Why I Pretend I Don’t Like You Like That
I’m pretending that I don’t like you like that, and I bet you don’t even know. Why would you? I’ve put a lot of effort into this charade, and I’m pulling it off with such ease I’ve almost even convinced myself that I don’t like you like that. Sort of like that creepy thing people do when they’re sad and just smile anyway; eventually the smile becomes real, and the forced weirdness just fades away.
So listen, instead of telling you I like you like that, this is what I’m going to do. I’m going to tell you about some other guy I think is hot or who I’ve slept with recently. Maybe I want you to get jealous, but mostly I just want you to get the impression that I don’t like you like that. I’ll probably hit you in the arm when you say something funny, or brush against you as I’m getting a drink at the bar. Maybe I want you to like it, to think about what if I were naked, but mostly I just want to be close to you in the most inconspicuous way possible.
I’ll keep hanging out with you, so you will know I want to be friends, but sometimes when you text, I wont answer immediately, and sometimes I’ll have other plans that I won’t change to see you, because I want you to think that I don’t like you like that. Sometimes I think that if you do like me like that, I want you to feel the way I feel when I think you don’t like me like that — and when I think these things it makes me an awful person, and I wish I could be less vindictive about it. I pretend that I don’t like you like that because I don’t want you to have the satisfaction of knowing that I do.
Right now I’m wondering if you’re reading this and wondering if it’s you, because if you are then maybe you like me like that too, or maybe you just see right through me and my façade isn’t as perfectly curated for emotion as I thought it was. You know we have fun; I see how you laugh when I tell jokes. Sometimes it makes me think that you like me like that too, but it’s not hard to convince myself of my former opinion — that of course you don’t like me like that. So I’m going to keep pretending I don’t like you like that (maybe forever) because I’m terrified that you don’t like me like that in return.
What you don’t know is that sometimes I can sleep at night because I’m thinking about you. I’ll smile about something you said and concoct scenarios in which you’re madly in love with me and we’re vacationing in some exotic location, drinking out of coconuts. What you don’t know is that when other guys, great guys, make passes at me I reject them because I know it’s unfair to give them my kisses when really it’s you I’m picturing kissing me back. What you don’t know is that every time my phone lights up with a text from you, I feel as giddy as a school girl and I tell all my friends, even if it’s as simple a text as, “How you doing?”
And you’re never going to know any of this (do you think that’s poignant or pathetic?) because I can’t stand the thought of you rejecting me. I would prefer to watch you hand in hand with a thousand girls that aren’t me than to hear that we will never be together. I’m going to keep pretending that I don’t like you like that because as long as I am, I can pretend that maybe one day you will like me like that too. Because in this big city, sometimes I feel scared and alone, and while I’m pretending I don’t like you like that, I know for certain that you will always be there for me when I need you, and I’m scared that if you knew how I really felt, you wouldn’t be there for me at all.
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So many of my relationships in life — when I was more insecure, when I didn’t like myself, when I didn’t think I deserved much — have been about proving, over and over again, that I am okay.
Today I began an essay: For as long as I have known how to be, I’ve been ashamed of my body. My publications all live within this same confessional territory.
Almost there. But not quite.
I know that people – all people – are victims of humanity; we are all broken.