Thursday, March 09, 2006

Confessing your feelings (paca)

For some strange reason, I have gotten lots of requests in the last couple years for advice on relationships. Usually, it is people who want to start them, but not with me, with some other person they know or want to know. Perhaps since I am attached, I am a safe person to quiz on these things. I should also say that whoever is reading this, I am almost certainly not talking about you. I say that because I have dispensed such advice to a couple readers of this blog, and I really truly am thinking of other people in this next paragraph and not breaking any sort of confidence.

Almost always when the topic comes up, the person likes someone and they want to know how to say that. My advice has become pretty routine at this point. Tell them. Just do it. Instead, everyone wants to use divination rods to find out what someone else thinks.

Forget about it.

To get yourself in a relationship with someone, you have two basic choices. You can either gussy yourself up, however you like to gussy, make yourself look available, and then wait and hope; or you can do all of that and then act. I recommend the latter.

But one form this acting often seems to take is the great confession of feelings. The person builds up their confidence for days or weeks or months and then finally one fateful day they tell the other person how they feel about them. I admire people who can do that enormously. That's some serious courage. Really. But it seems to hardly ever actually work. Or what it gets them is finally over that hump, and they can move on to something else.

So, if confessing your feelings for someone isn't the right move, usually, then what is?

I think it depends on each relationship.

Love Scenario 1) Let's say you see someone a lot in some public setting, but you never speak to him or her. In that case, don't go confess what you think about them. Just do what you want to do, which is to speak to them. That's it.

Love Scenario 2) You hang out with someone a lot, doing whatever you do. At work, in class, at the gym, whatever. So you both already know each other, and you spend time with them, but always with a bunch of other people. What do you do here? Well, what is it that you want? You probably want to spend some time with that other person alone. If that is the case, then go for that. Just ask them out. When you do so, you don't need to tell them of your undying love, just go.

Love Scenario 2') Let's say you asked the person out, and they declined. You brought them flowers, and they seemed touched, but then never called you back or did anything in return. Is it now time for the big confession? Absolutely not. It seems that all you are doing here is pressing the issue. The person is either not interested or too lazy to do anything with you. If they don't want to even go to dinner, why should you telling them how perfect they are and how much you like them make them want to go? It is time to move on. Now, there is the case of someone being too shy to say yes, which is a special case. I was that way when I was 12 and the girl wanted to dance with me and I ran away as fast as I could, even though I wanted nothing other than to dance with her. Does that still happen when you are 25, 35, or 45? Maybe every once in a while. Most shy people will say yes to an invitation if they like you. The point is that you can't persuade someone to love you. I think there's a song about that.

Love Scenario 3) You are friends with someone. You spend all sorts of time together. Periodically, you stare dreamily into their eyes. But it never seems to go to that next stage. How do you get to the next stage, you ask Dr. Love? Well, what is this next stage that you are after? Once you figure that out, then you will figure out what to do. Is it to have more physical contact with them, so that you aren't just friends? If so, then you don't need to make a confession to them again. Instead, just touch them. Yes, I said it. Depending on the kind of person you are, that can be anything from holding their hand to trying to stick your tongue down their throat. If the two of you are spending every waking moment together, and you grab his hand, almost anyone is going to figure out how you feel. If you are a person who walks arm in arm with your buddies all the time, then you will have to so something else. If they are a friend, they will realize that this is something you don't do with friends.

The response from the wouldbe lover is clear here: But what if he/she doesn't want me to touch them, and then I do, and it destroys the friendship? This is a real issue. But I bet telling them that you are in love with them is going to be just as scary to them. If a female friend of mine took my hand, I think it would be easier for me to decline that and remain friends, than if she spends 15 minutes telling me how perfect I am for her. There's also the question of, can you handle being just friends with this person forever? If the pressure to change the relationship to something other than friendship is truly eating you up inside, then I am not sure you can just turn it off.

Love Scenario 4) What if we already spend time together, we are as physically together as I want to be, but I still am not sure how he feels about me? OK, then, go confess your feelings. Now it is time.

This whole bit is not based on some sort of stages, where you don't do one thing until you have done something else. It is based entirely on what you want in the relationship and taking baby steps to get it. If what you want is her attention, go for that. If what you want is alone time, go for that. If what you want is to wrap your form around his naked body, then go for that. And if what you want is open free emotional commitment, where he mouths "I love you" to you across a crowded room, then it is time to go for that by talking. You don't need to make a case for The Next Step to the other person. They either want to do that too or they don't. You offer and they accept or refuse.

And there you go.


Christopher Robin said...

And you wonder why people ask you for advice? As far as I can tell you know what you're talking about, which tends to get people to want to ask you for advice. At least now you can save some time and just point them here.

Now if only I hadn't had to learn most of that the hard way years ago...

kristybox said...

Well said.

Alan had a different technique. Take a friend, convince her to lie down for a moment in your bed because there are no seats in your dorm room, and kiss her while she's unsuspecting and sleeping. Sneaky, but effective. Not recommended, though.

Sammy Jankis said...

That is NOT what went down!

Kristy's technique was to take a friend, confide about your fears of starting your first year of college, get emotionally worked up so that he invites you to stay until you feel better, stay so long that you both end up half asleep on the twin bed in the room, and kiss him while he's unsuspecting and sleeping.