Does he really like me, or does he just want sex?

Dear Susanna,

I met this new guy but I’m not sure if he really likes me or is just another player. How do I tell if he’s really interested or just wants to get laid?

— Aly

Dear Aly,

I’m sure most women can relate to this question, and sometimes it really is difficult to know if a man really likes you or just wants to lay it down. While some guys are easy to weed out, others play the cat and mouse game and will wait for sex… and then promptly dump you. It seems there are fewer men that act like gentlemen anymore, but they are out there! (Just don’t ask me where.)

When a guy is truly interested in getting to know you as a person, he will ask questions about you, show concern for your well-being, act considerate, take you out and treat you like a lady, and keep a healthy amount of communication. Oh yeah, and doesn’t string you along, because interested people act interested, period.

If everything is going great and there is chemistry (there should be if it’s something you want to pursue), and perhaps your bodies may want to have sex but in your mind you know it’s not time, he should accept that. If he gets angry like an Irishman or gives off some weird negative vibe or later ignores you or ghosts you, then he doesn’t respect your needs or feelings. Then you can just label him as a douchebag.

Once you get to know someone’s character enough to know for certain that the relationship is moving along, then use your best judgment as to whether or not you want to give up the cherry pie. Sometimes you never truly know, but the longer you wait, the better the chances are that he truly does care.

Hope that helps!

— Susanna

Have a question? Send it to me here

Ex Boyfriend Says He Loves Me, Then Doesn’t Respond

Dear Susanna,

I’m in my 40s and trying to reconnect with my boyfriend from high school. He seems interested but not very responsive all the time, and this has been going on for years. Either he’s intense telling me he loves me or simply doesn’t respond. He’s single, never married, and living in L.A. This has been going on for several years. I always wanted to move to Cali, but first I want to see if there’s still a connection. But I feel like when he doesn’t respond something is up. I also suspect he’s an alcoholic. What should I do?

— Up North

Dear Up North,

First and foremost, if he’s an alcoholic, run far and run fast! More than likely when he’s not responding to you in a reasonable manner, he’s out drinking or passed out. Having any sort of relationship with an alcoholic usually results in failure, unless maybe you’re an alcoholic, too.

I would also suspect that he’s probably seeing other women, especially given the distance and the fact that you haven’t actually reconnected… in years? Where exactly is he when he’s telling you he loves you? If he were truly interested in you, he’d have found a way to reconnect in person instead of calling or sending messages at his own convenience… unless you’re this woman, of course.

It doesn’t seem like he loves you like he says, because it sounds like he doesn’t even love himself. I would move on.

— Susanna

Need advice? Send your questions to me on my contact page.

January 2019 Brain Dump

I’ve been doing a lot of introspection lately and keeping to myself. I try to make myself get out once in a while so I don’t get cabin fever, but I haven’t really had the energy to bother. I’ve been eating like shit, then healthy… and either living healthy or not doing the healthiest things like I should be. I don’t know what’s gotten into me. It’s a rollercoaster, and I hate rollercoasters.

I’ve been up and down with how I’ve been feeling, and I hate it. However, I am perfectly aware that my cranky times are when I’m hungry, tired, in pain, and/or having PMS. I can only control the hunger part, and healthy eating is vital to my mental state. Everything else takes its own course, and it’s depressing. Sometimes I attribute some depression to iron and/or B12 deficiency, because I have had anemia in the past, so I try to take supplements. I eat pretty well, so I’m not sure why this is happening. I feel like my body is a changing mess, and I’m not liking it. And I’m sure whatever shit is being put into our food contributes to it all. And I definitely have more physical issues in the winter months.

I started gaining control of the insomnia for a few weeks – not sure what changed that, but perhaps it’s because I’ve been writing so much and getting all of this brain shit out of my system. Deleting the dating sites and not dating at all helped. But then the insomnia came back last week, and my sleep pattern is all screwy again. So now I’m tired and achy, which makes the depression come back. Oh yeah, and the obnoxious construction and lawn crews in the area with their obnoxious machines making obnoxious noises that wake the entire neighborhood seven days a week didn’t help.

