Up Front by Emma Hart

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Up Front: The Up Front Guides: Relationships for the Unisexual

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  • BenWilson, in reply to Emma Hart,

    Ugh. UGH. I have a sudden urge to cut all my hair off so I don't play with it by mistake.

    Too late. You touched it in front of the entire town hall. Now that is just brazen.

    My sister has dozens of stories about guys like this. Either she sends really mixed messages, or she's a magnet to such people. I think the latter more likely. She's super direct, on or off. So she's into them, until they muck her round, then she's off them. They really can't take that, can't believe it would be so.

    Perhaps that's a danger of the direct woman - that a shy guy who gets attention from a direct woman thinks it must mean that they're really into them (rather than, in my sister's case, someone who just doesn't want to waste any time). So they test the boundaries to find out. Then they find out they were totally wrong, but they can't be sure, so they test the boundaries again, but by this time it's just totally creepy. Then they're shocked and offended that they're the jerk, which cranks up the jerk factor.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8314 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart, in reply to Lilith __,

    We’re all unique fucking snowflakes, alright?

    This. On a t-shirt, please. :-)

    A pre-printed, mass-produced t-shirt? :-)

    Doesn’t mean I don’t sometimes feel a spark right away, but I need more than that to be really interested.

    A while back, over at the Other Place, I wrote a column about the idea of chemistry, which may be relevant.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4340 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart, in reply to BenWilson,

    Too late. You touched it in front of the entire town hall. Now that is just brazen.

    Fuck, true. There's even video of me doing it. Perhaps I should send it to that guy...

    Either she sends really mixed messages, or she's a magnet to such people.

    Some people just do seem to attract... difficult personalities.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4340 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Beard, in reply to BenWilson,

    My sister has dozens of stories about guys like this. Either she sends really mixed messages, or she's a magnet to such people. I think the latter more likely

    I once went out with an East European woman who could never work out why guys kept hitting on her (well, apart from her being a famously beautiful and talented semi-celebrity). "Why do so many men think that I'm attracted to them?" she asked.

    I pointed out to her that she tended to look very intently into someone's eyes during conversation, laugh freely at their jokes and constantly touch them lightly on the hands or forearms. All of which is lovely, and quite a normal part of everyday conversation in her culture, but in our dour and less tactile culture she may as well have been wearing a badge saying "I want you now".

    Which was the correct interpretation in our case at one stage, but when we went back to being platonic friends I kept being thrown by her signals. Even though I knew that it was just her normal manner, it was all but impossible to recalibrate my interpretation of her body language.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1039 posts Report Reply

  • Rich Lock, in reply to Emma Hart,

    Ugh. UGH. I have a sudden urge to cut all my hair off so I don't play with it by mistake.

    Too late. You touched it in front of the entire town hall. Now that is just brazen.

    You could always keep it covered up with a headscarf or something. But then.....if you do that, haven't the terrorists won....?

    I'm so confused...... And it's ALL YOUR FAULT! YOU!

    Why do you keep sending me these mixed messages? Why?

    back in the mother countr… • Since Feb 2007 • 2354 posts Report Reply

  • Rich Lock, in reply to Tom Beard,

    I pointed out to her that she tended to look very intently into someone's eyes during conversation, laugh freely at their jokes and constantly touch them lightly on the hands or forearms. All of which is lovely, and quite a normal part of everyday conversation in her culture, but in our dour and less tactile culture she may as well have been wearing a badge saying "I want you now".

    Similar between UK men and US women. Telling someone about your divorce and how you had to change therapists and all the rest of it on first meeting might be just yer normal New York Social Interaction, but in a UK pub, you might as well be wearing a sign saying 'fuck me now'.

    ETA: not my personal experience, I hasten to add. Friend of a friend...

    back in the mother countr… • Since Feb 2007 • 2354 posts Report Reply

  • JackElder,

    ISTR that there were some problems in a major UK supermarket chain after an American management takeover. The new management required checkout operators - as was their standard practice - to make small talk with the customers while they processed their orders. "How's your day going?", "What about this weather then", etc. Nothing major. They then found that this caused problems, as a lot of the customers assumed that the checkout operators were hitting on them. Well, she's talking to me rather than making the traditional surly grunts, she must be after me, etc.

