General Question

yankeetooter's avatar

What do I make of this? (if anything)

Asked by yankeetooter (8475 points ) September 15th, 2012

I can’t help it…small kindnesses touch my heart deeply. I am very sensitive to those small courtesies, the “small” actions throughout the day that sometimes may not seem like much, but often help get me back on track. (It works the other way too, unfortunately.)

So I’m talking to someone the other night, someone who has an insanely busy schedule, to the point that I wonder when they have any time for themselves. (I mean, I thought I was busy, working a full-time job and taking a class, but compared to them I’m a lazy bum, lol!)

Anyway, in the course of the conversation, he offers to do something for me…and I am suddenly struck by how kind it is for him to offer to do this for me when he is so busy. Granted, the action itself will not take a huge chunk of his time, but still, it is yet another thing for him to deal with in an already busy schedule. I could understand it more if it was something I had asked him to do for me (which I probably would never do, knowing how busy he is), but for him to offer…well, frankly, I was stunned. And the situation was one that would resolve itself one way or another in about six weeks, so again, for him to take extra time to take care of this for me…wow…simply wow!

So now I am wondering what, if anything, to read into this….and interested to hear other’s opinions…

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37 Answers

tedibear's avatar

My first impression is that he is a very good friend. Luckily, there are still kind-hearted, well-meaning good people out there. It sounds like he is one.

Personally, I would try not to read anything into it. If you’re wondering if he is interested in you, I would just let whatever happens, happen. Continue to be friends with him and see if you pick up any other signals.

gailcalled's avatar

Don’t make yourself crazy by overthinking this (again). That has gotten you into trouble in the past.

Many people do nice things for others without having it be fraught.

Say “Thank-you,” see whether you can reciprocate in some small way, don’t be too needy but be cheerfully grateful but not stunned.

Then see how it plays out.

I am sorry that you see small courtesies and acts of kindness are bigger-than-life.

Work on the friendship.

SuperMouse's avatar

I would consider it a kind person making a kind gesture toward someone in need and leave it at that.

zenvelo's avatar

Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.

Seriously, while this might be something he is offering to do to woo you, it might be he is the kind of person who likes doing favors for people and doesn’t consider it a big deal. Some people are like that. Take it at face value, not as something below the surface.

So accept his offer graciously, and return the favor sometime either by doing something for him or by giving him a gift. You could take him out to dinner or find out what he really likes to do.

marinelife's avatar

For now, I would take it as a kind gesture from a good guy. If there are other signs, it may mean that he likes you.

yankeetooter's avatar

@zenvelo…and everyone else…I guess I know deep down that it is not because he is interested in me. I am hoping for his friendship, though, and I was wondering if this might be a good sign that he wants to be friends too. From what I have seen in his interactions with others, he seems to be one of the genuinely good people of the world, showing a lot of patience and kindness, so maybe it is just that that is who he is…

Dutchess_III's avatar

Can you accept, then offer to do something for him in return?

Trillian's avatar

There are those who give little of the much which they have – and they give it for recognition and their hidden desire makes their gifts unwholesome.
And there are those who have little and give it all.
These are the believers in life and the bounty of life, and their coffer is never empty.
There are those who give with joy, and that joy is their reward.
And there are those who give with pain, and that pain is their baptism.
And there are those who give and know not pain in giving, nor do they seek joy, nor give with mindfulness of virtue;
They give as in yonder valley the myrtle breathes its fragrance into space.
Though the hands of such as these God speaks, and from behind their eyes He smiles upon the earth.
K Gibran

yankeetooter's avatar

@Dutchess_III…I definitely accepted his offer…and, believe me, the moment I am aware of something I can do for him, it’s already done.

yankeetooter's avatar

Wow! @Trillian…thank you! That was beautiful…

Ela's avatar

I’d personally question or at least keep in the forefront, his motives. For me, the “giving” type (such as you’ve described) usually comes with an emotional price tag.
I know I get so wrapped up in his utter awesomeness that I don’t see the side kick (which was there all along) coming.
You sound like you are already feeling elated, truly blessed and in complete awe of the fact that this person is taking time for you.
I would pull all my of personal emotions out of it and take it for nothing more than someone doing something for someone else

yankeetooter's avatar

@Ela…as far as his motives, I don’t think there is anything there to worry about. And what kind of emotional price tag would be involved here? What side kick might you mean?

