Breaking the Silence: 5 Steps to Announcing Your Crush

With International Crush Day having just passed, I hope some of you let fly with declarations of wild interest to some of your crushes.

Me? I discovered that I really don’t have many actual crushes around I haven’t told about my crush on them. And those that I do have… well, they’re not quite ripe yet, so they’re staying on the vine a little longer. Granted, I did kind of limit myself to only one or two of the seven types of crushes I make note of, but I’m going to save up all my Hollywood crushin’ for Dragon*Con, when I’ll be able to tell some of them in person.

I mentioned my lack of secret crushes to a few people and they were a bit shocked. “You mean you just tell people you have a crush on them? How do you do that?”

The easy answer is “Practice.” The more complete answer includes the words “lots of pain and whole lot of willingness to risk things.” Then I figured it would be more useful to put together a short list of steps that I go through when getting ready to tell someone I have (or have had) a crush on someone.

1. Be Honest About Why You’re Telling Them

As is often the case with crushes, they pan out best if you use them to dig deep into yourself and find real answers. The first step in declaring your crush is to be honest about why you want to make such a declaration. Are you telling them in the hope that they feel the same way? Are you telling them with the expectation that they’ll drop everything and run away with you like in the movies? Do you think it will brighten their day? Complicate their lives? Lift a weight from your own mind? Make for a good story later?

The reasons are endless and can be very personal. At this stage, don’t worry about anything other than the truth of your answer. We’ll be filtering for sensibility and reality before long.

2. Actually Know the Object of your Crush

There are some pretty big differences between telling someone you’ve actually gotten to know that you have a crush on them and telling a stranger or vague acquaintance (or celebrity). If the person you’re crushing on is someone you know, you should be better able to bring it up in conversation, but you’ll also possibly have more to lose. If it’s a complete stranger, you really don’t have anything to lose except your imagined persona of them.

3. Estimate How They Will React

This one is never going to be 100%, but you should be able to estimate pretty well on the “best case” and “worst case” ends of things. If you’ve known your friend Sally for a decade and she’s always going a bit batty about the endless parade of guys who hit on her, you’re really going to have to be careful to not fall into that group by default. If your friend Chuck tends to keep an even keel even in the roughest of situations, you can be pretty sure that your admission of a crush on him will, at worst, lead to a discussion of the pros and cons of exploring it more.

Again, honesty with yourself is important. If you answer this while clad in the rose colored glasses that some crushes breed, you’re not going to see the bad side of things. If you’ve already decided you’re doomed to be alone, you won’t be able to reach for the best possible outcome.

4. Ask Yourself: Is it Really Worth It?

Take your answers to the previous three questions and line them up. Objectively look at them–best and worst cases.  Imagine how you’ll feel hearing each of those answers (and a few somewhere in between). Now weigh those feelings against how remaining silent will affect you and your relationship with the other person. Is your crush under control? Can it simmer for another week, month, or year without getting in the way of a platonic relationship with the person? Without getting in the way of anything else you may be involved with? Or will you just be bursting at the seams to declare your love every time she even glances in your direction?

Can the object of your crush realistically handle the information you are about to give to them? Does it stand a better chance of making them happier or of making their lives more difficult? Are your reasons for telling them in both your and their best interest?

Remember, a crush is a one sided thing. Once it is declared, it’s something more than just an imaginary relationship in your head–it’s something new… it’s a potential real relationship. There’s now someone else actually involved so you have to take their side of things into account, too.

5. Speak Up, then Shut Up

Be as casual as possible when broaching the subject of your crush on someone. I’ve found it’s best if you can get into a conversation about related subjects (like celebrity crushes, or the crazy feelings we all have at one point of another, or relationships in general). If that segue doesn’t go well, be prepared to do two things: Take a huge leap of faith and possible have your hopes shattered.

If you’re dealing with a Hollywood Crush, you’re probably going to have to be more direct. (Unless you’ve managed to score a week in Hawaii with your celebrity crush or something.) You’re also going to have to accept the fact that he or she probably hears the same thing all the time.

When the opportunity comes (or when you make the opportunity), be direct and to the point. “You know, for a while there in high school, I had a huge crush on you” or “Ever since we met, I’ve been kind of crushing on you” are much better than long, drawn out tales of woe, metaphor and simile.

Once you’ve let the cat out of the bag, shut your mouth and pay attention to the reaction. If she asks questions, answer them. If he looks disgusted, try to laugh it off and break from the conversation in as casual and normal a way as possible. Even if it is a big deal, don’t give in right away to your negative emotions. Save the exploration of the negative for when you’re around other friends or can have the privacy you need to let it all out.

Space after the declaration of a crush can be a very important thing. There’s a good chance that you have, in one way or another, just rocked this other person’s world. Some people respond better to that than others, no matter how they actually feel. That initial reaction of disgust may be a defense mechanism–as can that overly happy reaction.

Only two things will reconcile perception, hope, and fear with reality: Time and Talking.

Declaring your crush can be a big risk. But, at the worst, you’ve removed a layer of illusion from your interaction with someone else and gotten a better idea of who they really are.

At best, you find out they feel the same way. And then the real challenges of a real relationship (maybe even a romantic one) kick in.

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