Introverts and intimacy (part two)

I’ve been pondering this whole introverts and intimacy thing for a few days now and have arrived at some conclusions which shed some positive light on us. I’m more likely to stand back and survey the situation than throw myself head first into something. I have to make a conscious effort to talk to someone new – the conversation doesn’t come easily for me. If I don’t instantly feel a bit of a connection with someone, I’m not driven to work at it (even if I should).

It’s a classic trait of introverts. We generate our own energy and are selective of who receives that energy. I don’t see anything wrong with that – in fact, I think anyone who receives an introvert’s attention should feel privileged. We take great care selecting friends and partners and can offer so much in these roles.

These traits can be quite limiting. As mentioned in my last blog, I felt little connection with three of the four dates I’ve had, and as such, don’t feel a great need to continue the conversation. But at the same time, I trust my intuition. I like to think it’s my way of knowing who’s worth getting to know and who to show the door.

But this could also be a falsity, preventing me from getting to know someone. Taking the dates as an example, have I passed judgement too quickly or have I saved myself giving energy to someone/something that isn’t going to benefit me?

I caught up with a friend for coffee and, as often is the case, the conversation turned to men and relationships. Since instigating change in her life (new job, new town), three previous flames have stepped up to the plate, keen to show their affection. Why is that? Do men look at women who could be considered docile and meek will always be there, will wait for them?

Caring for others is one of the most important things in life to me. I like making sure those near and dear to me are looked after and safe. Do men see women who consider this important as needy and clingy? I certainly don’t see myself as either of those things – as an introvert I like and need my space. I don’t need others’ attention to validate my existence. I have so much

Again, keen to hear your thoughts!

Introverts and intimacy

It’s been a long time, apologies for the delay between posts to those who might be reading. I’ve been ‘putting myself out there’ lately by going on a few dates. I’m somewhat embarrassed to admit all have been arranged through online dating. I signed up a few weeks after ‘the conversation’, hoping it would serve as a distraction and provide an opportunity to meet someone worthy of my attention.

My subscription has since expired, but I swapped emails with four guys – three who live locally and one who’s a couple of hours away. I’ve met two of the locals and at the weekend met the out-of-towner halfway for a day out. The experiences have forced me to reflect on my intent behind ‘putting myself out there’ (I really hate that term) and the challenges introverts face when it comes to meeting new people.

Trading emails online helped break the ice – I knew a bit about all men before I met them. Enough to avoid any awkward silences but not enough that there was nothing left to say. To provide some insight, I’ll give a quick run-through of what happened:

– date 1: one afternoon at a local coffee shop with a lovely, laid-back guy. He was very easy to talk to, we worked out we had a common friend and I’d say we hit it off. We continued sharing emails and arranged to meet again, this time over dinner. When the night came to an end, he walked me to my car and went in for a mouth kiss, which I definitely wasn’t ready for or expecting. We’ve not been in touch since.

– date 2: after work at a trendy bar with a guy who was quite full-on and chatty. I don’t mind chatty, but did find him to be very eager and overbearing. I bailed after about an hour, haven’t been in touch since.

– date 3: in a pretty country town with a terribly shy guy. I knew as soon as we met he was nervous, and this meant I had to make a lot of the conversation. We spent a few hours together, during which time he became a bit touchy feely but still a gentleman. At the end of the day he went in for a mouth kiss, again which I wasn’t ready for or expecting.

Date 3 has left me feeling quite unsettled and highlighted some patterns in how I deal with meeting new people. Things track along quite well, then something shifts and I become very averse to the person. I don’t know why – intuition perhaps, or maybe fear of the unknown?

I also realised my intentions to ‘put myself out there’ might be horribly altruistic – these three guys were genuinely looking to connect with someone. It’s selfish of me to test the dating waters when I’m still hurting over someone else, cruel to think I can have what I shared with the boy with someone else.

With the boy, we had built up almost six months of rapport before anything happened. But then again, there was always some sort of connection, something that drew me in (maybe his charisma and charm?). I also wonder whether introverts are drawn to extroverts, that whole thing of opposites attracting.

I’ve never felt comfortable with taking the lead – even in non-threatening situations (let’s take going out with a group of friends and deciding where to eat). I struggle to describe the feeling, but it’s like a combination of fear, guilt and embarrassment when it comes to being the person who takes charge.

