Sam & I get along better in person than we do via WhatsApp. Misunderstandings have happened via WhatsApp. Despite my reservations, the 2x that we have met have been totally fine. The problem is that these conversations about love and sex are happening too fast, too soon. And they are happening over WhatsApp. Our relationship is dominated by conversations about love and sex rather than our personal interests. Is this a reflection on me? Is this something that I have inadvertently manifested by going on Tinder to begin with? Rather than opting to meet someone naturally in real life? I tried to do real life. The other weekend at the Meetup, I asked HZ if I could kiss him. We even had a conversation about swipe culture and agreed that it is more natural to meet someone in real life. But it did not work out. He is taken. I took this as a sign that Sam might be the one and that I should focus on him. Yet now, I feel like I am being punished. For what? Seeking love in the wrong places?
Sam: So what are you looking for here?
What have I noticed?
Yesterday, I told Sam about the characteristics of my autism (hypersensitivity, difficulty with touch and sensation etc.). But the way in which he was talking about sex went against what I said previously. Yes, I recognise how important sex is for him and that I must compromise to a certain extent if we are to be in a relationship. But he does not seem to be trying to respect who I am at all.
Sam seems to have projected his ideal conception of a guy onto me without getting to know me first. This is not love. This is infatuation. And it cannot last.
With Sam, I have tried to share some of my interests. Like LooseEnders and some of my favourite memes and articles. He has not engaged with those. He has even declined reading "Love Is What You Do" (the irony being that this article is precisely what might help him manage his attachment the most). He has only carried on talking about sex. This suggests that he does not love me for me but wants me for other reasons such as sexual gratification.
I offered shopping, running and gym as a humorous insight into me and my somewhat regimented lifestyle. Instead of engaging with it positively, he interpreted my activities in a negative way (as a personal rejection of him). That I was spending time doing my hobbies instead of meeting him.
Sam branded my concern about not wanting to plan how we feel in advance as "stupid".
There is an emotional blackmail element to it. He seems to be playing out his internal suffering of knowing me by expressing how much he misses me and what might happen if I "friend zone" him. Does he truly feel what he makes out to feel for me? Or am I simply a recapitulation of his prior pain?
When we met on Sunday, I told him my belief about humans being carriers of energy. That we are not in essence one thing or another but we inherit energy, traits and characteristics through our life experiences and pass them on. I might have stumbled upon a pocket of negative energy that Sam is inadvertently carrying. No criticism of him. We might never be completely free of our pain. Pain (like love, joy and fear) is something that we carry around with us.
By critiquing the way in which I respond to his messages (both the time and the number of words), Sam is critiquing who I am. That is how I operate. Deal with it. I am not matching up to his expectations. He has openly acknowledged that I trigger his anxiety by watching me type essays in response to his messages. All the more reason to have this conversation in person than via WhatsApp.
He seems to be aware of how much discomfort I put him in. Yet he still pursues a relationship with me. Is this an act of Self Harm?
If Sam is not allowing me the time or words to express myself, it is not a healthy relationship. It becomes one-sided.
I think that there are some lessons to be learned here. Certainly on my part. The way in which Sam is acting might mirror some of my own past insecurities. Like when I humorously warned Ansh on our date what might happen should he become another annal in the footnotes of my life. And how that manifested this happening. And how I initially interpreted his perceivable friend zoning of me as a rejection. Maybe he should not have kissed me? Maybe the kiss seeded expectations in my mind that we were to become more than friends?
[20:40, 25/06/2019] Rory Duffy: I thought I’d done something bad
In essence, this is possibly what has happened with Sam when we kissed on our first date. It set an unwanted precedent.
Ultimately, the problem is that Sam is trying to define and label something that has not yet existed. Relationships cannot be forced. There are certain things that we can do to create the fertile soil out of which a relationship can blossom and flourish spontaneously. Like spending time together. Engaging in mutual hobbies and interests. Talking about our values and beliefs. This is why it is healthy to spend time in person than via WhatsApp. A WhatsApp conversation is not a proper relationship. It is not real. Trying to project an ideal conception of a relationship on to a relationship is also not real.
Put it simply: the more that Sam talks about wanting to be in a relationship with me, the more that Sam is driving me away from him and the less that I feel attracted to him.