    Cultural differences, innit.

    Wellington • Since Mar 2008 • 708 posts Report Reply

  • Megan Wegan, in reply to Emma Hart,

    Fuck, true. There’s even video of me doing it. Perhaps I should send it to that guy…

    This would be the Town Hall where my rack was mentioned on several occasions? How 'bout we send him video of that?

    Welly • Since Jul 2008 • 1273 posts Report Reply

  • Isabel Hitchings,

    I've never felt threatened by a guy asking me for coffee, or similar, unless he was also threatening in other ways (the skinhead who asked if I wanted to "go out back for a fuck" did make me a little uneasy). I have, however, done the deer-in-headlights face quite often. Usually it's when I can't quite read the guy's intentions. Does he want coffee or "coffee"? Is he aware I just started dating someone else? If it's not that it's because I really don't fancy him/ think he's the hottest thing I ever saw and I'm not sure how to say that without someone losing face.

    Most of the people I've tangled with have been friends first and, at one stage, I was in danger of running out of male friends I hadn't boffed. I don't think that's so much about needing to know someone first as it is about finding the same things attractive in an intimate relationship whether the pants stay on or not.

    Christchurch • Since Jul 2007 • 705 posts Report Reply

  • Ross Mason,

    No no Megan. It was her eyes. Her EYES!!!

    Upper Hutt • Since Jun 2007 • 1491 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __, in reply to Emma Hart,

    A pre-printed, mass-produced t-shirt? :-)

    Uh. Yeah! Uh.

    I wrote a column about the idea of chemistry, which may be relevant.

    Am I allowed to reply to it here? Cos I think the chemistry thing is really complicated, and complicating. The first time I felt desperate desire for someone, I was 19 and it was the most stressful and destructive relationship I ever had. And that desire didn't go away, and still hasn't, but I am never ever going there again. It took me years to get my head sorted out afterwards.

    I had one other, healthy happy relationship where we both had the mad desire (and still do) only our relationship didn't work out long term and now we're back to being good friends. He's married someone else and I'm happy for him.

    My most successful relationship was with someone I was attracted to but I felt the desire arose more from the strong emotional and intellectual bond we developed, than from something intrinsically physical. Sex was part of the closeness.

    But obviously there are other people I've felt close to that I've had no chemistry with. Or not enough to make it work. :-s

    I think every relationship has a different dynamic. Passion can burn out or burn perpetually. But I work on the theory that if there are other strong connections, then either way, it'll be OK.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3415 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Tom Beard,

    I once went out with ... famously beautiful and talented semi-celebrity

    Hi five!

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3262 posts Report Reply

  • Robert Urquhart, in reply to Isabel Hitchings,

    Does he want coffee or “coffee”?

    Ah yes, the all important difference between going back to someones place for coffee (“coffee”) and going back to someones place for a hot beverage. Very important to know which one they mean when the invitation is made. #thereisthiskaosstoryphiltells....

    Christchurch • Since Mar 2009 • 140 posts Report Reply

  • Islander,

    One of the things I find strange is - people will take *appearance* as an indicator of sexual availability.

    I am both big-breasted and look (dress etc.) fairly butch - which seems to inspire a certain kind of male (Whroar! Look at those tits!) and female (Has to be! Dominant,
    right stone clothing-) to assume I welcome their sexual approaches.

    One of the reasons I became quite public about the fact that I am an asexual (only 1.5-2% of us around - do not get worried good people!) was to make it very bloody obvious I dont welcome ANYONE'S sexual approaches - whereas I do welcome general friendly approaches.

    Seems to have worked...or maybe it's just the fact that I am getting old!
    (Gerontophiles seem to have more acute sexual senses methinks...)

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart, in reply to Isabel Hitchings,

    Most of the people I’ve tangled with have been friends first and, at one stage, I was in danger of running out of male friends I hadn’t boffed.

    Sharing a social group with Isabel, I just think you should all be aware of how stonkingly true this is. You can amend it to "male friends of Emma's" and it's still just as true.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4340 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __, in reply to Isabel Hitchings,

    finding the same things attractive in an intimate relationship whether the pants stay on or not.

