Hey, remember Mantis? Welp, a while ago he messaged me on FetLife to let me know he would be in town soon, and to ask if I’d like to get together. He proposed we watch a movie at my place. And I (after a whole bunch of thinking about it) ultimately said yes.

The one time that we met in person (and somewhat in the aftermath of our meeting, too, where we had that exchange about his “emotional unavailability”) he kinda turned my crank in a dysfunctional way – like, he reminded me of The Pedant and other manipulative men whom I’ve chased after and yearned for but they always maintained an infuriating, tantalizing distance. I didn’t want to chase Mantis and try to date him per se; I wanted to engage with him and manipulate him back and win. I wanted to turn the tables on his manipulation so he ended up yearning after and chasing me while I acted indifferent.

But at the same time I felt like if I actually tried this plan there was a good chance I’d lose and get my feelings hurt. I ended up doing the second-best thing: refusing to be sucked into Mantis’ drama when he seemed to be contriving to pull me in. He made his big spiel about how he’s emotionally unavailable and prone to freaking out and bolting if someone he’s physically intimate with gets too close to him but maybe we could still make out sometime blah blah blah and I was like “nah, this sounds like waaaay too much drama. I’m up for friendship but that’s it.”

And I figured I would probably never hang out with him again, even if he asked me to, just to be on the safe side.

But here I am, fresh off my breakup with TA and missing feeling attractive and having sex and etc, but emphatically not wanting to actually date anyone – I’m burned out on dating and hate hate hate the idea of meeting anyone new. I’m also lonely and bored, though.

So when Mantis asked about coming over, I figured either

1) I could stick to my original boundary of friendship only, and having someone visit would give me motivation to tidy the apartment and I’d probably have a nice time socializing – plus if Mantis was having some idea of using his physical presence to reel me in and make me wanna chase him, my aloofness would infuriate him. Which is not to say that I knew for sure I’d feel aloof; I figured maybe there would be sexual tension. But the plan would be to ignore whatever tension I might feel and be sexlessly friendly and pleasant, just to mess with Mantis. And this sounded like an amusing use of my time. Better than languishing alone wondering if I’ll ever have a partner again, at any rate.

Or 2) If I still felt attracted to him (which is not a given; my ADHD makes me like new shiny things but then I get bored) I could initiate makeouts or more and it would be kind of perfect because I’m burned out on dating and he lives in another city so it could be an isolated “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” sorta thing. Like, I think in my current mental state I’d be more than happy to hook up with someone once and then completely ignore them. And if Mantis is the kind of person I’ve been sensing him to be, he’d assume that us hooking up would make me feel all attached to him and try to chase him, which was his plan all along. But instead of sending volleys of anxious post-hookup messages looking for validation from him and asking when we could see each other again, I would just completely ignore him – and that would infuriate him.

So, I would definitely be entertained no matter what. I said yes to him visiting.

Mantis asked ahead of time if I was into weed at all because he could bring some, in vaporizer format. I said I might be into that; that I’ve barely ever used pot in my life but I’m somewhat interested in revisiting it. He said he’s acted as a guide of sorts for friends while they tried drugs – making sure they got through their trip safely – and would be happy to do this for me, too, which feels like another sneaky “I’m gonna get you feeling vulnerable and depending on me” thing, not unlike when he offered to mentor me about “dude stuff,” only, y’know…worse. I wondered whether his aim was to get me off-kilter with drugs so I would do things I would not normally be inclined to do. I made sure The Dandy would be home on the day of the visit, just for extra insurance (yes, I am anxious/suspicious enough that I even wondered if Mantis would rape me by coercion. And I knew that just having another guy within earshot would probably discourage him from trying, if he was going to).

The visit was yesterday. When I opened the door and saw Mantis for the first time since we hung out a few months ago, my gut reaction to his appearance was cognitive dissonance – he looked the way I remembered, but the soft-focus magical glow of attraction had dissipated and without it he was just kinda funny-lookin’ to me. And I didn’t get an impression from him that he was trying to do anything untoward with me at all – he kept a respectful physical distance from me and didn’t bring sex into the conversation in any capacity*. I had a few small puffs on the weed vaporizer**, we watched a movie, Mantis and The Dandy and I all ordered dinner from a local place and ate together, we watched another movie with the three of us this time, and then it was 11pm and Mantis left. And that’s it.

It was a pleasant visit.

It’s left me wondering, though: did I completely mis-read Mantis’ modus operandi? Was he just a troubled but basically good dude struggling with some emotional stuff and accidentally oversharing it with me, and perhaps actually he did ultimately feel relieved when I drew a boundary and said “friends only”?

…Or is being a gentleman at first part of a larger, nefarious plan?

I dunno, I know that anxiety can sometimes taint my ideas of people but I also have good gut instincts and it seems unlikely that I could be this wrong?

*The other/first time that we hung out, he was definitely showboating a bit. He made a point of showing me some texts he sent to a masochist he was gonna play with; he seemed like he was expecting me to swoon at the domly-dom way he spoke to her, or something. He made a point of telling me about a time that he proposed casual sex with a woman-friend of his and she said she didn’t think she really even liked sex but for some reason they did it anyway and it turned out she did indeed like sex – because he gave her an orgasm and nobody else had ever even tried. Like, 100% he was trying to let me know that he was fun in bed just in case I wanted to try him.

**He didn’t partake, himself, though, which is…odd, yeah?

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