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  1. Given my previous experiences, I would say people should take several years to learn about each other before getting married. The first year is a trial period where you start to understand your partner and make a decision about whether or not they are really right for you. A lot happens in a year and it should help to see how a person behaves and changes. You are absolutely right about actions. I have heard many broken promises and apologies so words have little meaning to me at this point. Maybe this is a cynical view but I would like to see someone act in a consistent manner - respectful, carrying, kind, open, etc for an extended period of time. I have only had a few one night stands. While they are fun, they bring little joy to one's life. My hope is for a long lasting and fulfilling relationship. It is difficult to find a present and conscious partner. This is why I think it is so important to audition a person for at least a year before making a serious commitment. Since April I have read 20+ books on the subjects of emotional abuse, domestic violence, narcissism, alcoholism (my mother), physical abuse (mother again), and the psychology of women like me. I am in therapy with two different therapists and also see a sexual assault prevention and awareness advocate at my school on a weekly basis. This team effort has been going strong since April. I am learning about why and how I got into such relationships in the first place. My goal is to prevent such things from happening again which means taking responsibility for my life. Self care as well as the path to becoming a whole person important aspects of the recovery process. It will be a never ending journey but at least I have started now. Absolutely! He is already taking pleasure in explaining parts of Turkish culture to me in class. There is a fair amount of questioning about how things are in America as well. I am sure that the exchange of information will be stimulating. Having absentee parents is something that I am all to familiar with. It is incredible that you worked with the social tools that the military opened to you and used them for growth. Thank you for recommending this. I have been repeating some of this advice to myself to remember that stepping out of ones comfort zone can be where the most exciting things occur. What a great motto to have in your life. I think I will have to adopt this a bit myself. It seems like lots of people around me have social anxiety. Many of us are scared. If I just let go and continue to face those fears, I imagine that it will get easier for me too. Wonderful! I wish you the best of luck. If you set your mind to it, It can happen. I am sure that living in Turkey helps. Turkish is such a fascinating language. I finally enjoy conversing with others. It used to be a sore spot. I can speak it almost fluently though writing large papers can be a challenge. Sometimes it is difficult to explain everything but native speakers have offered compliments before. It is something that I am still self conscious about because my mother always criticized me. You have also helped to teach me about the positive power of rejection. Thank you for the practical examples. I am doing more things in my life that could result in rejection and expecting a negative outcome. In many cases, there is a pleasant surprise! I will work on practicing this more with people in my daily life including this young man. Many of half listen to what the other person is saying and then project things onto them from our own minds. This really does a disservice to interactions. It allows doesn't foster a real connection. Yes, he seems to like to fill the vacuum as well. He mentioned that in social situations where there isn't a clear leader, he is happy to take control. Though of course I will be paying attention to his actions and checking to see what is consistent. For now it is clear that he enjoys steering the conversation in particular directions which I rather enjoy. Usually people cannot keep up with me when we speak. For the first time there is this person across from or next to me who has lots of questions and answers to share. I'm so used to potential partners being closed off. They usually expect me to steer the conversation and draw things out of them. This man is very welcome change. This is something that I am training myself to do with school work as well as daily interactions. Over the years there has been a lot of emotional growth. Learning how to be an excellent student took a backseat. Finally getting some good grades in math after studying helped to cement the idea of repetition and creating situations that would result positive change. It has taken years to learn this concept. It is still a bit of a struggle to see that everyone is just as worried about rejection as I am. I guess understanding that is part of being an adult (I am in my early 20s with many years of growth ahead). After pushing so many people away, I've decided to stop forcing situations that are not reciprocated. It does little service to my nervous system or the other person. One particular person comes to mind, I was 19 at the time: It all started when I went to visit my friend at his place (a house full of men ages 19-21) while working on planning my wedding. There was very attractive young man who lived with him and immediately caught my attention. I felt an almost electrical pulse when around him. It seemed like we had a crazy connection and I may have been the only one to feel it. He is a man of integrity and did not allow things to get out of hand because I was engaged at the time (divorced now, marriage lasted about a month - clearly a bad choice in hind sight ). I basically used the idea of this man to get out of the bad relationship I was in without him clearly reciprocating any feelings. We hung out several times and had a few nice conversations about his job and our mutual interests. He invited me to a convention but I could not go at the time due to my engagement. Instead I continued to dream about what could have been. When I tried to have a chat with him about feelings, he made it clear that nothing could happen. That didn't seem to stop my mind from having interesting thoughts. Even though the man rejected me, I built up the idea of him in my mind and continued to get rejected over and over again. That situation taught me a valuable lesson about not pushing myself on to people who are not showing mutual interest. Cultivating self love is one of my major themes for the rest of my life. There has been this hole in my life since my father left (when I was 5) and my mother spent my entire childhood physically and emotionally abusing me. Now I get to be my own positive nurturing parent. Hopefully this will result in becoming more attractive on the inside which is what truly matters. It would be fantastic to find other people who are working towards the same goal or already have a strong foundation.