    Also. This.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3415 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    I once went out with … famously beautiful and talented semi-celebrity

    Hi five!

    1/ Please tell me you mean the hand gesture, and not the children's entertainment group.

    2/ Without the qualifiers in that sentence, I believe the "once" becomes untrue.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4340 posts Report Reply

  • Isabel Hitchings, in reply to Emma Hart,

    You can amend it to “male friends of Emma’s” and it’s still just as true.

    Well you do have tremendous taste in friends.

    Christchurch • Since Jul 2007 • 705 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Emma Hart,

    The hand gesture! I am too old to have more than a vague awareness of the pedophile ring known as "Hi 5"

    Also did you just call Isabel .... er ... friendly?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3262 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    Also did you just call Isabel .... er ... friendly?

    No I didn't, would you like me to? Isabel, this is my friend Bart, he's lovely.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4340 posts Report Reply

  • Isabel Hitchings, in reply to Emma Hart,

    Isabel, this is my friend Bart, he’s lovely.

    And, just like that, deer-in-the-headlights.

    Christchurch • Since Jul 2007 • 705 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Emma Hart,

    over at the Other Place, I wrote a column about the idea of chemistry

    This from Clarisse's comment explained concisely why I'm often crap at it:

    flirting is all about strategic ambiguity. Deliberate uncertainty.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16479 posts Report Reply

  • Jackie Clark,

    I've never had a "romantic" relationship with someone who was a friend first, nor have I stayed friends with them after. ( I'm afraid that I'm one of those people that if you wrong me, in any way, or if I feel slighted by your actions, you are quite literally dead to me. I have no ambivalence about that sort of thing.) I do remember how difficult all of it was to negotiate - being interested in someone, and them not being interested in you. My first two relationships happened because I was forceful and persuasive. The next one was a one afternoon affair that carried on, and ended only when I came back to NZ (by telegram no less, how sophisticated). And then there was Ian - a drunk, back then. Met him in a pub, took me out on a date, I had never been out on one of those. He signalled his interest clearly, I think there was maybe a few weeks of flirtation, the date happened and we were engaged 3 months later. All the ones in between were of the one night or one afternoon or one morning variety. I can't remember exact details, but I think there was a lot of friendly chat with people I met at a party, or elsewhere socially, clear interest on both sides was shown and then that was that. Seems so simple, doesn't it? I know many people are very scared of declaring themselves - I think it's mostly insecurity - and that seems a bit of a pity. But then, not everyone's as straight talking as I.

    Mt Eden, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3123 posts Report Reply

  • Christopher Dempsey,

    I just have to say that these posts are somewhat revealing of heterosexuality, a subject of which I am mostly ignorant of. All I can think, goodness, how so very different it is in the gay community and yet some of the situations I've read here are true within the gay community.

    Sexuality is complicated - Gaia only knows why - but it sure resists simplification down to binary categories and binary behaviours. "But he's married!" my sister would say of some man I strongly suspected to be gay. "A wedding ring doesn't mean that you are heterosexually married." I would patiently reply. A wedding ring is a nominal symbol really.

    I'd argue it's better to go with the flow, accept that sometimes you'll muck it up big time (as I have done), but that's part of life. I'd also argue that sometimes (because sexuality is complicated and a huge part of our lives) you will be hit on and you will hit on others; it is not axiomatic that a sexual connection will happen. Flirting is just flirting most times (as I discovered when travelling in France, where an older woman flirted with me and I thought, heh, this is interesting (cause I knew and she knew it wasn't going anywhere) so I played along). Flirting in the gay community happens quite a bit, but again, it is not axiomatic that you will sleep with the guy; it's just flirting, that's all.

    Yeah, sexuality is complex and people are people , and sometimes behaviours are mis-interpreted. Mostly we manage to muddle through just fine.

    Parnell / Tamaki-Auckland… • Since Sep 2008 • 642 posts Report Reply

  • Jackie Clark, in reply to Christopher Dempsey,

    I have several gay male acquaintances I flirt outrageously with. One of my dear male friends told me once that he would have slept with me, if he wasn't gay.

    Mt Eden, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3123 posts Report Reply

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