Dear Auntie Seraphic,
Your post about gentle raillery made me think about a girl in my social group who teases me mercilessly. She always smiles as she does it but I can never quite tell whether she's into me in a middle-school sort of way or she finds me faintly ridiculous. For my part, I enjoy the banter. Do you have any ideas about how to determine the difference?
Chap Who Was Teased
The best way to determine the difference is to ask her if she's doing anything this weekend and then ask if she'd like to go out for a coffee. If she says yes, she's into you in a middle-school sort of way, and if she says no, she might find you faintly ridiculous.
I'm putting my money on "yes", however, as women tend not to want to talk to men we find ridiculous. We avoid them, look at them blankly, sigh, roll our eyes, move to the other side of the room and hiss complaints just out of earshot.
On the hand, a "No" might not mean she doesn't like you either. She just might be a "one of the boys" type girl who thinks joking around a good way to stay firmly in the friend zone.
Anyway, ask her out and see.
Grace and peace,
Advice for men is sooooo easy. Seventy-five percent of the time (so far) it comes to "Ask her out and see." Twenty percent of the time it comes down to "Don't ask her out again unless she is being very encouraging." Three percent of the time it comes down to "This girl is stalking you, and from what you have told me, I suspect she may be mentally ill. You both need help. Consult your priest/Dean/campus sexual harrassment officer/police."
On the other hand, there are the "I am very lonely, but I am afraid of women/sexuality" emails. And then there are the emails from guys who may have Aspergers or another form of autism that is preventing them from getting along with women.
These emails are heart-wringing because I don't know what to write, other than gentle suggestions that these men talk to their favourite priests. And I don't feel it would be appropriate to tell a complete stranger that he might have Aspergers. For one thing, I am not a doctor or a psychatrist, but just a humble little laywoman M.Div.
I once got an email from a very lonely man in southern Europe, English none too good, who was absolutely afraid of women. He is the only person to whom I can remember suggesting a Catholic dating website. He was just so shy, I thought the only way he could start communicating with women his age at all was through the safety of a website. Of course this would be a very poor second to meeting and talking to women face to face, but at least he would have practise putting words together.
And I suggested he speak to a priest.
Occasionally I do get a letter from a young man whose heart has been broken. And then I say that I am sorry that happened. Strangely, it is easier to address one man's broken heart than another man's fears. I suppose because I know what it like to have a broken heart, but I haven't the slightest idea what it means to be afraid of women.
Men who don't like women--and that includes men who don't like women but have no trouble attracting women--scare me, but men who are afraid of women merely confuse me. Does anyone know of a book or link on the subject?