I haven’t had sex in way too long, which also probably adds to the depression. But I refuse to have sex with anyone I’m not in a relationship with; it’s just not worth it emotionally, and I really don’t trust anyone enough to get involved. I’ve only cuddled with someone once in the past 3+ months, and while it was really nice, I don’t know who else that person is with, so I can’t let myself get too close. I’m afraid to get too close to anyone, even though I want to. I miss the euphoric feeling of liking someone a lot and being liked back as much, but I can’t do any of this short-term shit. I mean, I guess if you don’t spend time with someone, you don’t know, but the disappointments get old and tiring. I feel like every time I meet someone, I either like them or they like me but not mutually. Or it seems when I meet someone I like, they quickly move on to the next woman (or lie about seeing other women), so why bother trying to get to know anyone?

People say you won’t get disappointed if you don’t have expectations. But it’s imperative to have expectations, because we all have standards, right? Looking back, I see I had significantly lower standards than what I should have had, which is probably why I have a lot to write about. (I’d probably be more concentrated on writing fiction if I had a love life.)

The other day I felt the need to find a motivational speech or something “happy” to listen to found something on TED Radio. The speaker talked about how people who have healthy, functional relationships are in better health and much happier when they’re older. It was a 75-year study and quite interesting. I also notice that people who have closer friends (i.e. best friends) and close family relations tend to be happier. I mean, it makes sense, right? I often feel like such an outsider and infrequently experience the feelings of being close to anyone. I don’t fit into groups at all; in fact, I despise them and begin to feel claustrophobic and anxious… unless it’s a classroom situation, then I’m okay. While I love being with the people I love, I can only take so much of them, and then I want to be alone again. And when I’m in a relationship, I can’t be smothered; it needs to be an even balance of space, or I will flee. I often feel like something is wrong with me. Is this normal?

I have a lot of personal decisions to make, but not all of it depends on me alone. Opportunities and other factors have a lot of play in that. I want to travel. I don’t want to continue doing some of the work that I do that doesn’t exactly help me spiritually except to pay the bills. My main job is a clusterfuck of b.s. and drama, and the energy there isn’t fitting me. I don’t care if I have a job that takes me out of town – I just want to get out as much as possible and make money – but I have to enjoy what I do or forget it. Lived through this long enough. But it seems like all of the good opportunities were 20+ years ago. Oh, to be young again…

Younger Men Can’t Take No For an Answer

Last night I received a text from a number I didn’t recognize saying: Hey, we met a while ago… Do you know who this is?

Me: there’s no name in my phone so I guess not.

Them: Ok never mind

Me: So who is this

Them: a guy you met at a bar a while ago. But you weren’t interested then so you won’t be interested now.

Me: (laughing emoji) This has to be one of the funniest texts I’ve received all year.

Them: (smile)

Me: Okay so how can I help you and who are you

Them: Good. Okay fine no more games. My name is John. I’m 28 years old. I met you at (a place) about a year ago. I was interested in taking you out this week if you are free.

Me: The cop?

Him: Yep. Held on to your number.

Me: It’s been a year?

Him: I think? It’s been a while.

Me: Bored and going through your phone?

Him: Yes! I guess it’s a perspective thing.

Me: Interesting. So if you’re still 28 it hasn’t been a year.

Him: I guess you got me. It’s been a while though. Would you like to go out to dinner this week?

Me: I’m not exactly sure what you’re looking for.

Him: I’m looking to take you out to dinner and get to know you. Pretty simple. If you’re not interested I’ll back off.

Me: I mean what is your ultimate goal basically…

Him: I’ll just wait another year and ask again lol. I don’t know. It depends on how we click when we see each other. Ultimately I’m looking for someone to date.

