Sunlit Water

April 30, 2007

Here You Go

Filed under: Personal — by teofilo @ 6:51 pm

People have been clamoring for an update on this weekend, so I guess I should talk about it. Things didn’t go as well as I’d hoped, but they didn’t go terribly either, and I’m okay with how it turned out but a little unsure of what to do now.

We got in Friday night and checked into the motel. Girls 1 and 3 arrived Saturday morning and met us at Event X around the time it started. We had lunch with them and some other people, and were around them a lot for the rest of the day. Since I had dealt with my earlier dilemma by deciding to go all out for Girl 1, I talked to her as much as I could, and she was very friendly and seemed interested in being around me, which seemed like a good sign.

Girl 2 showed up just as Event X was ending for the day. Her behavior around me was markedly different from previous times I’d seen her; she was polite and friendly, but not at all flirtatious, and she didn’t pay much attention to me. This could have been because she was aware of my conversation with Girl 1, but there were also a lot of other differences between this situation and the previous times I’d seen her, so there are too many possible confounding factors to say for sure. It’s also possible that I was totally misinterpreting her previous behavior. One thing I was sure about, though, was that I’d made the right decision in going for Girl 1. Interacting with Girl 2 when she wasn’t showing a whole lot of interest in me made me realize that the main reason I had liked her before was that she seemed to like me, and once that was gone there just wasn’t anything in particular about her that caught my interest.

At this point, so far so good: Girl 1 seemed interested and Girl 2 didn’t, which removed what I had been worried could be a problem. A new problem arose, though, in that once all three girls were there they sort of withdrew into mostly hanging around each other and not paying as much attention to the rest of us; I kept trying to talk to Girl 1, and she was a lot less engaged than she had been. Weirdly, this was the case even when the other girls weren’t around. I was worried that this might be because I had pissed her off somehow over the course of the day, but given subsequent developments I don’t think that’s a very likely explanation. Still, it was very odd, and it was a big blow to my confidence that she didn’t seem to be responding as well to me as she had before.

Our plans to go out Saturday night were somewhat (though not entirely) stymied by the fact that a couple of the people with us were under 21, so we spent most of the night drinking whiskey in our motel room. This was not what I would have preferred, but there wasn’t much I could do about it. I ended up not even trying to do anything with Girl 1, and eventually we all just went to bed.

Sunday morning Girls 2 and 3 left and Girl 1 came with us for the second day of Event X. I talked to her some more, and she was just like she had been the previous day: attentive, engaged, apparently interested in being around me. I found this quite odd (and a pleasant surprise) in view of her behavior the previous night, but there wasn’t any time to do anything about it before the event ended and we all left. When I said goodbye to her I told her we would keep in touch, and I do intend to, but I don’t know when (if ever) I’ll see her again.

So that’s the story. Virginity still intact. I’m slowly realizing that events like this really aren’t the best venue for love, because there’s basically no privacy and not a whole lot of downtime, but it’s very frustrating nonetheless. At this point there won’t be any more, so it’s not really an important issue anyway.

What I do need to decide, though, is what to do about Girl 1. I realized from seeing her this weekend that I really, really like her, and I really want to see her again, but I don’t know when that’ll be possible. I do intend to keep in touch with her online, but I don’t know how successful that’s going to be given that she’s not very reliable about things like replying to messages. I wish I could figure out how she feels about me, but her signals are very hard for me to interpret because she’s kind of vague and evasive. Ordinarily that might be a sign that she’s just not interested, but for her it seems to be part of her way of interacting with people in general.  I think she knows how I feel about her from the conversation I posted about before, but she hasn’t even come close to indicating how she feels about that (at least as far as I can tell).  Advice about how to deal with this is welcome.

So that’s the story and the way things stand now.  It’s a pretty common pattern in my life, actually, but it never seems to work out well.



