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On Failing to Date - The Life and Thoughts of Zach

Aug. 20th, 2003

03:15 pm - On Failing to Date

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I keep meaning to write LJ posts about all the people that friends and family have subtly been trying to set me up with that I've been COMPLETELY OBLIVIOUS to lately. I'm really not good at the whole dating thing at all. When some friend introduces me to some girl and she strikes up the small talk I immediately think she's just being polite and can't wait to get back to the rest of the party so I try to give her the out to do so by not getting too deep into conversation and only MUCH LATER to I find out that apparently she thought I was cool/cute/whatever or at the very least my friends/family thought that we'd really get along because we had X in common (which never actually came up in the small talk because I'm a dork).

I still don't understand how it was that I was CONSTANTLY partnered with people for 9 years of my life. Whenever a relationship would end, a new one would start shortly after. I didn't work at that, it just happened. It doesn't happen anymore and now I have to learn what kind of work even needs to be done.

I think all of this is hilarious because I don't have low self-esteem and I'm an outgoing extroverted guy. But I have just always assumed that in generic social situations, among complete strangers, the first impression of me is that I am boring and unsexy. Perhaps it doesn't help that as an organizer I tend to throw parties and go into host mode MUCH more often than I go to parties as a guest, so when I am a guest I get shy and feel like I have no idea what I am supposed to be DOING.

I have never in my entire life asked a girl for her phone number with romantic intentions. Isn't that weird?

I think sometimes I'm deathly afraid of being perceived as an oggler, an objectifier, an asshole. I don't want to make the first move (where move is something as simple as _asking_ someone on a date or getting a phone number) because to do so would reaffirm some male stereotype if the move was in fact unwanted. I'd be contributing to a culture where just being female means people hit on you. I mean any girl I can think of has complained about this reality...so how do I differentiate myself who is interested in her because I think she's cool from that other guy who just saw some hot chick across the bar and thought he'd try his luck?

These are just things I think about and get amused about. In the end I know randomness will bring me and someone together sometime. It always has and when it does it isn't so uncomfortable.

Current Mood: amusedamused

Comments:

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From:folkyboy
Date:August 20th, 2003 01:18 pm (UTC)
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i think you are so bi. hahaha
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From:goytoy
Date:August 20th, 2003 01:26 pm (UTC)
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Are you sure you're not my pal Eli, in the Witness Protection Program?

I would never complain about a guy w/ whom I had enjoyed a worthwhile conversation asking if I was free to do something else, as long as he was polite about it. One tip – make a request for a specific event. (You’re talking about a new restaurant and say, “I’ve been meaning to go there – want to try and check it out on Thursday? This enables her to easily get out of it if she’s not interested. (Unlike the “let’s get together sometime” approach.) And if she is, and she is just busy, she can say, “Oh, I can’t make it then but how about….?” Another tip (probably obvious) don’t except in very unusual circumstances ask someone out for an event sooner than a few days away. No one wants to think that they look like nothing is going on in their life. Oh, and my final tip, one which (again) you probably don’t need, is not to act too overtly romantic. I always liked a guy who was obviously enjoying my company, but if they started complimenting me physically or talking about going somewhere “quiet” or something, it always squicked me out.

Good luck!
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From:zarfmouse
Date:August 20th, 2003 01:49 pm (UTC)
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Oh I'm all over that stuff.

It's something much more ill-defined, social anxiety kinda thing (not like clinical...just like random average nervousness and fear), that I seem to have the problem with.

Of course, there's also always the danger of ending up in The Friend Zone. I ran smack into that a couple of times. I don't worry about that so much though.
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From:goytoy
Date:August 20th, 2003 02:45 pm (UTC)
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Everybody has that. Don't let anyone kid you.
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From:spillshercoffee
Date:August 20th, 2003 01:42 pm (UTC)
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I don't know either, man.
I'm right there with you.

The only people who hit on me are usually drunks. And therefor, not worthy of entering the equation. I don't believe I've ever been on a real "date". I have no concept of how to act or the protocol when I'm in the situation anyway. I'm always too nervous to behave the way I "should". I've blown it more than once by not following through, I'm sure. I'm dating retarded. And I've often confused matters by not knowing whether I was on a date or not, and how is that really defined when you're just getting to know someone? I usually wait for someone else to make the first move. Anytime I've made the first move, which has been plenty, I've been shot down. I hate rejection. But if I wait, the move never comes, or it comes from the wrong person. Dammit. Why can't we all just say what we feel and DO something about it?

