CRUSH

December 2nd, 2004

Okay. So we here at the Meg Cabot blog have been inundated with requests for advice. And most of those requests ask for advice about—you guessed it—crushes.

I would like to mention something I read this weekend in a book called The Full Cupboard of Life, by Alexander McCall Smith (from the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series, which I recommend to anyone looking for a good, gentle read): when people seek advice from others, they almost always already know what they are going to do. They are just seeking validation of that decision from others.

So when you write to us and ask, “I like this boy. Do you think he likes me back? What should I do?” I strongly suspect that deep down, you already know the answer. TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS. They very, very rarely steer people wrong. In fact, most of the time when people make mistakes, it's because they DIDN'T listen to their gut.

That said,

CRUSH SCHOOL IS NOW IN SESSION.

Dr. Michele Jaffe, Harvard PhD, sex ed counselor, goddess of all things sparkly, responds to your crushiest questions.

Dr. Jaffee says:

Ok, so there have been A LOT of questions lately about when you like someone, how do you know if they like you back, and what should you do about it, yadda, yadda, yadda. So here it is, all broken down in black and pink for you:

HOW DO YOU KNOW IF THE BOY YOU LIKE LIKES YOU BACK:

If he laughs at your jokes, smiles at you a lot, looks in your direction when he thinks you're not watching, purposely reaches over you for a pen when he doesn't have to, accidentally bumps into you, hugs you often or for a long time, or even tells his parents he hates you, there's a good chance he has a crush on you.

Yes! Dance with delight!

WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT:

Stop dancing. Because here is the other hard cold truth:

You're probably not the only one he likes. As hard as it is for females to understand, the male of the species has a very different approach to dating. Let me use an example near and dear to my heart: Jeans.

I am always on the quest for the perfect jeans. I will try on hundreds of pairs, but until I find Them, my Dream Jeans, I will not rest contented. I know they are out there. I fantasize about them. They are comfortable enough to wear all the time but look totally hotchacha enough to wear to a club. They flatter me and make me feel beautiful, while also being my best companion on a chilly day. Dream Jeans. Mmm, how I long for you.

Guys are not about Dream Jeans. For guys, if the jeans fit, more or less, they're fine. Do they stay on? Do they mostly cover their underwear? Good. There are a thousand pairs of jeans that can satisfy a guy and the one he buys is the one that lives at the intersection of what he can get most easily and what his friends are doing.

This goes the same for dating. A guy might have his eye on several girls, but the one he ends up with will be the one he can get the most easily and the one that blends into his existing social life with the least difficulty.

There are exceptions to this, certainly, but especially in junior high and high school, access is one of the keys to love. Football players date cheerleaders not because they are the only hot girls in school, but because they SEE them all the time, and are with them on the road and stuff. It's CONVENIENT. It's EASY.

So if there is a guy you want and, based on what was said in part one, he's given signs of interest, you have three choices:

1. Wait quietly and hope that he trips over your foot, finds your face hovering over his when he regains consciousness, and decides he must be with you for all time. Leaving things to fate this way can be very romantic, but it also means you might not get your man because someone could come up and intercept him earlier. This offers the least risk and the least possibility of reward.

2. Stick your foot out and trip him, making the above happen (figuratively of course. we do not advocate violence here at the blog). This can mean putting yourself in his path, running into him, joining a club he's in, being a little–but not Manny from last season's Degrassi–obvious. This increases your chances with him, because he will see you more. Still, it is not a guarantee. Someone else might still trip him first.

3. Skip the tricks, and ask him out to something like a movie or a holiday dance. This is the riskiest one, because you are stepping up and taking charge. But it also offers the highest chance of guaranteed success, because you are not waiting on him. On the other hand, you might get a no answer faster, which means the crush is over. You might be sad for a little while, but in the end, it will keep you from wasting your precious time.

What I am saying here in number 3 clearly goes against the idea of playing hard to get. I think playing hard to get is stupid and disempowering, forcing girls to sit around and wait for the guy to make the first move. It also seems lame to me to start a relationship with something fake. But I see that it can be fun, and I know people who swear by it. Since I'm not a hard-to-get girl, and since I've always had a lot of success being up front about what I want, I advocate honesty and forthrightness. But, as I said, that's a personal choice.

Okay, now down to particulars:

Meg,
I REALLY REALLY like this boy(might even love him) but I'm too scared and shy to ask him out or tell him how I feel. I THINK he might like me too but i really think he's too shy and scared to say anything either. What should I do?

Dr Jaffe responds:

One of you HAS to do something. The easiest thing would be for you to try to put yourself in his way more and more, increasing the opportunities you have to talk to each other. This could mean sitting near him in the library. Or just passing him more often in the hall and saying Hi. Or, best yet, getting involved in an activity that he is also involved in. This last one is good because it gives you common ground, something to talk about. It will also help you find out if you really like him, once you know him more (its hard to know a shy guy) or if its better as a from-afar thing.

