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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Relationships » How do you tell someone you like them?

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Author Topic: How do you tell someone you like them?
Scarleteen Volunteer
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Moonlight bouncing off water's thread got me thinking about how people express their romantic/sexual interest.

For many of us it can feel scary or awkward. I usually only express my interest in a new person if I feel pretty comfortable. (If I'm flat-out terrified, I find it's a good idea to hold off taking action, check in with myself about why I'm so freaked, and examine if this is a safe person to share my feelings with.) For queer people in a heterosexist society, telling someone that you like them can carry additional anxieties.

It's not alway easy to find the language that feels right. How have you guys have gotten the words out--what makes you feel ready to tell someone, and how have you done it?

Does it just come up naturally? Do you plan ahead of time? Are you very direct? Do you like to wait until you're virtually positive they feel the same way? Do you prefer to let someone know by IM or some other form of communication that's not face to face?

without tenderness, we are in hell. -Adrienne Rich

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I'm actually thinking about how to tell someone I like them right now, they have a girlfriend so I'm not hoping for a relationship out of it but I want to tell them how important they are to me, what I really want to say is "you are very precious to me and you make me feel safe" and maybe something about loving them as a friend, which I was about to say I thought was dishonest, but it's not because the foundation of any good relationship is friendship. I've never told anyone I'm interested in them before though.

Always knock before entering my room when I am in there alone, as I may be doing all sorts of wonderfully thrilling things that I'd rather you didn't see.

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Good question! I generally go for the in-person, random "I like you a lot!" and take it from there; however, it's usually been someone I've known well-enough to do that (versus some random person I've just met.) I've also expressed my interest via email once and another time more recently via IM because we were too far away to do so in-person. I find such directness and honesty to be quite effective and welcome because taking that first step can be really scary for everyone! Even if it doesn't result in a date or mutually expressed interest, I feel good that I took the step and tried. [Smile]

Jill, what about saying exactly what you wrote here? And if you're not feeling so comfortable doing so in person, how about sending it as an email? That way the person can deal with it at their own pace... acknowledging that you know they have a girlfriend and don't mean to disrespect that relationship but also wanted to honestly express how you feel, saying you're very happy with just the platonic friendship now. (Assuming all this is true and I'm not just putting words in your mouth, well, screen... [Wink] )

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Cheers for bringing up this interesting question!

As far as I remember, I haven't yet told anyone that I have romantic interest in them. And only once have I needed to tell a fellow that I *didn't* have interest in him (that was reasonably agonizing). Understandably, I'm not in a relationship.

I don't know why it's so hard for me. Because I find expressing interest in friendship very easy and also telling my existing friends how much I value them.

(I think I would hesitate about telling someone online. It's quite important for me to be able to hear someones voice, or even better to see their expressions and reactions, as I realised when I started coming out to people. Otherwise I just get confused and upset about how they are interpreting what I have said.)

"Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation and that is an act of political warfare."

Audre Lorde

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Scarleteen Volunteer
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I don't think I have a specific way that I like to tell people how I feel. It depends a lot on the context, on the person, and on the type of relationship I have with them.

With my most current ex-boyfriend, I told him in an e-mail. We lived in different countries, so that was the only venue open to me. I would have liked something more direct (like Eryn, I prefer being able to gauge someone's reaction by seeing their expression and hearing their voice), but as it was, it worked out pretty well.

When we had a relationship break for a while, I became interested in a classmate. With him, I ended up confessing my feelings in a 3am text message, and we talked about it face-to-face the next day. That was a method that I really liked: I got to tell him how I felt from a safe distance, and then discuss it with him in person once we'd both had some time to think about it.

