meeting other people & the wrong idea

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Post by fakely mctest on Tue Mar 31, 2015 11:22 am

So, this has come up a couple times for me lately, partly because when I meet a new person who seems cool I get really excited and even chattier than normal. I would say also that if I'm in a highly social setting, like a bar, this effect is heightened. I also happen to do a lot of things on my own and often do social stuff on a one-on-one basis that maybe can feel date-y to people?

When I'm single, potential romantic/platonic misunderstandings aren't a problem in the same way, but since I'm dating (a wonderful sweetheart of a guy who I adore and would never want to hurt if I can avoid it) things are trickier. Most recently, I ran into this guy who I sort of knew because he used to work in my neighborhood. He texted me today asking to go for a drink and I replied that if it were a friendly get-together that was fine, but I wasn't sure if I'd mentioned the whole "I have a boyfriend" thing and I didn't want to presume from a one-off conversation, but I did want to be clear presently. He said I hadn't mentioned my boyfriend, but he's still interested in meeting up, a friendly thing is cool, etc etc. I said, maybe in a few weeks we could get coffee.

The problem is that this has sent my anxiety into overdrive. Background on this is that I have a diagnosed anxiety disorder, which I've taken medication for for many years so I know that my anxiety isn't always the result of anything but squirrels running around in my brain. I feel like I should have mentioned my BF immediately, that I should have been less friendly, that this is all part of some fucked up desire for attention and validation. I did once cheat on a long-term BF (different guy, many years ago) when we were doing the long distance thing because I was in grad school in the UK. It is hands down the worst thing I've ever done, completely destroyed my sense of who I thought I was, and ended up being the precipitating event that led to my depression and anxiety diagnosis.

It doesn't help that, within the past month or so, a couple of people I've seen as friends have made passes at me. So the most innocuous reason would be that I'm open and friendly and the least innocuous is that I am somehow cultivating romantic attention because of something lacking in myself.

So what should I do about this guy? My instinct is not to make plans. I'm not sure there's anything hinky there, but I'm also not sure that my brain would see it as anything BUT hinky. Of course, the larger question is what should I do about myself? Avoiding bars and other super casual social stuff is probably a good start -- I just get so carried away and I let that excitement lead me around in ways that later make me feel bad. At the very least, I think I'll take a month to do quieter, at-home things.

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Post by nopenoperson on Tue Mar 31, 2015 1:32 pm

I would say he is lying about being cool with a friendly meet up... But that's probably because I wouldn't waste my time meeting you for coffee for a conversation tht could be had just as easily on Facebook messenger... I wouldn't see the point. Of course that's just me..

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Post by Enail on Tue Mar 31, 2015 2:37 pm

I think if it's going to cause you distress, don't worry about parsing out his intentions and don't get in touch with him.

On the larger question, do you think it would help to separate out what behaviors you believe are a-okay for someone in a relationship versus what ones you feel are harmful/cultivating romantic attention? Since it's a topic that's so wrapped up in identity and anxiety for you, it might be less stressful to think about it in general rather than for you specifically.  

And if you have a guideline like that to follow of behaviors that you feel confident are okay, maybe if you get people hitting on you anyway it would help you recognize that it's not your "fault" and take the anxiety of feeling responsible for other peoples' feelings or actions out of it a little?
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Post by Werel on Tue Mar 31, 2015 5:42 pm

Seconding Enail's very good idea to lay out your own internal guidelines on what's okay/not okay, and to remind the anxiety-brain that how other people interpret your within-guidelines behavior is up to them.

I'd also submit that a) there's nothing inherently shameful in enjoying the fact that somebody's attracted to you, and it's not necessarily fucked-up validation-seeking or filling-a-lack-in-yourself to be flattered by a person's interest; b) you don't necessarily have to "cultivate" others' romantic interest-- if you're a fun, engaging, cool person, you may not be doing anything to "cause" dudes to take a romantic interest in you, other than being awesome, which I don't advise putting a stop to; and c) it sounds like you did mention your BF pretty promptly. I wouldn't sweat the fact that you haven't had "TAKEN" tattooed on your forehead.

And even though it sounds like what you're most concerned about is how your behavior reflects on you, would the not-wanting-to-hurt-current-BF aspect be helped by talking through his boundaries in more depth? Do you feel like you have a good grasp on his preferences and comfort zone for "GF hanging out one-on-one with people who might be attracted to her"? Or are you just trying to act within a more general model of okay behavior, because you're not entirely sure where his specific preferences/feelings sit? If it's a conversation you'd be comfortable having, would it be useful to go from "BF, I've been having some trouble figuring out what being a good partner to you means WRT to hanging out one-on-one with people who are attracted to me. How would you feel about Situation A? How about Situation B?"

I'd say if it's causing you anxiety, and there's no existing friendship on the line with this dude, there's no problem with never making plans with him.


Last edited by Werel on Tue Mar 31, 2015 10:26 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : grammer no make sense)
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meeting other people & the wrong idea Empty Re: meeting other people & the wrong idea

Post by fakely mctest on Wed Apr 01, 2015 12:53 pm

Thanks guys! These are all great suggestions. I'm feeling a lot calmer today. I think my jerkbrain is apt to go off with the klaxons that all shout "Everything is your fault! You asked for this somehow!" all at once.

I did talk to my boyfriend once after my one friend made a pass at me. My friend and I were hanging out watching a movie and he kept doing things like putting his arm over my shoulder or following me into the kitchen if I got up to get a glass of water or whatever. I kept trying to shrug him off or put some distance between us. Finally when he tried to kiss me I got up and said I was tired and I was going to bed and that he should leave. Dude apologized the next day, which is why I'm still friends with him, but I felt so guilty, like I'd encouraged it, like I should have kicked him out sooner.

ANYHOW, I told my boyfriend about that -- not all the gory details, but that my friend had been inappropriate and I had to kick him out -- and how awful I felt and my boyfriend was just like, "I trust you." And gave me a big hug.

My general MO with new people is to invite them to various outings I organize, that way it's a few people together. I think I was thrown because this guy basically asked me on a date and then my brain was "OMG you did something to cause this because you're a fundamentally needy person and will accept attention in whatever form it takes." (my dad spent some of my childhood calling me selfish on an intermittent basis and that's still something I struggle with in terms of being able to parse the difference between normal behavior and being selfish).

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Post by PintsizeBro on Thu Apr 02, 2015 3:58 pm

nopenoperson wrote:I would say he is lying about being cool with a friendly meet up... But that's probably because I wouldn't waste my time meeting you for coffee for a conversation tht could be had just as easily on Facebook messenger... I wouldn't see the point. Of course that's just me..
Assuming that the two activities are interchangeable means you view coffee and conversation as a means to an end. But human contact (and caffeine) for its own sake is a thing that people engage in all the time.

And if the guy lied, that's his problem, not fakely's.

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