It's all about timing. And I have BAD timing.
Heh.
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From:zarfmouse
Date:August 20th, 2003 01:45 pm (UTC)
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YES. Exactly.

Patience, I guess.
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From:zarfmouse
Date:August 20th, 2003 01:53 pm (UTC)
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Oh I know that's the truth! But try telling it to my brain. :)
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From:superlemming13
Date:August 20th, 2003 02:05 pm (UTC)
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"I think sometimes I'm deathly afraid of being perceived as an oggler, an objectifier, an asshole. I don't want to make the first move (where move is something as simple as _asking_ someone on a date or getting a phone number) because to do so would reaffirm some male stereotype if the move was in fact unwanted. I'd be contributing to a culture where just being female means people hit on you. I mean any girl I can think of has complained about this reality...so how do I differentiate myself who is interested in her because I think she's cool from that other guy who just saw some hot chick across the bar and thought he'd try his luck?"

I feel the same way, except for I have typically had low self esteem through my life, so it makes more sense. :)
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From:juvenilia
Date:August 20th, 2003 02:50 pm (UTC)
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i like it when people post personal things.

especially since all i do is post personal things and no one ever comments on them.

you are right on. on all of the points made above.

having also been in and out of relationships that just kind of happened for the majority of my adult life, when people hit on me, i do not know what to do. most of the time, i am completely oblivious to the proposition (used in the non-gross sense of the word) entirely. this causes much amusement on the part of my friends.

post more stuff like this. then i won't feel like the only emotional person on all of livejournal.
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From:zarfmouse
Date:August 20th, 2003 03:19 pm (UTC)
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Ha. I was under the impression that I posted stuff like this all the time. I guess maybe I post it more as comments than entries or something. Also there's all the posts that I intend to make but then don't because I don' t have the time. Believe me, in a perfect LJ world I'd spend hours a day chronicling my philosophies about relationships and dating and telling stories of my past experiences. Lucky for everyone else, I don't have the time so it just comes out in random bits and pieces.

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From:zarfmouse
Date:August 20th, 2003 03:24 pm (UTC)
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People might comment on your personal entries more if they weren't so coded and artsy. :)

I always have this fear that I'm misinterpretting your personal posts, not understanding the subtext, and possibly revealing my strange psychological makeup (like failing a rorshach test or misinterpretting some art). So I just absorb them and move on.


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From:juvenilia
Date:August 20th, 2003 04:15 pm (UTC)
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zach, if i was specific, my posts would no longer be even remotely interesting.

come on now.
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From:sdm
Date:August 21st, 2003 10:50 am (UTC)
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hmmm... maybe i should talk in code more in my journal entries.
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From:juvenilia
Date:August 21st, 2003 10:53 am (UTC)
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maybe you should just post more.

keeps things interesting when there is a constant flow of update.
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From:assclouds
Date:August 20th, 2003 06:09 pm (UTC)
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most of the time, i am completely oblivious to the proposition

I'll give you one million dollars for a night alone with your LiveJournal account.
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From:juvenilia
Date:August 20th, 2003 07:08 pm (UTC)
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what, you want to like, hack my account?

i promise, all but one of the posts are public. there's no juicy private posts.

what exactly are you asking me?`
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From:assclouds
Date:August 20th, 2003 07:13 pm (UTC)
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You are no fun what-so-ever.
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From:juvenilia
Date:August 21st, 2003 07:55 am (UTC)
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of course not. that's the point.
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From:herbivorous
Date:August 20th, 2003 03:29 pm (UTC)

good grief...

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a) After knowing you for what I'd say was definitely "a coon's age", I would say that you are probably in my Top Five of Guys I'd NEVER Assume Were an Ogler or an Asshole. Considering that many of the men that I know and love are self-identified "dogs", this is a rare accomplishment. I am fairly certain that you would have to work at it to be taken as an objectifier by any woman who actually paid attention to the way you behave/thought. It just ain't you. And I loved what you said about "contributing to a culture where just being female means people hit on you", because I'd never quite thought about it like that before, and it is most definitely true.

b) Geeks--at least the ones *I* know, anyway--don't date. At least not in a traditional way. I've been in several long-term relationships, had what I would consider a fairly decent history of actually *having* a Significant Other, but I would be hard-pressed to remember actual "dates" that led to anything other than a night of horrible awkwardness. (Did I ever tell you about the time I agreed to go out for drinks with a cute guy from work only to find out that he'd gotten his degree in while in prison for armed robbery? Oh yes, and then he got drunk and got in a fight with a bum. So much for "dating".)

