Mixed signals related to abuse in childhood?

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-30-2006
Mixed signals related to abuse in childhood?
Thu, 01-17-2013 - 4:54am

Hello Friends,

I am wondering if people could offer some advice on a guy I really like who I'm confused over.  I will call him Tim.  So the situation is that he is my yoga teacher.  What I know about Tim's background is that he was abused growing up.  I don't know what type of abuse (verbal/sexual/physical or a combo), but I'm sure it's very bad. 

When we talk, he is so warm, kind, caring, and sweet.  From the first day I joined the class, he seemed attracted to me.  He seemed to pay special attention to me and even invited me to have lunch with him after class.  I immediately thought that he probably doesn't offer to have lunch with every student, and there were other very cute ladies in the class whom he did not invite, and they were new too.  Lunch was nice, and then we parted ways.

The following week in class, he was very happy to see me.  He gave me a huge hug.  Again I felt he was paying more attention to me than others.  After class he did not invite me to lunch, so I just left.  The next morning on Facebook he sent a message saying he's sorry we did not get to talk more and that we should chat next time we see each other.  I said that sounds great, maybe after the next class.  He agreed.  

After the next class, I approached him, and he said he was having lunch with this other girl who is also a teacher.  But he quickly said I was more than welcome to join them.  I was pretty surprised since I thought WE were hanging out after class.  I didn't want to be a poor sport, so I went along thinking maybe his interest in me was all in my mind.  He spent most of lunch asking me tons of questions about myself.  It didn't seem to me that he was romantically interested in her, nor was she flirting with him.  Apparently they were having lunch in order to plan for a class they are going to teach together.  It's possible that she decided to go to his class that day, and since she was in town, told him it was the best time to meet to plan the class.  I don't know.

Another time, we had a lengthy workshop that ended at 10pm.  We ended up grabbing a bite after.  He mentioned before that he likes walking in the park...and so do I.  While we were eating, I was being very cheery and said, "I love walking in the park too.  You should come with me some time!"  He said, "I should?"  And he didn't look very enthusiastic.  I felt a bit embarrassed, like maybe I was being too aggressive, so I said, "Or not.  It was just a suggestion."  Then he perked up (it was very late after all) and said he would join me some time.  When i got home, I sent him a Private Message on FB with my phone number.  He didn't contact me, so after a few days of feeling confused by all of this, I decided to just let it go.  I told myself that he is a very warm guy and that he probably makes everyone feel special.  I was happy enough to be friends.  

I skipped class a couple times because I was sick.  He never called or texted.  But I received a group email from Tim inviting me to be part of a dinner of 10 people, including me.  It was a dinner to discuss yoga stuff.  I thought it was a tad strange to invite me to such a thing b/c I am so new to the class and most of the other people were teachers who he has know for years.  I decided to go, but I really had no expectations about Tim.  And a couple of the ladies are very attractive, so I thought it might also be an opportunity to scope him out and "prove" to myself that he probably treats us all the same and that I might be mis-interpretting his signals as romantic when they are not.

He was socially awkward throughout the night.  One example is that I had just met another guy and was only talking to him for like one minute.  Tim walked over and joined the conversation.  We were discussing a new cafe that had opened recently, and this guy was telling me it was really good.  The guy said it's a great date place.  Tim suddenly looked at me and blurted out the most bizarre thing:  "You two should go.  You should text him and go together."  Me and the other guy looked perplexed.  It just seemed like Tim was acting strange and saying things that made no sense.

During dinner, he did not show anybody the attention that he showed me.  He certainly wasn't being flirtatious with any of the other women.  Throughout dinner, I kept catching him staring directly at me.  When I would look at him, he never looked away.  I think other people might have noticed him doing this.  I caught him staring so many times, and I felt really shy and blushed a lot each time I would catch him.  I kept thinking, There is no way he is not interested in me or not attracted to me.  It's rare that a man looks at me like that, and the two that have became the greatest loves of my life.  

