Navy JROTC Insignia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
For some reason I’m having trouble falling asleep again, so I thought I’d indulge one of my Aspie obsessions through writing. I’m visited by the memory of my first girlfriend in High School tonight for some reason. It only lasted for a couple of weeks in High School. SB had previously been in a relationship with one of the seniors that year. For some reason it didn’t work out and for whatever reason she turned her attention to me. She was pretty forward and invited me to her house one evening in the next subdivision over. Nothing scandalous, her siblings and parents were home, and mostly we just sat on the couch together watching TV. Eventually she started kissing me and making out with me, much to my pleasant surprise. Nothing beyond what some call “heavy petting”, I was pretty timid with her all in all. When I did leave (I believe this was a school night) we did embrace and kiss a little longer on her driveway. I was fairly giddy over the next two weeks, but she quickly saw just what a huge dork I was and I think probably was thinking of ways to dump me or get me to dump her. When we went on a JROTC trip to Austin for a unit competition, she spent a lot of time being super flirty to one of the college NROTC guys who were our guides. When I got jealous and confronted her on it on the ride home, she broke things off with me, saying I was “smothering” her. Plus other people had been seemingly conspiring against our relationship. I got warned by a couple of guys to “watch out” and “be careful” around this girl. Anyway, our relationship effectively over, it made for a long, awkward charter bus ride back to Houston from Austin. I guess in hindsight it would’ve been smarter to have that confrontation when we got home. I could’ve maybe “gotten to 2nd base” on that ride home if I hadn’t pissed her off. She was seemingly ready for a little snuggling, cuddling, etc. But my jealousy had been stoked and I was having none of it. In turn, she was having no more of me.
She did pay a social cost for hurting me and breaking my young naive heart. Others shunned her; turns out I had defenders who thought I was a really nice guy and they gave her the cold shoulder for hurting someone like me. Even her sister sided with me and somewhat apologized for her big sister’s actions. I did almost become romantically attached to the sister a bit later on,but that’s a story for another day. Had I not been so timid on a very different JROTC bus ride later, maybe I would have had the sister as my next girlfriend but alas. I planned to instead to flirt with the sister when I gave her a ride home, but that got interrupted by a hapless Korean kid (whom she despised) who missed his ride and needed a ride home (he lived in the same neighborhood as the sister). Since I was by then a cadet with some responsibility and rank, I reluctantly gave a ride to this kid but it completely killed the mood between me and SB’s sister. She was furious and disappointed that we did not have time to just ourselves and was still too angry after I dropped the kid off and it was finally just us. I bid SB’s sister good night and that was that.
SB and I did still go to Military Ball together, but we both had a miserable time, since it was just for show and she was beyond tired of my dorkiness. In later years, I did run into SB in college off and on, as we ended up going to the same university about 2 hours away from Houston. My sophomore year of college, when I was still in the Corps of Cadets at Texas A&M, I suddenly needed a date for a Corps function, and SB agreed to be my date. The year before she’d been my Bonfire date, again just for show. The Corps function was an Honor Society Banquet. My buddies were impressed by my date, but I waved them off, noting she was my Ex from High School and that we were “just friends” now. SB and I did have a pleasant evening together, and even chatted amicably afterwards at her place for awhile. No kisses, or flirting, just a pleasant talk then a formal good bye.
We kind of went our separate ways for a number of years. Ironically, I really have no significant college relationships to report from either my undergrad years or my first time in grad school. Not for lack of trying but nothing ever really panned out for me. SB and I did cross paths one last time just after my graduation from TAMU; I remember because I’d just finished up a second round of Country & Western Dancing for my PE credits and somehow I wound up going out C&W dancing in Houston with SB and her sister who had just finished up at the University of Houston by this point. The sister was polite but distant, and was already in a serious relationship by then. SB and I wound up being dance partners. I had really enjoyed my recent class and had in particular had a really good dance partner who was this cute redhead with glasses and a Czech family name, though she was 100% Texan. Our bodies were very well matched in terms of height and weight and we made for near perfect partners on the dance floor, and genuinely enjoyed pairing up for class. Once again my timidity sabotaged me, as I didn’t think to take things beyond the dance floor when it might’ve actually worked.
