Hello, and welcome back to the blog. (If you’re still here, then you already know that this blog is a mess, no strikethroughs necessary.)
Research is a necessary part of trying not to be single, which is something I have been trying and failing at for the last few years of my life. One of the quirks of my personality is that I can nearly always tell when somebody likes somebody else. People are sort of… predictable? That sounds mean, but it’s not a bad thing. People have Patterns Of Behavior and Recognizable Mating Rituals and over milennia this has evolved. The caveman dragging his wife off by the hair— this was the beginning. These days you can more commonly recognize shy smiles, blushing, trying to make the other person laugh, all that terribly awkward nonsense.
I’m not even kidding though. It’s literal nonsense. It is irrational. Why do our instincts and bodies tell us that this is how we attract suitable mates? Why can’t we just say to people, “Hi, I like you, will you spend some time with me to see if we are romantically compatible and if so, can we engage in a culturally acceptable ritual to become a family for the rest of our lives?” Why is this not a thing?
The obvious answer is that we’re afraid of rejection. I know I am. I’m constantly afraid that people do not want me around, even for non-romantic reasons. I know this is not true— whenever I make some Facebook status worrying about this exact problem (yes, it’s a tactic to garner attention; no, I don’t care; what exactly is wrong with asking people to tell me they love me?), about forty people come out of the woodwork and tell me how much they love me.
The depression-anxiety cocktail, in case you were wondering, is one heck of a drink. One sip and your whole ability to judge people’s opinions of you flies away, a baseball that is hell-bent on getting to the moon.
Therein lies my problem. I’m very, very good at seeing when one person likes another person; but I am absolutely terrible at telling when someone likes me.
I just can’t tell. I really can’t. Do people like me? And I don’t mean platonically. I know I’ve got friends, even when my brain is working to convince itself that I don’t. I mean romantically. I am a heterosexual, cisgender woman who is sexually and romantically attracted to males. In case you need a translation: I get crushes on boys, and so I wonder if boys like me.
Historically, the answer is no. I am and always have been a background character on the social scene. I’m the watcher, the observer— the chronicler, if you will. This dates back to high school. I have friends, we hang out during lunch and band practice and after school, and I watch (quietly, alone) as they date each other, spend time together with them, and give each other those soft, secret smiles that they think nobody else sees. This continues to college, where I make new friends, we hang out in the evenings after classes and go to church activities and stuff, and I watch (quietly, alone) as they meet people and spend time together and get engaged and married (yes, that fast), and they’re still smiling at each other, because nobody exists in their world but them. That isn’t a bad thing; but they still think that nobody else sees them.
I see them. It kind of gets to me after a while, which is the whole reason I’m writing this stupid post to begin with. This is a coping mechanism for the fact that I am desperately, stupidly lonely.
I end up reading these stupid articles, titled “How To Tell If Your Crush Likes You!” and “Five Signs He May Be Into You” and “What to Look For When Talking To Your Crush.” It is very, very pathetic, and if you haven’t looked up one of these articles at least once as a fellow single-pringle then you’re a filthy liar and I don’t believe you. (Or I’m just creepy and sad. Pick one.)
This is my take on it: How To Tell If Your Crush Likes You, by me. Enjoy.
1. Listen carefully to everything your crush says, and memorize all pertinent details such as favorite food, color, book, type of music, etc. so that you will eventually be a thoughtful and loving significant other, should your plans come to fruition.
1a. What plans? You don’t have any plans other than daydreaming and making stupid playlists on your MP3 player.
1b. That is true, but entirely beside the point. You never know when this information could come in handy.
2. Analyze their facial expressions and body language. If you’ve done the necessary research by reading other articles with the same title as this one, then you know what to look for.
2a. What if you haven’t done the research?
2b. Then why are you reading this article? This is obviously a last-ditch attempt born of desperation. Go look for some of the ones that are actually backed by human biology and psychology. If all else fails, then you come back and pick up where you’ve left off.
