Having shared a poem about my difficulties in finding a romantic partner, I would now like to elaborate on the less-than-direct way I’ve been trying to find out how exactly the world of dating works. First off, however, I would like to point out a couple of things. I’m still trying to find my way around. I have never gone out on a single date in my life so even to this day the adventure probably isn’t even half over. So if I say anything stupid or you don’t think is correct, please forgive me and feel free to comment. I’ve told very few people in my life what I think about dating and even to those only bits and pieces. I would certainly love to hear any advice or, if you’re autistic and have trouble in this field, how you deal with it. Also, the last several years of trying to find someone have indeed taught me a few things. This includes the fact that I can actually be happy as a single person, which I’ve come to accept and believe.
I love analogies to describe my experiences so I’ll describe one here. Imagine you’re in a pitch black room trying to find the light switch. In the room also are bunch of bats (I’ll assume you aren’t afraid of them). They can use echo-location to find their way around. They don’t need the light. As they fly around gleefully, you have to take very slow steps and proceed quite cautiously. Often, however, you trip over stuff and sometimes fall. You can’t see around your feet by more than an inch if you can see around them at all. It’s basically trial and error. And you breath with relief every inch you take that doesn’t have you stumble into something. When you finally get to the light switch and flick it on, you see the furniture as it is and all the places you stumbled into. You’re angry that the arrangement wasn’t made obvious to you at the start.
This is more or less how I feel on the subject of dating relationships. Of the few things I have learned about developing such relationships, I’m not particularly pleased or proud with how I did learn them. Let me elaborate.
I’ve had crushes on girls for as long as I can remember, although they seriously started when I was nearing the end of elementary school. Now I had a few friends throughout elementary school, although we were slowly drifting apart due to not having enough common interests, they were into sports, I was into math. Anyway, they figured out I had a crush on a girl in the class and they laughed at me about it. I had rarely spoken to the girl and certainly didn’t approach her in any romantic way. Besides, the laughter was just more discouragement.
Junior high wasn’t all that much better. There too I developed crushes, but you could hardly tell unless you were a true mind-reader that those crushes existed. See my first post Settling for What I Had for an overview on my not-so-successful making of friends in general. One day a couple of classmates began asking me which girls I might have crushes on and began naming names. It admitted to one girl and the same thing happened again. Laughter. Joking around. To be fair, it wasn’t just me that was experiencing this. I sometimes saw others making a big deal one random student have a crush on another. So it wasn’t just me. After all, I was very well liked even though I had very few friends. So I learned my first rule on dating at least that can be applied in the early teen years.
Rule #1: In junior high at least, while classmates may want to joke around about who’s got a crush on who, it isn’t always because they want to hurt or hinder the person.
I know junior high can be a rough time of life and isn’t always enjoyable. Kids laugh and joke about others, sometimes to be bullies, sometimes just to joke around and there’s no intention of getting another’s feelings hurt. The problem with my classmates’ reactions to finding out I had a crush on a girl, however, was trying to understand what their laughter and joking around meant. In a previous post A Question of Interpretation I elaborated on exactly this. I can’t always tell when someone is joking around or intending to be serious. I had absolutely no idea how to react to my classmates’ reactions.
Another problem with my classmates’ reactions was some of the advice I was getting from them. “You should ask her out” was one piece of advice I just didn’t know what to do with. When I heard it, all I could picture was a man and a woman (or boy and girl) sitting at a restaurant table enjoying a lovely meal together. Okay, so I’m supposed to ask this girl about going somewhere together for a date. But then what? What’s the next step? How do I get her to be my girlfriend? Or is this the first step to make for a successful relationship? I had no idea! I’d seen T.V. shows and movies where people asking each other out on dates, but that was about as far as my knowledge on relationships extended.
I’ll continue to share my experiences in my next post. But perhaps, now that I’ve been brave enough to admit my past ignorance, others could tell of their adventures as well in figuring out how the mysterious world of dating works?