As I have mentioned before, I was the guy who always got bullied growing up. Late developing physically making me the “runt” all the time. Slower, weaker, and less coordinated than my classmates. “Odd” interests (space, science fiction, science in general). Oh, and poverty. Can’t forget poverty. All of those added up to the “weird kid” that everyone picked on.
Take all that. Add in a bit of “face blindness” (faces, unless I know them really well, tend to look alike to me; take two faces and let me compare feature by feature and I can differentiate them so long as I have both in front of me, but try to recognize someone, particularly in a crowd? Not happening). And still more there’s the weird way my mind can be “wired” so it’s a recipe for never learning to read “social cues.”
I don’t get social cues. And, as a result, I have major, major social anxiety issues.
So when this picture popped up on my social media feed, I got it, totally:
As what I said above suggests, I have no idea what “flirting” looks like on the receiving end. Part of that is that, in addition to the above reasons, because I’m a big ugly, relatively “low status” by most markers (neither of remarkable physical attractiveness, nor with any significant wealth, nor fame, nor power/influence) guy so I don’t get flirted with much. Even if I did I wouldn’t recognize it. So, maybe I do get flirted with but just don’t recognize it.
If I did recognize it, I have no idea how to flirt back. So, if someone were to flirt with me, getting no response, they probably wouldn’t do it twice.
And that’s just talking about casual flirtation. If I wanted to go beyond flirtation to a relationship or even a dalliance? Troubles just begin there.
What I said up above about not getting social cues? That applies here. Even if by some miracle I recognized “flirting”, I have no idea what “signals” suggest that moving beyond casual flirtation would be welcome.
And if, somehow I managed to recognize those signals (perhaps if said signals were applied with a baseball bat–see Neil Gaiman’s bit on “how to seduce a writer”–more on that in a bit), I have no idea how to actually take whatever steps I need to take to move things in that direction. (I don’t know and would be deathly afraid of crossing some line that I don’t get because I. don’t. get. social. cues.)
There’s also a problem with that “signals applied with a baseball bat”. You see, sometimes in the past young women (this was mostly when I was in school) would do just that. And in every case but three, they were doing it as part of a “set up” in which I ended up as the butt of some rather cruel joke–making me think I had a chance only to jerk the rug out from under me in a very public and messy fashion, leaving me humiliated. Each of those three exceptions, well, they turned out badly for other reasons.
Did I mention social anxiety? That’s a large part of it right there.
When people trying to be helpful say “you just…” every word after “just” turns into the adults talking in the old Peanuts’ cartoons. “wah wah wah wah wah.” Okay, not that bad. I mean, the words sound like English but they don’t combine into anything that makes sense to me.
So, yeah, Goku. I get it. More than you know, I get it.