If you are feeling brave or impatient, you could take matters into your own hands and invite him to join you and a group of friends in whatever you are doing that weekend. The pressure is lower that way, but you'd still get to spend time together.

Meg says:

And hopefully, he will reciprocate by asking YOU out next time.

Dear Meg,
I have two questions. I really like this guy. I think he likes me too because he always laughs at my jokes and talks to me a lot. Sometimes I catch him staring at me and then he blushes and looks away. Does he like me? Here is the second question, if you think he likes me, should I ask him out or should I wait for him? Thanks for reading.

Dr. Jaffe responds:

The magic 8 ball says CHANCES ARE GOOD that he likes you. But as to whether you should ask him out, that's up to you. If you feel comfortable doing it, then I say yes, yes, yes! Waiting around only increases the chances that someone else will come and ask him out first. If you are nervous you could ask him out in a group (as mentioned above) because that decreases the 'date-ness' of it; the downside is that you don't get him all to yourself.

Meg says:

I think the author of this letter already knows the answer. However, if she needs validation, she should stop by the Meg Cabot Book Club later this month to take the December Quiz, which will be called SHOULD I ASK HIM OUT.

dear meg.
i know you proboly wont get to this because a loooooooooooooot of people write u, but i
set my mind on trying.(a.k.a sorry for the spelling, i dont have the best writing…)so you are a realy smart person and you get teen's you dont incorig us to become nons when were 5!theres this boy in my grade how i realy reeeeealy like. but he isnt that crazy over me he gets the felling were just frinds.
my problem is that i dont realy have the best knowleg in boys i only had 1 boy frind a he was the one how asked me out (in the 5th grade!!!) so as you must understand im in pants that are to big for me. help me fill them in?!
thanks if you do

Dr. Jaffe responds:

If you are trying to get this guy to see you as more than friends, you might need to be kind of obvious about your feelings, like by asking him to go to the movies or something. If you have already told him you like him and he's said he just wants to be friends, but you still want more (I can't quite tell if that is what happened), then it seems to me the only thing you can do is work on the friendship. Spend time with him, maybe in a group of your friends or his friends or both, and hopefully he'll come to see how totally fabulous you are on his own. Alternately, you may find someone you like even better.

Meg says:

Usually when a boy says he just wants to be friends, he means it. At the time, anyway. The only way to get him to change his mind is to hang around him as much as possible, but not in an obvious, annoying way, but a cheerful, fun to be with way.

But that's a lot of work and if I were you, I'd just move on to some other guy who hasn't come out and told you he just wants to be friends.

Dear Meg,

There's a guy I really like, but I don't get to see him too often. That is because he is three years older than me, and happens to be one of my older sister's friends. He is the sweetest person I have ever met, and when I see him at his workplace – the library in my neighborhood – we talk there and hang out when the librarian isn't yelling at us for talking. I really like him and I think he has real boyfriend potential, because I find myself daydreaming about him during class and writing stories about us being together similar to Mia and Michael. Do you have any suggestions of how I could get closer to him and show him I'm not a little kid (its only a 3 year difference, and hes a senior at my high school), so he might be more interested in me? Do you have any personal experience of this sort? Thank you so much for listening!
~Hopeful

Dr. Jaffe responds:

HE WORKS AT THE LIBRARY! I WUV HIM!
He totally likes you, I think. That whole talking at the library thing. So. Cute. And you have a really awesome chance to show him you're not a kid by the questions you ask him and the books you take out. What are his interests? Ask him about them. Guys LOVE to talk about themselves and what they are reading/working on/thinking about.

Meg says:

Oh my God, I love him too!!! LIBRARY BOY!!! Please write to us and let us know how this works out. I think you should DEFINITELY ask him if he wants to get coffee after work one day. I have only one worry: Make sure your sister doesn't like him first, because you don't want to be accused of crush-stealing.

dear meg, see, there's this guy i really like. and i thought he
liked me too until at this parent party his dad told
my mom that he hated me. how can this be? i even
thought that we were kind of friends. please help me
meg!

Dr. Jaffe responds:

Either this guy is psycho or he really likes you and doesn't want his parents all up in his business. Or maybe his father is psycho. Either way, I wouldn't worry about it. You could use it as a reason to talk to the guy–say to him “I hear you hate me. Is that true? I've never been HATED before,” or something, kind of joking. But if you have the feeling that you two are friends, I'm guessing his dad has it wrong. Or was joking. In a not funny way.

Meg says:

Once this boy told our whole class that he hated me, and then he tried to kiss me at the pool. So I pulled his swim trunks down in front of everyone. And then he cried.

