So apparently I'm being rewarded for dissecting my own psyche in public now? Really? Hokay, I guess that's where we're going with this.

While I appreciate the intent behind all the advice on what to do in re: ye ballroom dance instructor, I would like to note that at no point in all of that did I ask 'what the hell is going on here?', or did I solicit suggestions on what to do about it. I know what I'm going to do about it, which is exactly the thing I am doing already. I've generally been treating him like he has a charmingly obvious squish that by now is probably visible on Google Maps. He is neither acting confused nor backpedaling as fast as is humanly possible, so that seems to be about right.

The tl;dr for those who don't feel like going through the AVEN forums is that a 'squish' is what the asexual community calls the ace version of a crush. Isn't that just wanting to be friends? you ask. No, wiseass, it's not. The salient difference is that a squish is friendship plus limerance, which is the technical term for that suite of feelings that make you irrationally happy to see the object of your affection, sometimes accompanied by a persistent desire to cuddle, and generally incapable of not thinking -- and often talking -- about them. The prospect of fucking up a conversation with someone who gives you butterflies leads to similar forms of anxiety regardless of why the butterflies are there, which is why the various points on the squish/crush/glimmering-eyed adoration axis are so difficult to differentiate in the beginning.

One of the reasons I decided to pick up the +3 Sledgehammer of Friendliness and wallop him back with it is that, if this is what he wants out of people, he probably has a very hard time finding it. As far as I can tell, most people do not develop an intense interest in getting into someone else's head unless they also have an intense interest in getting into that someone's pants. Or if they do, they don't admit it.

I have no idea why this is. Squishes and crushes are not mutually exclusive; I've had bad cases of both, they're distinct things, and they're not in competition. Sex is the only difference for me, although thirty-six years of being confused by pop culture suggests to me that other people also experience the feeling of wanting their crush to be their 'one and only', whereas they tend not to get jealous or possessive over non-sexual relationships. I'm profoundly creeped out by the idea of being anyone's one and only anything even when I do want to tear their clothes off with my teeth, so I'm only guessing on that one.

This is one of those areas where I understand that other people feel the way they do, but I have very little grasp on why they feel that. Whatever instinct drives it in others is clearly broken in me. I honestly wonder sometimes what it's like to walk through the world, knowing that people who don't happen to tick all the boxes on your 'potential mate' checklist will only ever be of passing tertiary importance to you. My taste in partners is so specific and uncommon that if I waited for someone I wanted to bone before trying to give or get affection, I'd have a lonely life indeed. On the other hand, it does clear up why other people are so ruined when a romance goes wrong. If you feel like your sole romantic partner is the only person you can go to when you want to... feel loved, I guess?... then it must be devastating to lose that, and terrifying to think you'll never find it again.

The downside to working like I do is that apparently most people don't, so it's easy to be misread. Crushes are things that people lie about a lot, especially since they're often seen potentially embarrassing or as a threat to other relationships. People assume the lady doth protest too much. [Friends who have seen me actually make passes at someone I have a crush stop thinking this. I don't quite descend to the level of, "Nice shoes. Wanna fuck?" but only because I try to politely establish whether they're available first. No one who has ever seen the difference in my behavior mixes them up ever again.] An unrequited squish is also a hell of a lot of unwanted attention, just like an unrequited crush, only people don't know how to handle that in a non-romantic context, so it makes them extra uncomfortable.

I spent a lot of time as a teenager berating myself about caring too much in an effort to stop doing that. It didn't work, so I've just learned not to let anyone know. It goes here, when I'm fascinated by a celebrity, or whatever the abstract equivalent is when you do that to an academic subject. I try very hard not to ramble too much in person. When it comes to other humans I can potentially get to in real life, I slam a lid on it, nail the fucker down, and resolve not to bother them, ever. I've a set of guidelines that boils down to 'I don't have to conspicuously avoid them or run away from conversations they start, but I am not under any circumstances to subject them to any of idiot things that run through my head'. It's not a great time on my end, but I find making people I like uncomfortable an even less thrilling experience. If I'm any good at stuffing a sock in it, I might at least get to be regular-type friends with them, and no one can really stop me from wondering what they're thinking on my own time.

There is an additional wrinkle when the person I keep wanting to think about is an artist whose work I like, which ye ballroom instructor happens to also be. I'm not very good at idolizing people, which is one of the reasons I don't hang out on tumblr. I assume artists are as human as I am, and therefore subject to Dunbar's number. Dunbar was an anthropologist who noticed that the size of primate social groups had some correlations with the size and layout of the primate's brain. He ran some tests and pulled some rough math out of his ass and estimated that humans can only maintain real, personal connections with 150-200 other people at a time -- after that, everyone's just sort of a part of a faceless, poorly-differentiated horde of monkeys. There's no particular reason why I, out of everyone in the audience, would be among the 200 magic monkeys for any of these people, and frankly I feel like it would be obnoxious of me to try interacting with them on the basis that I ought to be.

I'd also like to point out that random Armenian lady was not the first person to ask if I'm dating someone I'm not. It took longer than I thought, actually. When things like this work out, if the other person happens to be male, people ask if we're a couple. If they're female, people ask if we're sisters, because the world is full of egregious double standards. I infer that there is some distinct change in body language involved.

Comments

  1. How are you defining 'being rewarded'?

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      Attention, engagement, and Patrons? I post a lot of random crap and had been making something of an effort to make this thing a series of essays rather than my diary. Then I cracked and started posting about some random dude none of you know and suddenly people are commenting and signing up 0n Patreon. I'm struggling to the point of starving, so I guess I'll go with the market.

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    2. In my case, I responded to what I perceived as more personal involvement from you in your post. While the informational posts are, well, informational, they don't give responders much of a handle to grab onto and respond to/with.

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    3. Is that what people want? I really try not to make this thing yet another sucking black hole of narcissism. The internet has enough of those. My life is kind of... tiny and uninteresting. I mean, it's interesting to me, obviously, but that's because it's mine. Other people have their own lives to live. Why would anyone spend their free time reading about mine?

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    4. Okay, so many of your posts are links to music videos with the occasional foray into examining the possible thoughts happening to a celebrity.

      I don't watch videos much and I'm pretty fundamentally uninterested in celebrities.

      I am, however, interested in YOU. You and your thoughts and life are why I started following you (lo these many years ago on another platform). They're why I followed you - desultorily, I admit - to this platform. Your friends are *interested in you*, your tiny little daily experiences.

      Aren't you interested in theirs? Why wouldn't they/we be interested in yours? If you're worried about narcissism, you can certainly keep posting about music and celebrities, and any other interests you find catch your attention. Those interests are part of what makes you unique and interesting - so it's interesting to see you be interested.

      But why *wouldn't* someone spend their free time reading about your life and interacting with you?

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