I'm usually not that comfortable around people until I know them well enough. I love good conversation, but I have to be past that awkward get-to-know-you stage in order for my guard to fall; unless I'm completely relaxed around a person and completely familiar with their energy, face-to-face conversation is a stilted chore. Complicating things further, I actually have mixed feelings about even getting to that stage of comfort: my sociability tends to drain easily, and if I'm particularly tired or under the weather, I tend to keep my interactions to a minimum until I feel better able to handle them.
I'm content to be the listener and not have much to add to the dialogue as long as the other person can manage to fill the silences. That said, I also need to be able to reach that occasional state where I'm comfortable enough to open up to them without feeling exposed or that I'm imposing. I just hope that my silent stretches aren't taken as a sign I don't value their company.
Every now and then, though, I get to know someone with whom I'm relaxed to the point of free-flowing conversation. It's rare enough to make me take notice whenever it happen; I may be ascribing some sort of non-existent meaning here, but I have to wonder whether some other form of chemistry's beginning to seep in, threatening to change something enjoyable into a loaded question.
I'm single; I decided long ago that looking for a partner isn't that high on my list of priorities, especially while I'm doing short term contract work. I can think of a million things on a neglected "to do" list that I should get on top of before making this kind of leap, and still a fair bit confused about who I am or where I'm going; a serious relationship would require a lot of investment that I'm not prepared to make right now. I'm also a little selfish and impulsive, with a strong need for my personal space; there are days when I would rather make sure I can buy a burrito for lunch than worry about being able to afford a coffee to facilitate awkward conversation with a stranger. Oh, who am I kidding? Burritos win every time, but that's not the point.
Attraction is scary. It develops by chance and circumstance, and the only control you have over it is whether you act on it. The potential rewards are amazing, but it requires making yourself vulnerable to potentially getting hurt. It may fundamentally and irrevocably alter how you and the other person feel about each other. To fully connect with another person, you have to strip off the facades you build to the world; if you know you're not prepared to do that, or are aware that a potential relationship would be a bad idea, these feelings suddenly coming along get more complicated.
Maybe part of the issue is that for me, the emotional attraction comes before the sexual attraction, and the rarity of that level of comfort I feel with someone to get to that point. I don't want to risk spoiling that, but by not letting myself appreciate a good thing for what it is, I wonder if I already have. Suddenly, I find myself monitoring what I say around them, second-guessing whether I've inadvertently tipped my hand. I don't want to get hurt, but am also afraid that I will be the one who inflicts pain. My instinct is to run.
A friend told me that there really is no such thing as the perfect time to deal with this, that it's something that you just have to allow to happen.
Someday I will.