Geeks--which is my shorthand for smart, reasonably well-educated, socially progressive, interesting people who usually know an inordinate amount about Monty Python, Douglas Adams, anime, or comic books--end up with SO's because they meet someone cool in a social situation, hang out for awhile, and sooner or later, they realize there's mutual attraction there, which is when the romantic/physical stuff happens. We don't set aside weird little blocks of time at a restaurant or a movie for one-on-one interaction until AFTER we're a couple, often. Dating in the geek world is more fluid than that, and I think it might be healthier. The few men that have asked for my phone number that I did NOT meet at a social gathering with other friends were, as was stated earlier, usually drunks. And not geeks.
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From:zarfmouse
Date:August 20th, 2003 03:50 pm (UTC)

Re: good grief...

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Yah, dating by "social magic" has always been what I have told others who are worried about meeting other people to try and it is what has always worked for me in the past. I just live in perpetual fear that either I've lost my social magic or my social circles are becoming more and more devoid of available people and at some point I'll have to be more proactive.

(Realize of course that I only say "perpetual fear" in the Hyperbole Boy sense. This shit REALLY isn't that big of a deal. I've met people with serious social anxiety. I'm A-OK compared to that shit.)

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From:zarfmouse
Date:August 20th, 2003 04:14 pm (UTC)

Re: good grief...

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Wow. This is a much longer and more rambling entry than I thought. Weeks worth of LJ worthy ramblings spilling out into an under-editted comment. I should really be busy finishing these damned IMCfest posters.

It's ironic that you should mention your self-identified "dog" friends. Just last night Sam and Scott were talking about looking forward to school coming back in session because of all the hot young chicks that'd be out and about. I mentioned that it had actually NEVER occurred to me that that was a thing to look forward to. I mean when I walk around I don't really look at people, much less oggle the hotties. When an attractive person walks past me I don't generally turn my head and watch them go by. And if I do notice that someone is attractive I don't particularly get such a special rush out of non-interactively looking that I'd ever think "maybe I'll go walk across the quad instead of down some other street so I can see more".

That conversation and this conversation are linked.

It is so weird how different people's experience of the social world is. I can't conceive of looking at the world the way Sam does. I just don't understand it. It isn't that I disapprove of it, or that I hide the part of me that is that way, I just don't get it. The same is true for TONS of other kinds of ways of interfacing to the world that people have.

And all these observations are tied up in another strange way with the fact that I do really enjoy porn/erotica. I mean that shit IS objectifying. Here I am PAYING for sexual imagery of people I've never met (though I have become online non-porn friends with a couple different geeky women who run porn sites). And I don't have any qualms about it. I've justified it to myself (and someday I'll write the big long LJ entry justifying it to the world). I hate corporate porn, I hate expoitive porn, I hate images of unreal undiverse people, I love consensual, self-produced, realistic images of naked people and I'll pay for it to ensure that the people making it themselves are getting paid. I guess the difference is that these people asked to be oggled (which is probably why I'm always so concerned about the economic structure of a given porn source, I always check into that before paying/enjoying). The college girls on the quad certainly did not ask to have some (even unseen) guy staring at them, they're just trying to get to their fucking class.

So that's tied in there too. There's some grand observations linking together my shyness and difficulty to make eye contact or remember names of new people and my disinterest in oggling college girls and my insecurities about dating and that I'm oblivious to being hit and the overlap of my feminist rationalization for my own insecurities and the insecurities themselves and other stuff too.

I'm going to go make some posters.

(The problem with posting an emotional/introspective post is that even when you _think_ you are just posting a random fleeting amusing observation, you get all this advice and questions and ponderings and you resond and then BAMPF conversation ensues when you should be making posters. :)
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From:soulsong
Date:August 20th, 2003 05:29 pm (UTC)
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I've done dating both as a boy, and as a girl. Only once I experienced being 'hit on' as a woman did I finally understand how I should have done the flirting as a guy. Basically what I learned is this: I sense sexual tension as a woman in a way that I never did as a guy, and I require there to be a certain amount of tension for me to see a guy as possibly something more than a friend. Too much tension and that's 'game over' too of course - that just makes me feel like an object. Those who've won my affections did so with just the right amount of sexual tension; they were forward enough so that i knew they were interested, without being so forward as to be cheesy, formulaic or obviously desperate for a fuck. In response to this I've found I can fairly easily provide the right kind of feedback to let my suitors know if they're winning.

