It’s hard to figure out how to tell someone you like them without sounding like a freak. The important thing to remember is this: Everyone on this planet is a freak in some way. You’re not any more of a freak because you choose to express your feelings. In fact, it actually makes your freakiness kind of cool.
You’re not actually going to die from telling someone you like them. Those sweaty palms and weak knees are just side effects of some bursts of adrenaline. The crazy head rush you experience from all of that buildup can be totally exhilarating. The worst thing that can happen is that your crush just isn’t that into you. Even so, telling someone that you like them is great practice for the future. The more often you voice your feelings, the more you realize that it’s pretty powerful to state what you want — and how it makes you more likely to get it.
Rejection hurts, but our worst fears lie in anticipation. So suck it up, take a deep breath, maybe drink some water, and read on for some practical tips for telling someone you like them, even if you think you might implode:
1. Tell Them In Person
I’m a pretty shy person myself, and when I really like someone (or basically have anything pressing to say), I prefer to write it down or send it over text. This is a bad idea. It leads to a cycle of checking and rechecking my messages, agonizing over whether they read it yet — or worse, wondering why they’ve left me on read. I’ll be tempted to blow up their phone with 10 more messages, and usually get a reply that says something like, “I’m in a meeting.”
If your crush isn’t someone you work or go to school with, and you don’t know the next time you’ll see them, then it’s acceptable to reach out and ask to get together. Don’t preface it by saying, “I have something to tell you,” because that will make both of you anxious. Think of it as friends who are meeting up — even if you want to be much more than friends.
Granted, it is way braver to tell someone how you feel in person, but think of it as an experiment. Once you break the ice, it will get easier. Even if things don’t work out with your current crush, you’ll be better prepared to tell your next one that you like them.
2. Propose A Date At The Same Time You Confess Your Crush
Don’t just tell someone you like them and then walk away. That’s weird. It also leaves the next step in their hands, which is basically a guarantee that it won’t go anywhere at all, unless you are already friends and reasonably sure they already like you back. In which case, why are you even worried?
Something as simple as, “Hey, I think you’re really cute. Want to get coffee on Thursday?” works as a low-key invitation that is flattering enough to make your crush blush without coming across as an obsessive freak, and it also gives a clear yes or no in terms of whether or not your crush can move forward. If they respond with, “Oh, sorry, I have a girlfriend/boyfriend,” then you have your answer. It doesn’t mean that they aren’t flattered or that you’re weird for trying.
If you planned to meet up with your crush, and they are finally sitting across the table from you, the same rule still applies. Don’t just tell them that you have feelings for them and expect your crush to leap into your arms. It’s natural for you to feel each other out. Ask them whether they want to try that new sushi place that just opened, or whether they’d go with you to the free concert in the park on Saturday. This is coffee, for now. Next time, you’ll both know it’s a date.
3. Then, Give Them Space
Whether or not your invitation has been accepted, it’s good to take a step back from your crush after telling them how you feel. Put yourself in their shoes: Being suddenly bombarded with attention would be a bit overwhelming for you, and possibly lead you to re-evaluate a situation, wouldn’t it? Plus, assuming that they agreed to meet up with you (because you’re a total babe, duh), giving a bit of space allows anticipation to build up for your date.
I’m not saying to go completely cold on your crush. Wave and smile if you run into them before your date. Check in with them over text to ask whether you’re still on for whatever plans you just made. And if they get cold feet and cancel, ask whether it’s a rain check or if they’ve decided they aren’t up for dating right now. Try not to be accusatory with your question — you just want to clear things up so you know whether this is going anywhere or not. Whatever happens, don’t internalize it. Remember, this is just practice for many future interactions to come.
4. Don’t Over Think It In Retrospect
Whether your crush agreed to go on a date with you or not, it’s easy to look back and overanalyze every single gesture they were making when you were telling them how you felt. I know it’s tempting, but try not to do that. Most people aren’t totally in tune with what they are feeling at any given time. What can seem like disinterest — somebody’s eyes flickering around the room, for instance, when you are talking to them — might actually be anxiety.
If you told your crush that you like them, and they agreed to go on a date with you, then that’s all the information you need to know right now. And if they turned you down, then picking apart that memory is only going to crush your confidence moving forward. Your crush isn’t available. There will be others. Don’t reflect to the point of defeat.
5. Get Excited For The Future
The best thing about telling your crush that you like them? When it’s over, you get to be excited about whatever happens next! You can plan your outfit for your date (something that is cute and looks like you’re trying, but not trying too hard, ya know?) and you can talk about how pleased you are with your friends.
Focus on the positive, and don’t worry about how you might trip up the next time you see them. The most difficult part is already over. After you’ve told your crush you like them, you get to sit back, relax, and see whether you both have feelings that are going to grow.
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