Why You Should Maybe Keep Your Crush A Secret

Over on FetLife, I wrote about how I often don’t tell women about the crushes I have on them, and got a lot of responses that were all like, “Oh, no, Ferrett! If you have a crush on someone, you should tell her!”

No; no, I really shouldn’t.  And maybe, neither, should you.

Now, one a personal level, I have the issue that I crush easily, trivially, sillily; I can form a mild crush over a series of pretty pictures or one knock-my-socks-off blog post. My crushes are ethereal things – and though I hold them tight to my heart, if I told every woman I had a crush on, I’d probably spend my days in entangled in embarrassing correspondence.  (A correspondence I most likely wouldn’t have time for, because honestly my poly web is pretty full as it is.)

Yet even if I did not crush easily, it’d still be a dick move to drop the crush on random people, because here’s the thing:

Telling someone you have a crush on them is an obligation.

If I go to you and say, “I have a huge crush on you,” that forces you into a situation where you have to respond. Someone’s showed up on your doorstep and dropped a big load of Unexplored Feelings on you, very like a load of dirty laundry, and now you have to do something with that.

And it’s potentially really awkward for the crushee, especially if s/he doesn’t feel the same way back. It hurts for you when your crush gives you the “no thanks,” but there are precious few people in this world who like dashing people’s expectations. And then that poor person has the stress of trying to figure out how to gently let you down –

– or whether they can afford to let you down.

Forrest Gump knew a thing or two about crushes: they’re like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get. Now, my particular crush is the kind where if you tell me, “Not interested,” I’ll shrug and ask you to a movie next week anyway, because I’ll still like you buckets even if we never do the smoochy-smooch thing.

Yet here’s the thing: even if I tell you all of that up-front, you have no guarantee I am who I say I am.

Because I could be the kind of dude who’s all like, “WHAT? You don’t like me?! Well fuck you, I never wanted your friendship anyway” and then never talk to you again – thus ending a friendship that you valued, but didn’t have the chemistry of attraction in it. Or I could be the kind of creeper who never expected that you would turn me down and so meets your “no” with a seething outrage, marking you as The Enemy for leading me on, determined to fuck you over now for breaking my heart.

Or I could be that kind of guy who shrugs it off with a “Sure, sure,” and then waits until you’re drunk to see if maybe you were lying about that whole crush thing. Or I could be the dude who thinks you’re playing the happy-little denial game, and you get to watch as I move into full-on stalker territory…

Or maybe – and this is often the best-case scenario – despite all of my protests about how I’ll still totes like you anyay, once the attraction is defeated, our friendship subtly mutates from the happy evenness of “We’re buddies!” to “You hold a power over me that I do not hold over you!” and things turn terribly awkward and sad.

The problem with crushes is that people handle doused crushes in all sorts of astoundingly bad ways – and your crushee has no guarantee of how you’ll react.  A dropped crush is often a variant on Schrodinger’s Rapist, where the concern of not knowing how you’ll react instills a lot of anxiety as they try to figure out just what your real intentions are.  As such, dumping that crush on them just on the off-hand chance s/he might be into it is the height of bad manners. It basically says, “Fuck it – I’ll stress you out if it means I’ve got a shot of getting into your pants.”

Now, I’m not saying to never reveal your crush, because the “quietly suppress all attraction until their defenses are down” is a game played by sad jamooks everywhere.  What I am saying is that I’ve met enough people – maybe not a majority of them, but enough to matter – to know that a lot of people are really discomfited when someone expresses a crush out of nowhere.

As such, I suggest that until you know they feel otherwise, consider restraining your crush.

Yes, I understand that’s more work, sifting through your interactions for signs of attraction and weighing the evidence until you come to the conclusion that they’re a) maybe possibly kinda into you, or b) maybe possibly the sort of person who’d be flattered even if they don’t respond in kind.

But the alternative is you saying, “I DON’T CARE WHAT THE FUCK THEY WANT! I WANNA SMOOCH! SO I’M JUST GONNA TELL ‘EM RANDOMLY ON THE OFF-CHANCE THAT I GET WHAT I WANT!”

There’s a word for that, and that word is “douche.”

As a general rule, until you get some signals that someone would like something – and people are emitting signals all the time if you watch carefully – it’s not a bad rule to default to not doing that thing until you know for sure they want that thing.  That default behavior applies whether it’s kissing, crushing, helping someone across the street, informing them that they should dress better, touching their hair, offering diet advice, or any range of unasked-for “helpfulness.”)

Old Uncle Ben knew about crushes: “With great crushing comes great responsibility.”  If you have inclued the signs that s/he is potentially into you, then fine!  Take a rational shot.  You’d be surprised how often there is a mutual crushitude if you suspect there might be one.  But only do it if you’ve scouted the territory.

Which is why me, sighing over a couple of pretty photos isn’t grounds enough to drop the crush. Me, having been dazzled by an essay or two, isn’t grounds enough either. I should open up a conversation, do some back-and-forth, see if we’re actually compatible before going that route.

Other people asked, “Well, if I have a crush on someone, it’s going to affect our relationship! Shouldn’t I tell them, rather than swallowing my emotions?” And yes, there are circumstances where you’re desperately in love with your best friend and need him to know, and then you maybe should just to get that out in the open where it won’t fester.

