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Ask Dr. Norman Brown Your Own Question

Dr. Norman Brown
Dr. Norman Brown, Marriage Therapist
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 886
Experience:  Family Therapist & teacher 35+ yrs; PhD research in couples
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Okay a man I work with asked me to breakfast with a group of

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Okay a man I work with asked me to breakfast with a group of people. I turned him down gently cause I liked someone else. In the meantime he was always insinuating various people were flirting with me . He brought in some type of food and made sure I knew he saved the last piece for me. I always caught him looking at me and looking away.
About 3 weeks after first asking me I asked him if he still went for breakfast and he said I could join him and friend. I went didnt make it obvious I was interested.
Two weeks later he asks out of blue if I wanted to go to shooitng range, he did not say with him. I asked questions about it and finally said sure let's go! He replied with he might go when it gets nicer out. In the last few weeks he has mentioned in front of me women who were chasing him etc... I gave no reaction. Two days ago he asked me after our job was over and we were saying our goodbyes to join him and guys for dinner. He took me to bar first said I could meet his roomates. We had a beer and he prceeded to tell me he had a date the night before but said nothing happened. We left and went to dinner where he proceeded to ogle the waitress and flirt and kept looking for a reaction.
I ignored it and talked to the others we were with. He must have seen my face change once and he started chugging his drink tyring not to choke. At end of evening we all said goodbye nice working with you. Hi and I walked to our cars and never said goodbye to each other( I was pissed) He mentioned he was going to continue the evening somewhere else I just said have a goodtime and stay out of trouble. I didnt even glnce at him when I left. What the heck just happened??? The next day he is liking my status on a social networking site. Yeah I'm upset but it just makes me want to never speak to him again not think he must be a catch. Why would he do this?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Relationship
Expert:  Dr. Norman Brown replied 1 year ago.

Dr. Norman Brown :

Welcome to my couples workshop, where people 18-80 of diverse cultures & orientations have come to explore their questions and find a path of heart. Trickydicky. Do you have any reason OR intuition to believe this guy might be a heart-mate (forget soulmate for now) in spite of his awful move-in/move-on methods?

Dr. Norman Brown :

Too bad you don't seem to have given yourself enough chances to find out if the other guy whose style (perhaps even Substance) was more appealing to you! Work relationships are dicey too unless the personnel pool is large enough to get lost in if things aren't improving once you've dated a little.

Dr. Norman Brown :

I will also repeat what my then not-yet psychotherapist wife used to tell her work-mate-womenfriends back in the early 1980s before we met: Don't let the guy into sexual intimacy too soon (make it at least 1 month of dating) because it's not worth having unless the relationship is going to be worth having, for as long as you want or even for life.

Customer:

We do not work together anymore as of Monday. We all got laid off. I am interested in him the other guy started avoiding me.

Dr. Norman Brown :

With all that preaching aside, OMG, laid off! That does make even "friendship' (ie plausibly deniable 60-day-free-relationship-trial-period) worth exploring.

Customer:

I worked with about 300 men. Most of them flirted with me but this guy was the one that asked me to hang out. He has not tried to touch me in anyway except a few arm taps to say hello. In my industry we are laid off quite frquently it means nothing

Customer:

The night we got laid off is when he asked me to join them for dinner.

Customer:

I dont even know if he likes me or is interested funny ay to show it by ogling other women and telling me he has women chasing him. Why would I care or want to know

Dr. Norman Brown :

I know times have changed since the 80s, but usually women are only interested in a complete-package relationship, unless they are single mothers not ready for remarriage. Is this your situation? My wife was also getting flirted with regularly and wouldn't bite with any coworker, because she was looking for an unusually qualified partner (psychotherapy, or astrology, esp Jungian, & highly educated--I was luckily the first qualified guy, tho I lacked in Jungian for the first 10 years, I've made up for it in the last 20)

Customer:

Been single mom for 15 yrs. Have not dated in that time. No interest wanted to raise my child. Now I am interested and trying to be open. I have no idea what guys do to show interest. I married high school sweetheart and NEVER dated. I don't know if he is attracted or what!!

Dr. Norman Brown :

Ogling other women is obnoxious, so If I were you, I'd let him know you think it's either rude or crude--and if he turns that comment into a game that he KEEPS PLAYING the next time you are together, then KEEP it only friendship. A "real" man with "backbone" needs to be untrainable in some ways, but not letting go of a blatant crudity that demeans the attraction implied toward the woman he's with is a disqualifier in my book: UNLESS you like playing such games yourself.

Dr. Norman Brown :

Now I understand your situation MUCH better. That's totally the normal thing for many women with a minor child until the child is grown up, so they're ready to share their nest with a grown man again. It's an exciting, awkward & apprehensive period for you.