If anyone reading this has any theories, I’d love to hear them. This whole blogging process has been a great chance to reflect on me, but I’d also be interested to hear from others about their experiences.

Promise my blogs won’t be so few and far between in the future.

What a difference a week makes

I’m proud to report I took some big steps this week and, sitting here now, I feel good. Following a session with the psychologist on Tuesday, I’d resolved myself to bailing up the boy and telling him what I needed to say. In my mind, it went like this:

‘I’m sorry things between us didn’t go from strength to strength. I’d love nothing more than to have it back, but I know that’s not going to happen. I want you to know that I don’t hate you – a part of me will always care for you. You were there for me at my worst and I’ll always be thankful for that.

I’m sorry if I hurt you. I never intended on saying or doing something that might upset you. I don’t regret anything between us. You’ve taught me a lot about myself and about the world we live in. There were a lot of firsts which I hold very dearly.

Thank you for what we’ve shared. I treasure your friendship and hope we can still be friends.’

Thursday provided the opportunity for this to happen. While it wasn’t as eloquent as I’d hoped, it worked. We went off-site and had chat, and to cut a long story short, it’s gave me the closure that I needed. I found out what I kind of had an inkling about – he’s seeing someone – but now I feel like I can let go and move on. (I think I might’ve said something to him about hoping the chat would provide closure)

But Friday came around and I had what is feeling like a life-changing experience. I’ll do a separate post on it, and I hope it will be the last of the ‘I’m a pathetic girl who caved into a guy’s affections and is pining for something I don’t have’ posts.

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Beauty in the breakdown

I read a quote the other day that went like this:

When I first saw you, I was afraid to meet you
When I first met you, I was afraid to like you
When I liked you, I was afraid to kiss you
When I kissed you, I was afraid to love you
Now that I love you, I’m afraid to lose you

It got me thinking about that word – fear. A lot of my life has been shadowed by fear. Reflecting on my childhood, I was the cautious one, always conscious of what the repercussions might be, of what could go wrong. My parents aren’t the adventurous type, and now that I’m aware of it, I see how their cautious view of life has rubbed off on me.

I was never one for venturing out late, for rebelling. I never had a strong desire to travel to Asia, probably because of all the bad things that could happen there. I know this was partly due to my parents drumming this behaviour into me, and partly me wanting to do right by them. Perhaps because of this, I’ve not led an adventurous life. I thought I was okay with that, but the more I open my eyes, the more I realise this need for caution has spilled into areas of my life where you need to throw caution into the wind.

It makes me wonder whether things might be different between the boy and I, had I not held back on my emotions. Had I told him how much I cared, had I shown more affection. I know fear was the reason I held back, and now I’m trying to push fear to the side when tackling new situations.

These traits are interwoven with introversion. As an introvert, I’m okay with being the person who sits back and surveys the situation, assessing the scenario before jumping in. I’m okay with that. I’ve learned, from my negative experiences in the workplace, that this time is for me to evaluate pele and situations before committing. It’s my intuition guiding me, protecting me. So why have I spent so long ignoring and fighting my gut instinct?

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What are we doing?

Things began to change from that point on, and it’s the why that kills me. To cut a long story short, we continued our banter, but deep down I could feel something had changed for him. I think I tricked myself into believing it was other influences that had caused him to become more distant, less enthusiastic, ie: his job was giving him an insane amount of grief.

I did my best to be a support, but started to pull back after a breakfast in early April. We skirted around the issue of ‘that night’, we both admitted it was fun but didn’t give much indication as to what it meant. We discussed work, and what our next geographical steps would be (which we both were already aware of – he to move on and me to stay put). I admitted that if he were to move on, a part of me would be tempted to go with him. What I thought was a huge statement didn’t illicit much in the way of a reply.

Things continued awkwardly, with me going slightly insane over what went wrong. I pulled back further, avoiding contact to see if my lack of communication would encourage him to get in touch. It didn’t. About two weeks later I got a text message asking how I was doing, which I’m still convinced was brought on by someone else asking him how I was.

Everything came to a head when I scheduled a breakfast to broach the ‘what are we doing?’ question. I was early, wanting to be on the front foot. I picked the table, chose the seat I felt more comfortable in (with my back to the wall). He arrived and things were comfortable. We spoke about the past few weeks and shared some laughs. Then I brought up the issue.

