(We don't know where we'll end up ... but we're all starting at single.)

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

The RN: The Dreaded Friend Zone

I hate the friend zone. I hate not being taken seriously when I say I don't want to date you. If you've been any attention at all - sometimes I wonder if I'm even paying attention, seeing how long I let these things drag on - you probably realize Tuesday Night Guy (TNGuy) was itching to get himself cut off. Well, sir, mission accomplished.

You finally found my breaking point.
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Let's review where we were a few weeks ago, before he pushed me too far. First, I had instituted a no touching rule. No hand shakes, no hugs, no touching. Seems pretty clear to me. Second, I had also reiterated, frequently, I was offering friendship and nothing more. So, no candlelit dinners, no mushy stuff, no treating me with disrespect. Third, for goodness sake, dude, get out of my personal space ... oops, I'm jumping forward.

The following events took place in early May 2017 ...

Near the beginning of May the Regularly Schedule Tuesday Night Activity (RSTNA) had a temporary change of venue. For the past year or so, RSTNA has been located about 3 blocks from my current work location. I can rush and make it from my desk to the conference room at the hotel in about 8 minutes. It's been awesome, so clearly they are moving it back downtown next month. Since TNGuy knows I'm close to work at the regular location, he offered me a ride to the temporary location. I didn't really want a ride from him because anytime I give him an inch he tries to take a mile. But, I was a little strapped for cash at the time and didn't want to spring for the round trip Uber fare. I thought, "how bad could one ride for about 20 min each way be?" Turns out really bad. Well the ride there wasn't so bad. The ride home was worse, but really it was the next day that did me in for trying to maintain any sort of relationship at all with TNGuy.

So in the car on the way there, I got a business phone call. I'd been playing phone tag all day with this guy so I answered the phone. So, of course, TNGuy overhears a bunch of stuff and starts the inquisition about what's happening and am I moving, blah, blah, blah. No dude, I have a side business on top of my regular job and it required some attention. Long story short, he found out I was driving about 3 hours each way to deal with some details of my side business on that Friday. Note, based on what he overheard and our conversation about it afterwards, there was no way it wasn't clear this was a business trip and not a personal trip. It was probably also pretty clear it wasn't related to my regular job. So the car ride there wasn't that bad. I didn't really need the inquisition, but overall it wasn't too hard to avoid answering any specifics.

At the actual RSTNA he followed me around the entire time leading up the discussion, and involved himself in all the conversations I was having. He then choose to sit in the chair directly next to mine during the discussion. I don’t understand how he possibility could not realize he is too big to fit well into the chairs used. I barely fit in those chairs and he's quite a bit bigger than I am. He spent the entire night bumping his thigh against mine. Like a damn metronome. I assume he thought he get away with it being “accidental,” but there’s no way I believe he didn’t know he was going to do it the second he chose sit in the chair directly next to mine. I was very uncomfortable with his behavior.

Non-consensual touching on a rhythm, my favorite.

At one point, he got up and did something out in the lobby, and then came back in and started asking me questions about what was happening, interrupting my ability to listen to what was going on. I find his habit of talking over presenters very annoying and intrusive and I have told him in the past when someone is speaking to the group it is not a good time for him to try to have conversation with me. Later, while there was a bit of a discussion going on about attending different types of events, he interrupted me when I was speaking to the group by whispering my ear he would go with me to any event. As if that would make it any better. After the discussion, I was talking to someone else so clearly he involved himself in my conversation and he overheard me telling her I hadn’t had dinner yet. Great more info he didn't need, which lead directly to ...

As soon as we get in the car, he asked me if I wanted to go to dinner. No, I have food at home and don’t want to go to dinner. Also, didn't I ask you like 1000 times to stop hitting on me? Then he spent the entire car ride back to my place ostensibly talking about a suggestion I had brought up in the discussion. It came across as him bragging about having been part of an 18-35 year-old activity group and telling me he thought I should go to their events even though I’m not part of the target demographic. Blah, blah, blah, I am not that desperate. I'm 38 not 8, I don't need my hand held at all times. Next he volunteered to be the person I could talk to about anything. Jesus! Fucking! Christ! Get off my back, we're barely friends! But to be polite and in order to dissuade him of it being a good idea, I indicated maybe I didn’t want to talk a guy about some of the stuff. And it went on and on in circles with him trying to get me to allow him to “be there” for me and me dodging and saying wasn’t the right solution for me. Ugh, just typing this is giving me a headache from the knight in shining armor he clearly wanted to be.

