Communication and interaction continued to increase between Alex and I. Prior to this, the initiation of communication primarily came from Alex to me, but by now, I was feeling more comfortable initiating communication with him as well. Looking back, I believe my hesitation to initiate communication came from moments he would be describing his character and who he was. In getting to know each other, we would talk about who and how we become friends with people in our lives, what we thought about coworkers outside of work, who we trusted, how open we were with other people in general, and just any other general conversations you have with someone you are getting to know.
At this stage in our relationship, the way he spoke of himself and saw himself, without a doubt laid the foundation for how I had and would continue to perceive my relationship with him. When it came to making friends, Alex told me he really only had a few really close friends and that he wasn’t interested in making new friends. He said his few close friends are people he has had in his life since he was very young, and know him very well. When I asked him why he didn’t make friends with new people, he told me he just wasn’t interested. I asked him if his wife had friends who were also married, and would they spend time with them. He said she did and he would tolerate them on occasion, but he didn’t like them. As he would talk about his friends and the fact he didn’t like making friends, I couldn’t help but wonder why it was different with me.
When describing coworkers, Alex said he has only become friends with one or two coworkers throughout his career and he wouldn’t even necessarily use the word friend to describe them. There have been a couple instances where he has met someone at work and then had spent time with them outside of work. He said he believed there should be a strong line between people at work and people in someone’s personal life, and that line should not be crossed. He said he does not cross that line. Ever. He said he wasn’t interested in coworkers getting to know him personally because they didn’t need to know him personally in order to work together. I couldn’t believe what he was saying. If this is how he is, then why is he different with me? Everything he is describing as how he is with coworkers is nothing like the way he was with me. So confusing.
In talking about trust, Alex said he wasn’t one to trust people with personal details about him. He also had a tough time trusting people in general. He said most people don’t keep personal information to themselves, so it has made him not want to trust people. He also shared this is the foundation as to why he didn’t let too many people in, he just didn’t trust them. He didn’t trust that they wanted what was best for him or would treat him in a positive manner. Again, except me. He had told me how much he trusted me and he demonstrated that by confiding in me on a daily basis. How come I am the exception on trust, too?
Alex also shared the people he spent most of his time with was his wife and his own immediate family. When he wasn’t with them, he was at work. When he spoke of spending time with his family, the sincerity in his voice was obvious. They had weekly plans on Saturday night that included dinner and spending time together. He said his friends were people whom he got together with on occasion, but not necessarily on a regular basis. He reiterated what he had shared before in that he didn’t like spending time with his in-laws and tried to avoid it at any cost.
At some point our conversations went to flirting and his awareness of other people flirting. Alex told me, just as matter of fact as the way he otherwise described himself, that he did not flirt. I laughed and told him this was impossible. He said he didn’t know how to flirt, so he just never did it. I didn’t believe him. What man, on this planet, didn’t flirt or know how to flirt? He also adamantly said that women never flirted with him and if they did, he didn’t know. Pshhhh. I called crap on that. He told me about times he would be at restaurants with his wife and the server may be flirting with him and when she walked away, his wife would tell him about the flirting and he said he would have no idea. I was shocked. Exactly how self-unaware was he? Not knowing if someone is flirting and not knowing if you’re flirting yourself seemed impossible to me.
I started thinking about him flirting when it came to me. I may have moments of lacking confidence where I don’t believe someone is flirting with me, or not believing if Alex had any sort of feelings for me, but aside from all of that, I knew there were times Alex would flirt with me. I could feel it. The things he would say would have a certain tone and a little edge to them, which would cause my heart to quicken its pace. For heaven sakes, other people had heard him flirting. The things he said and that tone in his voice. Does he really think he doesn’t flirt? That he doesn’t flirt with me?
All of this new information about Alex was mind blowing to me. Was I imagining everything? In almost every way he described himself, he treated me and acted the exact opposite when it came to me. Am I crazy? Every single thing he said was the opposite about me. Trust. Not making new friends. Not being close with coworkers. Flirting. Everything. How in the world did he describe himself in this way, to me?
This conversation was quite a blow to me. I know he wasn’t answering questions about me, but he was describing himself in general. I already didn’t believe there were feelings behind our interactions and he had just confirmed it to me. Everything I thought I knew or had experienced, wasn’t true. My mind raced. It went back and forth between knowing what I had experienced was true, to not knowing anything and believing him. I talked with my two friends who knew about Alex and our emerging relationship. They both thought he lacked self awareness and that he just hadn’t gotten to a place to admit what was going on and the way he felt about me. Hearing this from them, especially since one of them had observed us in person, helped me feel a little better, but it didn’t take away my doubt and feelings of craziness.
Aside from being shocked about his strong convictions, it was my own reaction that shocked me the most. I was hurt. I was hurt that he didn’t see the way he acted towards me was different than the way he described himself. I wanted his actions and treatment to be real because I was beginning to care for him in a way that wasn’t just coworkers or friends. Our connection and ability to talk to each other for hours and hours on end and trusting each other in such an intense manner, I loved it. I didn’t want it to be imaginary. I wanted it to be real. I knew it was wrong for me to feel this way because he was married, but I couldn’t help it. Here I was, his coworker, a single woman, now his friend, feeling devastated because Alex adamantly described himself in ways opposite of the way it seemed he felt or acted towards me.