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And Thus Romance Takes its Revenge

October 4, 2010

You may recall that I’ve been writing a lot about romantic type stuff in recent-ish posts?  Like here and here?

Well, my guess is that it’s all probably because I had been thinking a lot about romance, which is a subject that I’ve always been… wary of.  Falling in love has been off the agenda for ages.  And finally I think I was starting to come to the conclusion that I might be capable of letting myself start something like that.

FAIL. And yes, if you’re friends with me on Facebook, I guarantee you’ve already heard this story.

It started out sort of okay.  One of my friends took me out on a date, which was all fine and good.  We had fun.  But he’s not someone that I want to start anything with anyhow, but it was nice of him.  And I decided a long time ago that if someone decided to ask me on a date that I would go on one date with him, even if I don’t like the guy.

But then things turned a little more tricky.

Recently I’ve started to go out Blues dancing on Wednesdays.  And Blues dancing… well, it’s unlike anything I’ve ever seen before, much less done before.  Not many mormon girls do it.  Which means that I feel kind of sacriligious, but it’s kind of my moment to be social and have some fun.  And the first night was super fun.  I had no clue what I was doing, but I had the chance to dance with not one, but two VERY talented guys.  I got to shock all of my non-LDS friends, who realized that I must have some idea of how to move my hips.  The funnest part was listening to them talking about it on the sidelines.  It’s not one of those things you hear a lot in other moments of your life.  I had girls teaching me different moves.  I stole one guy’s hat.  It was a lot of fun, and I think that night I really needed it.

Well, the next week, it was a little more different.

Instead, I ended up somehow dancing a ton with a guy who must be at least ten years older than me, has already been married, divorced, and has a kid.  This is how one of the conversations with him went:

  • Him:  Yeah, I’ve been married before.  And divorced.  But it’s been two years now, and I’m doing much better.
  • Me:  That’s good.
  • Him:  But being married already makes me trash, doesn’t it?
  • Me:  …Not necessarily.  (I mean, what are you supposed to say when someone does that?  I try to have a lot of respect for people who have been divorced.  I’ve seen what it does, and I know it’s not easy.  But apparently this guy took it to mean that I wouldn’t object to dating him.  Not what I meant at all.)

Well, the following Saturday I got one of my friends to take me grocery shopping.  She stayed in the car because her leg was in a little bit of pain, and she had some writing that she was working on.  So while I’m in the store, swiping my stuff at the self-check out (and therefore I am incapable of escape) this same guy comes up to me.  Our conversation goes something like this:

  • Him:  So, you can just tell me to bug off if you want to, but I have a question to ask you.
  • Me: (The “oh bad” signals start to flare, and I’m standing there holding a bag of oranges, looking at my half-full cart hoping that there’s some way to escape this.  There’s not.) …Okay…
  • Him:  Would you maybe like to go out and get lunch today?
  • Me:  Um, I’ve already eaten, and I have a ton of homework to do today.
  • Him:  Okay, so how about next friday?  (The sirens in my head really start to wail.)
  • Me:  I don’t plan that far ahead.  (AAAAAAHHHH!!!!!!  What does he think he’s doing?  Leave me be!)
  • Him:  How about in two days then?
  • Me: (A little more feebly than I would have liked.)  I still don’t plan that far ahead.  (Oh no.  He’s not just being creepy, he’s being persistantly creepy.  OH BAD.)
  • Him:  So I should probably take that as a “no” then?
  • Me: Probably.  (Oh, thank goodness!  He got the message!)
  • Him:  Okay.  Thanks for being straight-forward with me.
  • Me:  Uh huh. (Okay, feel free to leave like, a full paragraph ago.)
  • Him:  Oh, and by the way, I don’t think you need to worry about how you dance at all.  I think you have a lot of strong points.
  • Me:  Thanks.  (Why hasn’t he left by now?  Leave me be!)

I finally got back out to the car and I start screaming and tell my friend what happened.  As she’s driving me back she informs me that she thinks that he has a little girl.  I proceed to be even more creeped out.  I call my mom when I get back home, and start sobbing on the phone to her about this.  What she says:

  • Her:  You told him no, right?
  • Me:  YES!!!!!
  • Her:  Good.  I’m glad that you didn’t feel like you had to keep your rule for that.

