As someone who hates confrontation, I usually avoid it by not saying anything when I’m annoyed by someone’s action. Until I went to America this summer to visit my friend I had met during my year abroad. Up until then, generally, I felt I was never upset or let down by my friends’ actions. From that experience in America, I’ve learned to rise my concerns more when I’m not happy with something, which I would say is a good thing judging from an article I had read on why not expressing your anger or disappointment is worse because you end up building contempt for the person.
I was not very good at expressing my emotions, influenced by the fact that I somehow grew up thinking that expressing your emotions meant revealing your cards and putting yourself in a vulnerable situation. This is something that I have been trying to unlearn in recent years, especially after hearing of Brené Brown and realised what she said really resonated with me.
Weirdly, over these past few weeks I have become more aggressive, especially during an eventful night out when I was telling a guy to hit me, and he and his friends were so taken aback from it. (It was some mosh pit situation and I wasn’t going to let some guy shove me repeatedly, so I shoved him back pretty hard and he confronted me about it twice actually! I don’t remember the whole thing, but I told him off twice. For the rest of the night whenever I bumped into him again, I noticed him staring but I couldn’t tell if he was annoyed. He had a hard face to read. It was an amusing story, even though I was all bruised. Still not sure if he had grabbed my arm at one point, which resulted in my bruises, or if it was from something else.) I had such an adrenaline rush from that night, and in a way, I was proud of myself for being able to stand up for myself. Instead of not doing anything or saying, ‘It’s fine’, I decided to be more aggressive.
This aggression was translated into my dating life. I made a deal with a guy saying that I will send certain things if he would write my personal statement. (As if I would trust someone with no knowledge of science to write something that is very important for an application!) Knowing that he probably would not write it, I went ahead with it anyway to see what he would say when he fails to fulfil his part of the deal. I don’t know what it is with me sometimes but I enjoy putting people into awkward situations. This time, PMS, had hit me hard, usually I am almost unaffected by it, but I felt so angry and tired the first day. That’s when I thought was the best time to ask him where my personal statement is. Though I did end up telling him I was doing it for my own entertainment purposes, and somehow I remembered him calling me, ‘a sexy piece of ass’, which really did not sit well with me. According to him, I should’ve taken it as a compliment, and I told him that the only person who would probably take that as a compliment is Ivanka Trump. He thought it was funny, and I bluntly asked him how it was. Few days passed and PMS started to fade, and I felt I acted slightly bitchy, so I asked him if I seemed annoyed the other day and he said, ‘Yeah, scarred me for life,’ which I found funny and things went back to the way they were before.
This made me question: when it comes to dating, is it better to not say anything sometimes and let it slide or show that you are annoyed with them? Or more concisely, is it better to be an aggressor or a pushover in dating?
I had the chance to exercise the aggressor part again with another guy, he was Belgian (this is important because he will be referred to later). We matched on Tinder and ended up having a very long conversation for around 3 hours. He seemed interested in what I was studying, and respectful at first. I told him I got free hot chocolate that night, which he seemed excited about, so I offered to take him sometime during the week. Then the next day, he asked what I was doing that night, and I told him working on my personal statement and CV, then somehow later on he was telling me to go over, and I replied that I won’t be because I’m working on my application. He then proceeded to say, ‘Boring, you need breaks,’ and that I was down for it, which I never was. Not for that night. Eventually he said, ‘I understand, but still boring,’ and I replied, ‘Thanks,’ sarcastically, which I later clarified with ‘lol’ that it was sarcastic and he informed me that he was being sarcastic, too. So we left it at that. I don’t understand why people think that I would prioritise hooking up with them over an important PhD application. Also, when did I ask for his opinion on my work? I feel like him calling what I’m doing ‘boring’ was him disrespecting my work and the career that I want to pursue. (To be honest, he seemed like a good test on determining if I really want to do a PhD or not, and from this I realised it is something that I really want, and is a good fit for my personality, too.) When I discussed this with my friend, we both agreed it’s disrespectful of my work and my time.
This isn’t the first time either that this type of situation has happened. It just seems that people don’t seem to believe you when you have a lot of work to do and don’t have the time to meet for some casual hookup. In some ways, I find it insulting that what they’re implying is that I shouldn’t have work to do or I should prioritise my career over them. I never liked relying on anyone and I never needed to. Whenever someone was broken in the house, I would be the one who would try to fix it. If something was to be assembled, I would be the one to do it. In some ways, I became my own father (reminds me of when I read Brené Brown’s book which had ‘parenting’ in its title, and my friend and I joked about how I’ve failed myself as a parent) because mine wasn’t around when I was growing up.
Last year I realised that I never needed anyone else (in terms of a romantic relationship setting because I have really great friends who would offer to help me – I don’t even have to ask), and more importantly, that I didn’t want anyone else. After going through a few flings, which I wouldn’t say ended in the best possible way and I was quite indifferent to everything, and wasn’t aggressive nor passive aggressive, I realised that it was my independence that I really had to protect. I’ve never given it much thought but from that point on, through exploring and meeting a lot of people, I became more and more clear of what I wanted from dating. I was never fond of the idea of a relationship either, or anything serious, mainly because as time went on, I found what was important to me: my friends, my career, and – I don’t like admitting this but – my family. My work gave me a lot of gratification, even if I spend some of my time complaining about it. There’s nothing that matches the type of accomplishment when you revised at the very last minute and by some miracle, managed to still do well or very well. Nor do I have the time to entertain a healthy relationship. Instability is what I grew up with, and I do not wish to seek more of it.
Back to the question I posed earlier, I would say that being aggressive is good as long as it’s for standing up for yourself. I think it’s more admirable when someone can stand their own ground and not be apologetic for what they believe in. It’s also admirable when someone who knows what they want and isn’t afraid to ask for it. The thing with the Belgian guy was he had a hidden agenda, and I feel that if we hook up, it will feel like that was more on his terms, and it wouldn’t feel as empowering for me. It seems this type of guy is afraid of asking for it, and the ironic thing is I would’ve been more likely to agree to it if he was more upfront about it.
Although I did exercise my aggressive guy slightly, but nowhere as much. I was explaining that there are things implied about me from the things I’ve written (since he seems to think I don’t understand the word bio) and that if there were more characters on Tinder, I could add more blanks between this quote and the next lines, then my quote would’ve been executed better. Then he wished me good luck on find the right guy for me and that I was “special”. I told this story to another Tinder guy, he thought it was hilarious. We both didn’t understand what it was exactly that I did to piss him off, but exercise your aggressive side with caution because some guys are more sensitive than you would think.
Until next time 🙂
P.S. there are probably a ton of grammatical error – damn writer’s block – but I should be making edits soon.