Last year, I left a long-term relationship and moved to a new part of town to start my life over. I'd been in three long term relationships, one straight after the other, so this was the first time I had really been properly single in twenty years. It felt surprisingly good, liberating. I adventured out to places I wouldn't normally go, befriended some nice strangers, and I started to get back a love of life that I'd somehow lost along the way. Parts of my relationships had been tricky at times - there had been violence, alcoholism, controlling behaviour, verbal abuse, even murder threats - and it had knocked my confidence. I don't think I'd been a great girlfriend either, and it always ended with a lot of ugly hurt on both sides. Feeling as good as I did single, compared to all that other stuff, I thought "That's it, I'm going to stay single from now on."
And then I got a crush on the guy who works down the cafe.
The first time I went in there I thought he was gorgeous, but dismissed him as not interested in me. After going in there a few times, I started to notice things about his body language that made me think he might be interested after all, and that he was trying to get me to notice him. Having been out of the dating game since my teens, I really found it hard to know for sure, because I'm waaay rusty, but he's also not a very flirty guy so it required a lot of reading between the lines. I went in there with a mental checklist that I'd gotten from typing "How to tell if a boy likes you" into Google, and I came away about 70% sure that he did. I also started to notice that when I went in there, knowing glances would dart around between the staff, and the other staff members would fall back and let him serve me. I watched to see if it happened when other customers came in the cafe, and it didn't. I'd catch him staring at me intently, and he'd catch me staring at him, and it felt, to me, like we just both fancied each other like crazy but didn't know what to do about it. I'm incredibly shy, but I did start to ask him about himself, and he was warm and open in his responses, and really seemed to want to talk, and he asked about me too. It was more than just general chitchat, he'd confide stuff about his hopes and worries. Whilst waiting in the queue, I'd hear him talking to other customers, and as I got to gauge more and more what he was like, the more I liked everything he was about. It seems we've got a lot in common and we're at a strikingly similar point in our lives. I've put a lot of walls up around myself, in my life, to protect my feelings, but around him I just wanted to let them down. I've been crushing on him for six months now.
He'd told me, a few months back that he was going away for a month in the summer. In the build up to him going away, I started overthinking things. I wondered if I wanted to cling on to a crush that I wasn't entirely sure was reciprocated, for yet another month. I had a lot of work stuff that needed to be sorted out, and all the fantasising about him and wondering how he felt about me was taking up huge parts of my brain space so I couldn't concentrate. I found I wanted to know, for sure, whether he liked me or not, before he went away. I set a mental deadline, and thought that if he hadn't let me know he liked me by the time he went away, I should drop my feelings and move on.
I went in there just before he was went away, and it was a day when I had some stressful things going on elsewhere, so I wasn't on top form. He seemed inquisitive about me, asking me some personal questions, but I was a little guarded. As I went to leave, a strange look passed over his face that I totally couldn't read. All I can say for sure was it wasn't a happy look, and I hadn't seen him look that way before. It could have been anything from disappointment to frustration to irritation. Whatever it was, it stuck with me. I didn't want to be wondering about it for the next month, and be endlessly confused about his feelings. On my way home that day, walking past the cafe, totally on the spur of the moment, I went in and asked him if he wanted to go for a drink after work. He told me he was busy and couldn't. I left there, feeling like a total idiot, but relieved that I knew at last and could get over it, and be free of man-worries again. I haven't been back to the cafe since he returned from his time away.
He's still on my mind though. It's been eight weeks since I've seen him and I'm still daydreaming over him. It's ridiculous considering I hardly know the man. But when you don't know what's going on in someone else's head you start filling in the blanks with possibilities. I keep wondering if maybe he did like me, and he's hurt I didn't go back. I know he was genuinely busy that day I asked him out. But I'd read somewhere that if you ask someone out and they say they're busy, without saying "...but let's do it another day", then it's a definite no all round. Surely, if he was interested, he would have jumped on the chance to further it somehow, when I threw that out there.
I know I could put an end to my wondering by going back in there and seeing how he acted. But aside from getting another bout of hurt pride if he acts disinterested, I think I'm also worried that if I sense he does like me, my walls will start coming down again. I think I'm probably scared, after all I've been through, to put myself through that again. My feelings are that he's different to the other men that I've been with. He treats me like a equal. It was a nice feeling, and it made me start to wonder what it would be like to have someone like that. But wanting him makes me feel vulnerable. And I can't think straight when he's around. I'd been doing really well on my own so ideally I'd go back to that frame of mind, but I can't get him out of my head. Mainly because the decision is down to me whether we ever cross paths again, because it's about whether I choose to go back to the cafe or not.
Sorry, that was very long-winded for a ridiculously teenagery scenario. I've just had it rolling around my head for a long time with no one to tell about it. I guess the question is, should I go back to the cafe, and if I don't, how do I get past thinking about him?
Ask him out again. Give it one more try. You will know for sure if he turns you down for the 2nd time.
(PS Do you even know if he has a GF or not? What do you really know about this guy, other than he's cute?)
Thanks for your advice. I don't know for sure he hasn't got a GF. He's never mentioned one, and there's a couple of things that made me think he might be single. One is that the other members of staff seem to be encouraging him, and they also appear to be his family. I can't see why his family would encourage a bit on the side. Also, when talking one day about our similar situation about having to decide, mid-life, what to do career-wise, he said, "Maybe we should do something together." The way he looked at me when he said it, even if it was jokingly said, made me think he was single.
I don't know much about him at all, fact-wise. I know he's a good listener, he's well-liked, he's nice to old ladies and kids, he works too hard, he's intelligent, and capable enough to run his own business, and he considers things carefully before he leaps. And he can cook, which is always a plus in my books
Sounds like there's a mutual "Zing" for BOTH of you, so do - ASK HIM OUT - away from this work, for sure.
He's left enough hints, perhaps he's waiting for you to make the first move.
Go for it. Life is short.