  1. Email and ask if you can come visit her, say, weekend after next or so. If you can come up with a reason (concert you’d like to go to? Particularly fascinating street fair? Some linguistics project?) that’s good, but be explicit that you’d like to come visit her. You like talking to her, and spending time with her, as much fun as Event X was, you found yourself thinking that it would have been even better if you’d had more time one on one with her. Can you come up and (take her to dinner/some music thing/I don’t know, whatever you kids do for fun these days)? And then crash on her floor, because it’s silly wasting money on a motel room? And if she says you can come up and hang out with her for the weekend, you’re in pretty good shape. (I have the impression that she’s weekend-driving distance away; if this is impractical for distance reasons, I’m out of ideas.)

    I think you really want to make your goals clear: you like her, you’re interested, and you want her to know that. I’d bet that if sometimes you think she’s interested, and sometimes she gets vague and standoffish, that she’s interested but not sure if you are (you’ve almost certainly been less obvious than you think you have). You can’t make her get clearer, but you can make sure she knows how you feel. (Compliments are nicely clear in that way — a straightforward “You really looked pretty in (specific circumstances)” isn’t too much, but it’s the sort of thing that men don’t say unless you’re already close or they’re coming on to you.)

    Comment by LizardBreath — April 30, 2007 @ 10:06 pm |Reply

  2. Thanks, that’s some really excellent advice. It’s too bad she leaves for China on Wednesday.

    Comment by teofilo — April 30, 2007 @ 10:12 pm |Reply

  3. Yeah, I just realized that reading Unfogged. Never mind.

    Comment by LizardBreath — April 30, 2007 @ 10:17 pm |Reply

  4. Curses. Even with my drinking strategy! Sorry, Teo.

    Comment by X. Trapnel — April 30, 2007 @ 10:19 pm |Reply

  5. 3: No, that really is good advice (even though I can’t use it in this specific context right now), and I may try something like it if I’m in a similar situation in the future, either with this girl or someone else. So thanks.

    Comment by teofilo — April 30, 2007 @ 10:20 pm |Reply

  6. 4: Yeah, turns out the drinking strategy isn’t foolproof. Plus, hard liquor isn’t really my thing, so I wasn’t enjoying the drinking enough to get comfortable with the situation.

    Comment by teofilo — April 30, 2007 @ 10:23 pm |Reply

  7. I kept trying to talk to Girl 1, and she was a lot less engaged than she had been. Weirdly, this was the case even when the other girls weren’t around. I was worried that this might be because I had pissed her off somehow over the course of the day, but given subsequent developments I don’t think that’s a very likely explanation. Still, it was very odd, and it was a big blow to my confidence that she didn’t seem to be responding as well to me as she had before.

    Just as a general note — I wasn’t there, but if you’re describing this accurately, this was probably an indication of interest. If everything has been going great, and then someone gets inexplicably awkward when you’re in a more possibly romantic situation, there’s a fair shot that they’re thinking the same thing you are and they’re having an attack of nerves.

    Comment by LizardBreath — April 30, 2007 @ 10:24 pm |Reply

  8. Possibly, but the thing is, it wasn’t really a much more possibly romantic situation most of the time, or at least it didn’t seem that way to me. And it’s not that she was being awkward around me, more that she just seemed to have lost interest in talking to me at all. I would ask questions and she’d give short answers that didn’t invite further conversation, etc.

    Comment by teofilo — April 30, 2007 @ 10:28 pm |Reply

  9. Again, I wasn’t there, but suddenly being unable to carry on a conversation with someone who you had been liking fine before fits the pattern of getting nervous about someone maybe making a romantic move. (She could also have been bored or annoyed — I wasn’t there. But if she liked you again the next day, it sounds like nervous.)

    Comment by LizardBreath — April 30, 2007 @ 10:31 pm |Reply

  10. You could well be right. It sure didn’t seem like the way I’ve seen other people act when they’re nervous, but then she doesn’t seem to act the way other people generally act in most situations anyway, so it could be part of that.

