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Another one to chew on.


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So I still can't believe that I'm here, and I don't want to spend the next 2 hours and 20 paragraphs later explaining the gritty details. I'll try to keep it as short and concise as possible.


Some backstory: I am female, socially stunted/awkward, highly sensitive, and shy. People are not my forte, at all, and I cannot express this enough. I recently sought help for mental illness in an effort to 'fix' the chaos in my head. I ended up having a stroke 2 weeks later and it has left me pretty hurt and broken. Now I am unable to have any drugs that might help stabilize the mess and emotionally/mentally I am a mess. I do not have a supportive system in my life to help me out with this sort of thing and I am unable to cope with it well on my own. Honestly I feel like I'm at a stalemate in this regard and it definitely puts a huge damper on anything that I might want to do.


My love life: Has been horrible, really. I have had two boyfriends, one long term and the second one not so much. I have taken lessons from each relationship, understood that I have had a hand in why they didn't work, and attempted to make changes to accommodate this knowledge. I am not good with others. My first boyfriend was the poster boy for abusive relationships and by the time we separated (two years too late) he had me ground so far into the dirt I was a walking shell. He caused me a lot of pain and a lot of heartbreak that I allowed upon myself in desperation for company. My second boyfriend was built almost entirely on sex and he wanted a lot more than I did way too fast. He was also manipulative and gas-lighted me regularly. We were only together for 10 months before I left. I wasn't going to make the same mistake twice.


Each relationship has left me more unsteady and depressed. It is rare that I honestly connect with somebody, so when it happens I am skeptical and at times, overly cautious. A little over seven months ago I ran into an unexpected interest that has made me feel things I have felt before, but in a different context, if that makes sense.


My dilemma: This man and I do connect very well and there is definitely chemistry there. However we are both very shy people, introverted, and I believe that he too is anxious/nervous about things. Unlike my previous interests he exhibits all the motions and behavior of a genuine, healthy human in regards to interaction with other people. I'll admit it has me stumped and I'm unsure how to proceed without horribly ruining things. At the same time I am afraid that my attraction to him is helping me from really seeing things clearly, as I know it can be a lot of the time. There are a few particular habits that he holds to that I can't discern whether they are signs of his 'interest' level or just things he does as a person (which I know it does happen). I'll admit now that I have been the initiator for almost everything in our friendship, however his reciprocation has been more than enthusiastic. We went from awkwardly standing around, looking for something to say; to leaning on each other, warm smiles, and ogling each other from our designated work areas. This man is a co-worker of mine. I have taken several different aspects of his personality into account while paying attention to how he treats others as well. I've never really interacted with a person as shy as me, if not more so than me, so I've adjusted my views for this. So far it seems to have worked well. We've progressed slowly but steadily to where we are today, both of us feeding the friendship here and there. However recently, about 3 weeks ago now, he suddenly started acting differently. Quiet, won't stand as close anymore, and stopped returning my texts as often. He also began ignoring certain texts whereas before he typically answered them all. Most of these ones have been tentative attempts on my part to see if he'd tell me what was wrong. I've since stopped trying. I've taken the holidays into consideration, and although it literally drove my anxiety up the wall, I figure it was just holiday stress.


Friendship wise as between two awkward, shy people we are here:

  • We text at least once a day. There are no phone calls as per agreement by us both.
  • We are comfortable with physical contact: leaning on each other, brushing each other, standing in each others' intimate space.
  • We trade treats like mints, starbursts, and little candies.
  • We are comfortable trading small bits and pieces about our public lives, and occasionally sharing a similar experience. However we have agreed to keep our private lives separate from our work, so I understand that things are naturally going to be stifled by this. I have 'talked' to him about a few things that are going on in my life, as our friendship originally developed with his insistence that I can talk to him about my problems following my stroke. He has never had a negative response to this, and as I said, insisted upon it being a good thing.
  • Over break we broke through an invisible barrier that insured our conversations were, for the most part, kosher. A small dose of cheesy, internet pervertedness has been leaked/allowed into our interaction, and I feel a little less constricted. He has gladly reciprocated.
  • We do not see each other outside of work. He does not see any co-worker outside of work, and I have had this confirmed by pretty much anyone work wise that he would even be interested in hanging out with. He is firm in his stance and I respect that.
  • There is definite sexual tension between us, but it has never been discussed, and I do not suspect it will be anytime soon. We both know it's there, but we avoid it as much as possible considering the circumstances. It does not seem to have any obvious bearing on how he treats me.
  • I don't know if this is a good thing or not, I have had a few people tell me it is? But he has never told me no. I can do anything to him (within reason) and ask him to do things for me that he might not for other co-workers. I have not abused this 'privilege' in order to find this out! Each discovery was made by accident and further observed over time.

