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Dear Fabby - advice for the lovelorn

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OK, more like, advice for the "struck out again."

I've hesitated for over a month now, whether to post about this. I guess I'm gonna. It's a common enough problem. Or maybe not so common. Stop me if you've heard this one before.

Um, let's say the history of my love life, as well as past youthful enthusiasm (OK, more like, youthful, gee-I-wish) is not exactly stellar. I've posted about most of that before, though some things are omitted because...well, just because. So I won't bother rehashing that. Or I'll try not to.

Most recently, I had posted about a really nice, er, "cute" guy I liked. Dang, shortly after, I haven't seen him around. I think he changed jobs, dunno. So, any chance at getting to know him, much less the chance for, oh, anything else at all...just disappeared, poof. (I was under the impression "poof" meant something else, really....)

Darn. Yknow?

So then there was nothing happening. As you can imagine, this is a whole lot of nothing and even if you're used to that being the default status quo, a guy still would like something a little less than nothing. I have a decent imagination. (OK, maybe not the most appropriate word choice there, but you get it.) But ehhh, that particular long term relationship is a bit off-handed. Uh....

Moving right along....

So.... An acquaintance, a generally friendly, talkative guy...OK, he's probably over 25 or so and works at the local grocery store...and yeah, you can tell, I live a wild, risky, outré, avant garde social life, right? Suuuurrre. Grocery store. Sheesh.... So anyway, he's a nice guy, good looking, etc. But he's an acquaintance, just friendly, and just chit-chat. He tends to be animated, I tend to be enthusiastic (and nervous more often than not) as well as shy, and well, this shows. I'm a geek, OK? I'm reasonably socially adept. I have a degree. I shower, so usually, I don't stink. Right, so we should have the social niceties covered, right? Right! For a while there, I started wondering. Hey, is he gay? Interested? Am I getting a vibe here? Or is it wishful thinking, or...what? I told myself, self, be comfortable, that'll show, and if he likes you, maybe then you'll know. OK, I suppose. I was not, however, trying to look good, play it up, chat him up, or make a pass. Um, even if I was, the effect might be entertaining, unintentionally so.

Time goes by. So one day, I go in, do my shopping, etc. We say hi and talk again. And then, with other background noise going (OK, some of it was me, talking) he leans over and says something quietly" "I'm...." (Oh dang, what did he say?) Pretty sure the last word was, "gay," but what was between there? Well, I'd feel like a heel if I asked him to repeat it. And it would've been nice if I hadn't been still saying something and all kinds of other noise around, wouldn't it? I did a kind of look. No telling what my expression was. Probably completely blank and mystified, deer in the headlights, maybe. Yeah, definitely movie epic quality performance there, Ben.

And then I thought. If he'd said he *was* gay, the body language and all would've been different. Probably. And well, I am neither the most straight-acting nor the most campy of guys, but er, it has been brought to my attention (when I have come out to friends) that perhaps this was not news to them. Uh.... So yeah, I guess you can sorta figure it out. Maybe. It could explain a lot. Well, it wouldn't explain the lack of offers of undying affection, generally, or the lack of lots of adolescent, pubescent exploration, but then, I was kinda uptight, too.

In other words, after thinking about it when I got home (and thinking, and thinking, and wanting to kick myself, and thinking, and more thinking) (oh come on, you knew I was overly analytical) I came to the conclusion that said acquaintance had informed me he was indeed *not* gay. Although he'd done it in a nice way, nothing mean about it. But this also lead me to the uncomfortable idea...he must've thought I've been trying to make a pass at him. Well.... I didn't think I was. I wasn't trying *not* to, but I was definitely not deliberately trying to flirt or ask him out or whatever. (Are you kidding? Me? LOL. ...waah... )

Well isn't that just peachy? Friendly guy, thinks I'm gay and making a pass at him, and has to tell me he's not. Just great. Phooey! (There was some more colorful use of language; in fact, more than one language, but you can fill in your imagination.)

Yeah, I was pretty hacked off. At him. At myself. In general. About the only good thing was, he hadn't decided to be ugly about it, and he hadn't hit me upside the head. He was actually gracious about it, as such things go. OK, I guess I like that part. ...But gee, just my luck. I'm not even trying, and a straight guy turns me down. Maaaaannnnn.....

