Does this sound familiar?
You, an otherwise intelligent, semi-rational, mostly-mature, kind of confident woman, are friendly or perhaps even friends with, let’s just be honest, an “in-significant other.” You know, the type of guy you like, but you don’t “like” like.
You see him out and about, or hang with him at parties, or go to/play games with him because he’s the only other sports fan you know. You enjoy his company. You have fun together. He amuses you. The last time you saw him, you laughed for three straight hours.
He has a crush on you, and doesn’t try to hide it. He’s a goofy man-child to you, though, and you can’t take him or the idea of romance with him seriously.
Sure, his hint-dropping can be anything from grating to yawn-inducing after weeks, or months, or years. That said, you know he is harmless. He is all talk, no action, blessedly. And if your ego needs boosting, his unfailing adoration works better than your therapist or Prozac.
Still, your typical reaction to his declarations is a non-reaction. You smile, and coyly shake your head. You don’t want to encourage him, or hurt him.
Every now and then, however, it’s too much—too much responsibility?—so you avoid him for a spell, lest you cast an irrepressible eye-roll his way, or let a harsh and snarky comment slip.
Then, one day, he shocks you.
This person, this silly, irresponsible, overly-self-indulgent, all-fun-all-the-time kind of guy, whose main source of income remains a mystery to you, wins an award, rescues a dog, gives a keynote speech, gets promoted to the C-Suite or ends up the cover boy on a major national news magazine.
You are gob-smacked: people take him seriously. Heck, they treat him like a grown-up. They solicit his input and act on his suggestions. Their praise for him is glowing. Worse, he forms sentences that are clever, charming and captivating.
What is going on here, you ask, almost out loud? You mean he is an actual adult?
Stranger than that is the fact that, once you get past your total disbelief at this stunning development, you are actually impressed. Blinking hard, you take another look at him, through this new filter. You suddenly see something you never knew was there and you like it.
That’s when it happens, when everything changes. Everything inside you, that is.
You get this sense of being less powerful, less confident, less in control around him. Much of the easy self-assurance you had in his presence is replaced with self-consciousness.
What is that about?
Do you have feelings for him, romantic feelings? Seems like you might, and seems like you hate it. Because you are already losing yourself. You are confused and dismayed that he is on your mind so much. Your blood pressure rises; fog rolls in over your brain.
You care what he thinks, especially what he thinks about you. Is he still crushing on you? When was the last time he mentioned it?
OMG you hate this, too. He went and shook you up; your world is tilted, your heart is a pinball. And you have no idea why.
He is the same person as always. Even if he isn’t, you are. You are exactly as wonderful today as you were before he went and did something admirable or heroic. His success should not affect your self-perception. Your poise should not be poised for a tumble.
I don’t understand it, how or why it happens, or even what it is. What’s not to like about liking someone? Why does it feel like this crush is crushing you?
Does this happen to you? How do you handle it? Cut and run is all I can come up with. There must be a better way. Please, leave comments and suggestions. It’s getting foggy around here.