Okay, like the fourth total stranger has now suggested that ye ballroom instructor has a crush on me. Y'all aren't crazy; this has also crossed my mind. He did kick this off with pretty classic crush behavior: A sudden barrage of attention out of nowhere, that he kept up for a solid two weeks or so, until he got clear acknowledgement that I'd noticed. My initial read of him was that he is exactly as gay as the stereotype of male dancers would suggest, but this all was actually ambiguous enough to make me reconsider that.

The thing is, this is still ambiguous. The reason that kind of behavior comes about with crushes is that wanting to bone someone makes the idea of fucking up your first conversation with them carry a lot of emotional weight, so you get super nervous about it. The sudden burst of attention happens because it takes an extra push to get over the inhibitory effect of What if I screw it up? and make yourself start. The internal wrestling and abrupt resolution is usually invisible to your target, which is what makes it look like all the talking comes out of left field.

This pattern is not specific to sexual attraction. It's specific to social anxiety. One of my current friends-turned-housemate is a Medically-Certified Nervous Person. The first time she talked right to me on purpose, she managed to make herself do it on the grounds that she was A Photographer and wanted to Know About Modeling Rates, and her hands were still shaking the whole time. She eventually got past it, but the first time was really nerve-wracking because she didn't know what would happen, and the brain of an anxious person is an unfortunately fertile ground for creativity.

Up to the point ye ballroom instructor started talking to me, we were strangers. Obvs. I'd only ever seen him in the operating mode he uses to deal with the public, which is very bubbly and kind of vehemently charming in all directions. The very first time he decided to camp at my station and chat, he was blazing very very bright, and said a few things that even at the time I noted were glib bordering on babble, and wondered if he went off and kicked himself for it later. There was a bit of time before I told him outright that I was aware that there was other stuff going on behind the kilowatt grin and that I wanted to know what it was. Apparently I was convincing, because he spent a week or two sounding like he was on wobbly footing before settling down into just being much quieter when I was the only one around.

This is all also consistent with social anxiety. It's kind of an unusual manifestation overall, but common for those who've learned to cope with it by ginning up confidence at other people so well that nobody else notices the turmoil. Such as, for an obvious example, performers. It keeps well-meaning people from sitting on you and trying to fix it when all you really want to do is be left alone to regroup. It trips up people who don't grok it well, because as a general rule you'd expect someone who was getting less nervous to talk more and not less, but that's not really how it works when the thing you've learned to hide is that you're considerably more thinky, and in weirder directions, than is strictly normal.

[He also identifies as queer, which adds another layer to it. From what other friends have told me, they did the same thing as they became increasingly aware that their new queer-person thoughts were not "normal", until they decided to come out. I stuffed a sock in it when I was a kid for different reasons, but to pretty much the same effect: I limped along being scared of punishment and feeling like I was existing wrong until I realized that keeping it bottled up was probably going to kill me. It's not strictly equivalent, but inasmuch as I had to be removed from one elementary school because the bullies were escalating to physical violence, I feel like I at least know enough to properly sympathize.]

The reason I am not in a hurry to clear this up is that there is really nothing to clear on my end. I gather from reading advice columns and /r/relationships that most people think "dating" and "friends" are two completely separate things. If you want one and the other person wants the other, then most people feel disappointed, if not betrayed. I do not think these things are particularly different. Dates are good friends I sometimes don't wear pants with. It goes along with me not really grasping jealousy on the list of "stuff that gets me into a lot of trouble", mainly because they are things other people lie about a lot, both to themselves and others, and I'm afraid nobody will believe me when I explain how I work.

Ye ballroom dance instructor has turned out to be the kind of brilliantly odd person I want in my life regardless -- two of the initial guesses I whiffed on were not realizing he's a rather affectionate and empathetic soul if he likes you, and also that he is terrifyingly intelligent to the point where he is also very good at redirecting people's attention before they notice that. I find him very easy to talk to, and also easy to not talk to, which is even more unusual. I still couldn't tell you why he decided he wanted to talk to me, but he wanted to badly enough to make himself do it, which is pretty flattering. If he wants to wear less pants around me, then I'd be more than happy to give that a whirl. I'm not particularly fussed if he doesn't, either. "Awesome new friend" is not a losing condition.

Comments

  1. I really feel like you should be adding extra 'e's to all of his title. Ye Ballroome Dancee Instructore. Just for consistence. *grin*

    As for the rest, it sounds like time and the opportunity to actually talk in person will help. Have fun!

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    Replies
    1. He does have a name. I just try to give the people I write about some kind of plausible deniability. :) Which is also why I have not linked any video of his performances.

      I don't know that there's anything to 'help'. I quit worrying about where he was going with this when I realized I would be equally happy with whatever it was as long as it involved him continuing to hang around me. I'm just weird. *shrug*

      He did ping as anxious often enough that I made a conscious decision to be very definite that I do like him, and I do talk to him and offer to help with his projects very much on purpose. He did eventually sound less uncertain, although I have no idea if it was anything I was doing, or just the passage of time. He still tends to say 'thank you' for stuff like he's afraid I don't know he takes it as a personal favor.

      God only knows what's going on in his head at this point, but I can only really react based on what he lets leak, you know? He generally answers if I ask stuff directly, but he's learned it's not useful to ask me how I'm doing in front of a lot of witnesses, especially if I am clearly not okay and he wants a real answer, so I try to extend the same courtesy to him.

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    2. Heh. I meant 'help make things clearer', not help in any other way.

      He sounds quite nice and like he's a good friend already.

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