Me: Well I’m flattered but I really need somebody around my age because I’ve already done the young thing and it just does not work for me.

Him: Well I understand. I’m disappointed because I’m a different person but I understand. I’m still in interested in meeting you. if you change your mind and want to take a chance let me know.

Me: I’m just busy working and doing some changes for myself.

Him: Okay I understand. You’re not interested. No big deal.

Me: And for future reference, I like to be contacted when somebody’s not bored looking at their phone.

Him: I was being sarcastic… trying to play along… guess it backfired. But I don’t think that was the deciding factor.

I reminded him that the age difference is a huge factor, because I don’t want to waste my time on something that won’t grow into anything more. And still, he kept texting after I had stopped. Too bad these guys aren’t this persistent when it comes to actually having a relationship work rather than just trying to date someone hoping to get some booty, because that’s exactly what it’s all about. I’ve been through all of this before, and I am over it.

Him: I understand and respect the explanation.

Him: I tried.

Him: It would have been fun. Life is too short.

Okay, so now he’s really overreaching, attempting to guilt me into something I don’t want to do. I don’t appreciate manipulation, and that seems to be my experience when meeting men of all ages. He’s right about one thing – life is too short, especially to go on dates with people that you have zero interest in.

Is He Gaslighting Me or What?

It seems like every time I call a man out on his bullshit, he stops talking to me. No big loss, however.

I met someone my age in my area that I became “friends” with, but it’s a little strange. I recognized him through social media when he came into my job a few times. Other than that, we both matched on Tinder (that I have since deleted). We haven’t actually hung out except once briefly when he did a favor for me. In the meantime, we chat strictly on a friendship level, but we have talked about dating and miscellaneous things involving dating. He seems like a really cool person to hang out with, and I have very few male friends that I actually do hang out with anymore. We’ve made “plans” a few times to have lunch or hang out, but it’s never happened. Either he stops communicating (no idea why), something comes up, he falls asleep, or he’s already in his PJs (early, like 7:30 p.m.), or whatever other excuse he’s used.

Once, he invited me over to help him do something, and I said I’d go, but was having dinner first with friends – and that turned into a late night. I felt a little bad for standing him up, but I did keep in touch and also invited him out. Another time he asked me over to cuddle. I thought that was odd, because I couldn’t exactly see myself cuddle with someone I’ve barely had a conversation with and not sure if I’m even attracted to. I mean, we’ve never even had a drink or a meal together, so I wasn’t sure if he was joking or trying to fuck me or what the hell was going on with that. I don’t even know him well enough to know if he’s joking or not. He’s never even complimented me or flirted with me in other ways. And that’s why this gets even more strange.

One night while I was having a girl’s night, he was texting me. I told him he’s welcome to come out and have a beer, but he didn’t want to. However, he told me he was feeling “frisky”. I wasn’t sure where he was going with that, so I said, “Like a cat?” He said no, so I knew what he was talking about. And he wanted me to come over. I was a little irritated at this turn in conversation after still never actually hanging out together.

I wasn’t going to buy into the sending flirty texts back and forth with someone that can’t take the time to have lunch with me. I told him that I didn’t think that was a good idea and that I’m not the girl he thinks I am. He immediately changed his tune and said he doesn’t think of me that way, that he wouldn’t be interested in someone that would do that and didn’t mean it like that. I didn’t exactly believe him, because why else would a guy tell me he’s “frisky” and invite me over after previously asking to cuddle? Then I guess he fell asleep, because I didn’t hear back from him that evening.

At some point he offered to help me hang something that I couldn’t reach – oh and a bonus – give me a massage. Now, I’m all for massages, but I have to trust the guy enough to know that’s all it’s going to be. Something came up and I couldn’t do it one day, and then something came up for him the following day.

