Your stereotypical gay gym crush.
September 16, 2012 11:31 AM   Subscribe

Can I approach my crush? How? What to say if I do? (slightly long)

I am a gay male. Over the summer I signed up at a local fitness center for a 1-month trial offer.

On the Tuesday of the second week of this offer, I was chatting with a friend in the weights room... and somebody in the corner caught my eye. I didn't think much of him then -- but Thursday he passed by me, while I was waiting in the hallway for yoga class to start. I couldn't help but stare at him, and I suppose he noticed me looking at him in the mirrors of the weight room (the weight room opens onto the hallway) because he turned to look back. Me being both shy and insecure, I couldn't help but look down.

The next time I saw him was the Sunday of the third week. This time I was heading to the pool; to get there you have walk down the hallway and hence pass by the weights area. He was exercising in the corner next to the door to the pool, so of course I couldn't help but look at him. He looked at me for maybe a second or two, and then continued on with his workout.

During the last week of my 1-month membership I resolved to try to speak to him by all means possible. My last day there was a Tuesday; by then I had gathered that that's a day he usually works out, so I figured that I would see him. There was a class I liked to attend from 430-530 pm and he usually gets there around 5, so the timing fit really well. From the classroom doorway one can view the corner of the weights room where he usually sets up, so I had a perfect chance to check him out.

Lo and behold, during the class I saw him come in, roll out his exercise mat in the corner and do some stretches and pushups. I kept my eye on him through the doorway and watched him maneuver from one weight apparatus to the next. And I could swear that he was checking me out too: whenever I glanced over, he was standing right there, right by the door. There were times when I thought he was looking at me, until I turned to check on him and saw that he was engrossed in his bicep curl.

Done with the class, I went back to the locker room to change. Since the exit is near the weights room, I figured when I leave I could pass through casually enough and try to strike up a conversation.

I can get very nervous approaching someone I find attractive, so I hung out in the hallway for a little bit, pretending to read the bulletin board as I tried to muster my strength and calm my nerves. After what seemed like quite a few minutes, my hands shaking and heart thumping, I told myself "oh f*ck it, just try to say hi," so impulsively I turned around and started to walk through the machines.

He actually was standing near me, by the hallway and near the entrance to the weights room. As I walked by of course I had to look -- I'm sure he noticed me looking at him in the mirror and he turned to look at me too. We made eye contact for a split second. But his wasn't a neutral glance: he looked PISSED, as though I had interrupted his workout. I was a bit fazed but still waved at him, trying to establish contact as planned. As much as I wanted to speak to him, his facial expression suggested I do not. He had earphones on too, though whether he was actually listening to music or not I'm not sure.

So here are my questions:

1) I think it's clear that he's gay. But is he interested? It's likely, but I can't be certain. He most likely wouldn't bother to make eye contact with me if he wasn't, and I really felt that he was sending me signals, checking me out and putting on a show for me on that last Tuesday. But then, why would he return my gaze with such a nasty look?

2a) If I go back to this fitness center, should I speak to him? For one thing, this is a "family" fitness center, so as much as I need to make it clear that I'm interested in him, I can't make it TOO clear for worry of offending people who might be there. How do I ask him out without outing the both of us?

2b) HOW to speak to him? The problem here lies with lack of topic and his "defenses" if you will. Lack of topic because what is there to ask about? Sure, I could start with a question like "So how long have you been a member here?"... but isn't that a stupid, lame question? And by his defenses I mean his earphones. How can I speak to him when he has those on? Would it be ok to just tap him on the shoulder, when it's rather clear that I'm seriously attracted to him and the physical contact might make us both feel awkward?

(Upon preview this question smacks of inexperience. Thanks for being my gay mentor!)
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
"We made eye contact for a split second. But his wasn't a neutral glance: he looked PISSED, as though I had interrupted his workout. I was a bit fazed but still waved at him, trying to establish contact as planned. As much as I wanted to speak to him, his facial expression suggested I do not. He had earphones on too, though whether he was actually listening to music or not I'm not sure."

These are all signs that say "DO NOT APPROACH." Some people don't want to be hit on at the gym, let alone stared at. I also see nothing in your post that indicates that it is "clear he is gay." But his orientation is really pretty irrelevant, since he's seen you looking, kept his earphones on and scowled at you. I personally would give up on this guy.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 11:40 AM on September 16, 2012 [6 favorites]

I think it's clear that he's gay.


I don't think any of his actions in your presence have shown any proof of his sexual preferences in any direction, tbh. He might be making eye contact with you because he's wondering why you are always making eye contact with HIM. He might be watching you because he thinks you need help with your workout form but he doesn't want to sound pushy.

TBH I think his body language sounds like he might not want to be approached by anyone while working out, regardless of his sexuality.

I can't make it TOO clear for worry of offending people who might be there

You should never worry about the kind of narrow-minded bigoted people who might be offended by the mere thought of homosexuality. Seriously.
posted by elizardbits at 11:44 AM on September 16, 2012 [5 favorites]

Wearing earphones is a pretty universal and unmistakeable way of signaling that you're not interested in conversation-- to the point that I've consistently seen it recommended as a way of deliberately evading unwelcome encounters with other people. And exercising in a manner that you happen to find visually stimulating doesn't really constitute "putting on a show" to attract you; dude could just be going through his routine, unaware of your silent leching-out over in the other room.

