November 23, 2012

Why Nobody Ever Just Says, “I Like You”

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What is the issue?

The dating world is pretty cold these days. I’m talking 30 below with wind chill that makes the most well-adapted polar bears shiver from time to time. That’s an analogy of course. The low temperature is a metaphor for peoples’ harsh ways, and polar bears represent desensitized daters. With that in mind, “I like you” is the equivalent of running outside butt naked and risking frostbite or any other painful consequence courtesy of the dangerous conditions.

When we’ve seen enough friends get hurt or faced tough luck ourselves, we develop preconceived notions about any potential dating candidate. The general state of mind goes something like this: Yeah you seem decent right now, but I’m just counting the seconds until you jam that knife you’re hiding directly into my heart.

Sure, it would make sense to straight up say, “I like you.” That’s how stuff typically gets done. When you order breakfast, if you want scrambled eggs you say, “I’ll have eggs, scrambled.” But would you do that so easily if the waiter might laugh in your face and inform the entire diner of your pathetic request? Then the diner would gossip about you, making your rejeggtion a regular topic of discussion until they feel better about their own shitty breakfast situation. Doubt it! It’s that risky with professing feelings. If you went about getting scrambled eggs in the dating world, you’d do things like write subtle Facebook statuses featuring song lyrics about an unnamed yolk — and what form you’d like to have that yellow tastiness in.

It’s a passive aggressive dating universe now, so hints are the best maneuver in an admirer’s arsenal. When you drop clues it benefits you because it goes like this:

1. You drop a clue.

2. You think they got the clue.

3. You drop another clue to be certain.

4. They definitely got that one.

5. This is where one of two things happen:

a. They like you back and throw some clues your way until you both know you’re safe to start speaking about those top-secret feelings.

b. They don’t like you but if they tell anyone that you do, you can call them “crazy” and say they’re “obsessed with” you because you never even said the phrase “I like you.”

It’s like chess. Everyone wants to make the move that least exposes them to vulnerability and if necessary, allows them to strike a blow. You can’t blame people but at the same time, it can be frustrating to see that playing games in search of the upper hand is now commonplace. Don’t call until this many days, take this much time between texts, pretend to be busy, etc. Why can’t we call when we want, text back promptly and make time for our crush without being labeled desperate? I know many consider “games” a sign of immaturity, but now it might just mean you’re looking out for your best interest.

For some daters part of the fun is the pursuit. It’s similar to wanting what you can’t have. Those with high confidence might like a challenge, those with low self esteem may be turned off that you like someone as ordinary as they are, and no matter how you played your hand, that person was going to bail once they got you. Nobody is really safe, but the risk will always be there.

So being that feelings are at stake and people can be so cruel, will “I like you” ever make a comeback? It’s hard to expect one anytime in the foreseeable future, especially with social networks making it so easy to put people on blast, and enabling folks to drop incognito hints. Of course you could always just be reckless and go for it. That’s what I do and rest assured, after the first 9 or 10 rejections you become somewhat impervious to any humiliation…. OK, I’m lying — it hurts like hell every time but if you suck at chess, what else are you gonna do? TC Mark

image – Shutterstock
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