I mentioned to him that he has a lot of ladies liking him, but he said he thinks I have the wrong idea about him. How can I not after his actions and lack thereof? He doesn’t express any interest in me whatsoever that he’d like to date me, so that’s why I was a little taken aback when the conversations took those turns. And since we barely even have a friendship, it automatically made me wonder how many other women he’s talking to like that. I mean, eventually one of these times someone is going to take him up on the offer, right? And how do I know he doesn’t already have someone else hanging around and that’s why we never actually get together, even as just friends?

I learned a few days later that instead of coming over like he said on one of these days, he was out to dinner with a group of people that included some of my friends. None of them knew that he and I know each other. So I guess I’m good enough to invite over when he’s horny but not good enough to hang with me as friends. I confronted him about it in a nonchalant way asking how dinner went. He’d had no idea I knew at least three of the people, and I mentioned how he kept blowing me off but only wanted to hang out to cuddle or when he was frisky. He quickly defended himself, saying he was only joking and sorry for the miscommunication. Okay… but I still don’t think it was that much miscommunication. I mean, if you intend to hang out with someone, wouldn’t you say something?? And how did I know he was joking? I told him I only know him by text, not in person to know when he’s joking. Again, he defended himself by saying he’s sorry and needs to recognize his audience. Still, whether or not he was joking, when someone first meets a woman and flirts, she’s not going to take it as a joke at all. Am I right or not?

I had also looked at his social media. He definitely has a lot of female admirers and “likes” a LOT of photos of sexy women in scantily clad clothing (seems to be pretty excessive for a man his age). So I also mentioned to him that he obviously likes women that are Barbie dolls, the model types. He again defended himself saying that’s not true at all and he’s sorry I came to that conclusion about him, that social media is no way to judge someone. He seemed pretty upset by my opinion and blunt honesty. He continued to defend himself, even though my very experience with him told me otherwise. Between the “joking” sexual innuendo and the scantily clad women, it’s pretty difficult to not think there’s something up.

After that text-only conversation, he hadn’t said another word to me since. So last night I asked him if he was still interested in buying something that I have for sale. He read my message, liked a bunch more women in bikinis, but never answered me. So I assumed he was upset from our last conversation and said so. He denied it, made some excuse, and once again I called him out on his shit. He thinks I have the wrong opinion of him, even though, as I said – this is based on my experience and observations.

Am I right or not? I can take constructive criticism and re-evaluate situations and such, but I’m keeping a safe distance from this guy. I feel that he’s gaslighting me. I haven’t once been flirty with him and have kept it strictly platonic in conversation. I am just bluntly honest with him… and it seems a lot of men can’t seem to handle that.

Teachers Good & Bad – the Time I Was Told I’d Never Be a Writer

(**Note: I just found some old writings that I’m going to share…**)

Written March 28, 2011

I very much value my teacher’s opinions, and always have (except one asshole at Florida State). Teachers have been the ones that have helped me through my most difficult times in life – as a child and as an adult. That’s why I became a teacher for a little while, until we moved here and all of the jobs were cut.

Oh… there is another teacher I didn’t like. I was attending journalism courses at Defense Information School while I was serving in the army. I was 18 years old and having a difficult time adjusting to life in general, and not quite understanding some of my coursework. I had a female Navy instructor tell me that I didn’t know how to write and that I would never be a writer. I was pissed. I’d been writing creatively since I was a young child, and I knew I could write. I just didn’t like writing about sports, because I hated sports and didn’t understand how to play them, much less write about them. I felt like telling her to shove it, but because I was afraid of everything and could have lost my rank, among other things, I kept quiet and cried, because I had been taught my whole life to shut up.

I was even doing poorly in my photography class, which seemed impossible, because I’d been taking photos since I was eight and developing film since high school – another lifelong passion of mine. I had a major yelling in my face that I wasn’t trying hard enough. But I knew I was doing the best I could. I was bawling my head off. It was humiliating being in uniform and serving your country and far away from people that matter and being told that you basically suck. They were about to send me off to some shitty bullet-counting school until they learned I was sick.