I confess, I am somewhat smitten with the guy…

SuperMouse's avatar

@yankeetooter I read @Ela‘s response to mean that sometimes when someone offers a kindness they might quietly be hoping for something in return. I tend to adhere to the same somewhat jaded? perspective. Many times when someone I don’t know well does something for me seemingly out of the kindness of their heart, I keep my eyes and ears open for possible ulterior motives.

You my friend are very kind and sensitive woman. From your participation here on Fluther I get the impression that most times you lead with your heart and that tends to cause you undue pain. Please don’t read anything extra into his doing a kindness for you. If he is smitten in return it will show itself soon enough in lots of ways, if/until that happens please look at it simply as someone doing something kind for another person. Guard your tender heart and don’t expose yourself to more hurt.

yankeetooter's avatar

I know, @SuperMouse…I keep telling myself all this…but will I be able to resist? I don’t know…

gailcalled's avatar

”...but will I be able to resist” is the question that keeps coming up in your private life.

If you could finally figure out how to do that, perhaps your life would be both calmer and more fun.

If what you are doing is not working, look for other avenues of behavior modification.

SuperMouse's avatar

@yankeetooter please remember though that if you aren’t able to resist you are setting yourself up (again) for incredible pain and stress.

There has got to be something in this world you can feel passionate enough about to help fill the void these crushes are filling. Can you get out and experience some of the world you haven’t experienced before? Pick up a hobby you have always wanted to try. Join a meet up group about something that fascinates you. Get involved in a local charity and support a cause that means a lot to you. You can be excited and feel great about your own life without having to desire something that isn’t realistic. If you put the work into yourself and become a the vibrant, exciting, fulfilled person you are capable of being, not only will you feel better, you’ll draw others to you as well.

Sunny2's avatar

They say that if you want something done, ask a busy person. People who are really busy are often more organized than the rest of us. They focus better and operate in a more efficient way. So don’t read too much into a kindness they offer. You’ll find out, in time, if they are offering a casual favor, friendship, or something more. So slow down and enjoy what ever it is now and don’t look ahead. Fantasies are fun, but can lead to unnecessary disappointments.

Kardamom's avatar

It’s good to be sensitive and grateful to kindness and good deeds, but the way in which you worded your question makes me think that you’re still on the cruel path of self-defeatism. You second guess yourself and others at every turn. You are a ball of nerves and that doesn’t serve you well. This fellow may not know this about you yet, but being around super-nervous or super-shy or super-unsure-of-themselves people can be very draining. I’m afraid that is what happened to you before. I know this is a new situation, but I see you heading down that path again. We all care about you and want you to be happy, I’m not admonishing you, I’m just telling you how the situation looks from a nuetral position.

The other Jellies and I would desperately like to help you, but I still believe that you need to get some professional counseling to help you to deal with your anxiety, depression and skewed vision. You’re a neat person and have a lot going for you. I could never do half of what you do with work and school, in a subject that I cannot even comprehend, and your singing that I could only ever dream of doing, but the anxiety and sadness that you have suffered for such a long time isn’t going to go away on it’s own. You don’t deserve to experience so much pain, no one does.

Your friend, although super busy, is probably a lot like my brother and one of my good friends. They’re both busy as bees, but they’re dynamos and would give just about anyone the shirt off of their backs. Your friend might be one of these types of people, who can’t help themselves but to be kind and helpful to others, even if it is a minor (to them) inconvenience.

He may also (not instead of, but also) have the beginnings of some romantic feelings for you.

I’m very concerned that whether he does see you as more than a friend, or just as a nice platonic friend, you are going to get yourself all worked up into a frenzy and put him and his kind deeds up on the highest and grandest pedestal you can find. If you do that again then you are going to make your own life miserable, again. No one, not even the mother Teresas and the Mahatma Ghandis of this world want to live on a pedestal. They were simply endowed by their creator (or their parents) with a fantastic ability to do good works, but for them they just see those good works as the normal course of their daily dealings, along with fixing dinner, brushing their teeth and doing the laundry. In other words, it’s part of their makeup.