A couple of times, Sam has sent me long voice notes in which he lists the reasons why he likes me. Invariably, those lists conclude with the word "hot". This implies that physical attractiveness is the most crucial and important element to him. Which, by extension, suggests that he wants me only for sex. By talking incessantly about sex and claiming that he is not pressurising me into sex, he is not only doing the opposite (if we apply the rule of Reverse Psychology), but is also dropping strong hints that if I am not up for sex, he will disappear. Possibly all the more reason not to have sex with him. If sex is all he wants from me, let him disappear. He might realise that I am not all that he makes me out to be. He might miss the good points in me. And he might seek validation elsewhere.
Like I have said countless times, there is nothing wrong with seeking validation. We have an ego. A sense of our own identity. This is not a bad thing. The problem occurs when we seek validation within external sources (other people) rather than through ourselves and our own activities. This is a sad fact of life. I feel bad for him. Whether it is me or any other guy, it seems like Sam is not self sufficient on his own. But I know that whatever happens, I would still be happy to be friends. To him, that might seem like friend zoning and a rejection. To me, I do not see it in that way. I see it in terms of the relationship developing into something else that might not have been expected (Tinder) but is equally "good" (see vessels analogy). There is nothing that I could or should do about his interpretation of that. The most important aspect for me is that I am satisfied in myself with how I have responded and behaved. And that I am happy.
[09:49, 07/07/2021] Sam: Hi
Sam wants something. He does not care if I am OK. Oh, what is this?
[09:49, 07/07/2021] Sam: This message was deleted.
It seems like he wishes to take that back? Ironic serendipity that this abrupt messaging and deleting happened at the precise moment at which I was quoting my deleted message with Ansh (see above). It reinforces my point that there are people who come into our lives to teach us something. And we pass it on.
I care about Sam. I am worried about him. Like Avi Taler was worried about me when I admitted that I felt "giddy". I want to reach out and help Sam but I am not sure that this should be my role. I cannot teach him or impose my presumptuous "truth" on him when he should be finding his own truth. I can guide him. But I cannot direct him. Especially if I feel like I am not getting the chance to know him. Because everything that I see in him is perceived through the lens of how he sees me.
I am sensing a lot fear from Sam (I know that this makes me sound like Yoda). Fear of developing an attachment. He has acknowledged this himself. I want to show him that true love is free from attachment. But he has declined reading the article. Yes, he might have the ears to listen. But will he hear what I am saying?
What he perceives as "love" is not the same idea. By my definition, it is infatuation.
Gosh, this is starting to sink in now. I am actually accepting that this guy has it bad for me. Even though we are technically only dating one another, he has developed an extreme emotional attachment to me. To such an extent that I am hurting him without even knowing or intending to.
Well, that is OK. It happens! There must be something that we can do to resolve it. I have tried to allow him as much choice, flexibility, time and space as much as possible. I am here if he wishes to talk. He might feel unable to talk to me if I am such a trigger for him. And that is understandable, too.
I felt like adding "Please, take care of yourself!"
But then I thought that he might interpret this as a " final goodbye". JR said something similar to me 2 years ago. But it was only after I told him that I tried to harm myself.
Right now, Sam might be in a delicate place. He might be feeling vulnerable. I respect that. The last thing that I want to do is send him ambiguous messages that might be interpreted / read on different levels. Or feed his insatiable speculation spiral any further.
Maybe I do not need to do anything other than wait and allow him the time and space to decide whether he feels up to meeting me today or tomorrow. He knows that I am here and willing to reply back to him. It might simply take some time for him to process what I have said (where applicable) and formulate a response that he feels happy about. It might take some mediation or some perspective from friends / carers who might be able to help him articulate himself. I have been there before (with Rob). I know how it feels to be on crutches. Right now, I am off crutches. Instead, I am on a bike with stabilisers.
We have only met 2x! Maybe this is simply the rapid speed at which Sam develops his feelings for someone. Much faster than Avi Taler. In which case, there would be no danger of me accidentally falling in love with him in return because there would not be that crossover. My feelings progress much slower. Although I like Sam and care about him, those feelings have not yet developed into love feelings.
