The first and last time I ever told a guy that I liked him, was the last day of seventh grade. In the middle school girl world, where code names were all the rage, his secret moniker was Felix, a tribute to our class pet guinea pig. I somehow managed to get Felix to acknowledge my existence and also finagled ways to sit next to him in class or on the bus. After a year of finding excuses to walk by his locker and doodling his name in my diary, I decided it was time to tell him how I felt. I had been training for this moment ever since I started reading Judy Blume books and YM magazines. The countless quizzes in YM told me that I had nothing to lose and who knows, maybe this All-American cutie will look past the fact that I wore my brother’s hand-me-downs and actually have feelings for me too! I waited until the last day of school, right as the bus rolled in front of my house. I took a deep breath and blurted out, IjustwantedtoletyouknowthatIreallylikeyou. YouarereallycuteandniceandIjustthoughtyoushouldknow. Then I avoided all eye contact and bolted toward my house.
Since that day, I have yet to muster the same amount of courage to tell a guy that I like him. It’s easier to strip naked than to strip yourself of pride and lay all your feelings out on the table. As women, we are called bitches if we turn down the nice guy that we just don’t have feelings for, but we are considered crazy if we show too much interest. We need to be assertive enough to show confidence, but not too much as to appear aggressive. We need to be fierce, independent women who can cut a deal in the boardroom, but are expected to be sweet and affectionate in the bedroom. We strive to be the cool girlfriend who is so low maintenance that she is practically one of the guys, but is still incredibly feminine and sexy. Essentially, we want to be Natalie Portman and/or Mila Kunis in No Strings Attached and/or Friends With Benefits. However, in our attempt to not appear needy and emotional, we end up driving ourselves insane. For every text that he does not send, we send 100 mass texts to our gay best friend and top 3 besties, wondering when it is okay, if ever, to initiate conversation.
All of my past flings have one thing in common: an abrupt end. One moment we take an hour just to say goodbye on the phone and the next moment he just disappears without a proper goodbye. Partly because I want to appear like I don’t care and partly because I don’t want to be that girl who wants to talk about her feelings, I have never followed up with a “What happened?” conversation. Was it something I did? Didn’t do? Did he lose interest? Did he think I wasn’t interested? Whatever the reason, I will never know since I haven’t asked. Some of these guys have become strangers, some are still friends of mine, though there is always that clumsy elephant lurking in the room.
There’s a problem when showing someone that you actually like them has become a novel idea. We need to realize that we can’t all be Mila Kunis. The rest of us are human beings who have moments of insecurity, neediness and irrationality. We shouldn’t have to hide what we’re feeling. Even Miss Independent should be cuddled on days when she just feels bloated and blah. If you want to initiate conversation or even ask a guy out on a date, then you should do it. It’s better than stalking his Facebook and wondering why he has the time to update his status but not text you back.
I read some teenybopper tumblr post that said it is better to live a life of “Oh wells” than “What ifs.” And although I often mock these tweenage hipsters and their words of wisdom, maybe they’re onto something. Maybe my seventh grade self would have given me better advice than my fellow twenty-somethings. All I know is that I still wonder if I’ve missed out on a guy with whom I shared a strong connection simply because we were both too proud to admit we liked each other as to avoid possible rejection.