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How to Approach Dating a Turkish Man

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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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I think if you ask a specific question, or questions, it will help others reply. :)

 

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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!

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It's hard to reply to these kinds of posts, because nobody else can possibly know the situation, or the man, since they are all different. Anything said is kind of a stab in the dark, and specific questions help clarify what information you're looking for. Turkish men are different. Some are very westernized, others are very traditional. For the traditional ones, eye contact and a smile is absolutely taken as flirting, and an invitation. For more westernized Turks, it's just eye contact and a smile. I would say that Turkish men tend to be rather forward if they want to date a woman, then again, I have met Turkish men who are so shy they're afraid to even talk to a woman.

Why not just ask him to join you for a cup of coffee, for no reason other than having the company? Then let him talk, and listen to him. That would be my suggestion for starters. :)

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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.

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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.

I know exactly what you're talking about there. Sometimes I meet women who behave in a way which would indicate they are attracted to me, but later I learn that this is their normal manner with everybody. It can be embarrassing to be the first to reveal your attraction to someone else, especially if you got all of the signs wrong.

Thankfully in your case, Turkish men are more clear on such things to women than Turkish women are to men!

I must mention here again that it is impossible to categorize Turks. Their culture and mentality can fall anywhere within a very wide spectrum.

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He has lived in the United States for a few years but it is hard to figure out how traditional he could be.

It is a good idea to be concerned about this. I had a very close Turkish woman who I dated. She seemed very westernized and modern. But when at one point we had a conversation about religion, I was astonished to learn that she was very religious. I mean, radically religious. And I have discovered with other Turks that their strong religious feelings might be just under their skin. Let me give you the extremes of the spectrum.

I know women who are married to Turkish men and they couldn't be happier. Really. They have a very happy relationship.

Then I have heard of a case where western women married a Turkish man only to find that after they were married, the Turkish man tried to exert control over every aspect of their lives. Like approving or disapproving her clothing, etc.

Get to know this guy first. Get to know him well. And use your head while doing it. Feelings, while they give your brain a pleasant rush of dopamine, do little for your actual well being.

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He usually travels with his friends which seems to be traditional to me.

That would be normal with Turks. Turks are very inclusive with people. And Turkish friends stick together. Even if I was a stranger and by chance struck up a conversation with a table of Turks, they would invite me over. And if they decided to go somewhere else, they would invite me to come with them. Turks quickly and easily form close relationships. In fact, the Turkish friendliness is one of the reasons I prefer to live in Turkey. I'm an American, and compared to Turks, Americans are much more distant.

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There is a chance that he has adapted to some of the cultural cues in the US.

That's possible. No matter where he is from, he might assimilate well into US culture. Then again, he might not.

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There is a lot of eye contact and smiling. Maybe we are both just too shy to say anything to each other.

That could be. But don't take the first step. Simply create situations where he can take the first step. Then let him.

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However, he ran into another American woman while we were walking together and they ended up hugging.

I don't know the situation with this. In Turkey, as I understand the custom, when I first meet a woman, I simply shake hands. I would not hug a woman I didn't know. But if I knew her well, then there would be a hug and perhaps a symbolic kiss on each cheek. Turkish men do something similar, but if they know each other well they touch the side of their forehead together, if they know each other.

From a male standpoint, this is how I would recommend approaching it. Don't show your attraction. Let him take the lead. Act as if the thought of attraction had never occurred to you. Invite him to join you for coffee. Or ask him to help you with something. Set the stage for conversation. Ask him about him. Ask him about what part of Turkey he is from. For that matter, just ask him about his religious beliefs. Let him tell you about himself. Everybody likes to talk about themselves.

If he is interested in you, he will accept your every invitation, and be there.

And your time is not wasted. The worst that can happen is that you make a friend.

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I know exactly what you're talking about there. Sometimes I meet women who behave in a way which would indicate they are attracted to me, but later I learn that this is their normal manner with everybody. It can be embarrassing to be the first to reveal your attraction to someone else, especially if you got all of the signs wrong.

Thankfully in your case, Turkish men are more clear on such things to women than Turkish women are to men!

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. 

 

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That would be normal with Turks. Turks are very inclusive with people. And Turkish friends stick together. Even if I was a stranger and by chance struck up a conversation with a table of Turks, they would invite me over. And if they decided to go somewhere else, they would invite me to come with them. Turks quickly and easily form close relationships.

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.

 

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That's possible. No matter where he is from, he might assimilate well into US culture. Then again, he might not.

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.

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That could be. But don't take the first step. Simply create situations where he can take the first step. Then let him.

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. 

