If someone likes you, (you know, likes you likes you) they aren’t going to stop if you say you like them.
Crushes are a tenacious phenomenon fueled by lustful romanticky happy-making hormones. They aren’t easily undone. If anything confessing your attraction to one who is already smitten will lead to much smooching. Saying “I like you” is not a turn off. If someone likes you, they will like you even more when they learn you’re into them too.
That doesn’t mean that saying “I like you” isn’t hella scary.
The last crush I went after was The Man of Mans. You know, way back in olden tymes when the Internet was a zygote and phones were only used for phoning. Still, I remember the whole heart-racing, giggly mess of feelings that would surge every time The MoMs entered my orbit. I liked him liked him . A LOT. My thoughts (dreams, masturbatory fantasies) were consumed with the idea of what it would be like to be with him. He was one of my best friends, a person I felt I could say anything to…but not this. I held back for weeks. If I tell him in just the right way at just the right time, I thought, everything will work out. Except that wasn’t it.
You can’t manage attraction. It kind of just happens or it doesn’t. The truth is, I avoided telling The Man of Mans how much I liked him because once I did, I’d have to find out how he felt about me. Then I would know for sure. And if he just wasn’t that in to me, I’d be heartbroken. I wouldn’t even have my hopeful fantasies to comfort me. So I didn’t tell him. Even when I was almost totally certain that my feelings were requited, I hesitated because holy scary and vulnerable!
Eventually, my desire to be with The MoMs overpowered my fear of rejection. And I recognize that it’s super easy for me to look back on that experience and espouse the benefits of saying “I like you” knowing that when I said it, it worked out. But there were many times before that when I said “I like you” and the answer was rejection wrapped in a well-intentioned conciliatory statement like “You’re a really great person but…” or “I really like you too…as a friend”.
If someone doesn’t like you – doesn’t like you, like you – there’s nothing you can say to change that. It’s a steel-toed kick in the crotch. It’s awkward, possibly embarrassing and almost always really sad. All compelling reasons to keep quiet and not ‘fess up to your crush. Your crush feels the way they feel, but if you don’t say anything, you don’t have to know. Ignorance is bliss and all of that.
Declaring your love (and/or lust) is risky business. Sometimes we need a moment – or eleventy hundred – to gather our courage and make our move. Sometimes we just don’t. But you if you cop to liking someone and they don’t bite, it’s not because you said “I like you” wrong. Some people just aren’t that into us. But some people are. If you have someone’s interest you aren’t going to lose it by being interested back. So if you can muster the courage – go for it!