273: Come, My Lady. You’re My Butterfly

“I think he might like me,” I told my husband, in reference to a man at a coffee shop.

“What do you mean?” my husband asked.

“Well, he was smiling and taking interest in me,” I answered.

“Honey, he doesn’t like you; he doesn’t even know you. He is attracted to your body or something about you physically. That is different from liking you.”

“Oh,” I answered.

The next day, as I was heading out the door to go to the grocery store, my husband said, “Remember if a man looks at you because he is attracted to you that doesn’t indicate that the man likes you. You are a very pretty woman who some men find attractive. But their attention doesn’t mean they like you.”

I found his words to be a mixture of both comfort and confusion.

I am slowly, very slowly, learning the social innuendos regarding communication with men. I never knew there were so many unspoken rules when speaking with men. It’s fair to say I’ve got the female social interactions down, but now there seems to be this whole other guidebook regarding men.

I think, for me, having not had the example of a healthy father and mother relationship, nor brothers, or even uncles that I knew well, as a child, meant that I never had the chance to really learn how to interact with a man, except single men I sought after to make my husband. (starting at age six)

And, I guess, too, the actions of predators in combo with the uncouth behavior of some other men, added to my confusion of my place in the world as a woman.

I only had one male friend as an adult for a very short time. He wasn’t actually a friend, really, more of a member of a support group that I belonged to, a man about fifteen years older than me, who I once in a while saw outside of the support group–maybe once or twice. I was involved with another man at the time—obsessively. So I never saw my friend as anything but a friend.  And I was like a little sister, to him.

Interestingly, after lacking in male interactions for over four decades, I’m still looking at males the same way I did when I was six. They might have aged, and I might have aged, but the little girl inside of me is still wondering is that my prince?

It doesn’t matter that my husband adores me, and that I think he is a very dear man. I doesn’t matter that I logically understand that there is no prince out there. What matters is I still have this pattern. I still see men as someone who I want to make love me. That if they love me then I am of worth. But this love isn’t based on how they see me inside; it is based on how they see me outside.

Likely, (obviously) there are still some Daddy Issues; the holding, hugs, kisses and I love you’s from a father that never materialized.

The fact that I need validation of my physical worth from a male, more so than a female, and that indeed a female’s opinion of me, unless repeated over and over, does null for my self-esteem, is troublesome.

Logically, I recognize that the opinion of another is not a reflection of my worth, but somehow I still hold onto a man’s words and actions towards me more than my own belief and love of myself.

I’ve grown up some in the last few months, grown up to the point that I am hyper-aware of my thought processes, actions, and my emotions. There are very few moments in the day that I’m not an observer of self: outside of my own body watching me exist and walk through the steps of my day.

I understand what I am doing in regards to the power I grant men. I used to think it was shyness, now I think it is a not knowing, a not understanding, a confusion and displacement of ease. Standing near any man close to my age or older, causes my ears to turn red and face blush.  Almost any grown male seems to put a magical spell of nervousness, meekness, neediness, and insecurity upon me. I naturally become a shy, flirtatious giggle machine, complete with batting eyes and the flushing cheeks.

Photo on 12-9-12 at 3.22 PM

I realize that I was basically unseen and unnoticed, very much invisible, in most areas of my life, until I blossomed at the age of fourteen and began to gain attention based on my appearance. I was homecoming princess, popular, and dated a very handsome boy. I learned then that my looks could serve as a form of power: a way of being seen.

I learned to equate being seen with having worth.

I am starting to reprogram my prior learnings.

I am interacting with males more and recognizing they are no less powerful or magical than females, that their opinions are not more important than others’.

The hardest part is I still don’t understand the nuances of male/female communication. I don’t understand how much I should look into a man’s eyes, how close I should stand, how I should smile, what my tone should sound like, what topics are socially appropriate. I don’t understand what most people seem to learn subconsciously through experience.

I understand now how often men have actually flirted with me throughout my life. I understand now why, in high school, I shouldn’t have been having an ex-boyfriend massage my back when I was involved with a new beau.

I am starting to understand how I surely give out mixed signals, matching and mirroring a male, thinking that reacting as a mirror-image is the safe and appropriate technique. After all, it works with females!

I feel so very alien and unprepared for earth, as I approach the male zone.

In dealing with male encounters, I don’t want to come across as a prude, or rude, or stuck up, or extremely shy, or as a flirt. I just want to come across as me. The problem is I don’t know what that looks like.