The only people that want to live on pedestals are ego-tistical politicians and actors and mean bosses. And This Guy sorry, couldn’t resist, I just had to throw in a little levity.

If this guy has romantic feelings for you, or just sees you as a good platonic friend, then yay for you! It’s all good. But you need to figure out a way to be able to perceive what his feelings for you are. Usually it’s pretty easy to know whether a guy is interested in you romantically or not, but I realize that you have had some problems with mis-interpreting the signs, and then trying to fix the situation in ways that seemed to me, to be quite desperate.

Life doesn’t have to be that way. You can have a ton of passion (the good stuff) without having all of the desperation (the bad stuff that makes you do stuff that you’ll later regret). And don’t let any other mis-guided, depressed romantics out there try to convince you that life cannot be full unless the good stuff is tempered with equal amounts of shitty stuff. It just isn’t true. You should talk to Coloma. She’s about your same age, a few years younger than me. She put up with a lot of shit from a bunch of douchey people over the years, but she recently, within the last year or so, kicked that sh*t to the curb. Now she lives her life as she chooses. She’s been a real inspiration to me, maybe she can inspire you too.

Sometimes the easiest way to find out if a fellow is romantically inclined toward you is to let him know that you are romantically inclined toward him and ask him out of a casual date. You can pretty much be certain of how he feels about you, by how he responds. In the past, you’ve found it difficult or even impossible to get yourself to that stage, of talking to a guy like an actual human being. For this reason, and the others stated above, I really think it’s imperative for you to get some counseling, so you can learn to calm yourself down, to be self-effacing without being a doormat, and to look at things in a more realistic manner, and to have more realistic expectations of how things really are. Is there a reason why you have not pursued counseling? It’s certainly not something to be ashamed of, I would say at least 25%, maybe more of the Jellies have had some type of counseling. Maybe some of those folks could come over here and talk about their experiences.

If you don’t take anything more from this post, at least remember this, guys are not knights in shining armour, they’re dudes in tidy whities : )

Coloma's avatar

Oooh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to PROJECT….our fantasy images onto perfect strangers.
If I am comprehending your sharing properly it smacks of you going down a fantasy path of romantic infatuation, again. No insult intended.
Take a deep breath, ground yourself and be aware that a simple gesture of altruism does not mean another person is a saint, not does it mean they want to do anything MORE for you than offer a helping hand.
I suggest just going with the flow and monitoring your thoughts like a hawk on a mouse.

It’s fine to be touched, it is fine to feel flattered, it is fine to feel a sense of awe and gratitude for a random act of kindness, but…it is NOT fine to write an entire romance novel with yourself as the leading lady over something quite benign other than a basic show of friendliness.

Bellatrix's avatar

It depends what it is they did. I need more detail to be able to evaluate this situation. Still, my feeling is it is probably just a nice gesture and that’s how I would treat it. Don’t read anything into it. Accept it with dignity and in the future, if you get an opportunity, return the favour.

wundayatta's avatar

I’m getting the sense that there’s a back story here that some people seem to know, but I don’t. What is your relationship with this fellow, @yankeetooter? What is his situation? Why do you react this way to his kindness? Why does it seem so unusual? Is it just because he is so busy?

Truthfully, I’d hate to say anything without knowing what we’re really talking about. What was or what will be this kindness?

yankeetooter's avatar

@wundayatta…he was finding out some information for me, and the reason his kindness seemed unusual didn’t have anything to do with him, but rather my life, in that I have encountered a lot of hurtful people in my past, so that when someone is kind to me (even in small ways), it makes me sit up and take notice.

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gailcalled's avatar

@yankeetooter: You are repeating yourself and going around in circles; the mini-details of the encounter are unimportant.

Your reactions here mirror those in your real-life.

You are sitting up and taking notice. Now, do something.

Start by rereading all of the answers here.

What about responding to the suggestions to see a therapist?

Maybe, instead of being kind and considerate, we should all bully you. Would that work?

yankeetooter's avatar

@gailcalled…that’s not funny!

