Acting in character

When he took my hand, I did not pull away. He might see that as mixed signals. I found his touch unwelcome, but did not know what to do. Later, when he cycled to the bus stop, dumped the bike in some bushes and sat by me, chatting animatedly, obviously attempting to charm, I wondered about how to show no interest without being unpleasant.

Once, when I took someone’s hand, it sat limply in mine. I found this the opposite of encouraging, and put it down quickly. But then, for me, what the other wants is important too. I had already told him that I am attracted to women not men, and I felt I had not responded favourably to his flirtation, but then I did not want to be unfriendly and wonder if he would take even resistance seriously. Oh, she’s playing hard to get. The man who will not take no for an answer, who pursues what he wants, who wants to be in control- yes, I can see the attraction, and all I can do is avoid him.

Why would I not snatch my hand away? I can make up stories- I was “gentle” (good) or “cowardly” (bad) but then I just did it. Such stories affect how I respond after. Should I see him again? I “do not run away”- except I do, that’s why I stay at home most of the time. Would going to see him achieve anything? No, not unless he wanted it. Well, what does he want? To increase his control, though he would not put it that way, and possibly still to flirt with me, and push that as hard as he can.

I like to think of myself as intellectual, and also as a caring, empathetic person, but I am also an animal with animal responses. I did not snatch my hand away (fact) I had a hopeless feeling of not being able to respond constructively (interpretation) I wanted to be taken (No! Really, Really No!). My animal responses might make that constructed intellectual, wise, empathetic being very uncomfortable.

I read we make decisions with evidence, but how we interpret that depends on what we think looks good, or what we understand is possible. There were shy Trump voters, telling pollsters they were “undecided”. Making a decision, you gather evidence, and eventually on feeling you have enough, feeling comfortable enough, you decide- this may happen unconsciously before you are aware of having chosen. Gathering more evidence makes you more likely to be right in your decision but occupies brain-space. Even when you feel you are undecided you may have a pronounced preference, because most of the evidence has appeared to go one way; or you want something, but that conflicts with your self-image. I don’t want to appear harsh.

Part of why I analyse like this is because I think I get things wrong so much, but too much analysis might get in the way of action. We are never safe.


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