Given my past experience and general lackluster self-esteem, my ego took a pretty big hit, there. I cooled it, toned myself down, but we still talked, and that, at least, is good. Still, it took a few weeks to get over the feeling that I'd somehow missed out.

Here I was, I'd apparently been giving off signals that felt, to him, like I was coming on to him. Only, I wasn't consciously doing that at all. Really. It shook me up. I thought I wasn't. Then when I had to think it through, I knew I wasn't *not* sending signals either, at least, I wasn't avoiding unconsciously sending signals. And a straight guy and I'm sending signals without knowing it? Oh, dagnabit.

Well, it wouldn't be the first time, apparently, either. -- Honestly, though, I'm not sure about my teenage crushes. I don't know for sure if they were straight or gay, but I've presumed they were straight, with maybe one exception. Another might have been more open to the possibilities, but I didn't get the chance to find out (darn parents) and another...well, let's just say that crush may have been straight (or not so straight) but I had such a big crush, it wouldn't have mattered, if he'd given encouragement at all. (Pauses for internal dreamy sigh.) All three were major clues that Ben was not quite straight. That big crush...finally became apparent to my clueless self. (Say, I'm thinking about his neck, arms, legs, eyes, smile, right here at lunch.) (Say, I'm thinking about that while I'm about to go to sleep? Waitaminnit, you don't suppose...am I thinking about...I am!...could I be...oh wow, I think I might be gay. ...What was that about his...uh-huh...and his...ooh...omigosh, I'm thinking about his...! Oh wow, I think I really am gay. Omigosh.) Er, and yes, I was pretty confused, even though all that (and anything else about him) seemed really wonderful.)

Hang on, how did I get on that tangent? Oh yeah, that's how.

Yes, and I still remember all that. As well as how that crush got crushed. Major disappointment. Awkward. (Uh, and yet, woo-hoo, very obviously, I'm still carrying a torch. Aaaaahhhhh.) Aw, heck. -- Please note: That was many, many moons ago. He moved within the year. He is probably happily married with kids, a dog, and I'm reasonably sure he no longer looks like that. Still might look good and be nice, but he's still probably straight. Unless, of course, my hormones were actually right, which isn't as likely as I'd like to like.

OK, enough about Mr. Teenage Wonderful from back then. Back on topic, to the guy I was writing about before the tangent.

So, Dear Fabby, it seems I was unconsciously sending out signals to a straight guy.

My gaydar really, really needs to work right.

So, Dear Fabby, what's a gay guy with almost zero budget and transportation, and about as much track record with relationships (especially gay ones) supposed to do to further his fevered dreams of finding Mister Right. Or Mister Left. Ambidextrous, even.... Gotta be some way to improve the odds. And Fabby? It's hard enough for me to see, outside a bar, much less inside. That said, there is a fairly nice bar in town, if I were the kind of guy bars appeal to. But that's a little like taking the speed route instead of getting to know someone first. My biological clock is ticking, but I haven't had exactly the greatest track record, and I'd really like to improve that too. Too many relationships (of any kind) that weren't what they were cut out ot be.

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Guest Dabeagle


My first thought is that you didn't actually hear what he said. The problem with not asking right away is that the problem spirals until the idea of not seeking clarification becomes insurmountably huge, especially in comparison to your reluctance to ask what he'd said to begin with. For all you actually know, 'gay' wasn't even said. Unfortunately once we start to think about things our minds fill in gaps, add in a low self worth and it becomes easy to see where the mind goes when it fills in those blanks. That's first.

Second, if he did indeed say he wasn't gay, there's no shame in that. He's obviously progressive enough to say 'I don't want to send a mixed signal, so let me do something polite before it gets out of hand'. I kind of doubt that's what you heard though, unless that's the first time he's ever turned down a gay fellow before.

Third, there's nothing wrong admitting, during a conversation, that you missed something. This has taken on a huge shadow in your mind based on something you may or may not have heard. Has anything changed about your conversations except the fact you feel more self conscious? Deep breath; and next time, just admit you didn't hear and ask them to repeat themselves. You never know, it may have been an expression of interest or something about the month of May. Now, you'll never know.

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Ben, I don't understand your being upset with him. I certainly understand being upset with yourself as Dave is right, you needed to simply say there was too much background noise and you missed what he said. So easy to do to correct the problem immediately, before it became one in fact, and save you the extended angst of did he or didn't he?