Sam said that he has the ability to "get over" his feelings for me. Whether that means distancing himself from me or blocking me altogether, it is up to him how he chooses to manage that process. I cannot determine that for him. Much as I would like to help. But I know for sure that there can be no potential for a mutual relationship to develop if I am having this much of an effect on him. If I am that much of a trigger for him. I can still remain in his life if he would like me to. Then again, me remaining in his life might be too painful for him. All that I can do is remain as open-minded, responsive and available as possible while maintaining my own life.
It is sweet and lovely (and unexpected) if he feels this way about me. No-one is to blame - neither me nor him. I must simply accept what he is telling me, without judgement, and decide if and when I feel required to do anything about any of the things that he is saying to me. Whether any of his messages carries a definitive "call-to-action" or requires a response from me. That (in itself) is a minefield. He might compliment me and expect me to compliment with the same strength in return. Even if I did reciprocate, it might not be strong enough for him. So what then? I must make those decisions for myself and use my Last Message principle if I am ever in doubt.
As far as Sam is concerned, all that I can do is support him as much as I can within my capacity. Respect his feelings. Remain open. It is ironic that I am now in the shoes of Avi Taler. Except, this time, I might do things differently. Instead of ignoring or deliberately ghosting, I will behave respectfully towards Sam and try to empathise with where he is coming from. I have been there too many times. He might feel that I led him on. He is perfectly entitled to think that way, regardless of my intention. And it is his choice of what he decides to do about that. Like I said to him before, love is not what you say, it is what you do.
On the one hand, the last thing that I want to do is to turn into that "evil bastard" who (despite all promises and assurances) manifests the exact thing of which he was fearful to begin with. On the other hand, Sam might not give me - or himself - a choice.
In my early adulthood, during the years in which I was a frigid landscape, "hiding myself away", I convinced myself that love is a sickness and an illness. Now I understand that I was mistaking love for infatuation. In the way in which it drove me crazy and affected all of those other relationships around me. It drove me into suppression and withdrawal. Because I could not cope with the intensity. It is possible that Sam might be going / have gone through something similar. But that is only a speculation.
I told Sam that I feel insecure about falling in love because I fall head over heels. Saying this to him probably made life more challenging for him as he seems to have fallen head over heels. Too quickly for me. But who am I to compare or contrast one person's depth and breadth of feeling to another person's? It is beyond measuring. I would be up for talking it through with him (in person rather than via WhatsApp). But talking about it might make matters even worse.
[07/07/2021, 13:46:37] Sam: Let me know if you still wanna meet up? 👍
[07/07/2021, 13:50:05] Sam: <attached: 00000893-AUDIO-2021-07-07-13-50-05.opus>
[07/07/2021, 14:06:50] Sam: <attached: 00000900-AUDIO-2021-07-07-14-06-50.opus>
OK. This is getting ugly now (see tabbed). I am tempted to jack it in.
My first response was that I am not going to engage with him when he is like this. I remember what he told me before. To take everything that he says with a pinch of salt. He does not mean it. He is acting (in his words) as a "drama queen".
He says that I can act open and honest with him. Yet, when I do, I receive negativity back from him. He asks for my openness and honesty and subsequently uses it as ammunition / a weapon against me.
I can see what is happening. He is projecting his pain on to me. Blaming me for his past experiences. He is not at fault. But it is a sad, sorry state of affairs.
There is an element of Emotional Blackmail.
If I did not realise what is happening, I would find myself in an abusive relationship.
At this point, I think that it is wise to close the door but leave it unlocked.
[07/07/2021, 16:05:38] Sam: This message was deleted.
He has replied immediately.
[07/07/2021, 16:18:26] Sam: Excuse me?
[07/07/2021, 16:21:05] Sam: <attached: 00000922-AUDIO-2021-07-07-16-21-05.opus>
This is becoming ugly. Massive alarm bells ringing. I think that this is the early signs of an abusive on-off relationship. I need to protect myself. I am off to the gym.
I have arrived at the gym. Sam has sent me another voice note. I will not listen to it now. I could do another export of my chat but risk using 15mb of data as I am not on a WiFi network. If he deletes his voice note, as far as I am concerned, it never happened, I never heard it. I should not let this situation compromise my life any more than it has done already.
