Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Every move you make, every step you take...

In all my dating adventures in adulthood, you'd think that I would have pretty much mastered the art.  Well, at least mastered it immediately below the level considered successful.  You know, since I am still single.  I've been out with hundreds dozens a few men in my time, most of whom did very little beyond teaching me how to be a better dater, much like going to interviews for jobs you don't really want just so you can practice your interview techniques.  So, I would have imagined that by this point, I would have all the dating nuances down pat, all the little details of the delicate dance of dating down to a "t."  Right?  Wrong.

I have stumbled upon a giant roadblock of stupidity.  I mean, literally, it's making me stupid.  I sit here thinking I should go one way and then talk myself into going the other, all while convincing those around me that I'm paying attention to them or focused on what I'm doing at the moment (I give myself a break when I'm driving, I promise).  I'm either a really good actress or none of my friends care that I am totally zoned out when they're talking to me.  Here is my quandary:  I have absolutely no idea where the line is between showing interest in someone and being a stalker. 

Sounds pretty obvious, right?  Well... let's think about it for a second.  I'm well aware of the fact that there is a line; I know it exists because I've had men cross it before.  I know it's floating out there in the world of communication between two people, but where exactly is it located?  I can't even really tell you where it's located when I'm on the receiving end either.  For example, I knew the guy who called me 36 times in one day (surprisingly not exaggerating) to find out if I was still going to the fair with him the following weekend had not only stepped across the line, he had hurdled himself like an acrobat across that thing.  He was either unaware that Caller ID existed or had no concept of the line, but either way I absolutely did not go to said fair with him. (And it was even more awkward because I worked with his mother.  Like the desk next to her.  Lesson learned there.  When she asked "Are you and Mr. Marathon Caller going out again?," I couldn't really respond with "No, because your son is a stalker," but that's another story for another time.)  But, at what point in his endless phone call stream did he cross into stalker territory?  Was it at the twentieth call or the fifth call?  I'm pretty sure he text messaged me at some point.  Do text messages have different stalker rules?  Urgh. 

So, how does one properly express interest without inspiring a restraining order?  How many times are too many to communicate with someone in any given period of time?  Let's say a week.  And with so many routes of communication nowadays (phone, text, Facebook, mail, email, carrier pigeon) do you stick with one or vary it up?  At what point do you say "okay, I'd better scale this back or he/she is going to think I've got a hidden room in my basement full of candid pictures of them doing everyday things like ordering coffee at Starbucks or walking to their car and raggedly cut various newspaper clippings glued to the walls?    Ultimately, I want to show and prove that I'm interested but in a healthy, normal way.  I don't want to run the risk of looking like a crazed lunatic who would follow you home from work and leave mix tapes of love songs on your front porch, but I also don't want to run the risk of having yet another man in this world later tell me (usually when he's married to someone who I would have completely beat in a "total package showdown") that he had no idea what was going on in my head and wishes that I had shared my feelings and thoughts with him at the time. 

They kind of look like stalkers...
You know, it's like that Police song that everybody thought was so sweet and romantic and had played at their wedding for years until Sting came out and said that it was actually from the perspective of a stalker and not a lovesick suitor.  It's so blurry, ambiguous and undefined and can literally change with each recipient.  I'm probably completely over-thinking the entire thing, but I know I'm not alone.  At least I'm not alone with those of us who truly aren't stalkers.  I don't think there are any outstanding restraining orders with my name on them.  Don't they have to tell you about such things?

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