I was diagnosed as anemic and with endometriosis at the same time. No wonder I couldn’t comprehend anything being taught to me! After about three or four weeks of being hospitalized and going through surgery and healing, I finally came back and conquered it all. I even won “Best Feature Photo” of my graduating class, which was a complete surprise.

I guess I did have a few other teachers that sucked, but I try to forget about them. Mrs. Briggs, for example. Second grade. She was the meanest, most abusive teacher around, calling kids stupid and always screaming at them. She taught until she croaked, and when I saw her obit in the paper, I didn’t even flinch. I actually felt relieved that no other kid has to ever be in her classroom again. I doubt any students were sad about seeing that woman pass. I still talk to people that had her as a teacher, and we all share the same horror stories. I wrote about her in my memoir Unheard.

(**This was a journal writing that I did that had multiple topics in it. I will post more later!**)

A Year in Review – Sickness, Death, Grief, & Being Alone

The other day I was thinking that a year ago I had a lot of things going on. I started out house sitting for a friend at an amazing beachside location, but ended up getting the flu that eventually turned into pneumonia. It took about three months to feel normal again. In the meantime, I had started a new job in home health care and had been on a few dates with Mr. Mixed Messages that turned out to be quite the douchebag. I was also still distraught over Orange Crush, and internally, I was a huge emotional train wreck – which I am pretty certain was part of the reason I ended up so sick.

My fevers ran so high I think I actually lost a lot of memory from that time period, because the next thing I knew, it was April. During that time, one of my childhood friends was murdered by her ex-husband in a really horrific way. Today marks the one-year anniversary. And it didn’t even dawn on me until around September that one of my other childhood friends had passed away unexpectedly during that feverish time; it was then that I actually grieved about it. I couldn’t believe that I had “forgotten” about it until I went through my phone contacts and saw his name. A few others that influenced my life also passed in 2018. And then the client I was taking care of suddenly went into decline and passed away last summer. I just couldn’t deal with that type of job anymore, so I didn’t go back to it.

Throughout the year, I revamped some of the friends I had been hanging around – particularly those that seemed interested in my business, yet weren’t around to lend a helping hand when I needed it. There was one friend in particular that I thought I was close with, but she suddenly stopped speaking to me, and I didn’t know why. I finally confronted her, and one of her reasons was when I had picked up my newest job, some of the people I worked with knew her ex (I didn’t), and she just didn’t want to run the risk of running into him. Huh??? How is that my fault? I wasn’t even hanging around the people I worked with; I just simply worked there. Another reason was because when she’d asked me for an asthma inhaler, I had gone out of my way to bring her an extra one I had. However, I had no idea it had run out; obviously, I wouldn’t have gone out of my way to bring her something she couldn’t use. I guess she ended up in the ER that day… and she blamed it on me. Wow. Her excuses really pissed me off, but I realized I didn’t need anyone so fucking selfish in my life anyway.

I was alone a lot last year. I didn’t necessarily want to be alone, because with my home health care job it was like being alone most of the time, and when I was sick I was alone. Being alone doesn’t bother me, but it’s not exactly healthy to be alone that much. I started kayaking alone again, even going back to the same spot that I had fond memories of with OC. In a way I guess it was therapeutic, because I wasn’t going to let the memory of him ruin my little sanctuary… but at the same time it made me both sad and angry. I guess I was still grieving.

By the end of the year, I decided to try dating sites again, because I didn’t want to be alone. What a mistake that was. (If you’ve been reading my blog, you already know this.) I decided that being alone wasn’t so bad, and now I am just used to being alone. Now I am using this time to write, do art, take classes, kayak, read, and catch up on all of the things I’ve been either avoiding or procrastinating.

While it would be nice to have a partner (it would also be nice to have sex!), I’m just going to settle for dating myself from now on. At least I know how to entertain myself… and not pee on the toilet seat.