Mission: become a normal human being
September 3, 2006 8:28 AM   Subscribe

I'm trying to get a life after being depressed and socially isolated for several years. I've lost 80 pounds, started working out, got a better job, and have met a couple of women through a "just friends" internet post.

I like them, and astonishingly they seem to like me a little, at least enough to meet me more than once. I've tried to give the impression of being a lot less screwed-up than I really am though.

Would it be dishonest/unethical/creepy if I tried to move one of these friendships in a sexual direction? I think my social skills are too atrophied for me to do this very subtly. Should I just post another ad in a more-than-just-friends category?

One of the women touches me occasionally on the arm when we talk, and surprisingly to me hugged me and kissed me on the cheek when we last parted. Is this just normal friend-type interaction?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (16 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Arm-touching, hugging, and kissing are all indications that yes, she does like you.

Feel free to move forward.

Try not to let your anxiety over your depression/past become a problem in itself. Everyone is blue sometimes. What's past is past. Today and tomorrow you have a chance to do things and be the person you want to be.
posted by jellicle at 8:49 AM on September 3, 2006

I'll answer your second question first: Yes, occasional touching and cheek-kissing are VERY typical behaviors for a woman who is comfortable with a friend.

As far as whether it is appropriate to try to progress to a more intimate level with one or both of these women, we are not the ones to ask. Though you feel awkward with social interactions, you will have to learn the delicate balance point between total openness and social insularity that makes a healthy friendship. For instance, you are probably aware that bluntly remarking that you want to see her "O" face is being too open. On the other hand, never sharing any of your feelings is not healthy, either.

It sounds like you want a girlfriend, but don't care at this point who that turns out to be. Having a female friend can be very helpful in this quest. Use her as a source of inspiration and advice, when looking for a romantic partner. Broach the topic by telling her of your efforts to hook up. If she's a good friend, she'll give you pointers. If she's interested romantically, she'll find some way to indicate that fact.

You should consider also finding a local support group of persons in your sort of situation - recovering from depression or social anxiety or something. Call the local United Way office or Catholic Charities or one of those big umbrella organizations, and ask if they are aware of such a resource in your area.

Further, don't limit your social interactions to people you find online - find a hobby you enjoy and use it to meet similarly interested people. The more your interact with people, the more comfortable you'll feel in your own skin. The more social confidence you gain, the better equipped you'll be to relate to women.

Good Luck.
posted by BigLankyBastard at 9:00 AM on September 3, 2006

Feel free to move forward.

With the knowledge that the touches etc. could mean nothing except she is comfortable with you. Some people are just naturally touchy. It doesn't mean necessarily mean she wants to be more than good friends. You'll find out soon enough.
posted by justgary at 9:31 AM on September 3, 2006

Why don't you ask her? 'I know when we met we were 'just seeking friends', but I find myself really attracted to you, and we are such good friends. Would you be interested in more than just friends?'

Be open and honest, and she'll appreciate that. She may also just see you as a friend, though, so be prepared to face rejection. It'd probably help to decide in advance if you can remain friends with her without a romantic relationship - don't use it to pressure her, just know how you're likely to cope.
posted by jacquilynne at 9:45 AM on September 3, 2006

What BigLankyBastard said.
posted by bigmusic at 9:59 AM on September 3, 2006

It doesn't mean necessarily mean she wants to be more than good friends. You'll find out soon enough.

exactly. the key words here are "not necessarily". nobody here can answer that question, only she can
posted by matteo at 10:10 AM on September 3, 2006

I would say let the friendship develop a little more if you've only hung out with her a few times, then if you still like her as more than a friend and she seems to reciprocate do what jacquilynne said.

But from now on if you're still looking for love post in the more-than-just-friends categories. I know sometimes unforeseen feelings do happen, but in general, guys who bait and switch like that come off as creeps.

Oh and if she happens to reject you don't take it too personally and be gracious about it. Even if she doesn't want to date you right now you'll come off as an A plus guy that she might like her friends to meet.
posted by Jess the Mess at 10:24 AM on September 3, 2006

Way to go in your personal achievements!

