Friday, September 12, 2008

Masochism, pure and simple

It's hard to find any other explanation. Why else do we put ourselves in situations that we know are going to make us unhappy?

I am used to being liked by people. I have a lot of friends, and a lot of warm acquaintanceships. Most people, I think, enjoy my company. Most people look forward to seeing me once in a while. Heck, most people, I think, actually admire or respect me, just a little bit, at least.

OK, so, I'm not really used to people fancying me - although it does happen from time to time. I'm told I am not un-handsome, by general standards. I'm tall, modestly athletic, still have most of my own hair, and - on a good day, at least - can still pass for a decade or so younger than my 40-something years. I am (perhaps perversely) wedded to the idea that people should be attracted to me by my intellectual and moral qualities rather than my appearance - so it doesn't bother me if they aren't bowled over by my film-star good looks, just so long as there's nothing too seriously off-putting about me.

Before I came to China, women used to fancy me with a reasonable degree of regularity. It has been a disappointingly rare phenomenon here, but I remain robustly confident (or just obstinately, self-destructively stubborn in my persistence?) that I can win over just about anyone with one of my famous charm offensives, if I so choose.

I have on a number of occasions in the past successfully wooed women from positions of extreme initial coolness, if not outright resistance or hostility. However, in all those cases, I suppose, there had to be something to work with, at least some faint spark of potential susceptibility to the old Froog magic. I don't think I've ever encountered someone who didn't have that seed of susceptibility in them somewhere. Until now.

Yes, currently, I find myself completely hung up on a woman who is just awesomely, stupendously, devastatingly, utterly, totally indifferent to me.

Am I not intelligent, knowledgeable, witty, sensitive, creative, attentive, considerate, helpful? Plenty of people would say so. I even have that intense/passionate/'mysterious' side, which is supposed to appeal to most women. In essence, I am everything that you see on these blogs - without too much of the darker or more self-indulgent bits, or the boring bar reviews..... but with the added bonus that I might buy you a drink (or dinner).

Does the lady see any of this? No. Or, if she sees it, it does nothing to engage her attention, much less her affection.

When she looks at me, she looks right through me without registering anything (her vision is pretty poor, even with her contact lenses in - but that's not it). In a room full of people, she will completely fail to notice me. When she arrives at a party, looking out for friends (of whom I am - supposedly - one), she will fail to notice me. I will be just about the last person she bothers to talk to at such a gathering (even in a group of only 5 or 6 people, I struggle to merit more than 5% of her time, if that). And when she makes her final round of the room saying her goodbyes, she will sometimes omit me (even while including people I am talking to, people that she knows less well than me!).

It is as though I have A Cloak of Invisibility.

Or A Cloak of Supreme Insignificance.

Or A Cloak Of Utter Unfanciability.

Now, of course, if she fails to appreciate - or even to notice - any of my finer qualities, I ought to conclude that this lady is shallow or silly or lacking in taste. I ought to stop making excuses for her (her poor eyesight, her ditziness, her need to network, etc.), and recognise that certain of these instances of her neglectfulness towards me are just downright unforgivably impolite. Or I should at least accept that there is some fundamental incompatibility between us, and that I should thus not regret the lack of the opportunity to explore a relationship which would surely be doomed to disaster.

I ought to do that, yes. But I can't get the bloody woman out of my head.

And I worry that it is now becoming less about the erotic/romantic obsession, and more a sort of baleful curiosity about the phenomenon of No-Interest. I am not used to having so little impact on people, and I want to understand how it can happen.

(I think it is the indifference that goads me more than anything. I'd almost prefer to discover that she powerfully disliked me for some reason [although I suspect the answer is that, while she finds me a mildly diverting acquaintance, I'm just somehow not 'her type' physically]. I know I do bug the crap out of some people; it's the flip-side, the other end of the spectrum: you probably can't be the sort of person who makes friends easily unless you also have the capacity to make a few enemies here and there. I expect to provoke strong reactions from people, at either extreme of the scale; but this barren middle ground of emotionlessness, that I cannot be dealing with!)

But maybe it's good to wound the ego once in a while, to remind ourselves that we have one.


The Lunch said...

Why am I reminded of Dorian Gray?

I still have most of my hair too - in a box.

Froog said...

Oh, don't tell me that.

I like to think of us all still sleek and glossy, like three-year-old racehorses.

The trouble with not growing up is that you are doomed to go through that stupid teenage crush thing for the rest of your life. I would do almost anything to spare myself this agony. I know it is stupid and pointless and self-destructive, but I see myself in slow motion heading towards the car crash..... and the brake pedal is broken and the steering wheel has come off in my hands.

Ah, the hand brake! Does the hand brake still work?

Anonymous said...

I think I read this originally when it came out in 2008. I keep thinking that maybe there is just ZERO chemistry between you and Madam X, or was back in the day, zero chemistry. Or it could also be that she actually dislikes you because you have put her off somehow. It also could be, that she secretly fancies you, and the only way she knows how to deal with it, is to avoid you, ignore you or just keep away from you so that she doesn't get herself in an awkward situation.

But going back to all the negative "maybys"..... I personally might see someone very "fancyable" on the street or somewhere, and then notice their hand go up to their mouth with a sigarette. Well, that's them dead to me there and then. There is nothing they can do to bring back the fancying feeling I had when I first saw them. The thought of someone smoking can kill them in my mind.

It might just be that Madam X has noticed something in you, just one simple little detail in you or in your behaviour, which might have done to her what the sigarettes do to me. Maybe she totally fancied you at first and then saw you do that "thing" or say that "thing" or wear that "thing", or smell of that "thing"........ and then that was it for her, she just lost interest in you because of that "thing". It has nothing to do with you!! It's that "thing" she is not so crazy about.


Froog said...

Don't think I haven't thought about all of this numerous times, Earthling.

The common phenomenon - suggested as a possibility by two or three friends I agonised about this with (anonymously) - of pretending to be uninterested because you feel awkward about actually being interested..... well, I was tormented by that possibility, that hope, of course. But I wouldn't delude myself; that always seemed severely unlikely.

I'm curious to know what the "thing" that discourages her is. I don't think I have any obvious "thing" - certainly nothing so obvious as smoking - that might discourage someone so fatally.

And whatever the reason for her aloofness, whether it was conscious, unconscious, or sort of semi-conscious, it is difficult to understand as any kind of reasonable and proportionate response, as an appropriate method of discouraging unwanted (or "we're not sure if we want it or not") interest. Her ignoring of me in social situations has been so thoroughgoing, so conspicuous that it has drawn the attention of friends and casual bystanders - drawn their sympathy, their bafflement, their criticism, their condemnation for rudeness.

And there is this strange mismatch with the ostensible status of our relationship.... which is that we are quite comfortable friends who do get on pretty well - and even have a little bit of "chemistry" - when we're on our own together.

It's a mystery. It's a mystery that I think would torment me - even if it weren't wrapped up in erotic frustration.

Anonymous said...

Have you ever asked her about it?? I would, if I were you. Be a not Brit for a bit and put away the shyness and the "I cannot talk to her about it". Just ask her right out. Tell her you have liked her and want to know why she tortures you. It's enough that she is not interested -if she is not- but what's with the ignoring and all the rest of it??