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In Turkey, as I understand the custom, when I first meet a woman, I simply shake hands. I would not hug a woman I didn't know. But if I knew her well, then there would be a hug and perhaps a symbolic kiss on each cheek. Turkish men do something similar, but if they know each other well they touch the side of their forehead together, if they know each other.

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.

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From a male standpoint, this is how I would recommend approaching it. Don't show your attraction. Let him take the lead. Act as if the thought of attraction had never occurred to you. Invite him to join you for coffee. Or ask him to help you with something. Set the stage for conversation. Ask him about him. Ask him about what part of Turkey he is from. For that matter, just ask him about his religious beliefs. Let him tell you about himself. Everybody likes to talk about themselves.

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. 

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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. 

Even if you ask, and they answer, you can't really know. Not from what they say. They only way you can really know is by what they do. And the only way you can get a good reading on that is by seeing what they do, over a long period of time. Always go by what they do. Not what they say.

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The signals seem to be there but I put myself down due to fear of rejection. 

Everybody has a fear of rejection. And everybody has issues with self-esteem. And nobody wants to look foolish. So you're not alone in that. Embrace it. Stop putting yourself down over it.  And know that he feels the same way, because he does.

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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.

Don't get hung up on trying to "read" him. It's unnecessary, and besides, you're only reading what he is showing. It's not an accurate indicator of what's going on inside of him.

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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 tend to do that as well. Maybe it's from the showman's motto, "always leave them wanting more."

What he said is true. Turks are far more inclusive than Americans. They're closer as family and friends, and with the requisite conflicts! :) A Turk, when going out, would check with all of their friends to see if they wanted to go as well. And if someone refused, they would try to talk them in to it. An American would probably just go out. Or if they asked their friends if they wanted to go, and they said they didn't, an American would just accept it and go out alone. I'm not saying one culture is better than the other, they're just different.

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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?

No. For a Turk, they'll invite you just because they enjoy your company. And even if they don't enjoy your company, since they wouldn't want to leave you alone. They think more of the group than the individual.

Don't think about it too much. Just tell him that you are going for a coffee (you are going anyway) and ask him if he would like to join you. There is nothing wrong with saying that you would like to learn more about him, and about Turkey. He'll probably tell you a lot of interesting things. So just go for that.

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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.

There you go. That's your mission. You have a rather interesting person (a Turk) who is now an acquaintance of yours. It is totally normal to be curious about him, about his culture, and about how he sees the world. There is nothing wrong with asking him to join you for a cup of coffee to learn more about him. So it's outside the edge of your comfort zone. It's outside the edge of your comfort zone where where the really cool stuff happens.

Ask yourself: "What's the worst that can happen?" "Will I die?" "Will I be mortally injured?" "Will I be so horribly embarrassed if something goes wrong that I will find the need to jump off a bridge?" The answer is no. Of course not. Always cross-examine these kinds of thoughts just like a defense attorney would. And when you imagine that, by chance, some negative thing might happen, know that there is the same chance that something very positive will happen. Because that's absolutely true.

I will tell you something personal about myself. I grew up with basically no social skills. I was socially awkward, had no self-confidence, and suffered the consequences. Somehow I figured out that the only way to gain such social skills and confidence was to throw myself into situations where such things were required (a long story). So I did that. Then I did it again. And again. It was a good way to learn.

It is from that background that I say this. What you want to do now is outside of your comfort zone. Therefore you must  push out the limits of your comfort zone. The only way you can do that is by doing that thing which seems uncomfortable for you right now.

And you will learn, as I did, that there can be no negative result. Even if it doesn't go as you wanted it to, you will still have pushed out your boundaries, and that will equip you for the next situation. That is a reward in itself.

If he doesn't want to go for a coffee with you, and if you ask a second time and he doesn't want to go, drop it.

If I want to go out with a woman and ask her out, I also listen for what is not said. For example, if I ask her to go somewhere with me on Friday night and she says no, and that she has something else to do, that tells me she is uninterested, because if she was interested, she would say "but I'm free Saturday." She would offer that alternative.

I might ask again. But the second time, if she doesn't give me an opening for later, that's it--I won't ask again.

We humans must do such things. All of us must do them. If a person you want to date rejects you, that's part of it. Don't take it personally. It doesn't mean there is something wrong with you.

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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.

True. But you can only learn about this by getting to the point where you can ask him about this. With the language, this is normal. Turks can be kind of embarrassed about speaking English because they don't want to speak the language incorrectly and make mistakes. It's the same with anyone learning any language. I do an English speaking course as a volunteer at the local Turkish-American Association, and I find it difficult to get the Turkish students to use their English--they are afraid of embarrassing themselves.