I was recently informed by a co-worker that he is better acquainted with, and has known longer, that he admitted to liking me and being willing to try a relationship with me. However being the way he is (shy and nervous), he is slow and cautious about these sorts of things and refuses to rush into anything. He told this co-worker that if I was willing to wait for him to warm up to the new feelings, he would like to give it a try. This conversation apparently happened several weeks ago, and actually corresponds with the time-frame that he started treating me differently. Which in itself doesn't make sense, and therefore my confusion stems from. We are not dating and we don't actively, or consciously act like we're dating (I don't think anyway...). His behavior changed so unexpectedly and without any reason that I can find, I've looked. As friends I believe it would be common courtesy to let me know "hey, I need a break," or "hey, I've got a lot going on in my life right now." I understand that he's not the best at expressing himself sometimes, so in order to avoid the potential 'you're not my girlfriend' scenario, I've stopped trying to find out.


Is this something that I should be concerned with? Should I just continue on as if nothing is wrong? Give him the benefit of the doubt. The internet says that if he really wants to talk to me, or make things work, that he will. In all honesty he doesn't do much of anything, no doubt because I've always done all of the work. As mentioned before, I have initiated almost everything, including our text conversations. Realistically it's quite pitiful. But he is not unkind and is always there to listen when I need him, therefore I figure that's not a terrible thing. He has so far accepted me for all of my flaws and issues, never calls me names, and always has a smile for me. I suppose I just need help deciding what I should to next here. This is more for me than him to be honest as I am having a personal war on how to respond to a situation. I want to say that he's worth it, I really like him a lot. I apologize if this is all something I should already know or be able to figure out on my own. I'm sorry if this doesn't make much sense. Thank you.

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Is your intention to date him? It sounds like he flirts with but doesn't date coworkers. Although you have a nice working relationship, it may be best to get on some dating sites and date outside of work.

This man and I do connect very well and there is definitely chemistry there. This man is a co-worker of mine. [*] We do not see each other outside of work. He does not see any co-worker outside of work
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I honestly am unsure right now if I'm being honest. I know that I have feelings for him, normally the next step would be to date, but I'm leery. I can also say with surety that he does not flirt with co-workers lol. He's very quiet and keeps to himself for the most part, he speaks to nobody unless you go to him yourself. This is why our interactions are prompting the encouragement we've gotten from other co-workers, I've apparently made myself the exception. I feel like I should say that his lack of talking to people is not out of arrogance, he's just genuinely reserved and quiet.


Also, I will not be working with him for long, as I am leaving the factory in the new year. He is aware of this and has been for over a month now. He has stated in previous conversation that he will continue texting and talking to me, and isn't going anywhere in that regard. I would like to think the possibility is there, as he so recently expressed willingness to give it a try.

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Ok see if he continues to communicate after you leave and take it from there.

I am leaving the factory in the new year. He is aware of this and has been for over a month now. He has stated in previous conversation that he will continue texting and talking to me, and isn't going anywhere in that regard
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Hi Phandorica,


From my experience most people who are shy/withdrawn suffer a lot with a sense of shame in who they are, depending on individuals of course this is coped with in different ways. But there's a common thread when feelings intensify/are revealed with people who feel this way about themselves, because it makes them vulnerable, so they withdraw to regain control.


This doesn't mean he's a bad person, just that he has issues as we all do, but ultimately it will be up to him whether or not he's secure enough in himself to act on how he's feeling.


In this regard I think the best thing to do if you want to stay in this situation is to remain consistent and try to attach no expectations to his response (easier said than done, I know). The crux of shame is to allow him to see you as a safe person, emotionally and verbally. So that means, basically treating him with decorum and respect - never belittle his feelings or behaviour, even if you think it's strange - from his perspective, it makes sense to maintain respect for that, regardless that it doesn't necessarily give you what you want or in the time frame that you want. Be a friend as you have been.


One caveat I would say to this is to pay attention to yourself in this too, so if you feel at any point that you're bending to please, placate or appeal to him it's time for you to reassess - the push and pull that he's doing is to maintain control, but it's up to you if you allow it to control you. This isn't malicious control, it's coping control, but it can have some negative affects on the recipient so pay close attention to yourself and be prepared to walk away if he doesn't come out of his shell. It's not good for you to be hanging onto the responses of other people to the detriment of your sense of self, so just something to be mindful of.