Approach your female friend in a polite way about taking things to the next level. Don't be hurt if she says no.

Start getting involved in more offline activities to bring more people in to your circle.
posted by k8t at 11:25 AM on September 3, 2006

I'm with Jess the Mess -- a rejection today may turn into an introduction tomorrow, to one of her friends.
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 11:30 AM on September 3, 2006

I too have some social anxiety that has developed since my last relationship over 3 years ago. Some of the posts here have helped me out and I hope more people give their input. I have developed a strong fear of rejection that I really need to get over. I've been actually considering therapy, personally.
posted by nickerbocker at 11:45 AM on September 3, 2006

Yeah, just be yourself and as honest as possible - explicity, that you value the friendship and wouldn't want to jeopardize that even if she wants nothing more than to be friends. Prefacing anything with 'I want to be honest here' is the best way to come off as non-creepy.

As mentioned above, the 'just friends' web thing might be an indication that she's not wanting a relationship, but it is also a way for women to approach men in a potentially less threatening/forward arrangement and then go from there. She could be looking for someone exactly like you.

If she doesn't want to go forward, you'll be in the enviable position of having a good, close female friend who will likely be able to help you with some of these things.
posted by jimmythefish at 11:48 AM on September 3, 2006

If you make a speech to this girl about how much you like her, it will put her on her back foot and she might feel cornered, and even if she might have been open to pursuing something more than a friendship, might put her on the defensive. Better to just hang out, do what you both find fun, and just let things flow. Then one night as you're saying goodbye, hold her hand for a little longer than usual, and look into her eyes as if you're seeing something that you had totally missed before. She'll either pull away, and you can both go on like nothing happened, or she might be thinking the same thing. But if the way you approach the subject seems planned she might feel a bit put-upon.
posted by Space Coyote at 1:33 PM on September 3, 2006

What you need is gradually escalating physical contact. Touch her lightly on the back sometime appropriate (like when you're getting up from the table and walking towards the door.) If that goes over, then be a little more touchy -- gradually. Eventually, if she likes you, she'll start touching you more and more and, when you're wondering if you can kiss her, make eye contact and hold it for a second. If she holds it too, move slowly towards her. If she doesn't turn away abruptly, you're "go" for the kiss. If you're too shy to kiss, let your hand brush hers sometime while walking side-by-side. If she seems ok with that and maybe lets hers brush yours, take her hand. Once you've held hands, you can assume that you're "go" for the kiss later on as well.

This gradual escalation works like magic.

There's nothing wrong with escalating a friendship unless she's seeing someone or something.
posted by callmejay at 2:21 PM on September 3, 2006

whichever of the above advice you take, if any, if escalating these relationships doesn't work out-do not be discouraged!
It sounds like you have come really far in moving yourself out from your depression and you should be proud of your acheivement thus far. Any man could get turned down at any time, so don't take any one attempt more seriously than it deserves.
Don't forget the ol' batting average cliche-even the best batters in history only get a hit about one third of the time...you take your best swing and that's all you can do
...just keep moving forward and feeling good.
posted by BillBishop at 4:50 PM on September 3, 2006

Everyone is screwed up. Plus, most people can usually detect any sort of high wacko quotient. Trust them to figure out if you are too "screwed-up" for them.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:06 PM on September 4, 2006

Do yourself a favor — keep this in the back of your head. Don't let it torpedo the possibility of following up on her possible romantic interest in you, but acknowledge to yourself it may be a possible outcome, if only a dytopian one.

I'm thinking specifically of what I wrote there: "There is a persona we present to people who are interested in us, or who we are interested in; there is a separate persona that we present to people with whom we are just friends. Your romantic interest in her probably felt like an unspoken breach, meaning that she presented her more intimate 'friend' persona to you, wheras she would have preserved more distance between the two of you if she had known."
posted by WCityMike at 8:12 AM on September 5, 2006

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