Guys: He froze up in front of me, but does he have a girlfriend?
June 1, 2012 4:38 AM   Subscribe

Guys: He froze up in front of me, but does he have a girlfriend?

I'm possibly asking a very silly question, but basically I'm looking for a man's insight into an encounter I had with a guy recently.

The story: he is a friend of a musician I perform with sometimes, I went to see a show they did together. Prior to the show starting we bumped into each other at a convenience store (he didn't know me at this point) and he first entered the store, but saw me, stared at me, and then seemed confused (flustered?) and left the store without going into the store and buying anything. I left the store and stood outside and he waited there near me smoking a cigarette, seeming to be quite aware of me, then he left when he finished smoking.

I had been early to the show so I left and walked around the area for about 15 mins and came back to the venue, had to walk by the same convenience store and he was there again smoking in the same spot, and stared at me when I walked by. After I arrived at the venue we were introduced to each other and he told me "cool name!" but I felt shy so I said thanks but didn't say much after that.

The rest of the day there were several times when I caught him looking at me or seeming aware of me, then finally I talked to him after the show, saying his performance was really cool, and I planned to see him perform the following week. But as I spoke to him he barely said anything, his face was sort of frozen and he was mumbling something and then he actually turned away from me and started packing up his instrument, so his assistant talked to me. I was really confused by this at the time, but realized he may have been nervous(?) later.

The following week I went to see his other show and this time he came from behind me through a backstage entrance and went through a crowd of people, I watched him go across the room through a crowd of people, and when there was an opening in the crowd our eyes locked for several seconds before I looked away because I felt embarrassed. Later he walked by me kind of slowly, and I said his name and said hello and waved, he turned around and gave me a sort of grimaced smile and a little wave. Then another time that evening I caught him staring at me while he was standing near me and looked away the moment I happened to notice him. Despite being so shy toward me, he seems very friendly with other people and seemed to enjoy joking with both women and men he met that evening.

At the end of the show I went up to him and gave him my card and said, I hope we can do a show sometime, he said "yeah it would be great to do a show together" about 3 times but said very little else, except to answer a few questions I had. He also (tried to pretend he?) had forgotten where we had met by saying, "I was introduced to you somewhere right?" but then his assistant who had been there when we first met told him, "you know, we met her the other day at *** venue, just a week ago..."

Since that 3 weeks have passed, and I have received no word from him, so I'm not sure what to make of this entire situation.

I am guessing that he was attracted to me, but he seems to have a lot of female friends/admirers, and so I'm a little wary that he may have a girlfriend. It makes me wonder that he didn't contact me after I gave him my information.

Guys, does this seem like a plausible reaction from a guy who has a girlfriend? Is he just super shy? If this doesn't seem like a guy who is taken, what do you suggest I do to make things go forward? I haven't really experienced this kind of reaction from a guy before, so I'm not sure what to do.

Thank you!
posted by fan_of_all_things_small to Human Relations (28 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Doesn't sound like something worth speculating over. On the face of it, it could be that he's natually very awkward towards people he's attracted to. Or maybe there's some other thing; people are weird for all sorts of reasons.

I don't know how confrontational you are, but if this is really bothering you, you should probably just ask, as nicely as possible, what's up.
posted by pipeski at 4:49 AM on June 1, 2012

sounds like shyness to me
posted by Flood at 4:56 AM on June 1, 2012

Ask your mutual acquaintance if this guy regularly behaves like this and about the girlfriend, if that's a concern.
posted by knile at 4:56 AM on June 1, 2012

What you described could plausibly happen with or without a girlfriend in the picture. His behavior is totally consistent with him being very attracted to you but also very shy. Maybe he'd seen you in the past at other shows and developed a crush on you, because he's acting how I might act if I suddenly ran into someone I'd been secretly crushing on from afar on but never formally met. As others point out, that's only *one* possibility. I assume you're attracted to him, though you don't actually say so. Your profile says you're in Tokyo so I don't know what the norms for dating are like, but at the very least you could try to find out through your musician friend if he's single.
posted by Dixon Ticonderoga at 5:02 AM on June 1, 2012 [2 favorites]

Best answer: People who might know this: This guy, his assistant, possibly your mutual friend.

People who will not know this: The internet.

Seriously, it could be a million and one different things: He thought you were hot; he's shy; he's very absent-minded; he stares at people; he was high; he was distracted about his performance; he has a disorder; he was tired; he was embarrassed about checking you out at the 7-11; he has a girlfriend; he has a boyfriend. A million different things.