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My guess is that inviting someone for coffee is not professing an interest in them romantically.

If he was a work colleague this would not be an issue. It would be totally normal. So look at it that way.

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Taking the first step is really scary for me given the possibility of impending rejection. That and not keeping myself protected to a degree. 

So do it with the clear and stated intention of being absolutely rejected. Say to yourself "I am going to ask him to join me for a cup of coffee, and I want him to reject me." I know it sounds ridiculous, but it's a great way to approach such a situation. It takes the edge off. And if you are rejected? Hey! You accomplished your mission! It's a way of ramming the boundary of your comfort zone.

So your mission is to ask him to join you for a cup of coffee, and be rejected. Totally, 100% rejected. Go for it.

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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.

You have a huge advantage in being clueless.

Turks, as well as people from any culture, love to talk about themselves and their culture. That is, to an interested person who is listening. What better person to talk to about such things than a clueless foreigner like you? And you have another big advantage. You will be asking the questions, and listening to his answers. He will talk, you will listen. Here's a great opener: "since meeting you, I have been curious. What is the difference between American and Turkish culture?" The follow up with "what's it like to live in Turkey?" Then "Which to you  prefer, the USA or Turkey?" Then ask why. Then listen. There is no man on earth who doesn't enjoy a woman who listens to what they have to say. :)

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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.

I recently read a book in which the writer said something like "you must learn the fact that you cannot control the outcome of anything you do."

That made no sense to me at first. But as I read on, I came to understand that this is true. For example, you cannot control what your body does in response to exercise. Nor can you control all of the things which could happen as a result of your work on a project. And you definitely cannot control the reactions of another person, or other persons, to what you say or do.

What you can do is those things which most tend to produce the outcome you want. If you do those things, and it still doesn't come out the way you intended, it is likely because of some things you cannot control.

So do those things which are most likely to cause the result you want, and keep doing them. The result will come as it comes. The more you do those things which are likely to produce the outcome you want, the more likely the outcome you want will happen.

Generally, a Turkish man will always take the lead. Let him have it. Dress attractively. Look good. Ask him questions about him (and especially his family, since this is important to Turks). Listen to what he says. Be yourself. Be a good person.  Become a friend of him and his friends. Then whatever happens, let it happen. And if what you want doesn't happen, so what? You will still be alive to enjoy similar situations in the future. Which might just be a lot better than this one.

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Most of the time when I took control of social situations like this the results were poor. 

You can control this situation by not "controlling" it. I don't know of a better way to say it. I hope you understand what I mean.

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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. 

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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. 

3 hours ago, Ken Grubb said:

Always go by what they do. Not what they say.

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.

3 hours ago, Ken Grubb said:

Everybody has a fear of rejection. And everybody has issues with self-esteem. And nobody wants to look foolish. So you're not alone in that. Embrace it. Stop putting yourself down over it.  And know that he feels the same way, because he does.

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.

3 hours ago, Ken Grubb said:

No. For a Turk, they'll invite you just because they enjoy your company. And even if they don't enjoy your company, since they wouldn't want to leave you alone. They think more of the group than the individual.

Don't think about it too much. Just tell him that you are going for a coffee (you are going anyway) and ask him if he would like to join you. There is nothing wrong with saying that you would like to learn more about him, and about Turkey. He'll probably tell you a lot of interesting things. So just go for that.

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.

3 hours ago, Ken Grubb said:

I will tell you something personal about myself. I grew up with basically no social skills. I was socially awkward, had no self-confidence, and suffered the consequences. Somehow I figured out that the only way to gain such social skills and confidence was to throw myself into situations where such things were required (a long story). So I did that. Then I did it again. And again. It was a good way to learn.

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?

3 hours ago, Ken Grubb said:

What you want to do now is outside of your comfort zone. Therefore you must  push out the limits of your comfort zone. The only way you can do that is by doing that thing which seems uncomfortable for you right now. 

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. 

3 hours ago, Ken Grubb said:

True. But you can only learn about this by getting to the point where you can ask him about this. With the language, this is normal. Turks can be kind of embarrassed about speaking English because they don't want to speak the language incorrectly and make mistakes. It's the same with anyone learning any language.

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. 

 

3 hours ago, Ken Grubb said:

So your mission is to ask him to join you for a cup of coffee, and be rejected. Totally, 100% rejected. Go for it.

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.

