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 floridagirl52
iVillage Member
Registered: 10-16-2006
Thu, 01-17-2013 - 3:42pm

You've certainly analyzed the situation. My thought is that you are making it far more complex than it really is. My conclusion: if he's not asking you out, he's just not that into you. I think that in the beginning, it really is the guy's job to ask you out. It is your job to be receptive and flirtatious (without going overboard). If it's not clear to you that he finds you attractive/datable, then he probably doesn't. I don't mean to sound harsh.

I would advise against bringing this up with him, but that's me. But it's your choice. If you want to put yourself out there, go ahead. There are relationships that have started this way. But I think that after all this time if he hasn't made his move, he's unlikely to. Again, I could be proved wrong.

You've already made it clear that you want to spend time with him. He hasn't really taken the bait. I would let him make the next move. Be friendly, be receptive, date other guys even. And really, what interested guy would ever encourage a woman to go out with another guy? Another question: are you poisitive he is straight?

I know it's hard when you meet someone you are attracted to. You soooo want it to work out, you want them to want you back. I know I can over-analyze a situation when I really like the guy. But for me, whever I have over-analyzed, it just meant it was one-sided.

Best of luck with it all--let us know how it goes.


iVillage Member
Registered: 03-30-2006
Thu, 01-17-2013 - 2:40pm
Hi Shywon. First of all, I love your screen name! Thank you for your thoughts. I am leaning pretty strongly towards doing that. I guess my only hesitation is that if he tells me he's not interested, it might be awkward going to his classes...but going on in this limbo isn't comfortable either.
Community Leader
Registered: 07-16-2001
Thu, 01-17-2013 - 8:22am

I think you should just tell him that you are interested/like him and see how he responds.  I'm not a fan of asking guys out, but putting your thoughts out there when you've been dancing around it for awhile is no big deal.  You'll feel much better knowing than not knowing and trying to guess.  Trust me on that!