It doesn't sound to me as though he's interested at all, but if he is, then presumably he'll make moves on his end to maintain some sort of communication between you-- he'll smile and wave next time, or take off the headphones to say, "Hi!," or whatever. At that point, you could go about building things from casual acquaintanceship to friendship to friendship-and-hey-I'm-running-Saturday-morning-wanna-come, and so forth. But beyond smiling and nodding when you see him, I think any additional attempts on your part to engage a headphone-wearing, scowling stranger would probably come off as creepy and overly aggressive.
posted by Bardolph at 11:51 AM on September 16, 2012 [4 favorites]

You seem to be interpreting him going about his normal business as a show that he's putting on for you. For example, he always works out in a particular part of the gym, but you took that as him trying to be near you.

I get that you like him, and that's cool, but at this point, you should probably take a huge step back. Waving at him is enough that he'll approach you if he's interested. If he's not, continuing to look at him is going to make him uncomfortable and you should probably not do that.

Also, tapping a stranger on the shoulder to talk to them when they're listening to headphones is really not okay unless you need to give them vital information. It's surprising and invasive and people don't like it.
posted by the young rope-rider at 11:57 AM on September 16, 2012 [6 favorites]

At this point, silently checking him out again would be incredibly inappropriate and creepy. You get a couple of eye contacts and smiles at someone before you either have to cut it out or you have to stop staring at them and start talking to them. I don't know if you're across the line yet -- if next time you see him he looks like he's amenable to talking then go say hi and ask him out -- no beating around the bush, just ask -- otherwise, it's time to cut it out and stop making him feel uncomfortable.
posted by brainmouse at 11:57 AM on September 16, 2012

So are you leaving that gym after the trial period? If so, I suggest maybe doing something low-risk like handing him a note on the way out saying something like "I didn't want to interrupt you during your work-out but I'm [anon] and I've noticed you in the gym a few times. If you'd like to go out sometime I'd love to hear from you. My number is [number]. " or something equally as innocuous. Then you leave so he can choose rather to deal with it or not at a later date. Or you could go an even more indirect route and do a craigslist missed connection, if that board is at all active in your area.

If you are going to stay a member at this gym, I just wouldn't make a move. Because if you get rejected (for whatever reason), it could make him (and you) feel uncomfortable to go to the gym. If you plan on staying, just ignore and move on. Maybe you'll eventually have a real reason to talk, in the same class or whatever, and you can reassess later.
posted by greta simone at 12:23 PM on September 16, 2012

You have basically ogled this guy four times and invented a connection between you. You say he's made eye contact a few of the four times (which might be a bit of wishful thinking. I have often found myself zoning out during a workout or other activity and come-to realizing I was staring at someone inadvertently), once you admit to thinking he was staring but finding when you looked he actually wasn't, and once he gave you the hairy eyeball, when you admit to basically lurking around, staring surreptitiously at him in a mirror.

Nothing you've described above reads "obviously gay" or anything else to me. Nothing you've described is even confirmation that he is actually fully aware of your existence. This is neither good nor bad, I just think you are way over-thinking this and seeing what you want to see.

You know, the gym is one of the places where the playing field is leveled in terms of feeling like a piece of meat. I (hetero lady) work out regularly and know a group of nice gym rat guys. Some are trainers, some just work hard, all are really fit, good looking hetero guys who have now gotten used to being hit on by other guys. None of them are the kind of homophobes who would verbally or physically lash out at a guy who expressed appreciation, but they are not comfortable with it, and would try to avoid the interaction if at all possible.

All of which is to say, proceed with caution. If you want to approach, do it once, discreetly and respectfully. greta simone's note idea is good. If you are staying at that gym, though, I'd discourage...messing where you eat, but that's just me.
posted by OompaLoompa at 1:08 PM on September 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

I'm a straight female, so maybe my opinion isn't relevant in this case. But if a male stranger was behaving toward me the way you're behaving toward this guy, I would feel so uncomfortable and threatened that I would probably find a new gym. It's really rude to stare at people while they're working out. Either try and start a conversation with him, or leave him alone. But don't silently keep tabs on him, it's not cool.
posted by crackingdes at 1:30 PM on September 16, 2012 [9 favorites]

I'm also a straight female, and I felt uncomfortable reading it. I didn't get the vibe that you are reading from this at all, and the reason most people wear headphones at the gym is to avoid the thing you are trying to do.

If what had happened the last time you were there had NOT happened, meaning the whole "evil eyes" thing he had going on, I might feel differently, but I think you should let this one go. His cue to demonstrate interest was to respond to your waving at him with a wave, or a smile. It doesn't sound like he's ever done anything like that which is why so many of us are reading "not interested" here.
posted by sm1tten at 2:48 PM on September 16, 2012 [3 favorites]

As a rule of thumb, if someone has their defenses up, you should respect that. If he wants to talk with you, he can smile at you, or wave, or better yet, say "hi." But he's scowling and wearing headphones while working out -- he's giving you "stay away" signals -- and I don't see how you hope to accomplish something by ignoring that.
posted by J. Wilson at 3:11 PM on September 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

We made eye contact for a split second. But his wasn't a neutral glance: he looked PISSED

Most likely explanation: he is giving you a look that says "stop looking at me!"

But alternatively, suppose he was just lifting something really heavy and scowling in pain, or he was listening to a really odious chapter in an audiobook. You've looked at him quite a bit and now waved, so he probably knows you're interested. And if he's interested back, he'd most likely realize that he just gave you a negative signal, so he'll know the ball is in his court.

I'd say go about your business and let him approach you if he's interested.
posted by salvia at 4:09 PM on September 16, 2012 [2 favorites]

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