My options (in descending order of honesty and transparency):
Without hesitation, I have settled with option #2. I can still distance myself slightly without laying all of my cards on the table. Who am I to set rules and expectations? Or comply with his? I can still act polite and respectful enough to respond objectively without compromising myself. I can still respond to him but not engage with the negativity. There is no reason for me to tell him anything about myself or what I am feeling. Because he might use my words as ammunition against me.
My analogy: closing the door but leaving it unlocked. Empowering myself to open and close that door at my discretion.
[07/07/2021, 16:47:53] Sam: <attached: 00000926-AUDIO-2021-07-07-16-47-53.opus>
Yes, nice try soldier. Psychological manipulation. Another classic example of narcissistic abuse.
The article ("20 Diversion Tactics Highly Manipulative Narcissists, Sociopaths And Psychopaths Use To Silence You") lists some behaviours that Sam has exhibited.
20 Diversion Tactics
I have listed the relevant ones here:
Despite all of this, I do not believe that anyone is inherently evil. Least of all, Sam. If Eastenders has taught me anything, it is that some people are scared and vulnerable. Invariably due to trauma built up over the years. They hide their fear underneath a façade of hostile behaviours. Sam has admitted this himself. At least he has acted honestly. I believe that there are certain behaviours that people transmit due to the trauma that they carry within them. There is always another side to any story. I would try to not write someone off under a label. It is never as simple.
However, this does not detract from the awareness that these behaviours are starting to affect my mental health. I do not need to allow myself to become sucked into a vortex of negative energy. I feel helpless. But there is nothing that I can do about the trauma that Sam is experiencing and manifesting. My main priority should be protecting myself. Distancing myself from the negativity (not the carrier). Responding, yes. But not engaging with it.
As far as the urgent situation is concerned, Sam only needs to know that I cannot meet him this evening. Just in case he is in any doubt and not left waiting and wondering. It is not my style to stand someone up. I do not need to go into the reasons why. I do not owe him an explanation. I could use the word "cannot" instead of "will not" to subtly disguise that this is my conscious choice. I do not need to go so far as restarting to a lie or alibi but I do feel the need to hide (ever so slightly) behind a vague, non-committal response. In the hope that this might provide some (if not complete) clarity (i.e., not meeting) whilst defusing tensions and buying me time to think. All that I need to do immediately is let him know that we will not meet this evening.
[07/07/2021, 17:44:32] Rory Duffy: Sorry Sam, I can’t meet you this evening
[07/07/2021, 15:39:12] Sam: I made up my mind
[07/07/2021, 15:39:33] Sam: <attached: 00000905-AUDIO-2021-07-07-15-39-33.opus>
[07/07/2021, 15:45:10] Sam: This message was deleted.
[07/07/2021, 15:51:27] Sam: This message was deleted.
[07/07/2021, 15:50:30] Rory Duffy: I thought that I sent you some nice messages, songs and memes to help cheer you up 🤭 as you were feeling down
[07/07/2021, 16:21:05] Sam: <attached: 00000922-AUDIO-2021-07-07-16-21-05.opus>
[07/07/2021, 16:47:53] Sam: <attached: 00000926-AUDIO-2021-07-07-16-47-53.opus>
I went to the coffee Meetup and met up with Roger near to the cafe. I did not feel safe if Sam knew that I was at Café Nero OXO Tower from 6:30pm. He might have followed me there. I kept my phone stowed away in my bag all evening and only got it out at half 10 (probably for the best).
Immediately, I noticed that Sam has sent me a video message! My initial thought was that he might be grovelling. It turned out that he was singing a song to me in Arabic. Yes, I know that he is hot and handsome (with a seriously good voice). But the video did not make me feel any better. If anything, it made me feel worse.
Either, his idiosyncratic way of apologising.for the way in which he spoke to me earlier. Or, just another ruse to get my attention or validation. I deserve to be around a good guy who might make me feel better about myself.
Ultimately, I am seeing the signs of a cycle that I would not like to get into. So I am escaping while I still can.
Rory spent the first few years of his life in an ice cave, carving out his palace of wonder. He's a bit of a love doll, but he who melts the ice shall have his reward.
332 Brixton Road
Samaritans, 24 hours, on 116123 or email:
I have been recommended to acknowledge and process all that I have been though, where it all started from how it has affected me.