It was awkward and unsettling to put my feelings out there. I can barely remember how I said it, but it was along the lines of, ‘I think we could be good together if we gave things a go’. He could barely look at me, and I struggled to hold my gaze. He uttered the words, ‘there’s no chemistry’ and my heart sank. I felt a rush of heat flood through me – embarrassment no doubt.

Breakfast continued and came to an end. I paid (insisted on it as I’d called the occasion) and he rushed off, late for a meeting (as always). This parting ended like any other sans one thing. As he went to kiss me, I turned my cheek, determined to send a message that lip kisses were no more.

We then went two months without communicating. No emails, no text messages. Occasionally we’d pass each other in the hallway – I think I may have rolled my eyes or looked away in disgust once or twice. He looked ashamed, eyes downcast. We both had leave scheduled, which meant there was about five weeks where neither of us would cross paths. I’d hoped this would be enough time for me to get over him, to move on. But it wasn’t, and two months on, I’m still pining.

It’s a pathetic feeling, wanting someone who doesn’t want you. It’s unproductive, not healthy for your heart or your mind. I’ve spent many moments crying over him, knowing he’d moved on and was doing okay without me. It hurt, a heartache greater than any I’ve ever experienced. I felt cheated, as though any chance to explore what we could be had been snatched out from under me. He will always be my what if.

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March madness

It’s hard to believe March was nearly five months ago. It feels like only last week things began to flourish and bloom between us. After accompanying each other to make Apple-related purchases (he an Apple TV, me an iPad), we were keen to pair the products, particularly as they were considered joint purchases (jokingly, of course). We were seen together by coworkers on both shopping occasions. Things had progressed enough for me that I no longer worried what people would think.

So anyway, fairly late one Friday night I headed down to his place so we could play with our new toys. We lounged on the couch, he with a scotch and me a beer, watching TV shows off my iPad on his Apple TV. I’d been to his place before, but this was different, something had definitely shifted between us. He pulled a doona over us and we snuggled – it was cozy and felt so normal, so right.

We called it quits around midnight – he had to catch an early flight and we’d already planned on doing breakfast anyway. He walked me to my car and we held a long embrace, before parting with the standard kiss on the lips. As he went to walk away, I made a bold move and ran back to him to kiss him again. It was an exciting rush – I felt like a giddy schoolgirl and he looked like a sheepish boy.

Six hours later we were in each other’s company again for breakfast, and before long it was time for him to head to the airport. I was on cloud nine that weekend – we were texting on a regular basis, sharing photos of our weekend. It was all in anticipation of catching up on Sunday night, when he returned.

He stopped by my place and jumped in the shower while I readied a platter of cheeses, dips and biscuits. We settled in for a night in front of the TV, sitting close. We fed each other (and yes, I hear you saying, ‘what the?!’) and again snuggled under a blanket. It was nearing 11pm, and as we both had work the next day, time to call it a night. His next move caught me off guard and will be forever imprinted on my mind.

He brushed my hair out of my face and leaned in for a kiss – not just any kiss, a pash (to put it eloquently). I responded and lost track of time as we sucked face (again, eloquent). I knew I had to put a stop to things – the logical person within me kept thinking of all the reasons we shouldn’t be making out on my couch. I broke off the kiss and told him he should get going. Looking back I now know the electricity between us was his wanton need for intimacy, and it frustrates me that I pushed it away.

And so began that week in March, where we spent most nights at each other’s houses. He came to my place, we made out in my kitchen (how romantic), me sitting on the bench with my legs wrapped around his hips. We play-fought on his couch, him tickling me until I could barely breathe. And that was the night we went all the way.

Here’s the real clincher: that was the night my V card was stamped. To this day, he doesn’t know that. There’s only one person in the world who knows that (well, more now – my fair readers!) and she’s bound by confidentiality. I regret not stopping him, telling him I wasn’t likely to be a sexual fiend in the bedroom, that he’d have to go easy on me. Not that it was a bad experience. I felt safe and secure, loved and wanted.

There were various reasons the timing wasn’t ideal – we both had early starts the next day, his very important and mine involving family who didn’t know of his existence. I also knew I’d struggle to get anything out of the experience – anti-anxiety medication had near-killed my sex drive. But I so desperately wanted to show him how much I wanted him.

Retrospectively, it’s so easy to say that now. But at the time, I was terrified by the idea of saying anything. The lesson here – communication (says the professional communicator). I’ve also learned that holding back results in losing out on love. I’ll leave you with this lovely quote:

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I’m just sorry I’ve only now realised the devastating consequences of holding back on love.