It's really difficult to go back later and ask. It makes it much larger than it would have been. But you can do it if you want. Simply find him with no one else around and say, "___, we were talking the other day and you said something to me and in all the noise I didn't really hear it, and it's been driving me crazy ever since. I think it was important, but I don't really know, and I keep thinking about it. Can you repeat it? Please?"

Then at least you'd know for sure and stop beating yourself up over it. If he looks confused, like he doesn't really know what you're refering to, you can even get an added benefit, because you could tell him you're gay, and get that out of the way. Say, "Well, I thought I heard you use the word 'gay', but I'm not sure. That's why I keep thinking it's important, because I'm gay--I guess you knew that--and I just keep wondring what you said."


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Ben. my memory is that you have a touch of Asberger's Syndrome, so I can see where picking up on people's body language and signals is a struggle. If you're trying to meet guys (for friendship or relationships or even a one-night stand), I think it's very iffy to try to do this at the workplace. At best, you'll get an uncomfortable no; and worst, they'll be insulted and avoid you.

I think you're better off shooting at fish in a barrel and just go to a place that definitely has gay people, like a bar, or a social club, or a gay nightclub, or something like that. There's also charitable organizations, tons of stuff where gay people meet not necessarily to hook up, but for an actual cause -- like taking care of the homeless, attending to AIDS victims, or just helping out in the community. No question, you can meet people there and at least make some friends and see if something further develops.

If your town is too small for something like this, take a weekend trip to somewhere that has them. Or consider moving. You deserve happiness in your life, but it might take some work to get it.

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Hi guys. Well, a follow-up. Getting all that out, writing it out and thinking through it, for once helped a lot. I went back and reread it just now, and the replies. So here's the follow-up.

First, most important, is that I see I might have a better friend there than just an acquaintance. I don't know him that well, it's usually just chatter while he's working. (The guy could easily be a checker or manager, but when I'd asked after initially finding he's friendly, he acts and wants to write and do films. Way overqualified.) He likes, chooses, to be outgoing and talkative to everybody as he works; he's a sacker, of all things.

And reading back through this, I see that he's a better friend than I'd thought, even as an acquaintance. That's really welcome these days.

Yes, I'm very sure I heard the word gay, and I'd forgotten, writing above, I'd asked him at the time to repeat, and I still didn't hear due to background noise. But I'm almost sure he said he's *not* gay. -- However, that's OK, lol, most people aren't, and I'd rather have a friend with the class to say no nicely, than to be mean about it. I took things easier, more coolly for a while, and we still talk, he's still friendly. So I take that as another positive thing. Friendly's always good.

Yes, I was a little upset, not while there, but later, because I guess I felt a little like I'd been called into question, when really, I hadn't. It stung a little, you know? And I had to figure that somehow, I'd given the impression, without knowing I was, that I was hitting on him, or he wouldn't have said something. So I was frustrated with myself. Mostly, I guess, that I wouldn't be aware, or that it's another negative, even if I wasn't trying to. Just frustrating, if you see what I mean. It's disconcerting to think that I could be sending out signals without really trying or being conscious of it.

On the other hand, I suppose we all send out signals, gay or straight, just because we're human, and other people pick up on that. And I suppose too, hey, if there's a nice gay guy around, maybe that could be a plus. (I have wondered about one or two of the checkers, but I haven't asked. I think one is with someone anyway.) ...Uh, and if you're getting the idea I don't have a whole lot of dating skills, it's true, I did have a few dates with girls (before figuring out that really wasn't working, haha) but middle school and high school, you would've seen a guy mostly clueless of if any girls or guys liked him, or how to ask them if I liked someone. I did ask a few girls in high school for a date, but hmm, somehow this did not result in dates. (Methinks they knew me better than I did, though the reasons involved other things.) Dates around college age, ehhh, no spark. (Duh, they were nice girls, but they were girls, and well, y'know, I liked 'em fine, but it didn't get my motor going, and they must've known.) ...Back then, it didn't occur to me I could ask a guy to go out, or that simply hanging out might be a date. But I think that's generational, or maybe also a case of just how out or where in life experience you are. So, yeah, anyway.

So that mostly solves things. Mostly. I guess I just needed to talk it out, bounce it off people, and see what came back.

