Over last weekend I spent a whole bunch of time with a lovely woman--dinners, picnics, walks, wine under the stars etc. These weren't explicitly dates, but it all seemed pretty romantic. At the end of the evening on Saturday and Sunday we had these awkward pauses when my insecurities and my desire to--give a goodnight kiss? Express my attraction? Or something--were warring. I don't know what she was thinking but it was awkward on both sides. Now I won't see her for a month. Do I email her and explicitly say that I'm interested?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (25 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Details and subquestions abound here, but "do I email her?"--and what do I email her?--is the key question.
The background to our long weekend together is that we are both grad students in related disciplines at the same university. We met last year (she's new, I'm within a year, maybe two of finishing my PhD). I was attracted to her, but didn't have much cause to see her and we only ran into each other a couple of times.
Then we both happened to be doing research in the same Faraway Land this month. I'm staying on for a few weeks, but she's headed back to the States. We hung out a couple of times earlier this month, I spent some time helping her with contacts--but weren't in the same town for much time. Then this Friday I suggested hanging out and we ended up spending about twenty hours together between Friday evening and Sunday at about midnight, most of that just the two of us. I initiated every meeting (maybe she's just too polite to turn down invitations? She did once before when she had a prior engagement...) We talked a whole bunch (work, literature, movies, our families, ex-pets, politics, comedy, our backgrounds...), laughed a lot, had some long silent stretches. Not too much awkwardness in the conversation, though. I think. Drinks, a dinner out, a picnic, cooked dinner twice.
Pretty much no physical contact, though. And these were never explicitly dates. And we are future colleagues of sorts in academia (same subregion, similar disciplines) and fellow Home University-ites in a foreign land, so we had other reasons to hang out.
Monday morning she flew back to Home State. Both Saturday and Sunday evenings (fairly late) were capped by awkward goodbyes. I'd walked her back to her lodgings both times and we hung around while I waited for a cab (and for her to let me out of the building--Faraway Land has security issues). I went a bit silent, we made awkward faces and noises at each other at one point, as if to make a joke of the awkwardness (at least, that's what I was doing). All this while I tried desperately to summon some courage to try to kiss her, or say I wanted to, or that this was a date, wasn't it, and WHAT a date!--or something. Then the taxi came and I left. Saturday night it was awkward enough that she actually said maybe she should just go to bed--before she realized she had to stick around to let me out. Gave her a weak hug Sunday night, both nights said I'd really enjoyed myself, she said she had, and we agreed we should hang out more back in Home State.
Um, now what? Her attempt to flee the awkwardness on Saturday seemed like a bad sign, but we went on to hang out for about ten hours the next day--maybe six or seven of those hours on our own. So maybe she thought she'd misread things, too? Or she's almost as bad at this dating thing as I am?
Anyway, I could just keep up a correspondence (something I'm usually terrible about) and try to arrange chances to see her when I get back. But wasn't my failure to stick the landing on these dates (or non-dates?) a big red flag, showing her I'm all inept and sexually/romantically immature?--or convincing her that I'm not interested? Do I need to make clear why I wasn't all suave and self-assured?
Do I email and say something like "Hey, about those awkward goodbyes--I had a really great time and I wanted to tell you that I'm interested. [I don't know how to say this "...you know, THAT way"; "I mean I LIKE like you"--it's like my writing ability has deserted me and left me with the vocabulary of a teenage boy, advice is very welcome] But I just couldn't quite find the way to say it. I hope you felt the same way. Either way I look forward to seeing you more in September." (Except obviously if I misread everything and she doesn't feel the same way, after this email we'd probably both be dying of embarrassment when I see her next.)
So the extra detail that explains why I can't navigate this simple interaction on my own is that I am waaaaay at the far end of the bell curve with dating and sexual experience, for various reasons. I'd say I've had a dry spell, but it's more like Saharan conditions for the past ten years and only one brief relationship before that. I do think it's more about my insecurities than any other universally objectively objectionable thing about me. So I have next to no skills or experience with this kind of thing. I am beanplating obsessively here because I don't know what to do and generally feel like I am sixteen again (except I didn't even attempt to date anyone when I was sixteen), so any advice is welcome.
Also, I'm almost 30 while she's almost 25. This age difference, among other things, had (has) my internal voices of doubt yammering away in overdrive that it would be impossible that she'd find me attractive, that it'd be creepy or pathetic of me to try to date her, etc. I'm also aware that as I've finally pushed myself to try to date after so long, I'm in danger of putting way too much pressure on any given opportunity--and of unloading a decade of insecurities on this unsuspecting woman. And yes, I started therapy just before coming out here and this is something I want to work on. But I won't have an appointment until I'm back in Home State.
So do I need to fret about next steps? Draft that awkward email to explain my prior awkwardness and declare my undying devotion? Just write her regularly until I get a chance to see her--and hope I do better next time?