I’m not a violent person. In fact, I’m one of the most peaceful people you’ll ever meet. But, occasionally I want to knock some sense into my friends. Why all this pent up anger? It’s sparked by a conversation like this:
Friend: So, remember that guy I was telling you about?
Me: The cute guy from work?
Friend: Yup! We’re going for a drink this weekend.
Me: Sweet! So 2 years later he finally worked up the courage to ask you out?
Friend: No, um. I asked him out. I was hoping he’d do it but I guess he’s a little shy.
And that’s the point where I want to violently grab my friend by the shoulders and shout, “HE’S NOT SHY!”
But instead I smile tightly and say, “Yes, I suppose he is.”
I’ll admit that I’ve been on the other end of this conversation. I’ve been the friend who likes a guy a lot. I’ve been the friend who makes excuses for him because I’m so desperate to believe that he likes me back. But in retrospect I wish my friends had just told me the truth about what they thought. Instead, because they didn’t want to hurt my feelings, they tiptoed around me. When I asked them why, they said that they didn’t want to interfere or didn’t want to crush my hope. And I couldn’t help thinking that I wish they had because it would have saved me a whole lot of embarrassment and pain.
Today, I want to save you some embarrassment and pain because I know what it’s like to really like someone and wish that they liked you too. I also know what it’s like to put your heart out there to show him how you feel. And I know what it’s like to hold on to the hope that one day, one sweet day, he’ll reciprocate.
But he never did. In my desperation I tried to convince myself that he couldn’t tell me how he really felt because he was a shy man, but I was lying to myself.
I’m going to do some interfering, possibly crush your hope and probably hurt your feelings. He’s not shy. In fact these are more likely:
1 He’s being polite.
Some of the things that you think are signals that a man likes you are just his idea of politeness. He offers to drive you home at night, he gives you his coat when it’s cold and carries your luggage to the bus stop. You think he’s giving you special attention, he’s just being polite. When you like someone, any act of kindness towards you becomes a sign of something more meaningful. Don’t interpret innocent actions to be romantic gestures.
2 He pities you.
The only thing worse than someone rejecting you cruelly, is someone stringing you along because they feel sorry for you. If you thought that only women do this then think again, men do it too! If you’ve made it clear that you’re interested in him and he’s half-heartedly reciprocating then it’s quite possible that he’s only doing it because he thinks being honest will hurt you.
3 He likes you but not enough to take a risk on you.
My experience is that men are much more tactical when it comes to taking relational risks; they weigh up their options before they commit. A man will only take a risk on you if he thinks that you’re worth the risk he’s taking. It’s quite possible that the man you have in mind likes you back; he just does not like you enough to commit to you seriously or he’s waiting for someone better to come along. While it’s comforting to know that he’s not indifferent to you, it’s as good as not being liked at all.
The reality of unrequited love (or like) is a bitter pill to swallow. And as you process it, it’s important that you decide that his not liking you doesn’t say anything about you, don’t let it define you. But do stop making excuses for him. And do stop putting your hope in something that you know will never happen.
Boo, he’s not shy.