The boy (part 2)

Time to continue this saga. Upon reflection, I now know I should have called him on the kiss, prodded to find out what it meant for him. But I didn’t. And so instead, a kiss on the lips became the norm. Not that I was complaining.

I don’t know about you, but for me, kissing on the mouth is a rarity (I take Julia Roberts’ line from Pretty Woman). To me, it’s an intimate expression, a way of showing someone how special they are to you. I was engaging in this behaviour without really reflecting what it meant, for he or I.

Anyway, the mouth kissing continued. We spent time together, doing breakfasts, texting each other most nights, sharing silly emails, creating our own in-jokes and learning more and more about each other.

After Christmas, we spent a day in the city, shopping for work shirts (him) and shoes (me). People made comments that inferred we were a couple. It felt so natural and relaxed, so normal. I wanted to hold his hand, entwine my fingers with his, as we walked around the city streets. But I didn’t – I held back, scared to show my feelings.

Things continued to build in 2013 – a big turning point for me being a friend’s wedding (at which I was a bridesmaid) I asked him to attend with me. Just asking was a huge undertaking – I was so nervous and kept delaying asking. I think in the end I asked a mere two weeks out from the wedding. But he said yes, and I was thrilled.

I have two strong memories of that day – the first being the moment I stepped into the room to walk down the aisle. My eyes were instantly drawn to his (even though I didn’t know where he was sitting). I remember holding his gaze for what was probably an unnatural amount of time (especially as I had maybe 80 other pairs of eyes on me). I took in his attire, his slick hair and rugged three-day growth. But it was his eyes that drew me in. Normally a caramel hazel, his pupils were dilated, making his eyes dark.

The second moment was following the ceremony. The guests had moved outside, and I was in the bridal room, freshening up and gathering items to take on the photo shoot. I stepped outside and he was in the hall, as though he had been waiting for me. We closed the distance between us quickly, facing each other, speechless. He took my hands in his, kissed me on the lips and told me I looked amazing.

He doesn’t know this (and may never know), but he’s the first guy to say words to that effect to me. Those two moments will forever be etched in my memory. Feeling so special, so loved, feeling as though everyone else in the room had disappeared, and in that moment, it was just he and I. Feelings I had never experienced before.

The bond between us remained strong, despite tensions in other areas of our lives ramping up. His workload becoming insane, my frustrations with colleagues beginning to overwhelm me again. But I was there for him, and he for me. We ventured out for breakfasts, for more shopping in the city, dinner and a show. Things were going so well. I felt at ease with him, so safe and so content.

Then March happened.

The boy

A rainy night in seems like a good time to start a post about the boy. But before I tell you about him, I need to tell you about relationships according to me. At 28 years old, I’m a little embarrassed to admit I’ve never had a long-term relationship. It’s not that I don’t want that in life – I do. Relationships were just never a priority, and now I fear my lack of prioritising (and subsequent lack of ‘mileage’) will cost me.

Up until about 18 months ago my focus was on career, achieving goals on my own. As a child, I can remember having goals of career, success, money and owning your own home drummed into me. While all those things are good goals to achieve, now that they’re mostly ticked off the list, life’s a bit monotonous.

About this time last year, I’d started becoming friendlier towards a colleague. Easy on the eye and with a bit of a reputation, I now wonder what I was thinking. But there was something that drew me to him. It wasn’t an intense attraction – maybe our similar senses of humour? Or the fact we gave each other attention?

Anyway, we’d shared emails and coincidentally bumped into each other while out with friends one night. We talked for ages, in fact we were the last two in the bar. We swapped numbers and agreed to a sporting-related bet (which he consequently lost). The deal: loser takes the other out for lunch.

We went out for lunch, the conversation flowed and we shared a lot about ourselves. Previous jobs, childhood experiences, goals for the future. He has some amazing goals which even now still inspire me. Our friendship continued to blossom, with lots of text messages and emails, shared taxis and breakfasts.

We were drawn to each other at work events, him more so to me due to my fear of what people would think seeing him socialise with me (and that thought makes me feel foolish now). A social outing to the races saw shared drinking and betting, with one win ending in me being picked up in the air and spun around (like a stereotypical movie moment).

Things changed just before Christmas, firstly following a Christmas party. We shared a taxi, stopping firstly at my place, then taking him home to his place. We sat close, thighs touching, my hand on his knee. i rested my head on his shoulder, he rested his head on mine.