The clarity you seek will not be found in this place, but in the real world.
posted by smoke at 5:03 AM on June 1, 2012 [48 favorites]

It's also just a simple possibility that for whatever reason (let's say he's crazy because you're awesome), he's not interested in you.
posted by kinetic at 5:03 AM on June 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

Yup, sounds like he is shy. I can be very outgoing with strangers but totally freeze up/shut down around people I like and am attracted to.
posted by littlesq at 5:04 AM on June 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Some clarification:

I'm nearly 100% sure he hasn't attended a show of mine before, I would have noticed it for sure.

He doesn't seem to be a shy person normally, actually he is known as being a joker around people, so I was really confused by his reaction.

Yes, I'm in Tokyo, he's Japanese and lives overseas 3 months out of the year, I'm a white American, if that serves as some sort of reference for anyone with experience dating Japanese people.
posted by fan_of_all_things_small at 5:17 AM on June 1, 2012

Best answer: Reading your story I honestly don't think we can conclude anything from what you've written. smoke is absolutely correct, this is a real world problem about which you will not be able to provide enough information to get a credible answer here. This guy could be a serial killer who only preys on women who look like you, for all any of us know. That would certainly explain the shyness and diffidence, and his three week silence might be necessary for nefarious planning. We really can't say. No one on the internet can say.
posted by OmieWise at 5:48 AM on June 1, 2012 [5 favorites]

Is there some reason you can't just ask him for a date? Pick a music even you think he might be interested in, call him and ask him if he wants to go with you.
posted by Rock Steady at 5:58 AM on June 1, 2012

I've known musicians who get different/strange before and after shows...
to "go forward" i would meet up with him outside of a show situaton/day
posted by mrmarley at 6:00 AM on June 1, 2012

agreeing with maybe thinks you are attractive and is shy.

Other possibilities? Dozens. Someone told him an outlandish story about you and he's intimidated. He DID attend a show of yours and you didn't notice. Or he saw a recording, youtube, or heard a recording.

He finds your attractive but would be ostracized by his family and friends for hooking up with a white American girl.

The serial killer idea is totally outlandish, but OmieWise does have a point.
posted by rich at 6:06 AM on June 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

Another possibility that could go with any or all of the above: he recognizes you on sight, but doesn't know you well enough to remember who you are. So every time he sees you, there's an awkward pause while he frantically searches his brain to figure out how he knows you. (I'm shy and not super good with recognizing faces, and I can get awkward around people I recognize but don't know, and it has no relation to attraction. A lot of his behavior sounds like the kind of stuff I do around distant coworkers and friends-of-friends when I see them out of context and am not completely sure we've met or that they're the person I think they are.)

But this is a question we can't conclusively answer. You can get carried away coming up with scenarios and asking for advice, or you can ask the guy out. (Or whatever the most direct socially-accepted route is with dating in Japan.)
posted by Metroid Baby at 6:24 AM on June 1, 2012 [3 favorites]

You could ask your mutual friend if the guy you're interested in has a girlfriend, but from what you've written, it doesn't seem like he went out of his way to meet you or prolong any of your conversations. Are you visibly non-Japanese? Sometimes even well-traveled and cosmopolitan Japanese people can be surprised when they encounter an unexpected foreigner.
posted by betweenthebars at 6:45 AM on June 1, 2012

No offense, but who cares if he has a girlfriend or some overwhelming shyness or you remind him of some recent sexual encounter. It all boils down to this guy not being able to do anything but stare at you! Even if he is interested, this approach is torture and madness and a bit too fragile for building a fun new relationship, whatever type it is that you're looking for. I wouldn't waste another minute of your time wondering what is going on in this guy's head. It sounds like strife in some form or another.

If it helps to tell yourself that he has a girlfriend, I say go for it. She probably thought his creepy, avoidant behavior was cute, but you've got better things to do with your time. Really, the best case scenario is that he spent three weeks absolutely freaking out about whether or not to call you, but decided not to. How romantic.
posted by iamkimiam at 7:00 AM on June 1, 2012 [9 favorites]

Really it could be anything, but if I had to guess I'd say it's either some kind of identity thing or a misunderstanding. I was at a conference and had a guy act a bit like that the first couple of times I ran into him. He eventually told me I looked exactly like someone he knew, not in an intimate capacity at all. Apparently he was confused that I didn't speak to him. Also at one point I probably acted sort of like that around a guy in my building at work, not because of any sexual attraction-- although he is not unattractive-- but because our first couple of encounters were kind of confusing and I felt like he was pissed of at me but wasn't sure why. (It turned out that he was Deaf and I felt like a real bonehead.)