Kardamom's avatar

@yankeetooter Gailcalled is not trying to be funny. She’s trying to make a point. The point is that we have been going round and round with you, on this question and a year ago, we almost had the exact conversation and you still aren’t doing anything to help yourself. You keep repeating behaviors that make your problems worse (or at least don’t make them any better) You’re kind of like a broken record that can’t get to the next track. Do you at least notice that within yourself?

The thing that really disturbs me is that you only respond to the funny/stupid/ironic stuff, like Gailcalled’s remark, which wasn’t meant as an insult. But you don’t respond to the real solutions that have been offered to you.

Most of the Jellies on this Q and some of your others have suggested that you should seek counseling, because you have some deep-seated issues that can’t be resolved on your own, but so far, you have not ever responded to the idea of therapy or counseling and none of us can figure out why.

What I’m really concerned about it the possibility of a repeat of This Question from last year. That question, and the responses that it generated, came from another question that you posted which came across as a suicide note and was immediately taken down. As I recall there were legal and ethical and policy ramifications (Fluther doesn’t allow questions that appear to be suicide notes).

As you can see in the responses, you got very angry with the mods and some of the Jellies who were trying to help you. Many of whom over the course of your questions about The Guy suggested that you seek counseling. Just like we are doing now. And This Question is one of the series of Q’s that started this whole situation. What I’m trying to point out to you is that you are still engaging in the same behaviors that caused you so much pain a year ago. And we are still trying to convince you that you need to get some counseling.

There comes a point when us Jellies either have already, or will in the near future, be at our capacity to assist you. If you don’t like our advice, or don’t want to take our suggestions and can’t/won’t help yourself, I have little else to offer : (

You have so much potential, but you have to take that first step towards treatment. We can’t drag you. Good luck, my friend.

wundayatta's avatar

So, if I understand you right, your logic is that no one is every kind to you. Now someone is kind to you. Therefore this is an extraordinary thing.

They you ask yourself why someone should make an extraordinary gesture to you. And what answer do you get?

glacial's avatar

@Kardamom I have to question the value of dredging up old questions that the OP would probably rather not have re-posted (In fact, it seems a little mean to do so.) Fluther is (hopefully) not a static community of the same 10 people from year to year. It actually is conceivable that @yankeetooter could find useful advice from different people than the ones she encountered in past questions. If certain jellies find themselves “at capacity” to assist her, then presumably they would avoid reading her questions or chastising her for her reactions to the answers. It is not difficult to make that choice.

Kardamom's avatar

@glacial The reason that I brought up her old posts is because she is reverting back to the same behaviors that are causing her trouble right now. Behaviors that got her into trouble with the mods and caused her to do some things that were not helpful to her. I think that new users need to know an OP’s background, their whole background.

If I was a new user and had come upon this question, without knowing the background, I might have just said Neato, what a great guy, and left it at that. And that isn’t going to help her at all. The guy is just the tip of the iceberg. But since I do know the OP’s background, I am trying to help her. Part of trying to help her is to get her to realize that she’s still engaging in the same type of behaviors that are currently hurting her, and that those issues have not been resolved.

I would certainly like lots of new users, and old users come to this thread and try to help. You don’t have to like my answer and that’s OK. That’s why we are a collective, we have many voices.

Do you have any advice for Yankeetooter?

glacial's avatar

@Kardamom But the thing is… maybe he is interested in her. The way several jellies have responded in this thread makes it sound as if @yankeetooter should never hope for someone to be attracted to or care for her. Would you have her squash that hope whenever she feels it, and just assume that it can only be due to some skewed perception on her own part? Whatever her history is (I have read the threads), that is just not fair. In fact, it could be more damaging than letting her wear her heart on her sleeve.

My own answer to her question is that people are kind for a variety of reasons that may or may not have anything to do with the person being shown kindness. If the guy is someone I am interested in, but also want to maintain a friendship with, then I might be cautiously optimistic. My reaction would depend on more than just that one interaction. In short, I wouldn’t “make something” of one act. If there is something between them, that will show itself over time.

Kardamom's avatar

@glacial If you read my first post, you will see that I suggested that he might be interested in her romantically. What I want her to avoid, is getting hurt again, by not engaging in some of the similar behaviors that caused her so much pain in the past.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

@yankeetooter : So there’s a man in your world who is doing something nice for you. So what? It means nothing beyond the fact that he’s helping. Nothing.

