Dear Auntie Seraphic,
I think I have inadvertently given a Nice Catholic Girl the idea that I may be interested in her romantically. The fact is that I'm not; she's a nice girl who I enjoy talking to, but there just isn't that spark of attraction on my part.
I would be lying if I didn't say that this lack of attraction is mostly physical (though I'm a great believer in your axiom that men find attractive who they find attractive; most of the women I've been really into were not conventional beauties but were extremely beautiful to me all the same). Attraction is a necessary, but not sufficient condition for a relationship.
There's also the fact that she occasionally runs herself down in conversation, mentioning out of the blue that she wasn't popular and didn't have many friends in high school. Those things don't matter to me, but I'm very wary of girls with obvious self-esteem issues because it's hard to love someone when they don't believe they are lovable.
Anyway, I'd like your advice as to how to back off as gracefully as possible, with a minimum of hurt feelings.
My story goes like this: in the last couple months I've been frequenting a young adult Catholic group in my area. They meet weekly and I go [irregularly but often]. I knew a couple of the people who run the group from being in the wider [local] young adult Catholic social network, but I didn't know them particularly well. I consider myself to be a slightly extroverted person--I very much prefer to go out and be social than to sit at home alone--but I'm not a social butterfly and need time to warm up to a new group of people. When I do make friends, I tend to take a while to branch out.
I first remember meeting this NCG when about six of us went [somewhere] as a group-sponsored social gathering. We had a long wait in line, so I asked her about herself and we talked for quite a while. Later, at regular meetings of the group, I'd talk to her because I'd already gotten to know her better. She friended me on Facebook. A couple of weeks ago, at our diocese's Theology on Tap, she manned the hostess table. I must admit that I spent nearly all entire time talking to her (she, one of her friends, and I closed down the place).
Lately, I've been getting the vibe that she's into me. She encourages me to stay out later for the post-meeting social activities. She "likes" a large number of my Facebook status messages, even inane ones like "Happy Thanksgiving." She greatly encouraged me to show up to an event that the young adult group sponsored.
This may sound like thin gruel; perhaps I'm over compensating for past incidents when I failed to comprehend that a woman who asked for my phone and put her number in it at a party was interested in me romantically. I'm trying to trust my gut on this one.
I don't think I should just stop talking to her because, from what was discussed on your blog this weekend, that drives women crazy, apparently. I would like to continue the casual friendship that we have, but I think I need to act differently to avoid giving her the wrong impression.
Thank you so much for hearing me out. I eagerly await your advice.
Just a Male Friend
Dear Just a Male Friend,
How happy I am that you have written in, for we all love a guy's eye view and we all want to know what turns guys off. Wrong physical type. Check. Runs self down. Check.
I think your gut has got it right. Encouraging you to stay later and avidly following you on Facebook, complete with constant "likes" (including to "Happy Thanksgiving"), are indeed indications that a woman is into you. And as she friended YOU on Facebook, she obviously does not read Seraphic Singles because I hold that asking an eligible young man to be your "Friend" is just as bad as calling him up on the phone.
However, the girl may have got the impression that YOU were into HER because sometimes she seems to be the only person you speak to at events. I am shaking my finger at you. On the other hand, she ought to have introduced you to other people to speak to. If she did, though, I am shaking my finger at you again. Even though you knew she wasn't your type, neither she nor the people around her knew that. Without realizing it, you have may have been "making her conspicuous with your attentions", to use an ancient phrase.
Fortunately, your gut has told you what is up, so it is time to let the poor girl down as gently as possibly. Subtle is good. Women understand subtle. Therefore, I recommend that you change your status update to read "....is looking for a woman just like Rita Hayworth" or any other screen siren who very much takes your fancy and does not look at all like this girl.
The beauty of this is that you are stating who you DO want and not who you don't want. It is entirely honest yet positive. And this girl, who reads your status updates avidly, will not be able to prevent herself from comparing herself to Rita Hayworth or whomever you have chosen. (If the girl has red hair or is Hispanic, make sure you do NOT choose Rita Hayworth!) If she is a girl's girl, she will ask her female friends what they think, and the loving-but-unthinking ones will say you are shallow, and the loving-and-thinking ones will say, "Well, men love whom they love and not whom you wish."
Every once in a while repeat the Rita Hayworth theme, e.g. "....is still looking for a Rita Hayworth of his own " or "...saw a woman just like Rita Hayworth but wearing a wedding ring, alas" or "...wonders what the Aga Khan had that he doesn't have." That should do the trick.
Of course, it may not, and having derooted herself from reality and now floating amid the clouds of dreamland, this girl may ask you out. If she does, then you will be forced to say the dreaded, "Just as friends, right?" And, mortified, she will say, "Yah, of course!" And then you will say, "Great! Who else is going?" And it will be turned into a group event, and as she will not talk to you once anyway, feel free to cancel your own involvement.
P.S. to Female Readers: Five points:
1. You are somebody's type. Not everybody's, but somebody's. Imagine my excitement when I discovered that funny blogger Benedict Ambrose had had a lifelong crush on singer Dame Emma Kirby, who has fuzzy red hair and could have been my aunt. That was an awesome moment.
2. Never run yourself down in front of a man. Are you insane? High school is over, and unless you are now engaged to a man, mention only the good parts or not at all. Nobody wants to hear about how unpopular you were. Zzz.
3. If a man is interested in you, HE will befriend YOU on Facebook.
4. If you are single, and you inanely press "Like" to all his comments, he might start wondering if you are into him.
5. Never give a man more than half an hour or so of your time at a social event before he asks you on a date. Introduce him around. Excuse yourself to talk to other people. Be nice, be hospitable, but for heaven's sake don't be so darned available.