I’ve trained myself to make facial expressions based on my environment and whom I am with. I’ve trained myself to act in the best way possible, to not lose female friendships and to not embarrass myself.

I don’t have a natural facial expression. I don’t know what that even means. It used to be, if my face was relaxed that my mouth was downturned, and I then appeared mean and unapproachable. For a few years, I walked about with slightly puckered lips. Silly, but true. Now my face has been trained to be in a constant puffy-cheeked smile in public.

I looked at my husband the other night, as he was checking me out, and I said, “Okay. So I’ve added a new understanding, a new rule to this computer brain of mine. I have new input.  I now know that a man looking at me doesn’t mean they like me. But now I am confused, because you look at me with desire all the time. So does that mean you don’t like me? Does that mean you only care about my body?”

My husband then spent the next several minutes explaining to me about the concept of getting to know someone, of how attraction can turn into like, and like to love, and then, after time, the person is liking the whole of you.

I stared back at him with a quizzical expression. My eyes grew wider. “I don’t understand,” I said. “In all my male relationships (boyfriends) I loved the person as soon as I met them. It didn’t change. It doesn’t grow. It just was.”

I went on to explain my perception of love. That yes, indeed, I can grow to respect a person, to enjoy their company, to take great pleasure in learning from them, and grow in companionship and familiarity, but that my love doesn’t grow. It remains the same.

I began to see, through my husband’s explaining, that clearly I  don’t experience life as many people do, particularly love. I don’t experience relationships in the same way, either—or communication.

Last night while at the local store grocery store, I asked a handsome store employee for some help finding a dessert wine. I know little to nothing about wine. Just asking a man for help is a huge step for me. I have to stop myself from staring at my feet, stuttering, giggling, and staying stuff that is just plain stupid.

He asked if I was going to need the dessert wine for dinner, for dessert, or after dessert, and what dessert I was having. He said this while staring deeply into my eyes, as if searching, and connecting. I stared back for a while. Locked eyes. I was processing.

I didn’t know why I wanted the wine, or what I was going to have the wine with. I just wanted to have something sweet. I processed how the man was looking at me, and I did what I knew to do, I stared back, mirroring the man, as I processed his communication skills thinking: This man is really good with eye contact. I wonder if my mascara is smeared. My ears are on fire. I am nervous. Can he tell? I’m so glad I have this hat on.

 So many thoughts, so very fast. With even more intense eyes, I offered, “I don’t know why I want the wine; I just want to drink it.”

I think I came across as giggly, clueless and cute, perhaps even flirtatious. Not my intention.

The man was standing very close, and very, very kind. (I think) He spent five minutes with me giving me a mini-lesson on wine, and showing me his favorite. I kept thinking: He doesn’t like me. He might find my eyes pretty. That’s why he can’t stop staring. And I think he swiped a peek at my butt, but he doesn’t like me.

The entire time I was listening to the brown-eyed man, I was simultaneously analyzing his body language, his choice of words, his proximity, his inflection, his everything. I noted there was some attraction going on, but I couldn’t tell if he was interested or flirting, or just nice to everyone.

In retelling the story to my husband, he took in the clues and observations of my encounter with the store worker, and reported that likely this man was somewhat interested in me. He reminded me I was an attractive woman. (He lingered at my beauty for awhile. Bless the dear man.) He explained that if a man instead of a woman had approached and asked this employee about wine, he likely would have been shorter in his explanation, not have locked eyes the entire time, and not smiled and offered out his favorite wine. He wouldn’t have been standing as close either.

I still don’t know. I told my husband, in all seriousness, (and while slightly tipsy from the port wine in hand), that I’d like him to come to the store with me the next time and stand back an aisle or two away, and watch how men approach me and interact with me, and tell me if they are flirting.

He said, “Honey, I really don’t take pleasure in watching other men pick up my wife.”

Hmmmmmmmm. Hadn’t thought of that.

For now, I guess I’ll keep watching men watch me, and calculate what it means. Take note in my little imaginary spy book. Note that a stare at my  bottom doesn’t mean like, and definitely not love. Note that a prince isn’t likely out there roaming the wine aisle waiting to take me away to his castle to live happily ever after.  Note that the attention towards my outward appearance doesn’t note my worth. Nor does the lack of attention. And note that though I may appear to others as an experienced butterfly, I am still very much a naive nervous caterpillar quivering inside.

