Just so you know, I'm not SWEATIN' you!
Sometime ago, I attended an after-work social event. The kind we have all been to: reduced drinks, free admission, hot DJ. The person I attended with was a regular to these events and knew most of the crowd that had shown up. She pointed out some of the young men there and gave short bios on each one. One young man worked in the same field I was in at the time and being that there were very few Black people in the industry, I wanted to connect. My opportunity came when I went up to the bar for my 2-for-1 drinks. As we ordered from the bartender I simply said hello, introduced myself and weaved my occupation into the brief convo. He was polite and we briefy talked. I told him it was nice to meet him and stated if we saw each other at a trade event, we'd speak. That was it. I didn't ask for his business card, phone number or email address nor did he offer any of his. It was a straight networking connection. At least on my end. As the night went on, we exchanged glances and I wondered what was up with the stares. I shrugged it off and did not give it a second thought.
Fast forward to a month later. At another event, I saw the same guy. This time he was surrounded by a group of his friends, including one guy I knew personally. I smiled as I walked by but in return, I got a few snickers, glances and a sly smile, not just from him but from all his buddies too. Eventually, my friend who was a part of his "crew" came over to say hello. He asked if I knew the guy in question. I replied with how I met him.
"Well, he thinks you like him. He said you tried to kick it to him at a function last month".
WTF!?!? Was he serious? "You've got to be kidding me," I told my friend, " I was simply networking, I never expressed any interest in him whatsoever!". Man, was I heated. Since when did saying 'Hello' equal 'I want to bear your children'?
"It didn't sound like you, you're pretty direct and I told him so, but I had to come over and check." he said.
First of all, there is no anger like anger from being accused of liking someone you don't or being with someone you haven't. Why? Because there is no real way to disprove it. All you can do is deny it, but people will still wonder and be like hmm... and you, you wanna kill somebody!I had to get my head straight. Was I back in 6th grade? Was this guy really walking around with his chest puffed out as I walked by because he thought I was "sweatin'" him? C'mon son!
I wish I could say he was the only guy I encountered in NYC like that, but unfortunately that would not be true. There have been men, and I use that term loosely, that have taken my perceived interest in them and used it like a Billboard posting that states "I am so hot! Need proof? She wants me!" Grow up!
And I'm not saying men are the only ones. Oh no. Women do it too. Don't get me wrong, I like my ego to be stroked just as much as the next person, but not at the expense of anyone's reputation or feelings. Because of this, I've realized from time to time, we all need to check our egos and not jump to conclusions nor hold onto them because feelings and interests do change. Here are a list of "Don'ts" to go by to keep your 'Hellos" and friendly convos from becoming ego driven nightmares.
1)Don't think that everybody that steps to you wants you. A 'Hello' or friendly convo is just that. Stop equating every person that comes up to you with "Attack of the Killer Street Pimps" from the movie 'Hollywood Shuffle' or the guys in the opener of 'She's Gotta Have It'. Not everyone that approaches you wants to drink your bathwater.
2)Don't read into something that's not there. Just because someone finds you intriguing and wants to get to know you better, that does not denote that they trying to get AT you. It's amazing how people forget their social or occupational position when it comes to the opposite sex. If you work for a non-profit that provides clothing for the homeless and I'm trying to start one, you may ACTUALLY be a good person to know professionally. Unless the person states they are interested in you for more than friendship, don't assume they are. I befriend interesting individuals all the time. I'd hate to think that every single one thinks I'm on a mission to tap that a*%.
3)Don't exploit another person's perceived interest in you. For one, your ego will be hurt unneccesarily when you find they either don't want you or deny interest and your face might get cracked if you brag to your girls or your boys that so & so are "feelin' you" when they are not. And if the person is feeling you, how do you think they will feel when they see you acting like a kid at his first 6th grade dance smirking and acting like jerk with your girls or boys in public places? It's such a turn-off. Believe me, if they were feeling you before, they will stop!
4) Don't act "too good" to speak. I'm not saying to encourage someone you're not interested in if they expressly said they were. But if you're the guy and the girl was nice to you, say hello. If your a girl and the guy was respectful, speak when spoken to. It costs nothing and yet amounts to so much of your character to be polite. Assuming someone is after you because they approached you could be harmful to your personal and professional life. Who wants to connect with a stuck-up, ego driven individual?
What about my situation? I've seen the guy out and about several times since then. Should I have taken the "L" and preserved his ego by not clearing up his obvious mistake about my interest in him? Or should I have let him know that I was in no way "sweatin' him and deflate his ego? And ladies we all know how guys can be when you hurt their egos. What I had decided was that telling my friend about it was enough. I'm sure he brought that back to the guy not to mention the fact that I haven't spoken to him since our first encounter. That alone should have tipped him off that I was not into him that way. But I'll never know for sure. What I do know for sure is that when people like him finally grow up, a lot of us will have outgrown them.
I'm sure there are plenty of other scenarios that people have experienced on both sides of the fence: thinking someone wanted us when they didn't and having someone think that you are into them when you weren't. Feel free to share!