Yesterday I got an email from a guy who had an argument with a woman he’s been dating for about four months. They were out to eat and he thought she was flirting pretty heavily with the waiter. Stroking his hand while he was making suggestions about the menu, offering him a bite of her food when he came to check on them later. He told me it’s been an issue many times they’ve gone out, and he’s been keeping it to himself because she’s a flirtatious person which was one of the things that drew him in, and he thought he should handle his insecurities himself. After all, she’s been going home with him, even if she does talk to other guys while they’re out. Anyway, last weekend they went to dinner, and then to a party, and she sat in some guy’s lap. Our friend went to get her a drink, and when he came back, there she was, smiling up at him and reaching for her wine with her head nestled on this other guy’s shoulder. The guy had his arm wrapped around her with his hand on her upper thigh, making circles with his fingertips. Between the waiter earlier, and the guy who’s lap she was in, he reached his max. He asked to speak with her, and she looked at the other guy and said, “Uh-oh, I think I’m in trouble,” and followed our friend outside.
He said he asked her what was up. He told her he really cares about her, but he’s not sure she’s feeling the same way since, in his view, she seems to flirt excessively with other men. She got really angry and defensive and said she can’t deal with jealousy and insecurity, and she guessed it wasn’t going to work out. She told him she can’t be controlled, she needs to be herself, and she has to be with a guy who’s confident. He told her he is confident, but it gets a little hard when she’s letting some other guy tickle her inner thigh. She rolled her eyes and stormed off. So he left, miserably, and he’s been second-guessing himself ever since. He talked to his brother about it, and his brother said he likes when his girlfriends flirt with other guys as long as they don’t cross the line. He thought feeding the waiter, and the lap/tickling thing was too much. His buddies said he dodged a bullet. His mother said she didn’t have the feeling this was “the one,” but she could be wrong (well-played, mom!!!). But our friend is feeling awful. Wondering if he should call her and try to fix it. Checking his phone constantly to see if she’s called. Drafting and re-drafting emails and re-playing the events of the weekend in his mind relentlessly. What she did. What he did. What he said and how he said it and questioning himself.
I asked him how he felt when he was with her. Did he feel good? He said he was attracted to her and that the challenge had been exciting, but it had also made him feel badly about himself. Like he always had to compete and was never really sure if she’d end up back at his place, or if he’d end up at hers, or she’d end up somewhere else. He wasn’t sure she really cared about him at all. She didn’t call or text much and he didn’t think he’d have been seeing her so much if he hadn’t made all the effort. I asked him why he thought he might want to pursue a relationship with someone whose feelings he’s unsure of four months in, who gets angry when he tries to tell her how he feels.
Sometimes it’s the rejection that causes a person to start chasing. The idea that someone could walk away so easily. Maybe I just haven’t shown them the best side of me yet. Maybe if I race and catch up and we hang out a little more, then they’ll see how great I am. You know what? It’s not about whether someone is flirting or not flirting or letting someone else paint their name with chocolate sauce on their inner thigh if you’re cool with that. There’s no need to demonize this woman who likes to flirt. I didn’t hear from her, and maybe she has a whole other point of view. The point is, it’s not working for our buddy. If you’re involved in an interaction that’s making you feel badly, don’t chase it down and ask for more. Our friend said he felt a lack of respect, consideration and sensitivity. I’m like, check, check, check. If it’s making you feel terrible and like you’re not measuring up, that’s a no. If you express yourself to someone you’re trying to build trust with and they shut you down, that’s a no, too. If you can’t communicate honestly, you’re sunk. That goes for both sides of the equation, meaning you want to be able to share the depth of your feelings, and also be able to talk about when you’re feeling vulnerable. In order to do those things, you have to feel safe, seen, heard, supported, loved. If you’re not feeling those things from someone, let it go and don’t second-guess yourself. You can’t squeeze water from a stone, as they say. Sometimes we’re looking for things we’d like in the wrong places. Keep moving. Sunshine ahead ;).
Lots of love,