Helllloooooo, Faithful Readers, and welcome to the May edition of Gothic Charm School. May…May…what does that mean? Just a moment, the Lady of the Manners had a note about this around here somewhere, under the stack of fashion magazines…
Ah yes. May = Spring, which = high spirits, people getting crushes on other people, and just about everyone wandering around in a constant state of being twitterpated.1
The Lady of the Manners has had it brought to her attention that while there are swarms of gothy folks out there who are twitterpated, the majority of them have no clue how to tell if the Object of Their Affections feels the same way. Or how to let the Object of Their Affections know of the feelings they inspire. Now, the Lady of the Manners doesn’t claim to be able to give all of you out there on the other side of the monitor a checklist:
- Given flowers – Y/N
- Was asked out to dinner and a movie – Y/N
- Lingering hugs goodbye – Y/N
But she does hope that she can pass along some useful advice about dealing with crushes — the having of one, being the object of one, and how to gracefully behave in either situation.
Topic the First: Having a Crush on Someone.
Goodness, what a fluttery uncertain feeling, isn’t it? The Object of Your Affection makes you feel all silly and bouncy whenever they’re near, but you haven’t worked up the nerve to do more that burble endlessly about them to your friends. What to do, what to do? If you’re already acquainted with them, you should start trying to have more social interaction with them; group outings to clubs, movies, and concerts are good examples. Also, if you’re both part of the same social circle, you can try to make the ever-present gossip network work for you — have your friends try to subtly find out what their friends are saying about you. While you shouldn’t take gossip as gospel, it is a good way of getting at least a vague idea of what the other person (or at least their friends) is thinking. HOWEVER — try not to resort to the completely transparent and juvenile tactic of having a friend go tell the Object of Your Affection that you’re interested in them. It would be much, much better if you could work up the courage to do that yourself.
Which leads us right to the question: “should you tell the Object of Your Affection that you, you know, like them?” Well, probably. Keep in mind, your behavior has probably telegraphed your interest in this person to most of your friends already, no matter how circumspect you think you’ve been. It’s one of the laws of the universe: if you have a crush on someone, you are incapable of acting in a completely disinterested manner.
So where does that leave you? After a few weeks or so, the Object of Your Affection might be showing subtle signs that you can try to interpret (or ask your friends to). Long daily email exchanges, increased social activities with you, and lingering hugs can usually2 mean “I am responding to your interest in me. Now ask me out or kiss me or something.” These signals can come to light even after conversations where the Object of Your Affection has said things such as, “I don’t think I’m cut out for dating”, “I’m happy being single”, or “I don’t want to date anyone for a long time” (which is something the Lady of the Manners said to her then-future husband when they first started socializing). This doesn’t mean they’re nuts, it just might mean (a) they want to be slowly pursued, (b) they don’t know what they want, which means you have a chance to change their mind, or (c) they feel they have to say that for the sake of their pride. (With the Lady of the Manners and her then-future husband, it was mostly “b”, with a little bit of “a” thrown in.)
Topic the Second: Being the Object of the Crush.
The suspicion has started to dawn on you that someone thinks of you in a special manner. Friends are starting to whisper and giggle, and apparently you have been suddenly gifted with the superpower to cause a specific person to blush and become tongue-tied. NOW what do you do?
The simple answer is to treat the person smitten by you in a manner that YOU would like to be treated if the positions were reversed. Sending out subtle signals (such as the ones mentioned above) is one method, while others favor the direct route and just ask the smitten person out on a date. But what do you do when you really DO just want to be friends with this person? You don’t want to hurt their feelings, you want to be nice to them, but you don’t see any possibility of a romantic entanglement happening with them?
This is where you have to keep a close watch over your own actions and comments: try not to do or say anything that could be misinterpreted by the person-with-a-crush as encouragement. But what if you’re good friends with them? Try to become deliberately obtuse about their motives, and treat everything they do as just a friendly gesture. Again, if possible, use the ever-present gossip network to subtly get the message out. (But make sure that the message does not get back to the person-with-a-crush in a way that says, “What are you, crazy?! Give it up — why would they be interested in you?!” You’re just trying to dissuade them, not demolish their emotions and self-esteem.) The object is to if at all possible AVOID having the “just friends” speech. No one likes being on the receiving end of that little talk, and it is almost always the kiss of death for a friendship.
Unfortunately, sometimes the person-with-a-crush doesn’t catch on. No matter how clear you think you are being about how things stand between you, they keep trying. Visiting you at work, leaving you little presents, constantly inviting you to go do things, showing up wherever you are and worming their way into conversations you’re having with other people, acting jealous when you talk to other people—these are actions of someone who isn’t getting the hint. There is a line between showing someone you like them and stalking, and for some people that line blurs quite easily.
The best thing you can do is to let them know that while you appreciate the attention, you don’t feel comfortable with the level of it. Try to explain this calmly, but don’t be surprised if the person-with-a-crush doesn’t quite get it. At that point, the only thing you can do is to stop associating with them. If you see them in a social situation, be distantly friendly: don’t go over and get involved in a long conversation with them, just acknowledge their presence and then try not to interact with them.
Of course, in a perfect world, everyone’s crushes would be repaid in kind. People wouldn’t have to pine over the Object of Their Affection, but would happily find out that their affection was returned. But, however much of a hopeless romantic the Lady of the Manners may be at heart, she knows that it doesn’t always happen that way. Hopefully, her advice this month has been useful to some of you (and to one specific person, and they know who they are). Pop back around next month for more advice, and feel free to write to firstname.lastname@example.org if you have anything that is weighing heavily on your mind.
1. Twitterpated: being attracted to someone to the extent that the mere mention of them makes one feel all fluttery in the tummy, causes a silly grin to spread across one’s face, and leads to an almost full-time case of distraction.
2. The Lady of the Manners says “usually” here, because she is well aware that there are people out there who like to collect crushes. Nothing makes these people happier than to have a string of besotted admirers following them around. While that in and of itself is not a bad thing, it does make an admirer heartsore and weary after a while. The best action if you suspect this is happening is to tactfully quiz mutual friends and find out if the Object of Your Affection has done that sort of thing in the past. If the answer is Yes, than you will probably be better off in ruthlessly quashing your attraction and stay Just Friends, no matter how difficult it seems.