  2. First and foremost, I really like the way that you think about things. It is clear that you have done a great deal of self reflection and examining of the world. You answers are incredibly helpful for my development. Whether this situation takes a romantic turn or not, I am learning and growing. Thank you so much for the effort and thought that you put into these responses. This is a huge point to remember. I get so hung up on what people say even though words do not mean as much as actions. People often forget what they say. What I have noticed over a month of being in class with this person is an energy in my general direction and a lot of eye contact and smiling. Given the circumstance, I could have rejected him and I didn't. While the whole ordeal is moving rather slowly, it is probably for the best. We could have rushed off to coffee just then but there is something nice about waiting, pondering, and allowing things to play out the way that they will. I don't feel the need to push anything because I'm recovering from a series of abusive relationships. Even if he just invited me for a friendly interaction, it will be great to have the opportunity to learn about Turkish culture from someone who has lived in both countries. Thank you for sharing this. It must have been painful to live through those experiences, yet you clearly were able to take them as learning opportunities. It is very inspiring. Did you throw yourself into every situation possible or was there a careful picking and choosing process? This is a great motto for going out into the world when one has social anxiety. I am discovering these skills in all sorts of social situations. From meeting new friends at the gym that I've joined to interacting with cashiers at my favorite grocery store. For years I was stuck inside of a shell. Breaking these boundaries is definitely difficult but worth it. What is hilarious is that I feel the same way about Turkish. It feels near impossible to clearly articulate myself. I am a deep thinker in English and can have philosophical conversations, however, it is a struggle to get to that level in Turkish. I always feel like I cannot completely get my point across when it comes to more difficult subjects. Though he himself has said that my skills are strong. Before you even wrote this, I tried to have the same thought. It appears that the world has some things in store for me when I let go of the anxiety and expect failure. I didn't get a chance to ask or be rejected. Thank you again for the help with this. It is great to have a few talking points in mind so that when I go blank, which does happen, I can try to come back to the matter at hand. In one of the relationship podcasts that I've been listening to, they mention the concept of being present. This means actually listening to what a person is saying and having a genuine response to it. Wow, someone should broadcast this message. We are so used to thinking we matter but in the grand scheme of things we are very small and have little control beyond our own actions. I am definitely noticing this (taking the lead) and enjoying the process. I've never tried quite so hard to be on top of my "presence." While outfits and such are not planned, I am always freshly showered and looking the best I can be that day. Regardless of what happens with him, prior to us even meeting I was already paying a lot more attention to my self care and hygiene. It just makes you feel better as a person and when interacting with others. This is not something that I have really cared about with other men. In some ways this level of taking pride in myself is good for me. Yes, after spending some time watching things develop, I believe I have a basic understanding of this concept. When one tries to "control" the situation as I have in the past: telling people point blank that I am interested and pursuing them relentlessly, everything falls apart. I get the rejection I wasn't expecting and they feel uncomfortable with my behavior. I think after 8 years of silliness (coming on too strong with people I am interested in) it it finally starting to make some sense.
  3. I will craft a more thoughtful response to this shortly. I really appreciate the time that you have put into helping. I didn't have to do too much. On Monday his friends darted off rather quickly after class and we were left to wander alone. After a few awkward stops and starts we walked around a bit and chatted. Rather quickly he started to ask me about coffee shops in the area with a few specific requests. I mentioned a few of my favorites and the interaction ended with him inviting me to get coffee sometime at one of the places.
