When I’m into someone, I have this really functional, healthy way of reacting to the person of interest: I assume, like anyone would, that my affection for them is a huge burden and source of frustration to them. This is normal, right?
I honestly don’t know where this comes from. Even if someone likes me back, I assume that the second I express any kind of fondness for them – a short text, a song they’d like, emailing an article we mentioned – their inevitable reaction will be an eye roll and an “oh no, she’s talking to me now?” I know. I KNOW. It’s ridiculous. Clearly if someone likes you it can only make them feel good each time you reciprocate affection.
Maybe it’s because I seem to keep going for guys who are emotionally unavailable in one way or another. Maybe it’s a self-esteem thing and I just don’t gravitate toward guys who will be affectionate or something. I think it hits on an insecurity we all have, though, and I guess I just expect and exude more of it than the average bear.
It’s scary to be affectionate, and it’s hard to receive it without reciprocating. It’s scary to admit that you feel connected to someone, but by sitting on that fear and letting it stand in the way of expression, we end up hurting not only ourselves but the ones are feelings are directed towards in the first place. By not saying something, the other person thinks you don’t feel it, because they have no reason not to. It’s like buying someone the best birthday card ever – if you hold on to it, they’ll never know you even thought of them to get it, let alone enjoy it.
I still have epiphanies about things I should have said to people months, years, eons ago because when I’m in the moment, I seize up and can’t express myself. Hindsight is 20-20 and I realize that had I been more open, taken a risk, I would have had a more honest view of whatever my relationship with that person was. Mostly it would be silly to, and just pointlessly stir up old things that no one probably want to. Sometimes I wish people would open up conversations just so I could say “I’m sorry I’m so bad at this, you really are a great person.” But who ever writes you to say “hey, have you been thinking about old things, anything you want to say to me?” Exactly.
This doesn’t mean letting everything spill out, though. The flipside, especially for someone like me, is downright discomfort with too much affection. Janeane Garofalo once talked in her standup act about discounting anyone who liked her because clearly, if they were interested in her, something was wrong with them. As the classic Groucho Marx line goes, “I wouldn’t join any club that would have me as a member.” What I’m saying is, if you’re going to tell me nice things that make you feel fluttery feelings towards me, pace yourself. A guy once drove me away because he went from asking me out to whispering sweet nothings overnight, and I was simply overwhelmed. Couple that with the aforementioned fears of affection and intimacy, and I’ve booked a ticket to China before you can blink.
Clearly these are issues I’m grappling with as an individual and most people didn’t get as big a dollop of crazy at birth. But it’s just an exacerbated version of something many of us deal with. So the next time you want to say something sweet to the person eliciting it, but feel the urge to bite your tongue out of shyness, go for it. You don’t need to throw a parade and write it out in neon, just let them know what you like about them. Conquering your inhibitions just shows that you care enough for them that your feelings outweigh your fears.
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