Customer:

Your answers are as confusing as this guy. Does he have an interest and if so why did he do that? To show he is desireable? Other women want him? I have no problem with letting him know he was being rude but if he just asked me as a friend then telling him he was rude would be presumptious on my part

Dr. Norman Brown :

Good point. But even "just friends" is a trial period for likely romance. I understand you don't want to embarrass yourself if he decides to keep hiding his feelings & intentions, because then you'd feel like you'd shown your hand (in poker) and he promptly folded to prove he wasn't interested at all. I hate those games--but they're all for avoiding embarrassment and feeling rejected.

Customer:

If I knew that he was attracted then I would let mine show. I hold back because I don't want to be embarrassed by assuming he may like me. But after that behavior I assume he sees me as nothing and I read the signals wrong. But I told him I like to meet again to hear his hunting stories and 2 days later he asked me to join them.

Dr. Norman Brown :

thanks for your persistent conversational input. To your urgent questions. I'd suggest inviting him out to either Lunch or a walk in a park or other quiet place--presuming the weather is good enough.

Customer:

So I should ignore his behavior and signal I am interested and ask him out?

Dr. Norman Brown :

If he accepts, then he's admitting that couple relating is in his playlist.

Dr. Norman Brown :

Then in the meeting you have an audition/interview.

Customer:

So he likes me? By flirting with waitress he is not telling me he isnt interested?

Dr. Norman Brown :

You talk about your child, answer any question he asks about your ex. And if he does join in conversation about either child or exhusband, you ask him if he's had children or long-term relationships. That'll quickly give you a lot to estimate how attractive he'd be for a real relationship. Tho at your stage of first-entry into mate-hunting, even toying with semi-dating would be very useful.

Customer:

I know about all that already. We had those conversations. I know where his daughter is graduating from and about his mom brothers sisters

Dr. Norman Brown :

Flirting with waitress signals that he thinks he's an attractive guy, and probably a lot of fun to go on dates with. Since he's not overtly flirting with you but is seeking companionship, he's waiting for you to show your hand (with the queen of hearts in it) just as you're waiting for him to show his.

Dr. Norman Brown :

I suggest lunch or afternoon walk, because you're reducing any male expectation that sex is on your mind.

Customer:

Ah Ha! I kinda thought that but also thought he was trying to hurt my feelings. I thought I showed my hand by accepting his offer twice. I guess I'm not obvious enough. I wish he would flirt with me like that, I wish he would look at me like that. I was very close to walking out but I am pretty confident and figured I would just show him I wasnt happy by not following him to next place and leave without saying goodbye. Kind of like we both knew we would be seeing each other again anyway.

Dr. Norman Brown :

OH I missed your reference to those conversations. He's certainly capable of serious relationship, and since he's been deeply involved with at least one daughter, he could be very well trained in how to treat the vulnerable side of a woman (some therapists call that the "inner child"). You've also been catering to his "inner adolescent" by accepting his shooting range and hunting stories.

Customer:

So by flirting with the waitress and looking for my reaction he wanted me to show my hand? He wasnt trying to show me he didnt like me?

Dr. Norman Brown :

I wonder what YOU make (since you're there & I'm not) of his surrounding himself with other guys, tho it does make sense since he's working with scores of them. Always having another guy around suggests 2 things to me: 1. he's not sticking both feet into the water of m/f quality time yet, cuz he could be very skittish about letting his heart warm up very much too fast--and that would relate to his dating experiences since his divorce. and 2. to fill in his needs for closeness he's re-established the premarital "buddy-group" procedure that most boys relied on before they got deep with a woman. Would also make sense if he was in the military. Now your question.

Customer:

Well we are in construction, and we did go alone to a bar before dinner so I could meet his roomates in fact he was quite excited about it. When we got there they werent there so he showed me house he was staying in and we had a beer. That is when he proceeded to tell me he had a date the night before and that nothing happened between them

Dr. Norman Brown :

He was not pushing you to show your hand, though that might have given him the upper hand that he might be used to needing (for his own heart-safety). He was showing off his attractive/romantic skills--"fun guy" He's even bragged that "women like me." I used to show off my education and intelligence; so he shows off his women-skills, that are further well-founded on his experience raising a daughter (respect, affection, devotion, proper conduct befitting a good father--which usually a single mother and her single child could coexist with and benefit from.

Customer:

Well to me it wasn't showing off anything other than " I have lots of women, interest in other women, but no interest in YOU!" It was a turnoff and I actually cried when I got home because I couldnt figure out why he would ask me out and not flirt with me

Dr. Norman Brown :

Hey, it's obvious he's interested in you. NOW I understand how important his insensitive show-off was to you. I wonder if you husband might have left you through(or for) fooling around with other women, pretty early in your marriage, so it's a window down into the deepest love- & self-esteem-wound in your whole adult life.