A solid hug and kiss on the cheek was the norm when parting, but this night, following the standard practice, he mumbled (a tad drunkenly), ‘that was the worst goodnight kiss ever’ then planted his lips on mine. It was quick but deliberate. Stunned, I stumbled out of the taxi and inside, knowing I’d be seeing him the next day for breakfast (and to drop him to his car).

Breakfast turned into a lunch (yes, we were both a big rugged) and I got lip kisses upon arrival and departure. Confused but s bit excited, I didn’t press the issue. At the time I didn’t see it as an issue – maybe a bit uncertain but not in a bad way. In retrospect, that was the moment I should’ve put the brakes on, said ‘what’s that all about’. Instead, I stayed silent and buckled up for the ride.

If only I’d known how things would turn out.

Dressing up

Just a quick update following a busy week (you know, those weeks when you get to Tuesday and think, ‘how am I only two days into the week?’ then get to Friday and think, ‘where did the week go?’). I attended a semi-formal function last night, the first in a long while. It was a work function which I hadn’t wanted to attend, but got talked into going.

I’ve been distancing myself from work-related functions of late, partly because I don’t feel like mingling with that crowd and partly because a colleague I became close to may be in attendance (but that’s a story for another post (or three) at another time). To get myself motivated, I noughts new dress (good excuse) and timed a hairdresser appointment for the morning of the event.

Once I started getting ready to go, I got into the idea of socialising. I knew said guy wouldn’t be there, but am also conscious of gossip that may or may not be going around about us. Anyway, the night was filled with dancing and drinking, eating and mingling. It was good to cast off the cloak I feel like I’ve been wearing at work and let loose. And that doesn’t translate to getting plastered!

Not having any colleagues from my department in attendance made a difference and forced me to mix. I get along with a few people quite well, but pushed myself to talk to as many people as I could. It was a good feeling, and reminded me that I can be a bubbly and social person.

It was also a good chance to talk to other girls who are single – sometimes I feel like my desire to meet a nice fella is obsessive and crazy. But then I realise the things I’m looking for (a nice guy who might one day want to marry, renovate a house and have children with me) are very much the norm.

Anyhow, will try to check in again soon. Time to open up the next can of worms – the work colleague.

New financial year, new me

July 1, the start of the 2013/14 financial year. I’m far from being a numbers person, but I’m looking at the date as the start of something new. Time to be more organised and motivated, time for looking ahead and moving on. It’s an invigorating feeling, the concept of a fresh start.

There has been so much change in these past 12 months. This time last year, work was a little shaky, but nothing I couldn’t handle. The organisation was on the hunt for a new managing director, rumours of a restructure were circulating. There were a few scenarios for how a restructure would affect our team.

This time last year I was also a few sessions in to what has become a regular monthly visit to the psychologist. Work was the trigger to send me there – I had days where I felt unable to face the office, specifically a very bombastic colleague. Reflecting on that time now, it’s almost embarrassing to admit how badly she affected me. But I guess that’s a good sign that I’ve evolved since then.

Everybody has their challenges in the workplace. Dull work, frustrating colleagues, domineering management, time and cost pressures, politics and alliances. My previous manager had a way of pumping this colleague’s tires up, inflating here ego and, unknowingly, deflating others. At least two former colleagues left, in part, because of this person. And I’m ashamed to say that my poor judgement meant I was sucked in by her sob stories, her cruel gossip, her bullying.

I can’t remember the exact moment I woke up and realised how much I’d been drawn into the vicious circle of siding with said colleague (how about we call her Miss K). But I do know it sent me into a downward spiral, which at its worst saw me unable to face the office. I’d stay in bed, dreading the thought of having to go back to work. Often the guilt of not going into the office would overwhelm my fear of Miss K, so I’d drag myself in, work in near-silence, then go home.

Finally, I sought help. I went to see my GP, who referred me to a psychologist. I was nearing my wit’s end at this point – I remember sitting in my car just after the doctor’s appointment, booking in to see the psychologist. It would be a three-week wait till I could see her. My mind was spiralling out of control – I needed help and I needed it stat! But once that date was set, I started to put things into perspective. I was being proactive and doing something to work out how I could overcome this obstinate colleague.

But that was just the beginning of a journey that has seen me question everything I thought I knew about myself.