After dinner, I gave Tim a ride home.  It was midnight, and he had to get up at 5 am for work.  I wanted to open up a conversation in the car about his behavior and all the staring and just get it out in the open if we are attracted to each other.  But I decided that maybe it wasn't the best timing, when he is exhausted and needs to get straight to bed.  During the car ride, he said, "What are you doing tomorrow?"  I said I was meeting a friend.  He asked if it was for lunch, and I said no, she is having lunch wtih someone else.  Then there was silence.  I was hoping he would simply ask me if I would meet him for lunch, but that didn't make a whole lot of sense because I already knew he is working all day.  So again, I just felt like it was more mixed signals.

Anyway, he is my teacher in a class I LOVE, so I don't want any weirdness between us.  Maybe he doesn't date his students?  Or maybe his socially awkward behavior is a result of having been abused.  I did some research on adult survivors of abuse, and he does fit a lot of the characteristics.  Maybe he lacks self-esteem.  Maybe he's extremely guarded.  I do notice that as warm as he is, sometimes when I talk to him i feel as though he is not "present."  Maybe it's what they call dissociation.

I guess I'm wondering if there are people out there who are (unfortunately) more familiar with severe childhood abuse and can tell me if I should be more patient.  I can say i feel a lot more complassion now that I understand better why he might behave the way he does.  I really do like this guy and wish he would give us a chance to spend time together, not just as friends.  Is having an open discussion with him too pushy at this point?  I know some people might judge and say, "Why would you want to get involved with someone who is so screwed up?" or whatever...but I come from abuse myself (not nearly as severe), and it's screwed me up pretty badly.  The self-esteem and dissociation stuff is awfully familiar, but not as intense as others who have had it much worse than me.  My ex-boyfriend of 4 years was so good to me that I can honestly say he helped me heal and showed me that I do deserve love.  So I am not ready to throw in the towel on Tim just yet.  

Thank you for your time.  ;)



Avatar for cfk_3
iVillage Member
Registered: 05-14-1999
Sun, 01-20-2013 - 2:54pm

See, I didn't see it directed at you, I thought it was meant for someone else.  That someone else is almost always the target so it leads me to believe that it's the same person using multiple identities.  I may not always agree with said targets ideas or beliefs but other people's ideas and beliefs usually don't offend me in such a personal manner.  These types of comments almost seem personal.  And while I'm at it, most men are not usually petty like that so that too makes me skeptical.  What are the odds that an entire handful of people zero in on one persons posts? I realize that trying to flush it out is futile but one thing I cannot stand is hypocrisy.  If you're going to complain about a negativity issue, then try to be part of the solution and not THE problem. 

I'm off my soapbox now and am going to go try to find some humane mouse traps.  I have one who is sneaking into my bird food ;]

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-02-2008

When I was reading JT's response about the cookie jar and all it made some sense to me..and sometimes in my life when I guy appeared interested in me and he would waffle back and forth it always felt like in my gut and heart of hearts that he was unsure and didnt want to start something he couldnt finish in a relationship.. Like why bother to start something when I cant totally commit to it.. I knew a guy once who was nice and we talked and were very open but when it came to dating he backed off big time.. I later found out that he was still living with his exwife and couldnt commit to anything in that moment.. I think in life or I know in life that we as people are at different spaces and different journeys than others.. Maybe this guy is not ready to date but the poster is and they are just not on same page as of yet.. Either he will bite or he will just fade away or maybe down the road a bit he will ask her out.. or mabye they will find other people..

Its all about timing I would assume right now and sometimes we are just not ready for something or something smacks us in the face and we just dont see it..


iVillage Member
Registered: 03-30-2006
Mon, 01-21-2013 - 1:09am

Hi everybody,

Thanks for the responses and thoughts.  I just thought I would comment on one thing from the last post:

"Maybe this guy is not ready to date but the poster is and they are just not on same page as of yet.. Either he will bite or he will just fade away or maybe down the road a bit he will ask her out.. or mabye they will find other people..

Its all about timing I would assume right now and sometimes we are just not ready for something or something smacks us in the face and we just dont see it.."

This is very true and thoughtful--life isn't black-and-white.  The fact is that I love his class, and I don't want to make anything uncomfrotable for either of us.  While I think I should step up my flirting (I've held back because I was afraid of making him unfomfortable, him being my teacher), there is no rush.  It's true, maybe the timing is not right and I just need to let this "play out".