Yay for my mom telling me that I did okay.  Every girl needs that at some point.

I talked to both of my roommates about this later, and to my regret, they both know the guy.  One of them informed me that when she first met him he asked her out for drinks, and that she thought he was a severe creeper.  So what I would like to know is, why would he ask me out on a date if he knows that I’m active and that I’m not going to be drinking?  And that I’m probably too young to even think about drinking?

To sum it all up, it was disturbing.

I think the worst part though was just that it’s kind of a blow to one’s morale.  I mean, I’ve gotten used to not really attracting a lot of people in the last however many years.  Being a teenage girl who dislikes wearing make-up will do that to you.  But attracting creepy men who are that much older than you and who know ABSOLUTELY NOTHING about you is a whole new level of depressing.

Although the irony of the whole situation would be really entertaining, if it happened to someone else.  I said that I wanted a Mr. Rochester, and low and behold, one came my way.  Older than me with a child.  But in my opinion, it was in the worst possible way, and therefore, NOT A ROCHESTER!!!!!  So now I have to clarify my statement:  I want someone with a Rochester-like personality, not a Rochester-like lifestyle.  But of course, right now, the field is open to anyone who is not a creeper.  In a way, it feels a little like this:

I wonder a little bit why that had to happen though.  I wonder if it was designed to make me want to give up, or to make me realize that if I want to do much dating I might have to have a little practice telling people no as well.  I’m sure there’s some lesson that I’m supposed to learn from it.  Or maybe there’s not.

*Sigh*  This whole thing pretty much sucks.

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10 Comments leave one →
  1. Kaimalino permalink
    October 5, 2010 2:59 am

    Oh, poor Rivenheart. Such is the awkwardness of the social scene. Wouldn’t go back for anything.

    But seriously, pull yourself together, chica. If you need Auntie Kai to hold your hand, I’m right here. 😉

    Here’s the thing– you need a ready shut-down line so you can move on even if you can’t move out of the way physically. It goes something like this:
    Him: How about we go get lunch? Next Tuesday? Next weekend? June 2011?
    You: Thanks for the offer, but I’m not interested. Have a good night!

    If he’s nice or already a friend, you can smile and say, “Oh, you’re sweet and I’m so flattered you would think of me, but I’m not interested. Bye.”
    Or “It was fun dancing, but I’m not looking for anything else. Bye.”

    “I don’t feel good about that,” is one of my personal favorites because it requires no further explanation and cannot be argued with.
    “But, but, but. . . ”
    “Mmmhmmm, I don’t feel good about that. Bye.”

    If you feel genuinely uncomfortable, you owe no one politeness and you can just be direct. I think so many women think men are thoughtless imbeciles and so many men think women are mysteriously complicated (neither is completely accurate) because women are not direct enough. Maybe we are trained to be incessantly polite even to men who make us feel uncomfortable, to the point that we are vague and drag on awkward interactions? Being vague is not the same as letting someone down easy. It’s like doing unanesthetized surgery in slow-motion–tricky and painful for everyone involved.

    There are at least a dozen ways to close off further communication without actually walking away, although leaving the scene is the most effective. Keep in mind, any time your feet are pointed away from whoever you’re talking to or your shoulders are twisted away from him/her, the body language is that your attention is divided, that person is not your main priority, and whatever you say next will be the final thing you say. If you can wrap it up and turn away, you’re done and can move on with life.

    I still don’t get what made this scenario send your creep-o-meter spinning out of control. You totally don’t have to like him, not even one little bit, but as near as I can tell the creep factor comes from his age, his situation and his persistence. The first two are not character flaws, and the third is a good reason to practice being direct.

    In your re-telling, he did do one thing I consider a communication red flag: he put you on the spot to stick up for him and, solely for politness’ sake, defend your own character judgments. (“Because I’ve been married before, you think I’m trash.”) Shut this down whenever it happens because it never leads to anything good. At best, this is a pathetic cry for reassurance from someone who is insecure. At worst, it’s an attempt to make you feel uncertain about your judgment.

