In my second year of graduate school, I decided to leave my PhD program & instead become a student in the Masters program for science & technology public policy. I really enjoyed the program & my classes, but one thing I didn’t enjoy was the pay. My stipend was much smaller in my new program, so that meant I had to get a job.
After hunting for a bit, I found a job that I thought would be fun – as a docent in the BodyWorks traveling exhibit during its Atlanta exhibition. You’ve seen these exhibits before – preserved bodies are used to highlight how the human body works & all its systems. The preservation system uses a novel polymerization process, which was right up my alley considering I specialized in polymer chemistry during my stint as a PhD student. I spent my time at work answering questions, and telling people not to touch the exhibits. Fun, right?
I was at work one day, manning the “touch booth”, where people could handle preserved organs. A group of fellow Tech students came by the booth, and we engaged in a long conversation. One guy in particular, was particularly friendly – lots of jokes, commenting on everything I said, even a little bit of touching. He invited me to join him & some friends for trivia one night when he learned that I loved to play. He wrote down his number & left it with me.
It took me months to realize that guy was hitting on me.
Being a Black woman who had (until recently) only dated Black men, I’m accustomed to a certain type of man. Many Black men are very overt – when they want you, they make it so clear that Stevie Wonder can see it. There’s no ambiguity or question of their intentions. Granted, not every Black man adheres to this rule, but many of the ones I’ve dealt with have been this way.
So when a man isn’t overt with me, I totally miss all the signs that he likes me, wants to ask me out, wants to date me, etc. Completely goes over my head. I’m not slow, or even unobservant by any stretch of the imagination, but when it comes to men, I often miss the signs of interest unless it’s so overt that it can’t be missed. I tend to operate under a “make no assumptions” policy, so if it isn’t explicitly stated, I’m not going to assume.
True story – when I first moved back to Mpls, I reconnected with an old
friend acquaintance from my intern days. We began to talk often on the phone, almost every day for months. It took several months before I realized “Hey, he calls you a lot, actually listens to you & remembers what you say, and goes out of his way for you. I think he likes you”. Which led me to call him and ask “Hey, do you like me?”. His reply was “Umm…yeah. Why do you think I call you everyday & show you all this attention?”. He was letting his actions do the talking for him, which was great. But since I’m the type to not make assumptions, I figured he just enjoyed talking to me & re-establishing our friendship.
I’m all mixed up – the first time a guy says he likes me, I believe him. But it takes me forever to notice when a guy demonstrates that he likes me through his behavior. On the flipside, I allowed myself to be strung along by the attorney for months & months because his behavior said he liked me & wanted to be with me, even though his words said he wanted to be casual. For some reason I’m much more seduced by words than actions. I wonder why that is.
I need a man who allows his words to match his actions – is that impossible?