3 hours ago, Ken Grubb said:

Turks, as well as people from any culture, love to talk about themselves and their culture. That is, to an interested person who is listening. What better person to talk to about such things than a clueless foreigner like you? And you have another big advantage. You will be asking the questions, and listening to his answers. He will talk, you will listen. Here's a great opener: "since meeting you, I have been curious. What is the difference between American and Turkish culture?" The follow up with "what's it like to live in Turkey?" Then "Which to you  prefer, the USA or Turkey?" Then ask why. Then listen. There is no man on earth who doesn't enjoy a woman who listens to what they have to say. :)

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.

3 hours ago, Ken Grubb said:

I recently read a book in which the writer said something like "you must learn the fact that you cannot control the outcome of anything you do."

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.

3 hours ago, Ken Grubb said:

Generally, a Turkish man will always take the lead. Let him have it. Dress attractively. Look good. Ask him questions about him (and especially his family, since this is important to Turks). Listen to what he says. Be yourself. Be a good person.  Become a friend of him and his friends. Then whatever happens, let it happen. And if what you want doesn't happen, so what? You will still be alive to enjoy similar situations in the future. Which might just be a lot better than this one.

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.

3 hours ago, Ken Grubb said:

You can control this situation by not "controlling" it. I don't know of a better way to say it. I hope you understand what I mean.

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. 

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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.

Thank you. Whatever I have learned about people and the world came from pushing beyond the limits of my own comfort zone.

When I said "Always go by what they do. Not what they say" I should have put that in bold print. Every time I have been wrong about someone, it was because I didn't follow that rule. A person's true self is always revealed by what they do. That is why, in my opinion, a couple should know each other well, for at least a year, before they marry.  And gestures don't reveal the character or intentions of a person any better than words do.

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While the whole ordeal is moving rather slowly, it is probably for the best.

You are not after a one-night stand. If you want to have a lasting relationship, give it time to grow. Be deliberately patient. Develop the friendship first.

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I don't feel the need to push anything because I'm recovering from a series of abusive relationships.

If you've had a series of abusive relationships, you should learn about the psychology of women in such situations. By saying that I am not saying you had any fault--personally I would like to take any man who abuses a woman "behind the woodshed" and give them a proper thrashing. But there is a psychology in abusive relationships, and you should learn about any aspects of yourself which are affected. You could probably search Amazon.com and find a large selection of books about such things.

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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.

Heck yeah! You are curious about this, and he has a lot to say about it. Even if there were no romantic intentions involved, this is fertile ground for some great conversations.

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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?

I didn't know it was painful at the time. And it wasn't a learning opportunity. I simply joined the military when I was 18. They taught me far more than my absentee father ever could. And they provided me many opportunities in which I could sink or swim. I threw myself into every one of them. I got used to being outside of my comfort zone and improving areas where I was weak. Which is kind of like what I am recommending you do.

Got a boundary? Break it. Do that enough times and you'll get used to it. It gets easier the more you do it. Got social anxiety? Social anxiety just plain fear. Action cures fear. I actually have that exact three-word saying framed and hanging on a wall in my office.

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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. 

So you know Turkish at some level? Wow! I am learning Turkish right now. I can get around, but I also can't converse in complex conversations. My goal is to get fluent by Spring.

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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.

If this is an issue, then a few times, just do a few things with the objective of being rejected. That way at least you can learn that it won't kill you, and rejection isn't such a horrible thing. Last year I was trying to help a guy talk to Turkish women. He was desperately afraid of rejection. So I was trying to help him understand that rejection isn't something to be concerned about. I thought of the most beautiful and desirable woman I knew, and asked her for a date. I knew I would be rejected. And I was! I just wanted to show him that rejection doesn't kill you. It's completely painless. Rejection is only painful if you believe it's painful.

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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.

Use reflective listening. Reflective listening involves first listening to what the other person says. Then reflecting it back to them.  Like this: "So you're saying that Istanbul is better than New York?" "So you prefer Turkish food to American food?" That keeps the conversation going. And encourages the other person to elaborate.

You can also ask a question like "So why do you think that?" Or say "tell me more about the..." Or ask "So when you were (wherever), what was it like?"

If you are at a loss for words, just reflect back to the other person based on what they last said, or said previously. Or ask them to expound upon something they said earlier.

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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.

Absolutely! But don't get concerned if there is a pause in the conversation. Nature abhors a vacuum. But in a conversation with a friend, pauses occur. The natural response is to fill that vacuum. Let him do that. This is an example of being in control without controlling.

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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.

It's even more than that.

For example, I'm learning Turkish.

I can't control the time it will take to become fluent. I can't control my brain's capacity to absorb it.

I can control those daily things which create the greatest likelihood of getting the result I want. I can go to the classes. I can pay attention and listen. I can do the homework. I can do what extra work is necessary when I have trouble with something.

