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Saturday, 23 February 2013

Don't Be a Stalker - Not Very Becoming

The caffeine just isn't kicking in today like it should be. Tea isn't cutting it. I desperately need coffee if I'm going to accomplish something today. Yes, it's Saturday, and maybe I should be messing around and playing, but my life doesn't revolve around that sort of schedule, so I tend to feel the need to be busy all the time. My lazy ass seems to be glued to my Ikea chair, however, and has no interest in working out, showering, or finishing my back-taxes.

I used to consider myself lazy, until I finally got my career kicked into gear in my mid-twenties, and it was worse in my thirties. Then I realized I was more like a workaholic. A bit of a jump, eh? (Oh, there's my Canadian vocabulary peeking out. Eh?) It's amazing how wrongly we can perceive ourselves. I would work twelve-hour days, no problem. I liked working, but it was a bit problematic in the personal realm. I was with someone who didn't take too kindly to me not snuggling on the couch with him all the time. I just wasn't built like that. I need to be doing things, or at least working my brain. Television doesn't afford me the opportunity to do much of that.

I have no need to live in someone's pocket, either. I'm not built that way. Maybe when I was younger, but that disappeared somewhere along the line. Probably about the same time I gained some feelings of self-worth. The last time I remember really being weird and obsessive about a guy was when I was in my teens. I think we all go through at least one phase like that, especially if we're insecure like I was back then. Luckily the guy was sort of the same about me, so I didn't have to resort to some of the weird stalking measures that some teenagers do.

We were teenagers, we were crazy in love, we broke up and got back together a hundred times, we fought about other girls and other guys. You know, all that moronic stuff you do when you're thinking from the wrong body part! We broke up for a long time a couple of times, and got back together as adults even, but being in completely different places in our lives we were no longer right for one another. By this point I had my daughter, and he was unfettered. I could have put some reins on him if I'd wanted to, as he was open to the idea, but it just felt wrong by then.

We remained friends for many years after, and although it has now been a few years since I last spoke to him, I still consider him a friend. Every once in a while I think about looking him up, because there are some people that just seem to remain a part of our lives. Still, I'm not looking for anything beyond friendship with him, and by going to that much trouble to talk to someone again it just sends the wrong signal when they were more than a friend at one time. If I happen to see a Facebook page or Twitter account I'll say hello, but otherwise it's beyond the bounds of effort that I feel should apply under the circumstances.

I guess, in a nutshell, that describes my philosophy when it comes to dating, as well. There are levels of interest that can be shown. You say hello to someone, they say hello back. Cool. You flirt a bit, they don't flirt back, you leave it alone. If they flirt back, though, you can move to the next step. All these little checkpoints come up, and you need the appropriate permissions to move forward. If you don't have them, and move forward anyway, that's where you run into stalker territory. This is never confusing. It only becomes confusing when you receive authorization and then it appears as if they've retracted it.

This may sound a bit cold-blooded as a way to describe the mating dance, but it's pretty accurate, particularly if you don't want to come off scary, you prefer to preserve your pride and dignity, and you don't want to end up getting hurt. So many people just launch themselves forward, thinking the whole, "It's better to have loved and lost..." nonsense. It's not. It's stupid. It's poor planning. We are far more free to choose who we love than people like to believe. At any moment we can decide that a person isn't right for us. We can stop believing, stop fantasizing, stop dreaming.

Most people 'fall in love' because they've imagined a life with someone that doesn't even exist. That's not love, by the way. That's nothing more than infatuation. You can't love someone you don't know. What's to love then? Do you love the way their hair curls or something? What kind of ridiculous thing is that? Sure, we can be attracted to that, and have mad fantasies about running our fingers through said curls, but it's pretty far removed from love. What if that person with the sexy hair kicks puppies? Still feel like they're worthy of your love?

A person's appearance is going to either attract or repel us. It's a fact of nature. What attracts or repels each individual is a matter of taste and experiences. I happen to be a fan of intelligence, so the physical isn't quite as important when it comes to cranking over my motor, but I like to be able to keep my breakfast down, too. Admittedly, I've always gone more for rugged than pretty. Pretty usually reflects a personality type that I just don't like, and that is a huge turn-off for me.

I spend almost no time looking in a mirror. I don't even wait for the fog to dissipate from the bathroom mirror before I brush my hair into place. I know where it needs to go and don't need a mirror to put it there. I already know what the hell I look like, so eyeballing my own face is left strictly for times when other people might be forced to look at it and I need to be presentable. If I could put on make-up sans mirror, without stabbing myself in the eye with a mascara brush, I wouldn't use a mirror then either. As long as I'm clean and don't feel a random zit coming on, the mirror is safe from my attentions.