It sounds like you have been in Japan too long for it to simply be a gross linguistic or cultural misunderstanding but if your Japanese is not 100% fluent there may be something like that. In your shoes, the next time I saw him I would say something like, "Is there a problem or have I done something to offend you?" Because the guy is a work connection and things are weird the way they are. But I would put it on that level.
posted by BibiRose at 7:09 AM on June 1, 2012

I am not a guy, but... This guy just does not sound interested in you - not romantically, not platonically, for whatever reason. Speculation is pretty much worthless here. Why would you want to move forward with someone who seems that put off by you?

I mean, it's entirely possible he is just seriously awkward around women he likes but that gets you nowhere either. In order to "go forward" you'd need to continue initiating contact and esentially chasing him. Is that what you want?
posted by sm1tten at 7:55 AM on June 1, 2012 [2 favorites]

I feel like you're projecting his attraction towards you onto him. Everything you've mentioned sounds like you're trying to convince yourself that this guy is into you.

Your whole convenience store story (he doesn't communicate with you when he doesn't know you yet, but he's "aware of you"), "Later he walked by me kind of slowly", you thinking he "tried to pretend" he didn't remember you, you caught him staring and assumed it was at you--these are all non-events that sound like some sort of Kuleshov Effect was imposed on it.

The only real interaction you have says he's not interested in talking with you, and he only gives you grimaced smiles. I read it as he's not interested. Or maybe he's aware of you, but sees you as that strange girl who's stalking him. He could also just find white people hideous.
posted by jsmith77 at 8:36 AM on June 1, 2012 [9 favorites]

Is it possible that he knows you like him and he's running away from you? I used to do that. I was flattered but didn't like the guy and then my friend told me he was a creeper so I went the opposite way at the sight of him.
posted by discopolo at 8:44 AM on June 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

He doesn't need to be into you yet for you to show some interest. I'd be a bit more interested.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:56 AM on June 1, 2012

All those times you mention that he was staring at you? You were staring at him, because otherwise you wouldn't know he was staring at you. All those times you mention that he was aware of you? You were aware of him. Are you interested in him? Do you have a boyfriend? He has no way of knowing, and neither do you. Just walk up to him next time you see him, and ask him if he wants to get coffee sometime.
posted by davejay at 9:14 AM on June 1, 2012 [2 favorites]

Yeah, based on this information, you can't possibly know anything about this interaction. He could have indigestion. He could be secretly married. razdrez is right - you're projecting your interest onto him.
posted by jph at 9:23 AM on June 1, 2012

As Dixon said, his totally consistent with him being very attracted to you but also very shy. His behavior is ALSO totally consistent with you barely entering his consciousness but he gets lost in thought and stares into space sometimes. Honestly to me it sounds more like the latter, but it could also be the former, and there's really no way to know which from this description.
posted by brainmouse at 9:38 AM on June 1, 2012

It doesn't sound at all as if he is interested in you and I'm not sure why you are torturing yourself with all of the bean plating.
posted by jbenben at 10:34 AM on June 1, 2012 [4 favorites]

He fancies you and is very shy.

Well, that seems the most likely explanation to me, but as others have said it could be otherwise. There's really no way of knowing without pursuing it.
posted by Decani at 10:42 AM on June 1, 2012

Best answer: Metafilter is not a useful resource for answering this question, anymore than it is for answering, "What have I got in my pocket?"

Ask someone who knows him. Ask him. Or just interact with him, to get more insight.

We're just throwing darts blindfolded, in the general direction that you claim a dartboard exists.
posted by IAmBroom at 12:10 PM on June 1, 2012 [4 favorites]

In my experience guys who are into you but shy are relieved and pleased when the girl makes the first move, and will respond in kind once he is certain that you like him.

It sounds to me more like he's actively not interested and doesn't want to engage with you at all, possibly because he can tell you like him and doesn't want to get into a position where he has to reject you outright.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 12:13 PM on June 1, 2012

I have found that this is because of high levels of attraction + insecurity + shyness + sometimes girlfriend.

I have also found that it always leads to nothing except torturous pain because of the sheer level of awkwardness for everyone involved.

I would let it go.
posted by mleigh at 2:30 PM on June 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

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