I actually don't really mind initiating that conversation: I prefer knowing how the other person feels about me, even if they don't share my feelings. So in the past, it's usually been me who brought the topic to the table and expressed their feelings first. In fact, I think I'd like if it someone else came to me first, next time. It would make for a nice change. [Smile]

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"The question is not who will let me, but who is going to stop me." -Ayn Rand

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I actually haven't ever really had moments of 'I LIKE YOU,' ever. Well, maybe that's a lie. I guess I confessed I liked someone in sixth grade by getting my friend to ask him out for me, but that didn't work out due to him not really liking me and me only getting the gumption to do it because he had JUST gotten out of a year-long relationship (that sounds so weird when in the context of 5th and 6th graders...). And I remember DESPERATELY wanting to tell the senior I had a crush on in my freshman year that I liked him, but again, knew he was 'taken' (had a crush on a sophomore girl who didn't like him) and then would only see him two or three times a year for the next three years, so my feelings eventually began to fade.

Other than that, the only three people I've ever really seriously considered dating (including the one I'm with right now!) all made the first move. There was no 'I LIKE YOU' said, it was just that they asked me out.

OK, again, I guess I lie. I guess that it's just that I'm focusing on actually saying the words, but that just seems a little cheesy to me so it's never really happened. OK, the way I said I like you to my fiance? Well, our first 'date' was prom, even though we went as friends, and I thought I maybe liked him a little but didn't want to lead him on for various reasons and I thought he maybe liked me a little. And as we got even more comfortable with each other as the night progressed (even, gasp, slow-dancing, which I had found utterly awkward with the other guys I'd been to dances to because it's so intimate (like grinding isn't! ;P)). And at the end of the evening, when we were in the back seat of the car on the way back to my friend's house, I grabbed my date's hand and held it the whole way. That was how he knew I liked him, and the reason he asked me out afterward. [Smile] It was kinda awesome.

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Executive Director & Founder
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I tend to have always been exceptionally direct with this throughout my life, no matter the gender of the person involved.

In other words, often with me, it's a clear, verbal statement of "I like you," or "I'm very interested in you," usually followed by asking said person out on a date or to coffee (or, let's be frank: bed, depending on the circumstance, particular feeling, setting and my sense of if that will have some chance of being welcomed). Unless I'm expressly going to make a sexual advance, I'm not generally concerned with someone not sharing the interest I express: all in all, the worst that has ever happened to me is that someone has expressed they're either unavailable or just not interested.

I've gotten a whole lot worse with rejection letters from writing over the years, and "no" as an answer when, say, I have needed financial help to eat or keep a roof over my head, or badly needed a job was one thing: rejection when asking someone on a date just seems very small in comparison to all the other "no's" that happen in life.

Through the whole of my life, it has overwhelmingly been me who makes a first move. But then, I often tend to know how I feel about people and what my interest is (or is not) very quickly. I'm also a bit of a risk-taker by nature.

In fact, through my life, I've sometimes found myself feeling (unfairly, really, since not everyone is so direct) frustrated when I find others who express feeling uncertain if I have that interest or not, because from my perspective, when I'm interested, I let people know and there's no wondering to be had. If I'm not, I don't express that interest. (I used to say, "If I haven't jumped in your lap within minutes of meeting, I'm not interested.") I don't need others to be as direct as I am, but I do have to say I prefer it: it's refreshing to me when it happens.

It's perhaps worth qualifying some of this with the fact that while I didn't always do what I do now for a living, and thus wasn't always SO publicly visible as queer, as a sexual person, as available when I am, since that HAS been the case, it perhaps makes my directness -- especially with same-sex approaches -- less risky for me than it might be for others. In other words, a lot of the time when I meet new people, they will often already know who I am and something about me in this respect, so it's not like an approach from me would come as a surprise.

Again, I was direct before, too, but still.

[ 11-01-2009, 01:47 PM: Message edited by: Heather ]

Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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I take the somewhat cowards way out, for the most part. I usually do a bit of probing, "what do you think of me," and depending on the reply, I'll send a message and hope.

Everything I've done has been over the internet, and even then I'm really nervous (except for one text). What helps, oddly enough, is if you think the other person is going to say no, and you place yourself in that mindset. Then it's either ok, that was expected, or AMG! REALLY!? O_O *happy dance, etc*

^_^ Never is easy. But in most cases, I've found that I can become really good friends with the person after, since any possible girl/boy "tension" is out of the way, and we can have frank discussions about anything ^_^

"Fear is the mind-killer"
-Don't be afraid.

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