One of my skills is the ability to randomly converse with people on a variety of subjects. If you get me started on nerdy stuff, I can talk your ear off and even sound like some kind of an authority. It’s a handy skill to have and it can make hanging out in strange crowds a little less daunting. That said, I’m actually not very good at approaching people  to talk to them at random. I’m also not terribly talented in the friend-making department.

This post isn’t going to be about my bouts with social awkwardness. Nope. We’re going to delve into what it’s like to be approaching thirty without quite getting how one goes from being friends with someone to being romantic with someone. Yes, folks, we’re going to talk about my love life. Since my family reads this blog, I’ll keep it sanitized to minimize the awkward dinner conversations.

When I was in high school, I started in on my habit of developing crushes on people who were emotionally unavailable. I invested a lot of time and emotional energy into trying to to get their attention. I remember buying random tchochke for one guy as if giving him gifts would make him see me as a possible romantic partner. Needless to say, my efforts proved fruitless. That’s when I decided that I had to take a step back and get my stuff in order before I tried to do the romantic thing.

It’s not that I don’t like the idea of dating. I sometimes wonder if I’m more fond of the idea of dating than I’m fond of actually dating. Back in high school, I remember getting into a brief long-distance relationship with a guy I’d already seen briefly but had just gone back to being friends. It was Valentine’s Day and it seemed like the thing to do. When he came home from college, I realized that it really was the idea of dating that attracted me more than he did at the time. We broke up and went back to being friends again.

Since then, I’ve been on a few dates. I went out with a guy I met on OkCupid once. When we kissed, he sounded like Chamberlain from The Dark Crystal. You know the guy I mean. The humming. He hummed. I don’t get it. It weirded me out. I never saw him again. One of my favorite romantic moments in recent history (and I use the term loosely) was when I got asked out and promptly told him that I should come with a warning label because I am really awful at this dating thing. It proved to be a self-fulfilling prophecy.

I know I’ve mentioned my awesome and supportive parents before. They are awesome, truly, but at least once a week, one of them mentions their desire to have me get in some sort of relationship. They’re not really pushy or anything, but there are some not-so-subtle hints. I never know what to tell them. Yes, I want to be in a relationship someday, but I want to be in a relationship because it’s something I want and not because it’s something that I ought to want. Yes, I totally plan to have kids eventually. I just haven’t gotten there yet. As a side note, my parents are so awesome that I didn’t even have to come out to them. They’re now all: “I don’t care who you date: man, woman, whatever, we just want you to be happy.” That’s pretty cool.

So, folks, if you or someone you know wants to try and date me in the future, you’re going to need to do things like give me time and space to get used to the idea. I’m really used to solitude and spending nights with Netflix. Most importantly, you’re going to have to tell me point-blank that you’re into me. I’m a people-watcher. I can see the social connections between people as they interact. I can tell when people are into each other. When it comes to me, though, I have no idea if you’re hitting on me or just being friendly. Don’t ask me to a movie without explicitly telling me that it’s a date (a friend of mine has an amusing little story about this). Don’t ask me to hang out. I hang out with friends all the time. You need to add that there’s romantic intent or I just won’t know. It’s not that I want to be difficult. It’s just that I honestly can’t tell if someone’s into me.

See, I just don’t know how to people sometimes.