Whether one is ignorant of it or ignoring it, often the result is ultimately the same

by Michael S. Kaplan, published on 2007/11/18 13:31 -05:00, original URI: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/michkap/archive/2007/11/18/6373024.aspx

There is nothing technical in this post at all, so you really shouldn't waste your time. I mean, relationship insights from someone who has not yet had a successful relationship? Who are we kidding here?

It will take me a moment to tie my point together, perhaps because it is early on Sunday. I may not even post this blog, actually.

This whole "I may not post" seems to me to be kind of a useless sentiment if you don't live with me or have some other way to see the unpublished works -- although there have been several times that I have deleted a post after saying that I might do so, it's not like leaving it in the ones I do really communicates much other than the idea that I might have some standards. regular readers probably doubt the veracity of that anyway. :-)

Over the years I have lived in the Pacific Northwest, I've seen some very good movies, employing two very different strategies:

And again over the years, both before and after my time in Seattle, I have in a couple of instances had close friends who were lesbians (one of whom I even lived with for a while) and they both expressed at times the same sentiment that Gina Gershon's Corky expressed in Bound:

If there's one thing I can't stand about sleeping with women, it's all the fucking mind-reading.

The point they were trying to make was slightly different, though -- they were actually explaining how "lucky" I was being a straight man, because in general all of the subtle mind games go right over our heads, and since women generally carry around such low expectations of us that we simply don't end up having to pay as much attention to things like feelings.

We still are expected to remember things like anniversaries and birthdays, sure. But it is almost a cliché to point out how often we screw up even those simple points with objective criteria, anyway!

Now I will admit that I have been both a victim of this phenomenon and one to take advantage of it. It often boils down to two categories:

1) Sometimes I do see what is going on but I really don't want to deal with it, and hope by "being a guy" and acting oblivious to it I can somehow be excused from the responsibility of dealing with it. I am then just living up to expectations, after all. This would be known as IGNORING IT.

2) Other times I don't see what is going on until it is way too late, so although the situation never had a chance to work itself out (even if I might have wanted it too had I only known!), it again manages to meet the expectations of the woman who assumes (in this case correctly) that I am "just being a guy". This would be known as being IGNORANT OF IT.

I just had one of those latter experiences again just recently.

Several readers had sent me a Contact link note or an email after reading Amazing what a difference a preposition makes (aka Boy with stick, gets no chick) or especially I'd call it the end of an era, myself, asking me whether I realized that Annette was interested in me or not.

I responded to each of them saying that I didn't think so.

Then last night Marla called me up to ask me if anything happened with Annette before she left.

I acted confused for a moment.

Marla said "Wait for it...".

And I realized what she was saying.


Marla suggested that the problem is that I have a blind spot -- since I don't like myself, I don't notice when other people like me.

I'm not sure that is true, but I think that (since I see myself as neither charismatic nor charming) I do have a blind spot, but it is toward the notion of being attracted to me, not toward the idea of liking me.

Which maybe does dovetail into Marla's point, indirectly -- I do like myself, but I am definitely not attracted to myself. So maybe that is why I don't always see it....

In my defense, there are all kinds of reasons why, even if this hadn't fallen into the second category, I would have placed it in the first. There was just too much working against us (I wasn't going to move to New York, the very different world views, religious differences, family issues, the whole "friend conversion" thing, what we were each looking for, the age thing, etc.), and while any one or maybe even a few of those issues I could see looking past (and probably have at some point), I couldn't look past all of them.

Even if we had gotten beyond the phase where no one had actually even expressed interest clearly.

Which no one had.

So it would not have made much a difference between whether I was ignorant of it or was ignoring it -- in the end the results would have been the same. For the sake of being friends....

But Annette -- I know you are reading this -- I put you very firmly in that "friend" bucket, which (with very limited exceptions) has done much better historically than the other bucket anyway. Not like a Blues Traveler song exactly but anyway:

I lied and told her I loved her,
She didn't care, but anyway
I told her we'd still be friends,
And she didn't care, but anyway
I tried last week for to call her,
She wasn't home, but anyway
I think I'll spend my life alone,
I really don't care right now, but anyway

Its a state of affairs and a state of emotions
The kind of thing that you must understand
I tell you one thing; you tell me another
We walk away, maybe then shake hands

It's funny (and this is an orthogonal point but it interests me so I am going to mention it anyway!), this bit of the song completely maps to the situation 100%, even though every single major point in the lyrics does not match what happened (no one lied, love was never even a topic, we probably both care, we hugged rather than shook hands, and we did it before I scooted away and she moved away).

If you watched the original Star Trek then you probably liked the whole Mirror, Mirror alternate universe that had Spock with a beard. I used to be so skeptical about how everything that happened between the two universes was an exact opposite (worlds destroyed in one and saved in the other) yet everything could still track together and avoid being unrecognizably different.

And suddenly I realized that it could work that way.

That it has.

That it often does.

And that it DID, in this case.

Anyway, I think I know one of the problems here.

In most cases, when a romantic relationship is not going to happen, the person who is not interested says "Let's be friends" by which they mean "Let's be that unique kind of friends who never see each other or speak to each other again for the rest of our respective lives" which is generally speaking not my goal.

For me, since the friendships have on the whole performed better than the beyond friendships, I would much prefer to not try mess with something valuable that works and risk turning it into something bad. Maybe it is me getting old, but I have indeed lost a few friends that way (in ill-advised, so-called "two-point conversions") so it is reasonable that I am now more skittish.

I am now looking at this post and wondering if I have actually tied anything together or not.

Probably not.

But no one reads these non-technical posts anyway so it's probably safe to post....


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# Jeroen Ruigrok van der Werven on 19 Nov 2007 7:36 AM:


another thing that you might want to try: go with the flow.

Don't try to analyze stuff to bits. :)

And also, sometimes it takes a while. Heck, with my current fiancé (Japanese) we broke up two or three times before we truly understood each other's worth in the entire context of life.

# Michael S. Kaplan on 19 Nov 2007 9:54 AM:

Unfortunately, the geek in me is incapable of *not* analyzing things to death....

But I know what you mean. :-)

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2007/12/08 Thinking outside my comfort zone [occasionally, for a maximum of up to 14 minutes, 53 seconds a day]

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