decided to go out of their way to talk to me and became a casual acquaintance that would happily make friendly small talk with me in the hallways or on the elevator or while walking down the street near the school, 1 became my friend, and would often walk me to my car after our shared night class. Only 1 of those 5 did I never really end up getting approached and befriended by. He turned out to be kind of a jerk in general. But were still friends on facebook none the less. Now, maybe Im reading too much into things, it really wouldnt be the first time. Or maybe my ability to attract the opposite sex and flirt non-verbally was way more on point and less creepy and clumsy than I thought it was.
However thats where each of those tales ends. I havent seen most of them or heard from them since graduation day other than a small facebook comment here or there. Even IF I ran into them Im sure it would be the same as it was in school, where we greet each other like were old friends, catch up on what the other has been up to, swap a story or two about our experiences in our field of study….. and then part ways.
Now fast forward closer to the present. Ive been out of school for a little over a year and a half but Ive been incredibly busy just….. trying to start a new life for myself. I moved pretty far from my family, got a new job and a new apartment and basically turned my world upside down. To be honest I wasnt thinking about guys all that much for a while. Id been much more concerned with keeping my junker car running and keeping in touch with family and living on my own for the first time in my life and learning to live with another person thats not my family. I never did the dorm thing in college so this was all so new!
And thats when HE starts working at the store. I noticed him on his very first day, almost immediately as I walked into work. The perfect target for my crush-radar to zero in on. And Im not the only one. Every female with eyes takes notice of this new guy. He is handsome, and younger…. with an easy smile and an outgoing personality.
Annnd within that week of hearing about this new guy, and seeing how all the women in the store are charmed by him I decide he falls into the “too attractive for me” spectrum and turn my focus back to my job. I still look at him of course…. hes the only decent piece of eye candy in the whole store…. but Im careful to keep my distance and never meet his gaze directly unless hes speaking to me. Which he does, every now and again– but he does with every other girl as well. He turns out to be quite the attention seeker.
Now fast forward another 4 months and all those moments that I had previously perceived as him just peacocking in general for all the ladies are suddenly seeming less and less like they are meant for any of my coworkers. He starts bringing me snacks and sitting with me when we’re both on break and taking interest in some of the things I like/ asking me basic “get to know” questions. He winks at me in passing and makes faces and gives me high fives. My confidence for once in my life is at an all time high so for once I dont talk myself out of believing that its flirting and I do what I can to flirt back without totally giving myself a social anxiety panic attack.
That was a month ago.
Now were in some kind of a stale mate. We smile at each other and wave and greet each other, we steal glances and occasionally make very G rated flirty remarks to each other in passing, stick out our tongues at each other and make very casual small talk– like “how about this weather” kind of small talk.
And thats it. If theres some kind of window when that kind of flirting can turn into something more I fear Ive missed it…. once again. And now Im sitting here wondering why nothing ever goes further. Why the guys that show interest in me never show enough interest to get my number or “make a move” or get to know me beyond the very basics. Wondering what I should be saying or doing differently to turn a guy putting his arm around me casually and saying “hey sweetheart. Hows it going?” into a guy wanting to date me.
And I know…. That guys fear rejection just as much as girls and I know that always waiting for a guy to make a move is somewhat outdated thinking. Its not that I havent tried being the one to make the move. I have. Id prefer not to go there again though because Ive never not made an absolute fool of myself or been completely taken advantage of when I did try things that way.