Of course, we were five. But still.

Hello Meg! I know you always answer questions in your blog, and I have one that I wonder if you could help me with. I went out on a “sort of” date with this guy that I just started talking to a little while ago. I knew he liked me because he would talk to me and stare at me in class and he asked me for my IM out of the blue. Anyways, back to the story. I went out with him, but some of his friends ended up coming along, and this guy is sort of popular so I was imtimidated by his buddies. I acted awkward and I think I may have given him the wrong impression about me. Do you think that he will think any less of me because I didn't make a good first impression with his friends, and didn't know how to act? I did try to be friendly but his friends barely acknowledged that I was there. I don't think its fair to expect me to act all confident and outgoing with people I barely know, since I barely know this guy in the first place. Am I just being totally paranoid?! Please help me, I don't know what to do. And i have to see him everyday cause hes in my class!
Any answer would be sooo appreciated!
From, a socially inept fan

Dr. Jaffe responds:

If he liked you enough to ask you out, and if you had fun together until his posse came, I think you are in fine shape. You are completely right that if his friends aren't nice to you, you don't have to go out of your way to gel with them. The only way to know what he is thinking is to ask him, but since that may be hard, the second best thing is for you to tell him what YOU are thinking. Not all of the above, but rather just tell him you had a really nice time with him. Let him know YOU don't hate HIM. Because he might be thinking that, you know? He might think that because of his friends you think he's a goon.

So let him know you had a good time, and take it from there. Also, smiling a lot, and maybe IMing him a joke, would be good. To show him you're still interested.

Meg says:

Good plan, Michele!

Meg n Michele, I became good friends with a guy last year, and I hadn't really thought of him as cute. I saw on the first day of school two months ago, and my jaw dropped. Why had no one informed me that he became incredibely cute over the summer? Well, I tried to push it out of my mind, because we're friends, and I don't want to lose that. (I honestly value his friendship.) A couple of weeks later, we ended up at a weekend retreat together. He came up to speak to me, and I wanted to fall into the creek. (Or maybe his eyes…they're the color of a swimming pool…) We spent a lot of time together, but it was with another girl too. (Oh yeah, she's much prettier than me. Just great.) At the end of the retreat, he hugged both of us, and for a very long time, might I add. When we got back to school, I interviewed him for the school paper in an effort to see him again, because I never, ever see him, even in the hallways. He and the other girl were “kinda sorta” dating for a couple of weeks, but then he just stopped talking to her. (He has a tendency to do that with ex-girlfriends.) I took that as my chance to ask him a few questions, including if he was going to the dance and if he was busy that next weekend,, because I was putting a group together to go to a local haunted house. He said maybe, but a few days later, the date for the haunted house was changed, so I called him to inform him of the change. The rest of the conversation was “Sorry, I have plans.” “Well, um, maybe…” “Bye.” After that, he's been ignoring me. I think I've over him, but I'm afrai
d that I've ruined the friendship. Have I? Sorry I wrote you a novel!

Dr. Jaffe responds:

So this guy? Mr. Hot-n-Fresh? Not boyfriend material. Here is how I know: “He and the other girl were 'kinda sorta' dating for a couple of weeks but then he just stopped talking to her. (He has a tendency to do that with ex-girlfriends.)” I do not like the sound of that at all. This guy is trying on all the jeans in the store and then, instead of folding them up nice to help the sales people, leaving them in a heap on the dressing room floor. That is bad manners.

And he's done the same thing to you, it sounds like. Which is to say: YOU haven't ruined the friendship. HE has. HE is selfish and not very nice. He's reveling in his new found hotness, but hotness without kindness flames out pretty fast.

My advice to you is to stop paying attention to him: not only because I think he is unworthy (it is VERY impolite to leave your dressing room a mess) but because this is the best way to get his attention back. This is the one and only situation in which easy does not necessarily win, and that is because, Mr. Hot-n-Fresh has too many easy options. In this situation, turning your back on him could make you stand out.

But it could also make him decide he's not interested. Ideally, you'll have decided this before he has, and then you won't be “playing” hard to get, but will actually BE hard to get.

Meg says:

I'm not sure this guy's the One. Okay, I KNOW he's not. But you're probably dating him now, and all happy and stuff, so I don't want to bum you out. Just be warned, though, what he did to that other girl, he WILL do to you. Why don't you find a nice, new boy? Have you checked out the guys in the library lately? I hear they're HOT!!!!

Well, we have many, many more letters to get to, but we also have books to write, so we may not get to yours for a while, if ever. So I hope Crush School has been informative. Remember, check out www.megcabotbookclub.com for the Should I Ask Him Out quiz, coming soon.

And don't forget: TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS. Whatever that little voice inside your head is telling you is probably the best advice you're gonna get from anyone.

More later.

Much love,

Meg