Irony: Save me from men who think I need recusing.

So at this point, I’m pretty fed up and starting to tally all the things I feel violate the terms he had agreed to for us being friends. 1) Physical contact, 2) Asking me to dinner in a date-like manner, 3) not trying to solve problems in my life which aren’t really problems, 4) see 3, 5) see 3, etc. And then, then, he texts me on Wednesday and invites himself on my business trip on Friday. WTF!?!? I can’t even begin to express how absolutely inappropriate, disrespectful, and intrusive I found this. I am off the deep-end irate, livid, and mad. I mean, come on! Who invites themselves on someone else's business trip?!? How rude can you get? It only took my like 5 times of saying no before he finally heard me say, “No, you can't come!”

I took a few days to calm down before addressing the issue, don’t text mad, and he fucking tries to sit in the chair directly next to mine at the next RSTNA! I asked him, as politely as I could, to sit down a chair, and he starts get the hurt puppy dog face like what did I do wrong? Why can’t I sit so close I have to touch you? I lost it a little bit, and turned to him and said as quietly as I could manage, “I can’t do this tonight. I just can’t deal with this right now.” He said he didn’t have to sit there and was clearly waiting for me to say “it’s okay, please sit here.” When I didn’t say anything and just turned away and wouldn’t look at him, he eventually got up and moved to another row. Thankfully. It's like he almost understood he was being an overbearing ass.

Don't drive angry. Don't text mad.

I took another day to calm down so didn’t cuss him out when I sent him the message, but on Thursday I sent him a text firmly inviting him to stop all contact with me. Two days later, on Saturday, I started telling people I had cut him off completely and I had no interest in speaking with him or being around him. Later that night, he was at second event and he did seem like he was going to try to talk me (FUCK! Go Away!), but fortunately a few friends helped me keep a buffer between us. So far, he has not texted me and I haven’t noticed him trying to specifically talk to me at any events since. But, let's be honest, I am skeptical he will continue to keep his distance given both his ability to “not understand” what I have asked and my history with people ignoring what I want so they can continue to “be in my life.”

All of the cursing, all of it. I am so tired of this pattern in my life. I had a chance last week to ask advice from a new person about this type of situation. And she said pretty much the same thing my therapist, my sister, my mom (hi, mom!), and all of my friends have said, "You're too nice. Stop giving people chances." As much as I love all my friends and family, sometimes hearing from a complete stranger is still the most helpful. I think I may have actually heard it this time. Maybe it was something about the way she said or how fast she said it or the look on her face when she said it; I don't know, but even though I have been parroting the words, I don't think I really understood them before (hello pot, yes, this is kettle). But I felt like a light went off when she said after the first date with TNGuy went awry, there was no reason to offer to be friends with him. It literally blew my mind, I had not even considered not offering a friendship.

How was I missing this before?
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Literally whenever I disappoint guys people, I offer the closest thing to what I think they want which I'm okay giving. Want to fuck? I don't, but what about friends? You want to be friends? I don't, but how about we get together when the group does? I'm just now seeing while I was trying to soften the rejection, I was softening it so much they didn't hear it. Regardless of how clear my words where, it seems me still caring about their emotions is enough for my actions to speak louder. Part of me is ecstatic about realizing this; the rest of me is horrified to realize what I consider being a descent human being is considered an opening for this type of behavior. All of me is trying to figure how to stop doing this without feeling like I'm a rude bitch.

I need to spend some contemplating: Is rude to put your emotional well being before other people's emotions? Society tells me it is. On the other hand I have had the following sticky note on my monitor at work for close to 3 years, "Me not continuing to be hurt by his actions is more important than his feelings." People really have been telling me this forever ... maybe it's time I start listening.

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