Is being yourself part of flirting?

Seems that since my summer has ended (so, since Thursday) the world has turned topsy turvy. I don’t know what is going on with the Alt-Right/Neo-Nazi/KKK stuff, or with North Korea. I don’t understand it. I have been too busy and too tired to pay much attention to it. I know it’s important, but I can’t wrap my brain around it all right now.

Instead, I want to explain my epiphany I had about my dating life as it relates to my Aspie-ness. It really blew my mind.

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So, one of the things that I sometimes struggle with is whether or not I can be myself. In relationships, it’s most comfortable to just be me from day one, but I learned when I transferred colleges (a long time ago), that there are things you have keep to yourself in order to not be labeled as weird. While my original college was very open and encouraged varying viewpoints and exploration of thought, the not-so-liberal Liberal Arts college I transferred to didn’t want you to be too different. Even in the theatre department. Because I was very open and told exactly where I stood on religion and sexuality, I was made outcast.

As a result, I began wearing masks.

masks

When I meet new people, I observe them and how they act in a certain situation and I mimic them to make them comfortable with me. It was something that a friend (maybe former friend… not sure) pointed out to me about my situation with the Ex. He asked me if maybe the Ex could tell that I wore masks, and therefor didn’t trust me because he didn’t feel like he knew who I really was.

But in reality those masks I wear are really just hyperfocused parts of my personality. Like I have my Geek friends, and when I’m with them, I can emphasize the geekier traits within myself. My Book Club Girls (with whom I’ve lost contact) allow me to be my hyper girly self. With them, I get to be the Samantha (from Sex in the City) of the group and talk in detail about my dating experiences, but it’s more of a performance because it’s a caricature of that one part of me.

The guys I choose to date are guys who I feel like accept me as I am, and thus I start by being myself, completely 100% myself, unless I’ve met them under circumstances where I’m already wearing a mask. I am 100% my awkward, socially odd self, and if that version of me is unacceptable, I either decide they aren’t worth the effort, or I adjust. If I feel like the connection is strong enough between me and the guy, I begin to alter myself until I’ve altered myself so much so that I’m too uncomfortable, and then I am no longer happy… but because they accepted me in the beginning, I often try to convince them that it will work.

So… the epiphany is this: the reason I fall so easily is that guys will pretend to like me as myself in the beginning because they’re trying to put their best face forward (or just trying to get in my pants), and meanwhile I’m just being me. It makes me feel like I’m in that situation that everyone talks about when describing how they knew so and so was “the One,” and I allow myself to hope.

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When people talk about “the One,” they talk about how the conversation was easy, and it was simple to be yourself with that person. I’m always myself, but there are some people with whom it is comfortable to be myself, and then there are some with whom I feel like I have to immediately alter or put on a mask when I’m with them. With guys of the second variety, I tend to compromise to get what I can out of the situation until it’s over…

Which is what the last guy expected things to be. But as we continued to seem to be comfortable with one another, I began to have hope. And when other people would confirm that things he did were things that only occur in serious relationships, it made me hope harder. More than hope, actually; it made me believe that it was real.

The-Love

And I really needed it to be real because I am terrified that I will never find something real.

I am terrified that I will always misread the signs, or that because I abhor being made to feel awkward for being myself (and yet myself is… not broken, but different than “normal,” normal being neurotypical), that I’ll never find someone who accepts me. It frightens me a great deal, and the older I get, the less hope I have, and the quicker I want to believe that “this guy” is the “One.”

Meanwhile, the other side of that is that because I’m always myself, sometimes guys who I’m not attracted to misread my signals and assume that I’m so open and comfortable with them because I’m equally attracted to them as they are to me.

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The reality is that, unless I have a reason to think they don’t accept me as I am, I go into the situation being myself, my true self, sans mask until they give me reason to put one on. It has nothing to do with attraction.

With that Last Guy (which is from here on out his nickname, I suppose, even though there has already been the hint of more than one after him), I was myself, and he accepted that person and was himself with me. What I misread was that his comfort level was similar to how I am with guys I’m not attracted to: I wasn’t special to him, he didn’t think of me as important, I was just some girl. Though he got upset any time I pointed that out.

Then, because there were cultural differences that I was not aware of, I never realized that he didn’t have the same feelings for me until I was past the point of logic. This was made worse because every time I began to believe him, I’d tell someone and they’d tell me that no, he just wasn’t aware of how he felt because he wasn’t allowing himself to feel. And then my hope would be built up all over again.

hopememe

And now, because of an accident, one that once it happened, I’d hoped would be my miracle, he and I can’t even be friends. The way he handled the situation is unacceptable to me, and the way it upset me seems to be unacceptable to some people whom I considered friends. The result is that I lost an entire group of friends that chose him over me, without even telling me that there was a choice to be made.

I’m having to learn via Facebook that I’ve been kicked out.

But, the situation has taught me a lot about myself and how I interact with people, and I suppose that is worth something.

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