2c. What if you can’t tell what they’re doing with their face and body when they talk to you? That is a very good question and I do not have an answer. If I did, I would not be writing this.
3. Using your analyses and the information you’ve managed to glean from actual conversation, decide whether or not they like you.
3a. BUT HOW?
4. Curl up in a ball on your bed or the floor and cry quietly for five to ten minutes.
4a. How does this help, exactly?
4b. I don’t know, but crying can be extremely cathartic.
5. Second-guess every observation you have made thus far. Ask yourself, “Did it really happen this way, or am I reading way too far into an innocent conversation?
5a. THIS IS NOT HELPFUL
5b. I KNOW
5c. THEN WHY
5d. BECAUSE I DON’T KNOW HOW TO DO IT ANY OTHER WAY
6. Resume the fetal position and cry loudly for twenty minutes to half an hour. Any longer is melodramatic and will give you a headache, if you do not already have one.
6a. WILL I EVER FIND SOMEONE TO LOVE ME
6b. I DON’T KNOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOWWWWWWWWW
6c. *gross sobbing noises*
7. Question your existence. Try to ignore the ache of loneliness; it only makes things worse.
7a. I recommend sad/romantic playlists on your iPod or MP3 player so you can listen to them and become even more pathetically sad.
7b. I also recommend asking the opinion of a friend. Keep in mind that your friend may be somewhat disturbed at the level of your desperation; do try to play it sort of cool with them so that they don’t feel the need to discuss this with your family or a psychiatrist.
8. Accept that nothing you do will change how they feel about you; and regardless of what that feeling is, you’re probably going to second-guess it. Even if they say, “Listen, I am madly in love with you and we should elope immediately—” even then, you are probably not going to believe them. You have slipped too far into the realm of self-awareness. You are conscious of each passing thought as it ambles through your brain. You have begun to reach nirvana, the point where suffering ceases to exist, because you are too uncertain to suffer. You find nirvana very confusing.
8b. There is no turning back. You have reached your final form, and it is depressingly human.
9. Briefly consider telling your crush how you feel, in order to put an end to the suffering. It has become a matter of detachment. If they don’t like you— well, you can finally start the process of closure. And if they do, you may be able to escape the hell you are putting yourself into.
9a. You know, this actually doesn’t sound terrible—
9b. Shhh, I’m not done yet.
10. Realize that telling your crush might put them in an awkward position, if they don’t like you. Because if they don’t like you, then now they’ve got this person who likes them and is really sad about it, but what do they do? You’ve put all the burden of decision on them. Isn’t that kind of selfish?
10c. How do people start dating, then?
10d. God only knows.
11. Decide that you are content to remain in your state of perfect misery for as long as the crush lasts. Because as long as you don’t tell them, you can live. In the words of John Green: “Unrequited love is survivable in a way that once-requited love is not.”
11a. But that sounds terrible.
11b. Speaking as someone who has been in this state for the last nine years— yes, it absolutely is.
12. But here’s the thing: love and dating— they’re not the end-all, be-all of your life. Yeah, you might be lonely. You might cry sometimes because you have so many secrets and nobody to share them with, and you might wish that someone would look at you the way that Flynn Rider looks at Rapunzel, the way Mr. Darcy looks at Elizabeth, the way that Benedick looks at Beatrice.
13. And yet— you’re still here. You are alive and wonderful, and you have so much to give and offer this world. You are incandescent. You can read and write and sing and laugh and you can help people. You can pet cats and eat spaghetti and count the stars. You can make a lot of friends and you can talk with them about books and movies you love, and you can do all of these things inside your room on your bed with a computer if you can’t do it in person.
14. Someday, someone is going to look at you and see exactly how amazing you are.
This is too important to be a list anymore. I’m dead serious. Someday, you’re going to meet someone and they’re going to look at you sideways, when you aren’t looking, and in the moments when you laugh at something they say, or tell them that they look nice today— they will wonder if maybe you like them the way they like you.
15. Don’t lose sight of the somedays. They are what will keep you going.
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