I'm fine with sexy sex talk with guys -- the more graphic, the more entertaining, but when it comes to displaying an ounce of genuine caring within the realm of touch and affection, my entire body tightens up.
I go into a defensive mode where I am afraid of being broken.
Last night I saw a friend I have known for a long time now, and he said kind words when I got divorced, and I am now saying kind words to him as he is beginning the process of his own split (which is not tentative, but in process).
Because I like to joke that I am Mandy "Always Be Closing" Stadtmiller, and I genuinely care for this guy in many ways, I have texted him saying, "Just marry me, and then boom, second marriage done. You can check it off your list." But when he finally came into town last night, and I met up with him, I was incredibly nervous. I almost canceled I was so nervous.
He had asked me what I wanted to do, if I wanted to get a drink or a tea, and I texted, "A making love tea?"
Of course when I met him last night at Cafeteria near where I live in Chelsea, I felt really scared. Having genuine emotion for a person is a very scary proposition. It's different than stupid jokes over SMS.
When I arrived at the bar, I gave my friend, in town from LA, a hug. But not a kiss on the cheek. Not a kiss on the lips. Part of this is probably because I've had a couple good dates with a guy who actually lives in New York where there is potential, and also because I get very shy around people who I have a lot of complex feelings towards.
"It's great to see you," I said, and then proceeded to order from the bar a Shirley Temple, a pineapple juice, a sparkling water and a gingerale. I decided I would go on a non-alcoholic bender to get through my nerves.
"It's great to see you, too," he said, and when he had the swagger of a few Makers inside him, he tenderly took a few different notable opportunities to touch my arm and my hand -- sweetly, softly, flirtatiously and romantically -- I tingled because I always tingle when that happens, but I did not reciprocate.
Here's the thing.
I feel like I have various modes with men.
1) The Femme Fatale: I try to give some fantasy of a hot seductress where I'm touching and teasing and flirting. This is a blast especially once the initial romantic contact has been made, and I can wild out, making little noises of delight and getting into the role. However, I am not this person. Most of the time I am a type-A, overthinking, aggressive, annoying workaholic who feels shy around people where she might have to show actual vulnerability.
2) The Perfect Potential Wife or Girlfriend: Man, I rarely do this anymore. This bitch is dead and gone for the most part. I mean, don't get me wrong, I think I would be a perfect potential wife or girlfriend, but it'd be for a very particular guy, not the average dude. I used to show just how bendy I could be with my personality depending on the attractiveness of the guy (and I don't mean, physically). Now, I'm all for showing how much compromise I can offer as a PPWOG, but I don't want to be a big fake. I'm me. And I like me. Even if it's not for you.
3) I'm Probably Never Going to See You Again Girl: I might be a bitch. I might be a slut. I might take you to a hotel and have rough sex all night with pretty much zero fucks left to give. Who gives a shit. You mean nothing to me. I'm working out a tension cramp.
4) Awkward I Wonder If We Could Ever Actually Be Together Immediately Planning Out Our Lives Chick: When someone displays a little tell like exceptional cultural taste or intellect or humor or any of the things that I love in a guy, I've gone from the drink we are both currently holding in our hands to what the transition will be like when we finally move in together -- how will his books look next to mine? I don't do this too often anymore since while it is thrilling, it's also a pretty unhealthy behavior when you know you're idealizing and fantasizing about a person in a way to take you out of yourself, the way you might use a drug.
5) Terrified of Vulnerability Woman: This is pretty much who I was last night. I really can't imagine opening up my heart in a way that it was once open when I was younger -- because it just seems too dangerous. I want to be in love, but I think I have real issues with the idea of all of the small incremental steps requiring vulnerability that take you from Point A to Point B.
So last night when my friend and I finally said our goodbyes, I was fully aware that I could have given or reciprocated enough indicators of interest like a returned touch to inspire a kiss -- or I could have even just gone for it myself. But it felt too dangerous.
We texted for an hour or so afterward.
"I doubt we would ever be together," I said.
"You never know," he texted back.
"Yeah but I doubt it," I wrote.
"You never know," he texted back.
Find Mandy long-form at http://tinyurl.com/stadtmiller.