Monday, May 14, 2007

Uh oh

I think I was surreptitiously fixed up on the weekend. Urgh.

You see, I have a friend named H. H began a relationship about a year ago with a woman named L. I met L last June when the three of us and another friend went out for drinks. L and I hit it off really well...I went to her birthday thingy a couple of weeks later. Then H left for a job in a faraway city - so no more socializing with H and, by extension, L. I ran into L at an event at the end of September, she drove me home, and that was that.

Lo and behold, in the middle of last week, I got a seemingly off-the-cuff email from L. Such a surprise - I barely recognized her name at first. She said, "some friends and I are going to a show this Saturday...want to come?"

I agreed to go because I'd wanted to see this performance piece. I agreed to go, too, out for dinner with a whole bunch of people I'd never met in my life. On Saturday, L emailed me and her friend J, to say, "Let's meet all these folks the two of you have never met at such-and-such restaurant at 6:30." I recognized J's name - remembered meeting her and having a nice chat with her at the birthday thing last summer.

It occurred to me, then - with a kind of horror - that it was quite possible J and I were being set up -- without telling us (or me, at least). I can imagine it - H and L talking about their two friends who could use a summer fling, and cooking up some kind of plan. When I told ex-GF what I was doing Saturday night, her first question was, "are you being set up?" So it wasn't only me who sensed something fishy.

So, I went to dinner and to the show. J was really lovely - I liked her a lot. We chatted easily. We are living just a few blocks away from each other right now, and both doing the joint-custody thing with our dogs and our exes. We talked about dog walking and great food places in the vicinity. It was all lovely, and she was great - but I didn't feel a spark. (I am pretty much the opposite of sparks right about now, I'd say - I'm kinda not feeling very attraction-y at all --well, okay, except that I've started sleeping with ex-GF. Sshhh...I know, I know...) She's the kind of person I should - whatever that means - be interested in, but I'm not feelin' it, for reasons related to the kind of state of mind I'm in.

When I was leaving, J acted all shy -- confirming for me some kind of interest. We had talked about taking a dog walk together, and I said she should get my email from L.

So last night, she emailed me, wondering about a dog walk on Wednesday or the weekend. She asked, at the end, about the provenance of my first name. I wrote back, briefly, not giving much, but did add a PS correcting her first guess about its origin. I proposed a Saturday morning dog walk - I honestly like taking these walks with people, since I have to spend so long doing them every day...I'm always up for walking partners.

The email I got back today was...uh oh...It's not what I want...She was shyly flirting...or at least indicating her interest. She had looked up the meaning of my name. And was throwing the meanings at me in kind of flirty ways - using them to compliment me.

Ack. I don't want this right now. And yet I am pretty much a loser who doesn't know how to indicate that she's nice and all, but I am not up for dating. Especially cause I'm sleeping with my "ex"-GF. How do y'all indicate that you're not interested in that way? (I should know how to do this by now, considering that I'm in my thirties, but I don't...) What have been your strategies for the letting down easy of the exceptionally sweet and gentle person?


What Now? said...

I have no strategies for nicely letting people down, since I have either (a) been the kind of person in whom almost no one was ever romantically interested, or (b) been the kind of person who is completely clueless about other people's being interested in her. So I'm no help on this front, although surely the fact that you're moving away from town in the not-too-distant future makes the letting down a little easier?

Interesting bit of news you dropped into a parenthetical statement there!

squadratomagico said...

I have absolutely zero clue about how to handle such a situation... but it sure is fun to hear about vicariously! Maybe you could somehow do a third-party strategy: email L thanking her for the lovely evening, mentioning that you enjoyed meeting J but... whatever, you fill in the blank!

Perhaps my word verification is a message for you from the universe: it reads njoy m. Is there an "m" you need to enjoy, Hilaire?

Flavia said...

Oh, I'm terrible about this, and I've been in the same situation recently. My strategy (which isn't really as direct as it should be) would be to be friendly but definitely not flirty, as you've been, and then if there's a palpable shift--she invites you to dinner, say, one-on-one--to say, "Hey, I'd love to have dinner because I like you a lot. But if this is a date, I should let you know that I can't do that right now--I'm leaving the city soon, and my head is a total mess because of my recent breakup. . . and I'm just not in a place to be pursuing anything romantically."

She may not read that as a real or definitive "not interested," but just stick to it.

Dr. Crazy said...

