Monday, November 3, 2008

A Little Q & A

Question: I just got back into the single life again after 12 years of marriage. Though I am much better off for it, this whole single scene is really confusing and scary to me. My friends & family are encouraging me to move on and get back out there. When I did, I met this very attractive man who currently works at a jazz club I hang out in/play drums for. Each week, he kept watching me from a distance with what seemed great interest. At first I tried to act like I did not notice, but when I would start to look his way and catch him, he would smile really big, blush, look away, only to look my way again a few seconds later. As I would come into the club, he would greet me with a big smile, and hold my attention with a long welcoming glance.

He would come up to my friends/band members to get to know them as if he was trying to learn/show interest in my world. As he would talk to them he would look at me with a big smile and gleam in his eyes. Soon he would approach me, and start flirting with me (paying me complements on my hair, dress, etc.). After a month of doing this, he would then reach out for my hands and hold them for a bit and kiss them before either he or I would leave for the night. Yet, he did not ask for my phone number (much less my name) after all this time and effort. Nor did we really talk about personal things, just made small talk.

So one night I stopped in on my own to see the band play on my night off and he happened to be there with his folks for dinner and drinks. I caught him in his casual attire of shorts and a tee-shirt (which I am not accustomed to seeing), but still thought he looked nice. Though he waved me over, he acted very nervous and asked what I was doing there. Though he did informally introduce me to his folks, I felt he did not seem comfortable with this scene. So I tried to respect this and just politely said hello to them instead of trying to start up a conversation like he would have done with my friends. I then chatted with him briefly and before I went to go sit down, he flirted with me right in front of them. Yet, by the time I came in 3 days later to play in the band, he did not welcome me. In fact, he completely ignored me! It was not until 20 + minutes later that he approached me and he was very formal about it. The smiling stopped, the flirting stopped, etc. I then invited him over for a drink after his shift to talk for a bit (in hopes of getting to know him and find out what his game is).

We talked for a bit as he rushed through his drink. He was telling me his plans for the future and what is going on with him, then mentioned that he had met a girl a month ago (Thinking he meant me at first as we met around the same time). He proceeded to say, “We’ve just been talking mostly, but it looks to be serious.” I then realized it was not me he was speaking of, but someone else. When I asked him about it, he confirmed my suspicion that, yes, he had a new girlfriend. Yet after telling me this, he proceeded to tell me where he lives, what shift he works, what his goals are and some of his interests, which are some of the same as mine (which he knew).

If he was so interested in this “girlfriend” and it is “serious” as he stated, then why was he flirting, telling me all about himself and his future plans? Did he really have a girlfriend or is he making this up? If he is making this up, why and what did I miss?
...Jennifer W.

Answer: In general, men flirt with a woman for several reasons: 1) They are attracted to her ; 2) They are flirts and get off on the attention; 3) They are attracted to her and they get off on the attention; 4) See #1. In other words, generally speaking, except for the random fatally insecure attention-whore guy, men flirt with women because they are interested in them. However, and this is a big "however," having interest in a woman does not mean they have interest in having a relationship with that woman. More often than not, their interest is in getting to know her in the biblical sense. Then, if things go well, their interest in having a relationship might develop.

I believe the guy you wrote about was attracted to you. And as long as it was simply a flirtation everything was cool for him. It seems that the turning point came when he encountered you unexpectedly when he was with his folks. After that, you said, everything changed. Here is what I think might have happened: If, in fact, he was seeing another woman, perhaps he had mentioned it to his parents. Maybe after you left, they questioned why he was so obviously flirting with another woman (you), when he was involved with someone else. Perhaps they made him feel guilty for not only treating his girlfriend with such disregard as to openly and very publicly flirt with another woman, but also for being insensitive to your feelings by misleading you as to his true intentions. After that, his disclosure to you about his girlfriend and his personal information, was his was of clearing the slate, "doing the right thing," and making you aware of the truth about his intentions. In other words, he told you all of that so that you would be discouraged from pursuing him in a romantic way.

OR, maybe he does not really have another "girlfriend," and was enjoying what he considered a harmless flirtation with you, until his parents called him on it. Maybe they could sense how into him you were, and felt that his ingenuous behavior was reprehensible. So, to save face, he came up with the girlfriend excuse so that you wouldn't be further misled.

Of course there is always the possibility that he is gay, and that the whole flirtation thing was a way for him to assert his "straightness" in a very public way so that his "secret" might remain safe. You were his unknowing "beard," until things went too far and it appeared to his parents (or him) that you might actually be developing feelings for him. I do not think this is the case, but I would be remiss if I didn't consider this as, at least, a possibility.

The bottom line is: When a guy who has previously been flirtatious, starts telling you personal details about himself and his girlfriend, he is sending out a not-so-subtle message that he has taken romance between the two of you off the table. He is making it clear that he is unavailable - and the pursuit of unavailable men is a frustrating, painful exercise in futility. Avoid such endeavors at all cost. Your heart will thank you.

And though you may have the urge to question what you did wrong, in this particular case, I believe you are completely blameless. You didn't misread the signals - he was pretty obviously showing you special attention. You simply assumed that his showing you attention meant he wanted to do with you what most guys who show you that kind of attention want to do with you. But in this odd, very uncommon instance, that apparently was not his motivation. Or even if it was initially, something changed (again - not your fault or reflective of anything negative in you) that caused him to rethink his pursuit of you.

All that being said, do not let this one confusing and ultimately unsatisfying experience sour you on "getting back out there." I assure you that most of the men that show you attention and flirt with you want to kiss more than your hands. On that I would stake my reputation!

© 2008 David M. Matthews. All Rights Reserved.

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