Dumb Question

Hi all,

I have a really silly question, but I’m hoping I can get a little help because I am too embarrassed to ask my friends. I have mild autism and have trouble reading social cues and the like so sometimes a little help can be much appreciated so I don’t make a fool of myself for mistaking intentions.

I have been writing this guy for awhile, and we have been doing it as friends. However, I kind of like him and I think he may like me (by like I mean feeling inclined to be more than friends by perhaps pursuing a dating relationship).

For the longest time, he would always use a salutation like Hello (Salve_Maria), Hey (Salve_Maria), etc. His letters were otherwise very formally, but affectionately, written because that is how we like to write. However, within the last couple of weeks, he has been only saluting me via the written word using “Dear (Salve_Maria),…” I have no problem with that- I think he started using it when I saluted him using Dear (his name) once. Now he only uses that, even though I still use Hi et al.

I know it sounds crazy to even be thinking about this. His letter’s content has not changed much except that he tells me all the time that he is praying for me, much more than he has said in the past.

Does this probably mean nothing? Does it mean he is taking an interest in a way that is more platonic? Or is it the opposite and he hopes that by being formal in his salutation he is hoping I get the message that he doesn’t want to change our friendship’s dynamic? Feel free to tell me that I am being a worry wart too. I tend to get focused on details.

Thank you and God bless.

I don’t think that I can tell anything about him from what you have written. Is this someone whom you have never met in real life?

No, I’ve met him in person and he seems very kind, with a serious, sober personality like I have. Like he spends a lot of time thinking about things. And I know very well people who know him also. But we were good acquaintances then, and I went to college and he moved away far enough for work that we don’t see each other very often, so we write pretty frequently. Like I said, I don’t read people well at all. That’s my main problem. :frowning: And I am afraid I give off an air of indifference when it comes to such things because I am emotionally reserved, which might scare people into not saying anything about it to me.

He said he felt affection for me, and he is also saying things like “I pray for you, my friend”. Using “my friend” a lot more. I have no idea what this means, if it means we just have a closer friendship (which is wonderful, I feel the same for him), or if he is interested in more. I suppose it’s impossible to know what is going on based on what I am saying.

If he’s using “my friend” a lot more, he’s emphasizing friendship, not romantic interest.
A good friend is a gift, but don’t think of romantic ideas unless he gets specific about romance. He is being very specific by repeating ‘friend’.

personally, I as a man, sometimes don’t know how to address a girl who I am friends with, so I use the same things as she does :). That seems a lot easier than to think what do I have to use…

It is too difficult to really determine by the contents of a letter, what a person’s intent is, unless they are very direct. If you have never met, you may try and do that, as long as there is sufficient trust of this person. There is a lot to be said for “body language.”

Since you mentioned being slightly autistic, you might benefit from some sort of class in body language or assertiveness. I had a friend who had to do this because of a different kind of issue. He simply got walked on all the time because he could not come across to people with a sense of conviction.

Of course always pray for discernment from God. I will pray for you that there is sound and safe discernment on your part and that of your friend.

I agree.

Yeah, I once heard someone explaining how women were actually the more difficult ones to read than men. One said men are actually normally pretty straight forward. If you are questioning his interest, he’s probably not interested.

Further, I wouldn’t recommend having the bulk of one’s relationship over the e-mail, and less so with someone with autistic tendencies. You just can’t get to know what someone is about online. There’s just no substitute for knowing someone in person. Further, if he were interested, he’d be trying to see you.

It’s been said 80% of communication is normally, non-verbal. Online, how can you know?

If you have difficulty reading people, have you ever studied body language? I realize it’s not a science, but there are clues, when one’s in person. There are books on it at the library, but again, not to go overboard or think it’s 100%.

It problem means nothing just that he is being more formal.

Thank you all for your advice.

It makes sense that he is using “friend” a lot more to emphasize friendship, not romance. But he only started doing that after I referred to him as “my friend” once. For me, to emphasize friendship is to declare the relationship officially closer than acquaintances. But, that could very well not be the case for him.

As I mentioned previously, we have known each other as good acquaintances before he moved and I went to school, so I am comfortable with him and we know each other far better than a purely email relationship. I suppose the fact that he hasn’t requested to call me could be a good sign of lack of romantic interest. He also has autistic/Asperger’s tendencies which possibly complicates things.

I love him dearly- he is a very good friend and we both mutually care about each other. I guess the way I feel about him is if he expressed an interest in dating, I would very seriously consider it, but I am afraid to mention anything about interest in such would have the potential to render our friendship less close.

I am not good about showing an interest in guys in that manner, and I have a tendency to verbally “blow off” comments from people because I don’t want to deal with the awkwardness of the situation. (Like somebody saying, “Oh, he’s so cute, you should go over and talk to him.” And I just give them a funny look and say “What?”.) Also I do NOT read people well. I have had guys seriously flirt with me and was COMPLETELY oblivious, until girls pointed out to me what happened. :eek: These were not people I had any interest in, but still.

I like the idea of taking classes to learn to use nonverbal communication and understand other people better, but I’m not sure where to find them. I also don’t know what to do about my friend, because I think it’s entirely possible I’ve been giving a “do not ask” me vibe wholly unintentionally.

It is possible that he might have shifted his tone because he felt you were only interested in friendship. As a guy, knowing how to deal with female friends can be very difficult.

