The Moment You Know You Know You Know
Aspies are pretty retarded with feelings. That’s not to say we don’t feel things- oh, wouldn’t that be nice- but we often don’t understand the things we feel. Usually because we’re feeling all the things, and all the things are screaming at us.
This can be kind of a bitch when it comes to romantic attraction. I mean, romantic attraction is complicated for us anyway, what with our difficulty reading body language and facial expressions, and our somewhat inconsistent social skills.
But not being able to tell if you’re even attracted to someone is, for me, probably the part that fucks with my head the most.
I’m at least somewhat used to figuring this shit out. If we go all the way back to middle school, I have had crushes on eight people. So I’ve gone through this process enough times to kind of know what’s going on in my head.
But sometimes the situation moves so fast that I simply get carried along without knowing which direction I’m headed.
With Hannah, everything was a blur.
Our mutual friend Amy set us up, and the three of us went out to dinner. It was a blind date, which I didn’t know until last night when I was talking to Hannah about the whole thing. I had always assumed it was more of a platonic encounter.
Amy arrived to the dinner late and left early, so Hannah and I spent most of the dinner talking and getting to know each other.
When we parted ways, I felt the evening had gone off without a hitch, and wanted to see her again. I wasn’t sure whether we were heading toward a friendship or a relationship but I was eager to find out.
Hannah was much more sure than me. She got back to her place and texted Sam: “He didn’t kiss me. Maybe he doesn’t like me?”
A few days later we went out on our second date. I had no idea it was a date until last night when I was talking to Hannah about it, but I had a lot of fun. Or I thought it was a lot of fun. I wasn’t sure. I felt like it should be? And while I was trying to determine that, I was also trying to figure out how I felt about Hannah. Did I like her as a friend? Or more than that? How badly was she going to freak out when she found out how retarded I am?
It was during this second date that I realized I had a crush on Hannah. We were walking through a quiet, parklike pathway in the shadow of the Royal Ontario Museum. The pathway- called Philosopher’s Walk- is one of the most romantic places in the city.
And I remembered something my therapist had told me a few years beforehand at a point in my life when I was stressed out and lonely:
“Sometimes you just want to be with someone. Sometimes you just want to have a conversation with someone, or look at a fucking tree.”
Well here I am, I thought. I am exactly where I’ve wanted to be for a very long time. And I’m with the right person.
So that was easy enough. Or, I mean, you’d think it would be easy enough. When we said goodbye to each other, I realized that I had no idea whether or not it had been a date, so I didn’t try to kiss her.
This caused Hannah some amount of frustration.
I’m just going to have to be really, really obvious, she thought.
She sent me a Facebook message thanking me for the day, and suggesting that maybe next time we meet we could make physical contact. She felt self-conscious about the fact that she’d had a runny nose that day, and thought maybe that was the reason why I hadn’t tried to kiss her.
When I read her message, I assumed it meant that I had misinterpreted her body language or facial expressions or something. I’d obviously missed a hint.
What I didn’t realize was that the message itself was a hint indicating her interest.
I’d been really worried that she might not be interested in me if she realized what a fucking derp I am with socializing. But I knew I couldn’t hide it from her. I’d already explained that I had Asperger’s, but she had very little knowledge about it.
So I responded to her Facebook message and told her everything. It’s a typical Aspie response: when it doubt, provide all the information.
I told her about the big invisible handbook that helps people navigate social situations, and how I don’t have it. I told her I didn’t know whether we had gone on a date yet. I told her that she was going to have to verbalize stuff because I’m shit at non-verbal communication.
Some people would have been freaked out by this. It’s a lot of information to get your head around at a point when we didn’t really know each other.
But Hannah wasn’t freaked out. She told me later on that she’d been taken aback by the sheer muchness of my honesty, but that she likes a challenge.
So she decided to stick around and get to know me better.
I asked Hannah out on an unambiguous date: dinner and a movie.
The date went well, and we were off to the races, so that’s a totally normal time to start worrying about everything. Or maybe not. I don’t know too much about what normal feelings look like.
Anyway, for the next month and a half I was regularly seized by the fear that it was all going to go wrong somehow, or that when she really got to know me, she’d run like hell.
I also had no idea how I felt about her. I constantly wondered whether I was actually attracted to her or not. Sure I was feeling things, but was I feeling them? How could I tell the difference? The matter was confused somewhat by the fact that I was feeling just about every possible emotion there was to feel, and all of them were turned up to 11.
We’d been seeing each other for a month and a half when I made plans to meet an old high school friend at a pub out on the Danforth.
I don’t like going into restaurants by myself because the servers will serve you and try to make eye contact and sitting by myself in a room full of people who are with other people feels awkward.
So I stood outside on the sidewalk. It was a warm summer evening. People walked by. Cars drove past. The Danforth is a pretty neighbourhood: calm and unpretentious.
I felt relaxed.
My friend was five minutes late, then ten minutes, then fifteen.
I started wondering if I was in love with Hannah. I had no idea how I’d go about figuring this out.
God, I thought, what if I never know?
I was worried about accidentally leading her on or disappointing her or hurting her in some way. Not being able to tell if I loved her would definitely lead to some amount of carnage. Maybe life-altering.
I should know this, I thought.
My friend was twenty minutes late, then twenty-five, then thirty.
I went home and pulled up Wikipedia on my computer. I looked up “limerance”, which is one of my favourite words. It’s the scientific term for crush. I read the article through, trying to compare my feelings for Hannah with how the sensation of limerance was described. Then I pulled up the article for romantic love, and read that.
Which article described my feelings more accurately?
God, I thought, I think I might be in love.