But a lot of douches do that as a way of saying, “If you’re not fucking me, then I don’t need you in my life – so are you in?”  In which case you should probably just end this so-called friendship, as you’re a crappy goddamned friend.  And there’s also a lot of douches who go, “Well, the chick I work with at Wendy’s needs to know about my raging boner for her, and that’s affecting our relationship!” And once again, we’re back to “I want my shot at fucking them, no matter how uncomfortable it may make them.”

Not every attraction needs to be followed up on. Consider their situation, whether it’s something that’s going to benefit their life, and whether you’re actually improving their situation… or inconveniencing them to improve yours.

That’s pretty much it. I could have written this whole essay in two words – “Be courteous” – but I felt it needed some more concrete details.

8 Comments

  1. Marc
    Feb 28, 2014

    Hey,

    I realize that I always comment about something that I didn’t like in your essays and to be honest I don’t feel this is very nice of me considering that I appreciate at least 85% of what you are writing.

    Yes you “hate” Tolkien but nobody’s perfect. 😀

    So to buck the trend. Great essay! I agree with everything you written here and also love how you wrote it. Perfect tone to make it enjoyable while still delivering the right amount of concepts.

  2. Yet Another Laura H.
    Feb 28, 2014

    I am of the opinion that about half of all crushes are one’s under-the-waterline thinking processes saying: “This person has some traits that I would very much like to acquire. These traits are best learnt by hanging around with this person and observing. Hm. How can I make sure we spend as much time as possible with this person? Oh! Hey! Libido! Get in there, you slippery son-of-a-bitch!”

    I wish I’d realized this back in the days when I would get all huffy about the “emotional affairs” my then-SO would have…

    • Yet Another Laura H.
      Feb 28, 2014

      AND I wish that I could tell this to the people who (for some reason) get crushes on me with dreary regularity. “Oh, no! It’s Twue Wuv!” they say. “How dare you act like it’s anything but that! I will now fall asleep drooling and sobbing on your doorstep as my wife frets for me at home! But her feelings are not significant, because Twue Wuv!”

      Say what you will about polyamorousness, your essay above seems to indicate to me a deeply sensible attitude about how human relations work… and one way to avoid breaking them.

  3. Sophia
    Mar 3, 2014

    I agree with this post, wish I had read it three years ago though. I had to find out by experience. I’m a girl who likes other girls and I kind of fell in love with my yoga teacher. Ok not kind of. So I told her she responded that she likes dudes but then….well I never got to be friends with her after that. I still went to class (because is loved it) but I think she just kind of put me in the creeper box and I never got out. Her loss, I guess, but I really wished I hadn’t told her. I did it because I didn’t know if she liked me back or liked girls at all…

  4. Joseph Millwood
    May 20, 2014

    Ferrett, this article is both insightful and hilarious (the “hilarious” was a bonus, since I was only looking for “insightful.” Do you have any advice for my situation? I’m a 64-year-old guy with a HUMONGOUS Facebook crush on a 50-year-old woman who lives halfway across the country. We’ve not met in person, but we are Facebook “friends” and we have been doing a whole lot of live one-on-one chatting. I’m burning to reveal my crush, but so far I’m only about 20% confident that she feels the same way. I know I gotta figure this out for myself, but I’d like to hear what you think. -Joe in Calif.

  5. Hella Awkward
    Jun 7, 2014

    Very accurate. Although when you’re younger ‘not telling’ often leads down to your crush relentlessly asking you who it is who you like and then when you tell them they end up saying they don’t feel that way about you and act awkward towards you for the rest of your friendship. So it isn’t something you can necessarily avoid, unless you fall in love with more mature people I guess.

  6. WishIReadThisYesterday
    Jul 11, 2014

    Crap. Wish I read this yesterday. Despite all the wrong signs I told the crush. It was more to end my speculation because it was killing me not knowing. Now that I know I wish I hadn’t because clearer the friendship is forever changed and likely lost. I suck.

  7. Mel D
    Oct 10, 2014

    I feel so reassured to have read this. I’m firmly of the opinion that a crush is firmly the crusher’s problem and the crushee doesn’t need to know. 90% of the time the crushee doesn’t want to know. It’s just nice to see it said here.
    I had a best friend for 4 years. She knew me back to front, she’s only been my friend whilst I’ve been in the same long term relationship and she knows that people telling me they have crushes in the past when it was unwanted made me feel physically sick, but this summer she decided to drop the bomb on me. She claims she had a crush on me and just NEEDED me to know because she’d turned 30 and for some reason that meant she had to start telling people things like this. My life had been in chaos and that was the last thing I needed but she decided that I needed to comfort her because she had hurt feelings.
    Whatever.
    It’s just so selfish. I’ve never led the girl on, never expressed any interest or acted in any way like I wanted her. I tried to get past it but the longer it goes, I’m just angry. She had no right to put this on me. Seems like I vented a little here, but the point is, this is a great essay with a very important point that I think I’ll be passing amongst my friends. You know, as a guide to how to not cause your best friend distress because you suddenly decided you wanted to get into her pants.
    So thanks!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Why You Should Maybe Keep Your Crush A Secret - The Good Men Project - […] Originally published at theferrett.com. […]
  2. The Politics Of Crushing | Ferrett Steinmetz - […] lastly, there’s the eternal issue of that informing someone about your crush is an obligation. A mild obligation, yes,…

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