Best of luck :)

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I thank you Purusha, your insight is appreciated and definitely seems to hit close to home with some of his responses to things. His ability to trigger my interest to this level has left me feeling a tad bit lost in how to proceed with some things. On top of that my anxiety does horrible things to my psyche in general, so it's been a constant battle with myself to not fall back on old habits of closing off/running away. I value his friendship highly and with his influence, alongside a few other personal things, I have been trying very hard to be a better person, and a better self. I make an effort to balance the 'push and pull' you spoke up between us, as it fluctuates on a regular basis. Understanding his feelings some really helps in maintaining as well, but doesn't totally prevent some of the issues I'm currently dealing with.


Thank you again for your kind words. I will say though that he and I have a rapport that we support in teasing and sarcasm, however none of it is ever done crudely or with intended cruelty. I have never spoken ill of his actions, but I have made the occasional attempt at opening myself up for discussion if he would be willing. He has yet to accept it and prefers to avoid topics involving himself, which is more than fine. I would like to think that he holds a level of comfort with me that he definitely didn't before as conversing has only ever gotten easier and friendlier. I suppose my fear about the abrupt shift in his behavior is that I may have done something to make him nervous without realizing. I have gone over and over the past several weeks and nothing really stands out. Seeing as he is totally unwilling to offer me any give on why this started, it made me uncomfortable and I began questioning everything. It's been a real scene in my head trying to sort everything back out again, but I agree with you that I don't believe his intentions were malicious. But now I need to regain my own sense of control without screwing things up. I don't want to suddenly stop texting him, as he tends to know when something is bothering me (believe it or not, we pick up on these things about each other really easy). When change occurs in my routine my first response is to rebel and then close myself off. I do not want to do this to him!


At the same time, texting him has gotten hard. My train of thought is very one-sided and distant right now and that's considered 'out of the ordinary' from the routine we have established. I feel like I'm reaching for things to talk about as I reconfigure my thought processes. Maintaining relationships with fellow shy folk is hard sometimes.

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That's the tricky bit, maintaining our sense of harmony and balance when we're trying to decipher behavioural cues from someone else without reaching too far and getting ourselves off balance - this is exactly why this coping mechanism that he has to maintain control works so effectively.


When I say consistent, what I really mean is being consistently true to yourself and authentic - if you pick up on each other quickly he'll notice anyway when you're not doing this, and this will make him question your motives/intentions and will start to breed distrust, which is exactly what you don't want.


So if you feel uncomfortable texting because of his behaviour, don't text, or if you feel comfortable ask him if there's anything wrong and give him the opportunity to speak, if he doesn't, cut back on texting to a level where you feel comfortable. That way, he's been given a cue that you know something's up and that you're backing off, this gives him a chance to adjust and decide whether to talk to you or back off also.


The key to allowing someone to feel safe is to allow them their choices, by proving yourself to be your authentic self - this gives consistency and honesty, it absolutely doesn't mean that you behave in a way that you think will make them feel better, if it makes you feel worse or isnt' true to you. That just means you're hiding from them too and are playing a game, which is exactly what got him here in the first place.


That's sort of the ironic thing about coping mechanisms like this that carry over into our adulthoods, they often produce the results that you're trying to avoid.


I'd be careful of completely dismissing your emotions based on past behaviour - your instinct to run away is only telling you that something is wrong, that's all, and you're right! Ultimately your inner self is asking you to be cautious and rightfully so, as nice as someone is when they have issues like this it can be difficult and they can very much hurt other people if they're not able to deal with their baggage so it's a bit of a red flag but it depends on your relationship and your levels of authenticity with each other.


If I were a betting woman I would hazard a guess that he was either made aware or realised that you were told that he was interested in a possible relationship with you and it made him feel vulnerable - backing off is a way to create emotional distance (because if someone was shamed for their emotions they have difficulty connecting with others emotionally in a way that feels safe to them) and therefore control. I don't think this is anything that you've done, these are just behaviours from him manifesting in response to things that he is feeling and thinking.


There are ways that you can re-centre yourself - especially with these vague emotional situations where you're trying to get a grasp on something that someone is making out of your reach.