Customer:

Thank you! My high school sweetheart that I married is gay. I had no idea this was 1990 and still pretty much untalked about. yes he told me that is why he couldnt stay with me. It was heartbreaking. For both of us. We wanted to be together still loved each other but knew we could not be happy because of his circumstances. I was okay with it. It was a relief to know it wasnt me and it couldn't be fixed. We are still on great terms.

Dr. Norman Brown :

So this is VERY important to me now. My first great love totalling 9 years put a big dark hole in my heart by starting an affair with a younger man (college student who I was teaching and mentoring)--so forever after that I have told every woman I dated for the next 12 years before I met and settled quickly on marrying my one&only wife THAT I'd been deeply wounded by sexual infidelity, so I would not date anybody unless she would agree to be EXCLUSIVE with me from the beginning--because I was sure that one or both of us would know pretty soon if it didn't seem to be working out well enough between us, and then we could negate that agreement & drop the romance.

Customer:

So this might explain why I don't get straight men! I have no experience with them and have no idea how they act or what they do. My ex and I were fantastic friends we did everything together. But it was different. I get pretty upset when someone is not making overtly sexual moves and when they don't I think they dont like me because it is what straight men would do. You see! friends first to me means NO Interest. Immediate sexual overtones means interested

Dr. Norman Brown :

OK. It was still an awful experience. Now back to your new guy. From almost 4 decades of (part-time) individual & couple therapy, I've found that most people, either male or female, who show others that they always have "plenty of options, of other people interested in them" are defending themselves against their OWN deep wound, also from being betrayed by their first great love and/or first marriage partner/parent-of-their-child. They have tried to soothe and cover up their own feelings of being rejected sexually by grabbing onto as many other suitable bedbuddies as possible. That's not what you did, tho you might have toyed with it shortly after your husband came out.

Dr. Norman Brown :

Now back to that "had a date last night but nothing really happened." His overt flirting is false advertising. He's showing off that he can light up any woman he wants to (tho waitresses always respond to flirting customers in hopes of improving their tips), so he won't let himself be hurt if YOU decide you don't want him after all.

Customer:

Aha! Perfectly clear! I did try to fill that empty hole as quickly as possible but woke up after 3 mos and decided I needed to get to know me, love me, and concentrate on my child. I know I made the right decision I am successful and so is she. I feel i did sacrifice something but I know what I like and am content most of the time. She has graduated college and now it is time for me.


I do have interest in this man, I find him attractive (not the behavior) and we seem to have a common love of the outdoors. I found it charming that he made sure He saved a piece of vension sausage he made himself for me.

Dr. Norman Brown :

Can you dance? (You don't have to dance skillfully if you can dance slow & close.) You could start flirting with him and call his bluff by Asking him Can You Dance? And then kidding him if he says he can't. (If he says he's good at it and you know you're not, all is not lost, cuz you could tell him you want to learn more from him.) If you've ever seen ANY dance movie, you know what a great way THAT is to let your body do your flirting for you. You'd basically be challenging him to show you that he CAN flirt with you and not just with random waitresses or invisible other people.

Customer:

Good Idea! I want more than anything for him to just grab my hand or something.

Dr. Norman Brown :

You're likely to be pretty slow to get deeply involved too, because you might need to work thru the split you've lived with for 15 years between gayFather friendship and your own thwarted erotic womanhood. Luckily you're still in your prime, more primal than your lonely Hunter. I'm enthusiastic for you. I have to run for some errands before 5pm, but I'm really glad I got to handle your issues. I love midFathering romantic couples. Thank you for your honest intensity.

Customer:

thank you for all your help. And yes you are right about my issues. I want them to give right away while I hold back for fear of getting hurt. Not fair right?? Thanks again

Dr. Norman Brown :

YES. He's holding back for the same reasons. It comes with the territory of being divorced. [By the way, both divorcees and children of divorce are likely to try to keep from ever getting abandoned again by having a backup plan or backup person, even tho they don't ever intend to use him or her unless the dreaded thing starts to happen. I did my second doctoral dissertation research on the love relationships of college age children of divorce.] I'd love it if you come back in a week or two and report on some further developments, and I'll send a followup note to remind you. One issue that figured into my relationship's beginning in Summer 1984 (with my wife) was that I was embarrassed when she popped a kiss onto me before I'd done it to her. I hope you don't have to do that to your Lonely Hunter. [I'm having fun with that phrase, and I bet you could use it to rouse some passion in him: "How's my lonely hunter tonight?"--would make a great text message. But it would have more impact at the beginning of a second or third date.]

Customer:

Ha! Cute. I dont know if he slap me or kiss me back. I will let you know thanks again. I have a feeling that we will be seeing each other again since we never said goodbye like we did with everyone else.

Dr. Norman Brown, Marriage Therapist
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 886
Experience: Family Therapist & teacher 35+ yrs; PhD research in couples
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