But yes, this part of my life isn't getting the attention or chances I need to work through things. Heck, no surprise. I'm not getting enough social interaction, period, right now. I guess I'm still regrouping. I'm an introvert, I mostly like it that way, but even an introvert doesn't want to be a hermit all the time. And yeah, a love life would be a big deal.

I'm not sure how clear it is, but I grew up with that area a real void, some cluelessness, some reluctance based on being gay, religious, and a negative experience (which I've mentioned before, I think), and although my parents were affectionate, I somehow got the attitude that the whole thing (dating, a couples relationship) was...hmm, I don't even know how to put it, but maybe unobtainable? How much of that was traditional conservative attitudes towards dating and sex, and how much was because of my own personality or the one experience with a classmate, and how much was because I had to have picked up on the vibe that being gay would not be the most well received ever in my family, and yet I had to have known it somewhere inside, especially during adolescence. Even now, it's obvious I drag my heels about it. (No, there's really no heels or drag there, sorry, anybody, lol.)

Uh, and yet, it's pretty obvious my subconscious is as active as anyone's.

I suppose it'll solve itself if it's gonna.

I can't help but think that I'm not the only one who feels mixed up on this, whether my age or a teenager or whatever. I think it's likely it's a generational thing, but it doesn't seem like things have changed all that much. So, aside from self-interest, I'd like to think that by posting, it might help somebody else figure things out.

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Ben. my memory is that you have a touch of Asberger's Syndrome, so I can see where picking up on people's body language and signals is a struggle. If you're trying to meet guys (for friendship or relationships or even a one-night stand), I think it's very iffy to try to do this at the workplace. At best, you'll get an uncomfortable no; and worst, they'll be insulted and avoid you.

I think you're better off shooting at fish in a barrel and just go to a place that definitely has gay people, like a bar, or a social club, or a gay nightclub, or something like that. There's also charitable organizations, tons of stuff where gay people meet not necessarily to hook up, but for an actual cause -- like taking care of the homeless, attending to AIDS victims, or just helping out in the community. No question, you can meet people there and at least make some friends and see if something further develops.

If your town is too small for something like this, take a weekend trip to somewhere that has them. Or consider moving. You deserve happiness in your life, but it might take some work to get it.

LOL, I'm not from a small town. Houston.

As far as I know, I don't have anything like Asperger's. One person who does has said, if anything, I'm more like the opposite, hyper-attuned to emotions instead of less attuned. No one's ever indicated any sort of autism spectrum stuff going on with me, that I know of. -- That isn't to say that there might be something else going on, but again, I don't know about it, if so.

There is the case of what happened with one classmate as a pre-teen, and I am sure that had a big influence on an already shy and teased kid who was just beginning to learn he liked guys. I *think* I've said more about it before in the forum. I know I'd said something privately to Dude and to Tim and Codey, in the course of our friendship. -- Two boys fooling around who got in over their heads, neither of us knew nearly as much as we thought, and it wound up beign traumatic for both of us. It muffled things for me for a long time, and I didn't tell my parents, though I know my mom knew something had happened.

One of the main things for me is, where most guys have normal vision, I don't. In some ways, this doesn't limit me much. In others, it is a huge difference. So past a certain distance, things like eye color or reading some details of facial expressions are difficult or impossible. Around twenty feet and more, I may have trouble identifying even a good friend, except by voice. The usual credit card readers at most stores (except at pharmacies which use a backlit or LED screen) I can barely read, due to contrast and lighting, not necessarily letter size. Likewise with people's name tags or the wall menus at any fast food place. I can do OK with basketball or volleyball, but not baseball or softball, or catching a pen or pencil if someone tosses it to me. (I'm legally blind, low vision.) It is a problem in some ways and not a problem in others, in ways most people wouldn't expect, unless they've known someone who's low vision. And that varies wildly for each person's case.)

You can imagine that, trying to gauge body language is tough sometimes, depending on what it is or how close or far they are.