Generally, it has been my experience that most of the serious female friendships I’ve had over the years have moved into the potential beyond friend zone eventually at one point or another. For instance, I had a good female coworker friend. It was a strictly platonic friendship, but one night we ended up alone at dinner by chance. We enjoyed each other’s company so much that after dinner we kept having drinks. I walked her back to the subway, and I got that feeling that I could have kissed her. But, she had a serious boyfriend back home. So, I did not out of respect. They are now married. Similar thing happened to me with one of my fraternity brother’s girlfriends randomly in college. Out of respect, of course, I would not pursue it. They are also now married. (Of course, God had a better plan for me in the end with my fiancée :D).

All that to say, often I have felt that once a close female friendship moves to the stage that it could have been more and doesn’t, it is sometimes difficult to know how to act. It is possible that he could feel that you weren’t interested when he was, and he is trying to signal to you that he accepts you aren’t interested and wants to keep your friendship. These things can be so complicated!

Why not try to signal to him that you might be interested (i.e. flirt in your letters a little bit)? In love, the worst thing is wondering what could have been :).

This is very insightful. Yes, it is very complicated, it seems. I looked back at some of our emails and I’ve noticed I have become less and less personal as time went on- which is precisely when I became more interested! Why do I do this? :o

How would one flirt a little in one’s letters without being excessive or uncomfortable? I don’t recognize flirting so I wouldn’t know how to project it. Are there specific things to say? Would the conservative use of emoticons help, even just a smiley face?

I think when someone becomes more interested in a person yet becomes less personal it is out of fear of rejection. It is possible to have that fear and not realize it, so being less personal is really just a sub-conscious way for the mind to protect itself when it senses fear. I find that this happens to me more the older I get, simply because I have had more experiences of rejection (some in my work life, some in love life) and I kind of long for a time when I was more fearless.

If you recognize yourself trying to protect yourself by creating distance, it is possible to break through that by telling yourself that you are brave and can handle whatever happens. When wondering how much someone cares about you, it is good to remind yourself that it is his choice and you want him to be happy. Somehow that feels protective of your feelings.

I think the way to flirt in writing is to find something you admire about him and tell him. But make sure it is just one thing at a time and try to stay away from physical attributes at first.

I think emoticons, hearts, etc. are good! Most importantly, I would make sure you discuss that you miss seeing him and hope to see him soon/want him to visit :D.

I thought an update was in order. Thanks to all who replied.

So, I started being slightly more direct with him. I wrote more often, more on a personal level, little bit of complimenting (but very genuine- I cannot give a dishonest compliment), some emoticons here and there. Well, he emailed me and was acting more personal too, in a good way, and then he invited me to IM with him. I was so nervous but I think I did very well, as he seemed positive about it. He even used a LOT of emoticons…:), :D, :rolleyes: (this over something we both found mutually ridiculous), and even this :p.

I guess this might mean interest in that way then? I get so worried that I am monopolizing the conversation. Is it normal for the guy to let the lady talk and contribute much less often? I tried to remember to ask questions and we did have a very nice, long conversation.

Glad you gave us an update :D. While it is impossible to tell for sure, based on what you said, I’d say there is about a 99% chance he is interested. Haha, he’s probably happy to know that you are interested. I think just keep being friendly and let it play out and see what happens. Just be yourself. :slight_smile: I wouldn’t worry too much about monopolizing the conversation unless it is just excessive. I’m a shy guy and I’ve always dated girls who are really outgoing and talkative because I’m not. Good luck.

It sounds like your are doing great. Don’t read too much into any one thing that he is doing - especially if you initiated the thing. (so the “friend” or the “dear” - are just ways that he is mirroring your communication).

And now the emoticons. (I wouldn’t overuse them - but I personally don’t really like them).

Since men are not a monolithic thing - we can’t say exactly the reasons behind these small things. In person communication is far easier to read the actions of another - even voice communication allows you to hear the tone of voice - and it allows you to correct something that you said that you think was misinterpreted.

You say he moved away for work. Does he get back to your area for holidays or other things. Any chance that you could just get together for a cup of coffee?

And yes, it is not unusual for a guy to let a girl talk a lot (especially if he is nervous - or he feels that she likes to talk a lot). (It isn’t unusual for a girl to let a guy talk a lot either). Often opposite personalities connect - because some people like to talk - and are thrilled with someone who likes to listen - and conversely - people who like to listen - don’t have to feel compelled to come up with new conversation material.

But you sound like you are doing it right - so keep doing what you are doing.

Thanks, I’m trying to just relax and be myself. Other conversations we’ve had after I last posted have been much closer to 50/50. I feel like talking every day at this stage would be too much, because our conversations tend to be quite long. I’m thinking perhaps 3-4 times a week at most, unless he initiates other times? Maybe even that is too much? I know I should just relax about it all.

shainski, I never liked emoticons too much either but they’ve been a lifesaver for getting my intentions across in writing, so I do make use of them sometimes. Not too much though!

Thanks guys!

This is not easy, and not necessarily because of anything having to do with you personally. It is hard to judge emotions over the internet. The little cues that others notice in person are absent and/or hard to interpret for everyone when you’re working in type and over a medium that can turn very public without warning. I think you are doing fine with your guesses, and in this medium guesses are about all anyone can make. Be aware that he may be just as much at a loss as you are!

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