So it's just a matter of deciding the result you want, learning what things need to be done to create the highest probability that the result you want will occur, then doing those things.  And if you do those things every day, then every day you have succeeded.

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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.

People fear such forwardness for honorable reasons. Everybody fears being rejected, and nobody wants to reject anybody else. If you come on strong and clear, it puts the other person in the position to accept or reject you immediately. If they accept you, they take the risk of later having to reject you for some reason. It's scary, and it is human nature.

The rule is, if you want someone to love you, you must first love yourself. If you want someone to be attracted to you, you must first be attractive. And I don't just mean in a physical way. Be a good person. Be polite and respectful. Be open and approachable. Listen. Care. Laugh. Enjoy life. Be happy. This will attract others who are the same.

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20 hours ago, Ken Grubb said:

When I said "Always go by what they do. Not what they say" I should have put that in bold print. Every time I have been wrong about someone, it was because I didn't follow that rule. A person's true self is always revealed by what they do. That is why, in my opinion, a couple should know each other well, for at least a year, before they marry.  And gestures don't reveal the character or intentions of a person any better than words do.

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.

 

20 hours ago, Ken Grubb said:

You are not after a one-night stand. If you want to have a lasting relationship, give it time to grow. Be deliberately patient. Develop the friendship first.

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.

20 hours ago, Ken Grubb said:

If you've had a series of abusive relationships, you should learn about the psychology of women in such situations. By saying that I am not saying you had any fault--personally I would like to take any man who abuses a woman "behind the woodshed" and give them a proper thrashing. But there is a psychology in abusive relationships, and you should learn about any aspects of yourself which are affected. You could probably search Amazon.com and find a large selection of books about such things.

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.

 

20 hours ago, Ken Grubb said:

Heck yeah! You are curious about this, and he has a lot to say about it. Even if there were no romantic intentions involved, this is fertile ground for some great conversations.

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.

 

20 hours ago, Ken Grubb said:

I didn't know it was painful at the time. And it wasn't a learning opportunity. I simply joined the military when I was 18. They taught me far more than my absentee father ever could. And they provided me many opportunities in which I could sink or swim. I threw myself into every one of them. I got used to being outside of my comfort zone and improving areas where I was weak. Which is kind of like what I am recommending you do.

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. 

 

20 hours ago, Ken Grubb said:

Got a boundary? Break it. Do that enough times and you'll get used to it. It gets easier the more you do it. Got social anxiety? Social anxiety just plain fear. Action cures fear. I actually have that exact three-word saying framed and hanging on a wall in my office.

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.

20 hours ago, Ken Grubb said:

So you know Turkish at some level? Wow! I am learning Turkish right now. I can get around, but I also can't converse in complex conversations. My goal is to get fluent by Spring.

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.  

20 hours ago, Ken Grubb said:

I just wanted to show him that rejection doesn't kill you. It's completely painless. Rejection is only painful if you believe it's painful.

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!

 

20 hours ago, Ken Grubb said:

Use reflective listening. Reflective listening involves first listening to what the other person says. Then reflecting it back to them.  Like this: "So you're saying that Istanbul is better than New York?" "So you prefer Turkish food to American food?" That keeps the conversation going. And encourages the other person to elaborate.

You can also ask a question like "So why do you think that?" Or say "tell me more about the..." Or ask "So when you were (wherever), what was it like?"

If you are at a loss for words, just reflect back to the other person based on what they last said, or said previously. Or ask them to expound upon something they said earlier.

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.

20 hours ago, Ken Grubb said:

Absolutely! But don't get concerned if there is a pause in the conversation. Nature abhors a vacuum. But in a conversation with a friend, pauses occur. The natural response is to fill that vacuum. Let him do that. This is an example of being in control without controlling.

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.

20 hours ago, Ken Grubb said:

So it's just a matter of deciding the result you want, learning what things need to be done to create the highest probability that the result you want will occur, then doing those things.  And if you do those things every day, then every day you have succeeded.

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.

20 hours ago, Ken Grubb said:

People fear such forwardness for honorable reasons. Everybody fears being rejected, and nobody wants to reject anybody else. If you come on strong and clear, it puts the other person in the position to accept or reject you immediately. If they accept you, they take the risk of later having to reject you for some reason. It's scary, and it is human nature.

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. 

 

20 hours ago, Ken Grubb said:

The rule is, if you want someone to love you, you must first love yourself. If you want someone to be attracted to you, you must first be attractive. And I don't just mean in a physical way. Be a good person. Be polite and respectful. Be open and approachable. Listen. Care. Laugh. Enjoy life. Be happy. This will attract others who are the same.

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.

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