Anyway, SB and I were out C&W dancing that night in Houston. We had an okay time, all in all, but all the while I was dancing, SB went on and on about how she’d won some dancing competition once at TAMU and how good her partner had been, and also made little remarks correcting and criticizing my own techniques as we danced. Instead of just letting loose and enjoying the evening dancing with me, she had to spend it THIS way. I felt pretty well humiliated by the end of the night. SB was really good at this, had been ever since high school, namely making me feel small & stupid. She spends the evening thoughtlessly belittling me. But then has the audacity to invite me up to her apartment after I walked her to her door. I suppose if I had no pride or self esteem I would’ve accepted, but after her outrageous verbal conduct on the dance floor, there was no way I was in any mood for kissing, flirting or whatever else she may have had in mind with that casual invitation. I politely refused the invitation, made up some excuse, then bowed out and bid her good night.
Maybe I could’ve “scored” or “gotten lucky” that night, but the cost, frankly, would’ve been too high. I wanted no further attachments to this person who seemed to delight in cutting me down. If SB had just kept her thoughts on my dancing skills to herself and just been pleasant and decent with me, she might’ve actually wooed me. But as it turned out, she left me feeling cold. Then that invitation out of the blue–holy mixed signals, Batman. I never really associated with SB again after that, but the memories still haunt me sometimes. Still a very strange first relationship with the opposite sex. She was cute, but her personality kind of ugly. She was also very modest in bust size, and I kind of prefer substance in that department. Otherwise her body shape was reasonably good, and I did sometimes fantasize about her, but the reality of her was like a cold shower…just not very pleasant. The flirtation with the sister back in High School was tainted by the fact that I was starting to become more interested in another girl, and by the fact that I couldn’t tell if my affections for SB’s sister were genuine or just fueled by a desire to piss off SB and get a little “payback” by dating her sister. The sister had a cuter face but even more of a deficit than her sis in the bustline department, at least back then. I think the sister also correctly assessed my dorkiness and lost interest in me fairly quickly.
Apart from obvious general Aspie awkwardness, until I met my wife, I never did quite find the proper balance…I was always either too timid or in fear of being too aggressive. Moreover, dating involves a lot of small talk and getting to know one another, never strengths of mine. I can look back in my memory to various “blown” relationship opportunities that, had my brain been NT wired instead of ASD wired, I could have more deftly capitalized upon. As it was, I was clumsy, timid, and my timing usually sucked goat balls. Yet for some reason when it came to my (ex-)wife, everything suddenly clicked and came into sync just right. I gently slipped past her emotional defenses and won her heart. It was tough for her, but I was always gentle and loving and supportive. The early stages of my relationship with my (ex-)wife remain some of my fondest memories and I will treasure them always. It’s sad things didn’t work out in the long run, but we gave it a good effort and had fun along the way. I was deliriously in love and that love was finally reciprocated by another. I hope to have that in my life again someday, but for now the afterglow of that memory sustains me.
I think what worked for me with my wife back then was that I threw caution to the wind and just decided to “go for it”, come what may. I stopped over-thinking it and just acted. I don’t know why that’s so hard for me to do, but it is. It was scary, sure, but I’m so glad I did. It was also the only relationship where I took the lead rather than the woman, at least initially. SB had invited me to her house, after all. Few and far between, but a lot of my relationships, such as they were, were initiated by more aggressive women taking an interest in me rather than the other way around. With my ex-wife, I pursued what I wanted but had been too timid to push for in past relationships. I was still respectful, and when she wanted to take it slow I was fine with that. I guess too with my wife I was acting with much more confidence, which in turn was reassuring for her. Maybe it was being in my thirties and at least marginally more mature on some level, who knows? My ex-wife can tell you in other ways I’m still pretty childish and sophomoric. My emotional maturity is uneven and complicated, even at 43. I still feel as if I’m “only pretending” to be an adult.
I know this topic is a well beaten path for me and may be tedious for some readers, but of course I’m ultimately writing as therapy for me. You dear reader are merely along for the ride. If you find it tl;dr then maybe you should ask yourself why are you reading an Aspie blog anyway? (and what did you expect, if you know anything about us Aspies *wink*); Anyway, it helps me to ruminate on these memories, and recall what worked and what didn’t and try to tease out why. I feel a bit calmer and more at ease, or at least sufficiently distracted to try and chase more “ZZZs”, as it were.