Most men use a mirror far more than I ever will, but since they have to shave their face I can understand the need. I wouldn't be applying sharp objects to my face without a mirror either. They can call them safety razors all they want, but I've cut my legs enough to know their safety record is far from infallible. Try shaving near skinny ankles with protruding tendons and you'll understand what I mean. The knees aren't so great either!

My point, as I seem to have wandered off onto the topic of shaving, is that we all have a choice how far we're willing to allow our hearts to travel, and how much store we put into what our heart is supposedly saying to us. It's the same attitude I have about cheating, basically. We are perfectly capable of avoiding all situations where cheating is an option. We're not stupid, despite pretending to be, and we know when we sit next to someone and have a few drinks with them, exactly where that could lead...or any other number of situations were cheating is likely to occur.

When it comes to starting out with someone, or thinking you might be starting out with someone, it just makes sense to observe what's really going on. Stop trying to kid yourself into thinking it's more than what it is, and be honest with them, too, about what it is for you. Don't send mixed signals just because you're in a mood that day. Keep your actions and reactions in line with what you actually feel toward them, or you're going to confuse the hell out of them. Not to mention the fact that they're going to start thinking you're a little bit unbalanced.

If you don't see a person as anything more than a friend, don't flirt. If you see a person as nothing more than a sex toy, don't talk about any sort of commitment. Even if you do see them as potential relationship material (of a more serious nature), be realistic. Really look at the person you have an interest in, and really look at your own beliefs and morality. If there are major conflicts there, it's always best to suss them out right from the beginning. I mean, if you're Jewish and he's Muslim, and you both want kids one day, are you really going to be able to work out the religious differences with respect to how your kids get raised?

There are just certain things that are deal-breakers when it comes to a relationship, or even a potential one, and you have to watch for them. Make sure you can really handle those 'quirks' a person has in the long-term, and don't kid yourself about how much they bother you. Don't delude yourself into thinking someone likes you more than they do, either. If they're not calling you, they make no real effort to keep in touch, and you feel like you're chasing them, you probably are. It may be that they're shy, but even shy people will reciprocate if you give them clear enough signals.

After a while of not getting return signals, have some pride and walk away. If they actually give a damn about you, they'll grow a pair and let you know (a pair of testicles or a pair of breasts, either one). If you don't matter to them enough that they're willing to put in a bit of risk, they're no longer worth your time. They may like you, they may be attracted to you, but they don't care enough to want to be with you. As the 'good book' says, he/she's just not that into you. If you keep pushing it you become a weirdo.

For as far back as I can remember, even with the teenage thing, I've always walked away when a man didn't show interest. I didn't follow him around, I didn't question his friends, I didn't call him a hundred times. Of course, I've also always had the willingness to put myself out there and say, "Hey, I like you, do you like me?" If you haven't done that, it's generally premature to walk away completely. Then they're left with no excuse for not hitting back. Whatever you do, don't leave someone guessing. It's childish game-playing. Playing hard to get is still playing.

Another clue is to listen for the things that aren't being said, rather than just hearing what is said. If a person isn't asking about you or your life, you can be damn sure they don't care about either one. Now, this could be because they're inherently selfish, in which case you don't really want them as a central part of your life anyway. If they aren't inherently selfish, it probably means it's just you they don't care about. Sorry to burst your bubble, but people who care will want to know things about you. There are those who will limit their questions out of respect for your privacy, and a fear of feeling too pushy, but at the very least they will respond with interest and questions when it's a topic you've brought up yourself.

No, if someone wants you in any way, they let you know. If they're too pathetic to do so, they're probably not very effective socially to begin with, which is a difficult flaw to overcome and something they need to work on before they're ready to be with anyone anyway. If they're not the pathetic sort, and they still haven't managed to tell you anything about how they feel, you're going to continue to feel hurt and rejected subconsciously, even if you haven't accepted it on a conscious level that you have, in fact, been hurt and rejected. There's a part of you that is well aware they're not really interested, and that part isn't going to go away no matter how much you ignore it.

There's a delicate balance between showing interest and stalking, and it's all about reciprocity. You hit, and if they don't hit back, walk. No, I don't mean you bitch-slap them. Hit on is the term I refer to there. Maybe I'm onto something, though. It worked in high school, didn't it? You give a guy a slap on the arm, it's construed as flirting. Still, any progression there is probably dangerous, unless of course you're into that sort of thing.