You mentioned in the thread you’re smitten with him. That word conjures vast consequences that I can personally relate to. I have been in long lasting relationships that ended badly. I happen to have a mental illness (bipolar type 1), and I am very careful whom I trust that information with. In the past, I’ve had seemingly successful relationships, and then when I reveal my personal information about my illness, the people leave. The vast majority have left. I can count on one hand people outside my family who know my diagnosis and haven’t left me.

I know the pain of losing relationships.

This history has led me to fall madly, deeply in love with some men in extremely short time frames. I’m talking days. It’s caused me to be used and abused emotionally. It has put me in harms way physically. My mental health has been impaired because of it.

I know what it’s like to be messed up.

Relationships are what life is all about. It is the essence of what it means to be human. I am talking about all kinds of relationships, not simply romantic ones. I don’t for one second believe there is a single person on the planet who’s got their shit completely together in this area. In my opinion, we all can use a helping hand. That help can come in many forms. It may be a close friend or mate. It may be a minister. It may be a counselor, psychologist, psychiatrist, or family doctor. It could even be the librarian.

We’re lucky in the industrialized world, help is available all around us.

I don’t know what’s right for you, but I can say from this OP and this thread (not from other questions or threads) that you’re putting too much weight on what this man is doing for you. You’re doing what I do. I project my desires and needs onto the actions of others and read a lot of what’s not really there. This leads to pain for me and confusion for the other person.

How do I handle this predilection of mine?

1. I meditate. It’s amazing what sitting and trying to be clear of all extraneous mind-noise will do.
2. I also exercise. It’s a proven way to relieve stress and anxiety. (I have also been diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder.)
3. I eat healthy food. I don’t drink soda or coffee. I stick to tea.
4. I stay away from alcohol. It’s a depressant.
5. I volunteer. It gets me out of my head, which is not a neighborhood I should go alone to. Volunteering can be as simple as dusting the books at the local library once a month.
Finally, 6. I get professional help. It’s important with my mental illnesses to get help from people who have serious knowledge about these issues. I take medication as prescribed. I see a psychotherapist regularly.

These are simple, important things I do to help myself.

A person I respect a great deal once gave me some sage advice. It goes something like this:

When we start a potentially romantic relationship, we often give it 150%. When thing go slight awry, we back off to 100%. Then something comes along that tells us there may be more to the picture than we’d first imagined, and we back down to 75%. So it goes, until we’ve lost all, and the end comes. The remainder is the pain and heartache.

Why don’t we try it the other way? Why not start out by giving a new relationship just 5% of our time and effort and see what happens? If common interests arise, perhaps there will be room to grow to 25 or 30%. Organically, getting to know the other person will flourish, or it will wither. We win in either case.

I’m currently using this model in a few relationships, and I can attest it works.

I wish you all the best with whatever comes of your situation.

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Earthgirl's avatar

@yankeetooter , I’ve been watching this thread and I feel sort of bad about that. I want to help and I have given it some thought. I am the sort of person who doesn’t really relish giving life-changing advice. I especially don’t like giving advice when I barely know the person. It’s so easy to take a few shreds of information and jump in with a solution and an analysis. So often it’s opinion and that is understood. People will take it or leave it. The last thing I want to be is callous or insensitive. I don’t want to sum you up in a nutshell. My opinion is an outside opinion which has its benefits, in that I am emotionally distant from your situation, and its drawbacks, in that I have limited knowledge and understanding of you. So in that spirit, of wanting to be helpful, yet not knowing if I can be, I have this to offer.

What strikes me is that you ask for help and advice and many jellies offer you good sound advice but you protest that they don’t understand and they don’t see why you just cannot do what they suggest. You don’t say that their advice is bad. I’m not sure if you yourself understand why you so immediately seem to reject it as not workable, not possible.

You’ve said that you’re sensitive and easily hurt. Being sensitive is a good quality but as a sensitive person you do need to protect yourself. There are a few ways you can do this. The 2 most obvious ways that come to mind are 1) become less sensitive, be more callous and tough (not recommended) or 2) Learn to evaluate people better as to who you can trust and who you cannot trust. Take things cautiously to avoid getting hurt.