    Comment by teofilo — April 30, 2007 @ 10:34 pm |Reply

  11. I’d work overtime to concoct an excuse to be in China later in the summer, but then that’s just me.

    Comment by CharleyCarp — May 1, 2007 @ 12:12 am |Reply

  12. I probably could actually find an excuse to go there, but there’s no way I could possibly afford it.

    Comment by teofilo — May 1, 2007 @ 12:16 am |Reply

  13. Hey, didn’t your expensive education include Rule 1: always try to find someone else to pay?

    To be clear about my vision here, it’ 5 days on the ground, only 1 of unscheduled time in Girl 1’s town. The rest geared to professional advantage and/or earning the subsidy. You don’t want to overwhelm Girl 1, and you want the excuse to be a good one anyway. If Girl 1 asks if you came just to see her, the honest answer is that you hadn’t planned on coming to China just now, and probably wouldn’t have thought of it if she hadn’t been there, but you’re also pursuing professional objectives. Romantic but not a stalker.

    It occurs to me that the following scenario is not without benefit (although far inferior to a visit to/in China): after scoping out professional reasons to be there, and figuring out a budget and schedule, you can tell Girl 1 that you’re working on going to the Professional Pretext meeting on July X, and wonder if she might be free to show you around her town on the afternoon of X+1 (or does she prefer X-2) — of course, you’re still working your funding sources. Her reaction will tell you plenty about where her thinking is. And if you can’t swing the funding, you will be disappointed, and have to have a comprehensive debriefing on what she’d have shown you had you gone there.

    Written out, it looks manipulative, but it isn’t. It’s about creating spaces for genuine interaction, in a universe that’s not necessarily creating them by itself.

    Comment by charleycarp — May 1, 2007 @ 8:21 am |Reply

  14. That’s a pretty detailed plan, Charley, and while I appreciate the effort, it’s not really applicable to my situation. There really isn’t any professional pretext I can come up with to go to China (for one thing, I don’t have a profession), so if I were to go there it would be for personal reasons, and that’s not the sort of thing for which there are a lot of outside funding sources. I do have a cousin who lives there, so I could use that as a reason to visit, but, again, financially it’s just not happening.

    She did write me back (after I wrote to her last night, which I guess I mentioned at Unfogged but not here) to get my mailing address so she can send me postcards. I think that’s good enough for now.

    Comment by teofilo — May 1, 2007 @ 12:35 pm |Reply

  15. I understand your position, profession-wise. Best of luck with everything.

    Comment by charleycarp — May 1, 2007 @ 2:33 pm |Reply

  16. With all due respect to the other esteemed commenters, going to unrealistic ends to meet up with girl #1 seems, well, unrealistic. You logged hours in the field. That’s good enough. If, though, in a month you find that you’re still talking to and thinking about her in the same way/degree as you are now, and she’s reciprocating, you might have something worth following in the future. Presumably she’s coming back from China? So long as she doesn’t come back married, she’ll be looking forward to a fresh start when she gets back (maybe?) and you could be there for that phase.

    Comment by Armsmasher — May 1, 2007 @ 6:32 pm |Reply

  17. Yeah, that’s more in line with how I’m thinking about this. She’s only there for the summer, so while I don’t know exactly when she’s coming back, it won’t be more than three months or so from now. I don’t of course know where I’ll be then and whether it’ll be anywhere near where she’ll be, but the possibility is still open.

    Waiting to see if I still feel this way about her in a month is a good idea, and I’ve been thinking about that issue a lot recently; the intensity of my feelings is almost certain to wane over time, and I’m not sure how fast that’s going to happen or where it’ll level off. Perhaps her going away will give me some time to figure this out.

    Comment by teofilo — May 1, 2007 @ 6:39 pm |Reply

  18. Armsmasher gets it exactly right.

    Comment by eb — May 1, 2007 @ 9:06 pm |Reply

  19. Another possible explanation for her hot and cold messages might be that she was interested but, you know, heading off to China. That sort of thing does tend to loom over a person’s mind, making her want to spend quality time with the girls.

    I think it’s great that you’re going to try to stay in touch with each other, but I’ve found that absence and correspondance makes the heart grow fonder, and not always in ways that translate into sane and lasting relationships in person.

    Comment by Jackmormon — May 2, 2007 @ 3:07 am |Reply

  20. You know, that makes a lot of sense as an explanation, and I’m not sure why it didn’t occur to me before.

    Comment by teofilo — May 2, 2007 @ 11:34 am |Reply

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