Too close… too close… again?

Just because I'm standing close to you, doesn't mean I want to sleep with you.
Just because I’m standing close to you, doesn’t mean I want to sleep with you.

I’ve always had issues with standing too close to other people.

And I’ve always had issues with guys thinking I was coming onto them, when I really wasn’t. Come to think of it, it’s happened with women, too. You might think this is a lucky thing, but oh hell no — I’m not interested in that sort of interaction. One partner is more than enough for me, and even she’s a little much at times. 😉

It’s occurred to me lately that the two things — standing too close and other people thinking I’m coming onto them — may be connected.

Ha! You’d think I’d have figured this out before my 51st year… but I can be a slow learner at times.

Actually, the connection has occurred to me a number of times, but I always just shrugged it off and dismissed it as “one of those things” that makes my situation unique…. and uniquely challenging. I brushed it off, because I figured that other people had the problem, not me, and as long as I didn’t have any fall-out from the misconstrued distance between myself and others, WTF did it matter to me? I wasn’t going to change my mode, just because other people can’t get their minds out of the gutter.

But I probably could have benefited from paying a little more attention to this phenomenon. Because it’s cost me a bit, over the years. And I’m just now realizing this. Some things take a while to sink in.

It’s always been an issue.

I’ve been viewed askance by people I worked with, because I was “alone” with men I worked with during business trips. And the rumors started flying, although I was the last person who wanted to do anything with any of them. After one trip when I was traveling with my boss, both he and I came back with colds — and people apparently thought there was monkey business going on. I didn’t realize it at first, until my doctor made a joke about me and my boss messing around and getting germs from one another. That was so insulting. And when I went back to work, I realized that other people seemed to think so, as well.

Another time, I had a really great walk and conversation with a male colleague during a business trip. We had a really treat time just talking about our families, and the similarities between being queer and being part of a marginalized religious group. When we got back to the office later, we were on really friendly terms, and I overheard him talking about what a great conversation we’d had. Then he abruptly stopped talking to me, stopped making eye contact, and it seemed to me that he’d been somehow “tainted” by my ill-deserved reputation.

And yet another time, I was hanging out with my friend / co-worker Cece, and I ended up crashing on her couch, when I was too tired to drive home. People at work heard about it, and they exchanged glances. I told them there was nothing to get excited about. Get real. Get a life. But apparently I had a reputation for being a loose cannon at that job.

I was recently approached by someone at that company (which I left several years ago) about coming back, and at first I thought yes! But now that I think about it, it’s a resounding NO. What a bunch of assholes those people were.

The misconstruing of my nature — making me into an oversexed individual, simply because I stand closer than normal to people, and I have the ability to connect with others as people… All the misunderstandings were a pain in the ass then… and it continues to be a pain in my ass, to this day.

Current case in point — I was supposed to meet with a personal trainer at work later today to work on some exercises. This guy seemed like a cool dude, but I was only supposed to talk to him for 15 minutes, and then he wanted to keep talking for closer to half an hour. I was so caught up in talking about my ideas, that I didn’t notice at first that he was “warming up” to me.

But then, after he tells me that he’s not a practicing personal trainer anymore, but more of a consultant… he offers to show me some exercises at the gym. In person. At first, I thought it was nice that he was making a personal effort. But when I thought about it later, it seemed a little weird to me. There are already personal trainers in the company fitness center. He didn’t have to offer, and it wasn’t even his place to do so. But he did. Another clue.

When he started talking about his wife/girlfriend (as men often do, after they talk to me a while), I sorta kinda got another clue that he might have taken my engaging persona as a sign that I was romantically interested in him. I can be very animated and personable when I talk — especially about things that excite me — and I can see guys’ eyes glazing over with “that look” they get, when apparently the blood is leaving their brains and heading earthward.

This whole male-female interaction thing is quite confusing for me, especially since I’m not at all attracted to men in a sexual/romantic way. And I get a little tired of guys getting a little buzz off my interactions with them.

I really have to start volunteering the fact that I’m a lesbian in a committed relationship, before the conversation continues. But then that introduces the sometimes-even-more-confounding “queer factor” that can really set people off and put them at ill-ease, which is incredibly uncomfortable for me. Just the other week, a woman I’d just met, with whom I was getting along famously, did a double-take and then withdrew / shut down / started avoiding me after I told her about my wife.

What IS it with people? Sometimes it’s like they think I’m coming onto them, because I’m familiar and engaging — and I stand close to them. I don’t mean anything by it — maybe I’m just Latin-blooded with a smaller personal space than your standard-issue Caucasian American. I actually feel pretty comfortable with people who have very small personal spaces. It doesn’t bother me at all.

But others do.

And they tend to take it the wrong way.

So, I guess I have to just weigh whether it’s worth running the risk of queer-phobia hassle, to tell people about my situation, versus the issues that arise from standing too close to others.

But then again, even if I do tell (straight) people, they still take my distance the wrong way.

Maybe I should just work at keeping my distance, period.

Or just not go out and interact with people at all.

Come to think of it, the second is preferable for me.

It just gets a little lonely, sometimes.

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