Dear Dana is a bi-weekly advice column for humans who engage in romantic relationships. Please send your dilemmas, issues, conundrums, assumptions, conflicts, anxieties, worriments, obstacles, complications, predicaments, queries, questions, and any other synonyms for “problems” to firstname.lastname@example.org.
I have had a crush on a dude for like three months and he only just now knows who I am. That’s how I roll. He is, by all appearances, single and straight but he doesn’t seem to pick up on the fact that I’m into him. He is very cute and funny but possibly dumb because duh, I am putting some great stuff out there personality-wise (and cute outfits-wise) but he’s not biting. My friend thinks I should ask him to go get a drink next time I see him but I worry maybe he is not attracted to me?
You have a crush! A crush! Oh, crushes are such gorgeous things. They’re like a warm, purring, secret kitty that only you can see. Whenever a meeting at work gets boring, or your commute stretches on and on, or you want to think of something pleasant as you fall asleep, you can curl your body around your crush, stroke it languidly, and revel in its soft hope.
Crushes are lovely distractions from reality. I have had crushes that I nursed for YEARS without ever taking a single definitive action to puncture the membrane around my longing. Crushes are a role playing game with only one player—you—and I think I achieved the level of “most supreme galactic high priestess” when I was an active player. There’s an isolating sort of companionship in a crush. I understand having a crush, holding to it fiercely, wishing that the object of your affection would show some definitive sign that he likes you, and yet refusing to show that same sign to him.
You state in your letter that you are bringing it personality-wise and cute-outfit-wise but he’s not biting. He’s not biting, dear Crushin’, because you aren’t bait. A crush is a state of perpetual tension (Does he like me? Does he not like me? I have mustard on my shirt—he must hate me. Wait! My skin looks amazing today! He’s so in love with me.) This tension must be resolved. But whose job is it to provide the resolution?
You would like him to do so because he’s the man and you’re the one in the cute outfits and you would rather not take the risk of him turning you down. And I understand that, I appreciate that, and I think that is total bullshit. Because this man doesn’t know that you like him. He has no idea. No one knows that someone likes them until they are told.
You want this man to notice you. You want this man to pursue you. You want this man to fulfill the role of aggressor and you the role of passive recipient. And there’s nothing wrong with wanting that, but in our move to widen the definition of what it means to be a woman, we must also widen the definition of what it means to be a man. It is not this man’s job to ask you out. It is not his job to notice you. It’s not his job to find you attractive or actively show his appreciation for your attractiveness by offering you food and/or beverage.
This is your crush and therefore it is your job to resolve it.
The next time you see this man I want you to open your mouth, breathe in the way we do just before we start to speak, and then exhale the words, “Would you like to go get a drink sometime?” It is such a simple sentence, nine words, but speaking it will free you from the delicious tyranny of your crush. This man will respond in a way that will let you know whether he does or does not, in fact, want to have a drink with you sometime.
And if he happens to say no that will be awful, that will be horrible and humiliating and the total worst for approximately 30 seconds. But then those middle school emotions will pass and you will realize that he is just one man and his opinion on having drinks with you or not has no bearing whatsoever on your overall worth. And your crush will be over and you will be free to find another man who is worthy of your outfits and your personality and your bravery.
Or, he might say “yes” and then you’ll have to deal with someone who you like actually liking you back, which uncorks a whole new bottle of anxieties. But, no matter.
Shove your crush into the light of day. Speak the words. Go where they lead.
Dana Norris once went on 71 internet dates, many of which you may read about here. She is the founder of Story Club and editor-in-chief of Story Club Magazine. She has been featured in McSweeney’s, Role Reboot, The Rumpus, and Tampa Review and she teaches at StoryStudio Chicago. You may find her on Twitter at @dananorris.