I take forever to answer your texts, because I like you. As much as I hate the bullshit world of modern dating, I’ve fallen victim to the idea that the way I conduct myself over the phone matters. I don’t want to look too clingy. I don’t want to look too desperate. And I don’t want to say the wrong thing. Even if it takes me an hour to come up with a two-word response, know that I’ve been thinking of you for the entirety of those sixty minutes. You might think I’ve been ignoring you, but you haven’t left my mind.
I tease you, because I like you. Call it childish, call it a reversion to elementary school logic, but it’s the easiest way for me to flirt. When you get a cute new haircut, I’ll make fun of how hipster you look, and when you show up with a new tattoo, I’ll make fun of you even more. Ignore the insults. Pay attention to the fact that I actually noticed the change in your appearance. If I didn’t have any feelings for you, then your wardrobe wouldn’t even be a blip on my radar. I only notice, because I like you. I only notice, because I care.
I give sarcastic responses to every question you ask, because I like you. My sarcasm is my defense. It’s my way of locking you out of my life. Of making sure you don’t learn too much about me. I’m afraid of answering your questions honestly, of having legitimate conversations with you, because it would deepen our connection. It would make me like you even more than I already do, and that’s not something I’m ready for.
I flirt with other people, because I like you. I want you to realize that I have other options. That I’m someone worth loving. Or maybe I’m just trying to forget about you. Maybe I’m flirting with other people to remind myself that there are other fish in the sea, so it’s not the end of the world if we don’t end up together. Or maybe I’m trying to ruin what we have before we even have it.
I act like I couldn’t care less about you, because I like you. I can picture an actual future with us, but I don’t want to admit that to you, because then I’d have to admit it to myself. I don’t know if I’m ready for a relationship, which is why I’m trying to hold myself back from forming a tight bond with you. I don’t want to get close to you and fuck it all up. I’d rather wait until I know I won’t hurt you. I’d rather wait until I’m more secure with myself.
I act like I’m not interested, because I like you. Maybe I’m stupid, but I don’t want to admit how deep my feelings run and get rejected. Maybe I’m a coward, but I’m scared of everything that admitting I like you could lead up to. I don’t want to risk slicing open my chest and handing you my heart, which is why I’ll just keep treating you like shit.