    Gavin DeBecker writes about this in his book “Protecting the Gift,” which is all about keeping children and teens safe from abusive situations. DeBecker calls it “typecasting,” and says because it always involves a slight insult, it makes victims feel defensive and therefore more likely to suppress warning feelings of discomfort.

    Pedophile Coach: You’re probably one of those overprotective moms who doesn’t let her kid go out for ice cream with his coach.
    Mom: No, no. . . . ice cream is nice. . . . Of course he can go. . . . I am a fun mom. . . .
    OR
    Mom: Yep. I don’t feel good about that. Bye.
    OR
    Mom: *silence* (She can engage and possibly win the point, or she can act as if her character were never questioned and leave the typecaster hanging in an awkward moment of his own creation, and then physically walk away.)

    Silence is such an effective communication tool because it forces the other person to continue talking and revealing more. Most people are so conditioned to avoid–even fear– silence in conversations they will keep blathering and steer away from the awkward topic themselves. A quiet eyebrow raise can have the same effect. If I learned anything as a newspaper reporter, it’s how important it is to remain silent sometimes.

    But if nothing about an awkward situation is threatening, I always vote for humor.
    Me: Can I get one veggie burrito, please?
    Burrito Guy: Anything for you, beautiful. We should go get a drink later.
    Me: Ha! That would probably bother my husband.
    Burrito Guy: Oh, whoops, I should’ve known. Here’s your burrito.

    No, I don’t think this happened to make you give up on love, or to injure your morale. Just an opportunity to clarify your priorities as you avoid wasting precious time on the wrong relationships and search for the right ones. Hugs!

  2. fjafjan permalink
    October 5, 2010 4:15 am

    While this was exciting with it being a first, I think if you do some semi-rational thinking you’d realize it isn’t really such a shocking thing to happen.
    As for what you can learn from this, there is too much for me to type, though Kai touched on most of them.
    1 The older guy didn’t seem to be creepy, he’s what, 30? It’s certainly outside of what I would do, but some people like partners that are older and he was only asking you out for lunch. And his persistanse seems to be from the fact that you didn’t actually tell him no, if you’re going to ask someone out you’re better off trying to get a yes or no than a “maybe”.

    As for how you want your men, I think you should look more at real people than fiction, fictional characters can have characteristics very distinct from real people, not to mention what seems pretty great in a book is actually incredibly unhealthy (why hello Twillight!).

  3. Rivenheart permalink
    October 5, 2010 4:20 am

    Yeeeaaah…

    You see, it seems like I should know all of the signals right now. I’ve been around enough creepy guys long enough to know a lot of the things that guys do that send up the red flairs. Like all of the mixed signals that he seemed intent on sending me. First he’s being derogatory about LDS people, and then suddenly he’s trying to pretend that he’s an active, upstanding priesthood holder. Blech. Es mentiroso (Spanish: He’s a liar. Blunt, ugly, and rude, but if that’s what I’m picking up within the first two times I meet him, then there’s something wrong).

    I think my main problem is that I don’t know how to be polite and concise at the same time. But believe me, I’m much better at telling people enough a lot of the time. But I think if I don’t know someone then I must not be able to tell them to go away and leave me be. I think I might have sent enough of the body signals (aka, trying to check food out and pay rather than turning and giving full attention).

    I guess the thing that really kind of irks me is that I know just about every manipulative trick in the book. They’ve been used on me, and to my regret, I’ve used them. It’s just that most of the time I don’t know how to respond if I don’t know the person. I feel like I don’t have the right to be rude if I don’t know them. Which, come to think of it, is kind of odd, considering that I’m supposed to be a man-hater.

    The good news is, I think I might be picking up on some potentially awesome guys around here, but I’m a little wary of really starting anything without getting to know them more. I’m very very very VERY slowly becoming a little more discerning… I hope.

    • Kaimalino permalink
      October 5, 2010 4:44 am

      If you have to choose between being polite and concise, go for concise.
      If you feel uncomfortable, you have no obligation to be polite. Really. You don’t have to be besties with someone to have “the right to be rude.” I’m thinking you need to read DeBecker’s book “The Gift of Fear.” Send me your mailing address and I’ll get it sent your way if you don’t have it. It’s so empowering. We can let it make the RP rounds, if anyone else is interested.
      And what’s this “supposed to be a man-hater”? Says who? Unless this is an assignment for Angst 101, I’m not buying it!