Some people pick up on it (my sight) right away. A very few know how to deal with it without thinking, whether they have any training or not. Some do not pick up on it until they see something, and then they realize. Most people are fine about it. Rarely, someone is profoundly not fine about it. I usually ignore the ones who aren't. Usually. ;) -- But growing up, all through elementary and junior high, it was a big deal, because I got teasing/bullying a lot over my eyesight, being different in general (smart kid), and the gay thing (which I think was mostly just a way to bully, though later, when those feelings started up, I had to wonder how much they'd picked up about me, versus how much was just a way to be insulting.) But that gave me very mixed feelings about trust and friendships early on, and it'll always be there on some level. -- You should also be able to tell, I'm still friendly, and (at least in writing) self-expression isn't a huge problem. (Uh, I come by that naturally, lol.)

Other factors that might be in there? I don't know. I suspect there's some mild attention span stuff going on and some sort of learning-style differences, but what, if any, I don't know.

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Guest Dabeagle

Ben a thought (I didn't read all of your responses) but more to him saying he wasn't gay. There is also still a common misconception that being creative in any sense is 'gay'. While that occasionally works in our favor, he may have been saying that as a deflection because he's creative rather than it have anything to do with any signals you may or may not have been sending.

Just a thought.

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My sincere apologies, Ben. I remembered you once telling me you had problems picking up on people's non-verbal responses, and I equated that with Asberger's (as opposed to vision problems).

Either way, my suggestion could work: putting you in a better position to meet other people, if only to make friends and network a little bit. Maybe it'd also be a good idea to get some counseling -- not necessarily a psychiatrist, but just an interested third-party -- who could listen to your problems and offer some helpful ideas. I'm positive in Houston there are gay organizations that do fundraisers, social events, community activities, and so on, even if it's just a walkathon or cleaning up old houses or delivering food to the needy. Guaranteed, you can meet some interesting people there, and it'd be a totally different scene than a bar or dance club.

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Thanks, Pecman. I know we have folks here at AD and elsewhere online who have various things like vision or hearing or mobility or Asperger's, and of course, there can be other things from people's past experiences in life that cause interference too. I tend to go, the past few years at least, in fits and starts, staying still then leaping forward. I wish it would even out and really feel back on track again. Things have begun going better, but there are still things to get resolved (real world job/finances and getting things done). I tell myself to do those first, but the relationships (not only romance/sex but friends/family) are honestly what are most on my mind. I had talked for a while with a counselor, but it reached a plateau. I may restart that. :: shrugs :: Heck, even transportation is an issue for me. I'd love to swim regularly, and I may find a local pool/gym...as unathletic as I am. :) I dunno. Hmm, I shied away from the suggestions about assistance work, because I've just come out of a long cycle of doing that 24/7 (almost) for my grandmother. I still don't sleep more than 4 to 6 hours at a time. But I think I will get back to helping, because I've seen how needed it is. Most people have no idea. Thanks, Pecman. I'm not sure how much of what I just wrote are excuses to stand still, and how much are reasons of, I'm just not there yet, even though the desire and impatience to move on are there. (Obviously, I wouldn't have posted the topic if it wasn't a big deal for me. It is.)

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I tend to go, the past few years at least, in fits and starts, staying still then leaping forward. I wish it would even out and really feel back on track again.

Honestly, I've come to the realization long ago that, at least for me, that's just the way of things. Relatively little in the way of serious change for a period of time, then something happens, some event or issue or insight, then suddenly the world rocks and stabilizes, slightly different from before.

Punctuated equilibrium I believe the science types call this type of long term change.

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I think "Punctuated Equilibrium" is when a species suddenly and abruptly changes into something different:


I believe this is part of the explanation of the whole ape -> man thing. Me, I blame aliens for the whole mess. (See also: Prometheus.)

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I liked what Gee meant by extension; I got the reference.

"Punctuated Equilibrium." Say, wouldn't that be where you spend a lot of time walking across the balance beam extra carefully, then flailing your arms and teetering wildly for a few anxious seconds, before regaining your balance...or falling off the beam and having to climb back on? Hahahaha, life can be like that, for sure.

I managed that balance beam some, but not nearly as well as those kids in the tights, who made it look easy. There's probably a metaphor or life lesson in there somewhere.

Or maybe it means I should've tried to hang out with a nice gymnast? :icon6:

Well, come to think of it, I did clap extra enthusiastically when my friend did that modern dance recital (in tights!) back in school. I wasn't quite old enough to figure out why that was so much fun to see. Heh. But it eventually dawned on me. :w00t:

Shallow? Why yes, the parts of me that aren't deep are nicely shallow! Or vice versa. Or something like that.

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