  4. It is difficult to understand what is inside a person's mind unless you ask them or they volunteer the information. I find myself beating myself up over this situation even though that isn't productive. He seems to have a bubbly and open personality though I don't know much about his interactions with others. I get more smiling and eye contact than his friends in class. It is nice to hear that some Turkish men are more clear than women. The signals seem to be there but I put myself down due to fear of rejection. I feel particularly silly for how I have left all of our interactions after class..... Rather quickly and without really saying anything nice other than "see you later." He even mentioned at one point in class that Americans are less prone to inviting him to do things even though he would love to go. I'd like to invite him to do something but can't seem to muster the courage. Does inviting someone for coffee show too much interest? I am pretty new to dating and interacting with others like this in general. It would be great to learn more about this person and come down to earth more. The dopamine rush is strong. I'm finding myself wanting to apologize for rushing off quickly after class. I usually have another class or things to do but I would like to spend more time with him. This is something that I cannot be sure of. Simply living in another country while in school does not mean that one assimilates easily. As for speaking the language, he prefers not to speak English with me. I have heard this recommendation before. My guess is that inviting someone for coffee is not professing an interest in them romantically. Taking the first step is really scary for me given the possibility of impending rejection. That and not keeping myself protected to a degree. I am quite familiar with the general Turkish customs when you know someone. This is my second time actually interacting with other new Turks for extended periods of time outside of the country so I'm a little clueless. The kiss on the cheek has not been a norm with these guys. This is fantastic advice and I cannot tell you how much I appreciate it. I have to ask why you recommend taking this approach?... Letting him take the lead I mean. It is my natural inclination at this point. Most of the time when I took control of social situations like this the results were poor. I'm looking forward to asking him more questions about himself as he as asked me a lot. I feel like I just clam up and start responding to him because I'm too flustered to do anything else.
  5. Thank you for the suggestion. My worry was being too forward if he's just being friendly. Usually when I express interest or ask people out there is rejection. I would hate to make things awkward for the rest of the semester. You're certainly right about the lack of information. He has lived in the United States for a few years but it is hard to figure out how traditional he could be. He usually travels with his friends which seems to be traditional to me. There is a chance that he has adapted to some of the cultural cues in the US. There is a lot of eye contact and smiling. Maybe we are both just too shy to say anything to each other. However, he ran into another American woman while we were walking together and they ended up hugging. I stopped paying attention to the interaction so it was difficult to get a read on the situation. It just seemed friendly from what I could tell. There is a chance that he is approaching our interactions with caution.
  6. I actually had a lengthy post that many people viewed but did not respond to. I have an intimate graduate level Turkish reading class with 4 other students. Three of them are young (male) engineers who came from the same university abroad. They are best friends with a clear dynamic. The class is kind of a piece of cake for them as they are native speakers but I digress. It appears that the most handsome one of them has taken an interest in me or I am reading the signals totally wrong. It really does feel like he's focusing his energy on me. There's a lot of eye contact, smiling, and such. He's in a room with his best friends and yet persistently does things that engage me like asking clarifying questions about statements I've made. Twice he's looked straight at me while talking to the teacher about details in the reading that pertain to relationships. When asked what the author was feeling in the moment and throughout the piece he looked straight across the table at me and said "he wants a woman." A week later the teacher describes a scenario in which this young man has a girlfriend and they're struggling to stay together. Once again he look directly across the table saying "if I could get a girlfriend first." We are several weeks into the course at this point and he sits next to me every class. There's usually a lot of smiling and such in my general direction. The other day he asked me how late the banks are open on Saturdays (something that he could have easily googled on or possibly figured out in two years of living in the US). On the way out of class today he told me that the paper he wrote was so bad that a five year old could have written it and that I probably wouldn't want to read it. Then he proceeded to ask me if he could ask me a question. "I've been thinking about this a fair amount, which one of your parents spoke the language because you don't really have an accent when you speak? (this is honestly surprising to me because my mother always gave me a hard time and said I sounded like an American when speaking). He proceeded to explain that women do a better job of keeping a language alive in the family than men. I could be totally reading into it because he's kind of cute. Either way I keep replaying the scenes in my head and telling myself to stop smiling so darn much in class. It does at least feel a little like he's trying to get attention. His friends are totally stoic. Oh who knows. Excuse the ramble. I am not quite sure how the dating culture works in Turkey or if that really matters in this circumstance. Thank you for the help!
  7. I have travelled to Turkey a lot a speak the language fluently. I've only dated on Turkish man before. The relationship was very innocent so I have no experience with Turkish men in their early 20's.
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