These two strategies can mess with your mind if you keep alternating back and forth, back and forth. I don’t think you want to become more callous because I think you value your sensitivity. So I will put that solution aside. The second solution is much more viable. But how do you know who you can trust? You’ve been hurt before and so you start to question it. You start to wonder, as with this friend and his kind offer if there is some ulterior motive to his helping you or if, dare to dream, it means something much more serious, if it means maybe he likes you as more than a friend.

Believe me, I understand what it’s like to be sensitive and easily hurt. I understand what it’s like to take things hard. I understand what it’s like to find it hard to assert yourself and stand up to people. I remember once in high school I wrote some silly piece of writing which stated of the protagonist (i.e. me, of course) that “she liked to take things at face value”. How funny that is to me now!! Every time I think of it, I laugh!! If ever there was a person who didn’t take things “at face value” it was me! I think it was wishful thinking on my part. I knew in some part of myself that life would be ever so much easier if I could do that.

Sometimes we find ourselves in an endless cycle of repeating bad choices. We aren’t getting what we need out of life and we need to break the cycle. If we reject every solution offered as unworkable we will remain stuck. Perhaps it is more comfortable being a victim of circumstances. It’s hard to look at ourselves objectively yet in many cases that is what is called for. If you don’t want to be a victim you can’t keep telling yourself that there is no way out. If your family bullies you, you can’t keep saying to everyone who tries to help you to assert yourself “You just don’t understand!”. You can’t allow yourself to be a victim. In some ways being a victim becomes your excuse for not doing what you really want to do but are afraid of doing. You need to confront these fears and it’s not easy. That’s why therapy can help.

You say you don’t want to go to therapy because you find it hard to open up to people. This is an issue of trust, obviously. If you cannot even trust a therapist to not hurt you, who can you trust? You’ve opened up to us on Fluther. so many people see your potential. They see the ways you are getting in your own way, the ways in which you hurt yourself. Hear that! The ways in which you hurt yourself! You can see the ways in which other people hurt you. This way of casting yourself as a helpless victim, unable to change, at the mercy of other people, not trusting other people, is your way of hurting yourself.

Being sensitive is hard, I know. It places a lot of fear in your heart. Things that other people don’t think twice about, things other people brush off as nothing, can hurt deeply. But please, please, don’t let this hold you back! You only have one life to live.

One of the most popular psychology books ever written was Games People Play by Eric Berne. As I read your comments to gailcalled it reminded me of the game IWFY (short for If it weren’t for you, not I wanna fuck you,lol)
I feel like it is possible that this mirrors your relationship with your family. Consider the possibility that your resentment of their impositions and judgements of you and of your choices of how to live your life is a veiled fear of doing what you want to do. You want it, but you fear it. By thinking that they don’t allow you or that they disapprove of your choices it gives you an easy out. You don’t try and so you cannot fail. Then you blame them for not letting you pursue your dreams.

It’s really great that you’ve taken the first step towards living for yourself by changing your major. Congratulations on that and good luck with it.

The last thing I want to do is psychoanalyze you. Please understand this. I question myself all the time because I tend to do the same thing. I have a lot of fears and I have to push myself and not let myself make excuses or lay blame on other people when it’s really my own fears holding me back. So there are no easy answers or easy solutions.

As far as your basic question, I agree with those who say, take it at face value. It’s probably his nature to do such things and he doesn’t give it much thought. Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth, return the favor when you get a chance, be grateful to have this good person in your life. Value yourself, find your joy.

wundayatta's avatar

Wow, @Earthgirl! I think that may be the best answer of yours I’ve seen!

Many times in my life, women have been kind to me and I wondered whether it meant something more than the kindness. Did they like me? Were they trying to say something?

Since I was insecure, I always decided that they weren’t trying to say anything. They were just being nice. Maybe I lost some chances, but that’s all right. In the end, I did meet some women who really did like me, and I had a number of relationships, and now am married.

You don’t have to take up every chance. There will be other chances. If you are uncertain, it is all right to lay back and let it go. Just be grateful that someone was kind. It doesn’t have to mean anything. And even if it does mean something, you don’t have to follow up on it.

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