The obvious question then is how much tension is enough? And of course I can't answer that, because I never mastered it as a guy before I transitioned. Certainly when a guy gets it right there's absolutely nothing false about it. It tends to be totally unselfconscious, just naturally finding the sweet spot. It's like a natural predatory instinct that you can feel just below the surface. Guys who have it are instantly sexy and interesting. Unfortunately those who don't only make good friends at best.

I suggest you get over your fear of being an 'objectifier'. Only the socially inept and completely sex-obsessed guys are like that. It's okay to give out energy that says 'I'm interested in getting to know you better'; It means you're strong and you're willing to risk rejection but you dont expect to be rejected, and we like that. :) The thing I always really want to know about a guy is, 'are we on the same path, do we see life the same way?'. I want to know if they have something to teach me. I want to know if there's something I can teach them.
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From:zarfmouse
Date:August 20th, 2003 06:13 pm (UTC)
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That's very interesting about boys being oblivious to sexual tension. I can totally dig that.

Girls as strange unpredictible predators, of course, only fuels my fears. ;)

Your rare perspective on this is very cool and highly perceptive.

And like I've said to others though, I'm not really "afraid of being an objectifier". That's a very exagerated statement (Hyperbole Boy strikes again) about my fear of being misinterpretted which is probably really just a fear of rejection. Who knows?

And of course I work to get over my fears. They don't dominate my life in any way. In my post I was merely observing them, not giving in to them.
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From:soulsong
Date:August 20th, 2003 06:16 pm (UTC)
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Indeed. But thankyou for giving me the opportunity to share my perspective in any case. It is rare to find a sufficiently safe space in which to share.
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From:marezcharz
Date:August 21st, 2003 06:06 am (UTC)
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My journal's a safe place to share, too.

I appreciate your entry. It's great to hear someone who has actually experienced both sides.

I am inspired to check out your journal.
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From:assclouds
Date:August 20th, 2003 06:05 pm (UTC)

*cough*

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Er... you have too many copies of Bitch floating around on the bathroom floor to be an "oggler".
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From:zarfmouse
Date:August 20th, 2003 06:14 pm (UTC)

Re: *cough*

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Maybe I'm oggling Alix Olson on the back cover!
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From:assclouds
Date:August 20th, 2003 07:09 pm (UTC)

Re: *cough*

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Jumping Jehosephat! You're either the worst kind of oggler, or an oggler with horrible aim.
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From:samwize
Date:August 20th, 2003 07:17 pm (UTC)

In all fairness...

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It is so weird how different people's experience of the social world is. I can't conceive of looking at the world the way Sam does. I just don't understand it. It isn't that I disapprove of it, or that I hide the part of me that is that way, I just don't get it. The same is true for TONS of other kinds of ways of interfacing to the world that people have.

Well, if you're at all interested in understanding that way of interaction, the first thing you need to do is stop characterizing it as "oggling" or "staring". I'm looking. There's a difference. I appreciate the scenery. That's all. Woman are beautiful. I'm genetically programed to love looking at them. So I look. Remarking on the coeds return is almost functionally identical to saying "The leaves should be turning soon. Won't that be nice?" except I actually enjoy the one. :P

I can appreciate the sexual aesthetics of a woman's body without turning into a slavering beast or creepo.
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From:marezcharz
Date:August 21st, 2003 06:08 am (UTC)
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I have next Friday free.

hehehe
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From:(Anonymous)
Date:August 22nd, 2003 01:45 pm (UTC)

You phreak.

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Hi this is Rose but it says I'm anonymous because I don't do that whole weird blog thing and so can't log in. But I just wanted to second Chia's point a). You are absolutely one of the *least* objectifying men I know, although I do appreciate your not wanting to reinforce a sexist culture. Plus, it's been a million years since I've seen you at a party where you were not the host but I bet you are cute at those parties. (-:,
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From:(Anonymous)
Date:September 14th, 2003 08:43 am (UTC)
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Don't feel guilty or lecherous that a girl chatting you up might have thoughts of getting to know you intimately, or that you might have similar thoughts. There's nothing wrong with that.

I'll agree that it shouldn't ever be a primary goal. But just as many women wanting to get to know you better, might be thinking, "this guy is so interesting and unique, I might even consider holding him close... and then some!"

There's no sin in sex. Too many geeks (and I'm counting myself as a "card-carrying" one), think physical attraction (or even thoughts to that effect) is something to be avoided, for some reason or another. Almost a "metro-monk"-like rationalization.

But is it "chicken, or egg"?
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