Feel in your body where those uncomfortable, tense, confused feelings are - is it in your stomach, your chest, your throat? Tilt your chin and close your eyes, breathe into them - these are completely normal feelings that you're having and it's your inner self trying to protect you, so acknowledge that. Imagine cradling those emotions like a baby, giving them warmth and welcome rather than trying to push them away and ignore them, bring them in and cradle them.


If it feels right you can send emotions of love, comfort and warmth to these areas to soothe them a little, some people like to think of a particular colour of light in that area of the body, expanding and enveloping you - choose a colour that eases and comforts you.


This is getting comfortable with being uncomfortable, because it's totally normal for you to feel this - but it should help you to find yourself again in amongst this, once you're good at this you can do this at the drop of a hat and it's a useful tool. It's much better to welcome your emotions than to push them out as they're there to guide you.


This should also tell you what course of action is best for you, as it'll be the action that gives you a greater feeling of ease and comfort - it may not be total ease and comfort, but it'll be more than if you consider the alternatives so I'd advise that you go with that.


Hope that's helped.

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It is terribly ironic that the whole first portion of your response is actually describing experiences that we have already been through, and worked through accordingly. It was a bumpy time when we first started, we were trying to get a better read on each other and discovering boundaries. We have since come to an even ground and only worked progressively from there. I believe that I am the one truly learning some things here, but he is doing a fantastic job of staying positive and encouraging me rather than sending me away, or just dropping it entirely. When we discuss something of a potentially sensitive nature he is always firm in his opinion/advice, but also constructive at the same time. These instances have become the building blocks for where we are today and I'm glad that I was able to work through them maturely.


In regard to knowing or finding out about him liking me in that way, is highly unlikely. I only learned about it this last Friday before break, and he was gone from work for the last two days, including Friday. It was told to me in confidence, and I don't believe this co-worker would say anything that might jeopardize what we do have. However, there was a change in my living situation during this time frame that has resulted in me staying with a male friend/co-worker of mine (shortly before Crush's odd behavior started). It's funny how all of this happened on the same time line so it's impossible for me to tell much of anything. His last day of work I finally worked up the courage to casually 'break it to Crush' that Friend and I aren't dating, without making it sound like I was doing it for his direct benefit. Friend and I have had many talks about whether us staying together might be the cause of Crush's sudden shift, especially if he does really like me. So I figured I might as well give it a whirl and see what happened. This friend and I are not intimate in any form or fashion and have kept the situation entirely to ourselves. Most people at the plant have assumed we're together at this point, therefore I couldn't rule out that Crush didn't feel that way as well.


We've both held some distance over break, and I have not stopped texting him. I did, however, follow your advice before I ever wrote this; I pulled back some to allow us both some space and he appears to be responding well. I appreciate and respect this man very much, truly he deserves it. He is a fantastic, all-around human being that just attracts people to him, but doesn't seem to reciprocate well to them on a personal level. It tickles me pink that I've found someone like him and that he's giving me the chance to essentially prove myself. I will definitely take some time and practice some of the exercises you've suggested. You've been very kind and I thank you muchly!

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Hi Phandorica,


It sounds like things have been going well and that you've handled his issues and your feelings really well, it's difficult to do in these kinds of situations so good on you. :)


There is another exercise you can do to release from expectation - this can be really useful when intent is unclear, as we can attach too much to an idea of what we want to happen and bend ourselves too much (which can lead to our losing sight of ourselves):


You can think of expectations as cords that connect us to another person - if you visualise yourself as having an energy field and the other person having an energy field, you can imagine cords or tendrils connecting us to that person. You can tilt your head and close your eyes and visualise this between you and your crush, and ask to see the cords that represent your attachment to an outcome, or your expectations - these may be a particular colour, move in a particular way, or have a certain feeling attached to them.


Feel out for the cords that hold expectations to an outcome, and then pull them out from the root of your energy field - visualise a violet flame and send them into the burning flame. Do this as often as you like and again this can take some practice but this can be done as and when needed, when you're feeling needy or frustrated.


This should help to release you from any expectation of an outcome to the situation and bring you back to yourself, this eases the pressure between those who are especially shy as this kind of atmosphere can be picked up very quickly by the two involved. It's not to discourage you from pursuing you understand, it's just to ease the pressure of any perceived expectation from both sides so that you can be totally yourselves together when the intent is unspoken.


It sounds like you're doing well Phandorica - it sounds like you've made it clear what your relationship with your friend is but it could be that your chap has difficulty trusting (which would be expected if he has a shy nature), but who knows, hopefully one day he'll tell you!


Good luck :)

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