Exactly what Flavia said. If you try to be direct when she is, as you say "shyly" flirting, it will just embarrass her. And what I'd do if I were the shyly-flirting one if put in that position would be to say, "I don't know what you're talking about at all. I was just being friendly. You're a freak." And so she'd feel rejected, you'd feel like a freak, and nobody would be happy. Thus, the only thing for it is to just be friendly (and not too attentive - like email back the next day or something), and if a definitive move is made, you then directly state that you really can't handle an involvement right now. I think a nice touch is also to say how flattered you are that the person asked you.

(As you see, I've been on both sides of this one :) )

medieval woman said...

Whoa Nelly! That *was* a nice little parenthetical bomb you dropped there, H! :) Well, this does complicate things. I think that b/c she's being "shyly flirty" with you, she won't come right out and say she's interested in a summer shag or perhaps more - that way you don't have to turn her down as directly as you might fear. But I think that playing it a little cool and even dropping some hints talking about your upcoming move and how your break-up and all the transitioning, etc. has made you feel kind of monkish of late would be a good idea. If you say it off the cuff-like, then she'll get the hint and will probably appreciate the subtle signal from the get go rather than having her flirt and you parry and then she feels rejected.

Go you!

jb said...

I absolutely suck at this kind of thing, but what I've done (and it always feels crummy, and inept, but I think it works) is to do the opposite of what someone would do who was decidedly interested. So, like, I definitely wouldn't email back right away; maybe I'd even wait a couple of days. I would be vague in my get-together plans (or make them very non-datey, as I think the Saturday morning dog-walk was). I'd say things like, "Well, I'm pretty busy this week, but maybe when things settle down." This strategy kind of sucks because I can imagine being on the other side of it and feeling that things were unclear, but social awkwardness of this sort makes me panic and I never have any idea what to do. Maybe you can patch together a sort of pastiche approach from the comments. Good luck!

Pantagruelle said...

OMG!!! That's one helluva parenthetical! Since you both know you're going to New City soon though, why not? Might as well enjoy being each other and make some good memories to part on, right?

I've got zero advice on letting s/o down easy. It took me 4 months to break up with my first girlfriend, and we were only going out for 2 weeks when I started! Dyke drama is so complicated.

My (potentially crass?) strategy for putting people (read: icky men) off has always been to try to drop the words "my girlfriend" innocently into the conversation. Perhaps you could innocently mention at some point that you are still "involved" (innocently or not) with ex-GF? If you don't want to divulge that, then I like MW's monk suggestion. Either way, you are telling her, "it's not you, it's me" and sparing her feelings before they have a chance to develop any further. Good luck!

Hilaire said...

Thanks, all, for the advice...

I think kb is right - some reasonable combination of all of your strategies is a good idea.

I don't know if I can pull off the "I'm leaving soon" thing since I suspect that if this was a fix-up, it was meant to be a spring/summer fling for their sex-starved, post-breakup friends. But "monkish" and "I'm a mess" sound like they work!

As for the parenthetical info: Yeah, that's kind of reflective of how I don't have much to say about it, you know? It just is what it is...

Hilaire said...

Up there, I meant, "jb is right", not kb!!

Sigh - proofreading my own work has always been a problem for me!

medieval woman said...

Ya know - it really is what it is. You and (ex-)GF have always been really honest with each other - even when it was hurtful. I can't imagine that you're not doing the same thing now. Just do what makes you both happy :)

MaggieMay said...

OK, but I *totally* want to hear more about the parenthetical. Having been the Queen of the NonBreakUp BreakUps, I am eager to hear somebody else's experience with this.

Plus I just love living vicariously.

medieval woman said...

Look at all of the "DONES" on your to-do list! (*turns green*)

Texter said...


Hilaire said...

Maggie, I will try to figure out something meaningful to say about it soon as I can start tackling the next thing on my to-do list!

And, MW, speaking of the to-do list - I may be done all those things...but those are things that HAD to be done by others' deadlines, for the most part...and now look, I am one week away from the deadline on the Congress paper, and haven't even started it! And the next thing, the book review? I sure haven't started the book, nor will I be able to until a few days before the due date. Due to my being away at Congress, I am going to have to write it ON the date it is due. So I'm not all that impressive!! You'll see - when I have nebulous, for-myself-only deadlines, like "finish paper by the end of the summer", I will be much less efficient-looking!