27 thoughts on “273: Come, My Lady. You’re My Butterfly

  1. I never know either – and its only afterwards when people tell me I begin to realise that men were flirting. By the way , cool song

  2. Very interesting, and I can definitely relate to having a hard time figuring out that “like” and “want’ are not the same. Cool to listen to you write down a lot of the observations, I often make about my own interactions with people – they whizz past so quickly in my head that I can’t slow them down to articulate them. I have learned that I use the power of pretty in my interactions unconsciously (or perhaps subconsciously) to quell my own insecurities, even though I do not think of myself as a pretty woman (though I am told I am). And that directness, that eye contact that I almost unfailingly make, comes across as flirtatious, though to me, it’s just me being me.

  3. Perhaps, this will help, Sam. I do not remember the first post of yours that I read. It may have been a comment on one of mine. I honestly don’t know. What I do remember is that you were (are) very pretty. That’s what guys remember. Looks, at least first. Now, we have chatted, commented, shared thoughts and ideals. I can now say that I like you and have reasons for it.
    One of my problems with relationships early on is that I paid more attention to looks than anything else. Men are raised for this, to a point. That meant that I ignored a lot of the person due to their looks. This was, often, bad later on when I found out that I didn’t like them and that, a lot of times, they weren’t very nice.
    Now, I still notice looks, but I “notice” them; I don’t toss all else out the window and focus on looks. I ask myself about the person, about how we might get along, and are they nice. I am trying hard to switch it all around. It is still wonderful to see someone who is very pretty; however, it is the niceness which I am trying harder to be more attracted to.

  4. Fascinating to read your thought process here Sam…. I struggle with same. I am very friendly in life to both male and female persons I encounter…. And have been told by observers ( including my daughters) that I need to dial back my friendliness with the males or I will get into trouble. I am not certain my looks have a lot to do with the attention I get… I truly think a lot is energetic. I will have to look to you for guidance on all this…. Seems you have processed it better than I… Though truly, I’ve never had any issues, and do think people like me for me… Even if initial attraction was smile or eye contact… etc. Thanks for offering this great post as food for thought. Love u ❤

    1. Fascinating me….that was my license plate Fasten-8 hehehe You are so sweet. I was thinking today, you don’t know how lovely you are, either. Yes, it’s energy for sure at times, also a cute face (in your case). Nothing like a cutie pie that can’t see how cute she is. hugs sea sis. Love you bunches of O’s xo Sam

      1. lol! Read hubby your whole post last night — he was very amused and saw the similarity too… I don’t get flustered when approaching male sales people though… or in any public forum…must be my years of having been in sales/marketing when I had to deal with male clientele all the time so desensitized… a lot though I could relate to here… yes – we are both cutie pies!! xo 🙂 Love u ~

  5. I really Love the video!! This is basically the world in my head, but there is a country victorian little house in there which is my home! WOW! It even looks like some of my paintings. Who knew these types of videos were out there, and the boys singing are so cute.

  6. Beautiful, i really love this post. Especially relating to the naivety of how people approach you. I have been told i am beautiful that at certain times, i get tired of it. I guess, like you were talking about, a glance does not necessarily mean that someone likes you, but it can be a doorway to ponder that possibility. And hearing a boy tell me I’m beautiful, gosh, i could make myself react so stammeringly. With a new found experience of what it feels like to see the affect i can have on a person, just by how i hold myself, wow, it’s interesting and humbling. And i realize, from what my sister told me, someone is going to really cherish and adore me, wanting to get to know all about me and loving me as i am. Same for you soul sister Sam. Your husband seems very interesting and loving, and supportive of you, and i think that is a beautiful thing.
    Love you soul sister Sam & Big Bear hugs.

    1. So glad to hear you enjoyed the post. Yes! I am learning about how I hold myself and how it affects people. It is wild! Yes…someone will cherish and adore you! Don’t accept anything less. My husband is very, very kind and tries very hard. xo lovely you….and a talented writer to boot. xo Sam

  7. That was so facinating to me as I have the exact same reactions and always have with men. The red face and shaking is horrible. Interesting what your husband said. That was news to me too. I wonder if its a female aspie thing? because after years on this earth, married with two children I still feel like a gorky 12 year old with no idea.

  8. this was very interesting to read as someone who has never had a reAL RELATIONSHIP WITH A MALE i DONT LIKE human touch or being with people for 2 long of either sex at times i wish i was different as know missing ou tt being me but sometimes just have to accep

  9. A very interesting post. I have the same problems with women, in fact if you swapped the roles the post could be describing me! When I used to go to clubs with friends I lost count of times they’d call me names because a woman was interested in me and I didn’t know. Even now my wife has to explain things to me because I can’t read hers or others body language.

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