  4. Rivenheart permalink
    October 5, 2010 5:36 am

    Hah!!! My mom has that book on her bookshelves, but considering that I don’t live anywhere close to her at the moment, I can’t read it!!! But I know a lot of the women in my family were reading it for a bit. I promise, I’m much less obligated to be “nice” than I used to be (even if I was uncomfortable I was certain that I had to be nice because otherwise I was a bad person. Believe me, I’ve come a long way), but I still think I should be polite.

    No, seriously, all a ton of my guy-friends call me a man-hater, mostly because I breath out many threatenings against people possessing a Y chromosome. It’s kind of nothing new. 😀

  5. sbaby permalink
    October 5, 2010 7:25 am

    Oh you…Rivenheart we know you don’t hate all men. We just want you not to always think the worst of us. (Which you do..sometimes). And making a point to show us all the length of your knives doesn’t help your case.

    Ah how wonderful to be a guy. We usually don’t have to worry about being creeped on. Just being ignored entirely. Not that I know anything about that. Ahem.

    Guess I should quit using “we” since I speak for myself. 🙂

  6. October 5, 2010 3:47 pm

    i have nothing to say but that i thoroughly enjoyed (so the wrong word, i’m sorry because this is your real life not some story) this post. what i really mean is that you’re a great writer and tell a story well. yes, that. i certainly do not enjoy your encountering creepsicles in grocery stores.

  7. anon permalink
    October 9, 2010 5:26 am

    I’m the child of divorced LDS parents and actually I think the main problem here lies in LDS culture: Church members DO make people who are divorced feel like trash, and it is utterly reprehensible. Both of my parents had a small period of inactivity because of the bad treatment they recieved from others. A man who is left by his wife is the object of scorn in our faith and he can’t exactly explain the situation to others before being cast as the villain. I think that’s terrible. Marriages end, yes, but we really shouldn’t treat those who are divorced as sinners, because it most likely is going to push them into becoming inactive. But I understand my views are somewhat heretical.

    From what I’ve seen creepy behavior often is a symptom of low self esteem + desperation. So I kinda feel sorry for the guy from your description… but I don’t disagree with you turning him down. It is kind of creepy for an old guy to hang around college age girls.

    Still I found him a somewhat sympathetic character. And thought I would comment.

    • Kaimalino permalink
      October 14, 2010 4:57 am

      Anon, I agree with your comments and don’t think they are at all heretical. Not in the least.
      LDS culture revolves around happy, eternal families and when reality doesn’t match up with the promoted ideal, it is easy to get discouraged. Divorce is an unfortunate reality–it is too bad hearts are broken and people are disappointed and families are not always kind and loving, but I fully recognize the necessity of divorce in some circumstances.
      My midwife is a twice-divorced LDS woman. One of her ex-husbands ended up in prison on abuse charges relating to her daughters. . . . Many of their mutual friends took his side and blamed her and it was all very heartbreaking. Still, she tells me, she loves her work catching babies and seeing young families at their best because it reaffirms to her that God’s Plan is a good one, even if it didn’t happen for her exactly the way she hoped. I deeply admire her lack of bitterness and her steadfast faith in being the single head of household in a “non-traditional” LDS family.
      There are lots of resources to help LDS people who are going through divorce. I hope the availability of these resources makes it easier to be an unexpectedly-single person in a family-oriented faith. Two that come to mind are the book “In Flight With Broken Wings,” which may have been re-published with a different title, and a friend’s web site, http://www.divorcedldssupportgroup.com. I gave the book to a friend who was going through a bitter divorce and she said it was incredibly helpful and realistic. The Web site is another friend’s work, and was started because she wanted people to feel they could hold onto their faith and capacity to love even if their dreams for eternity felt dashed by their divorce.
      As for Mr. Creepy, I found him a somewhat sympathetic character, too. My parents often preached to me about the importance of dating someone who was in the same “season of life” as I was. Meaning, when in high school, date only high schoolers, etc., etc. I wonder if this poor guy has just been up-ended by his divorce and is somehow reverting back to a previous season (college life?) out of nostalgia and desperation to start over. Inappropriate? Probably. Understandable? Yep.

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