Monday, October 25, 2010

Is He Into You?

A friend of ours has a crush on a guy. The problem is that this guy happens to be dating one of her coworkers.

She doesn’t feel any particular loyalties towards this coworker, but she doesn’t want to make things awkward at work.

And on top of that, she isn’t sure the feeling is mutual. The problem is, there are signs. Like last weekend when he cabbed over to Virginia to meet her at a bar. Or a few weeks ago when he brought her favorite kind of a beer to a house party she was hosting.

Each act of kindness caught her off guard and spent her head spinning—into daydream territory full of “what ifs” and “what does this mean?”

She’s not staying up late at night charting his interactions with her to try to discern a pattern, but she is thinking about it a little—and who wouldn’t? When you’re excited about something (or someone), it’s fun to hype yourself up, to convince yourself that you’re not totally crazy and there is really something there.

So she wonders what it meant when he jumped in a cab without worrying about the $20 fare, but we all know how easy it is for wonder to transform into reassuring ourselves that the interpretation we’re hoping for is, in fact, right.

And so the “What did he mean by that?” becomes an excuse to tell yourself that he’s definitely into you.

The problem is, this is mostly a waste of time. You can’t really “know” until he asks you out, and even if he is interested, there’s a huge difference between being mildly intrigued and wanting to pursue a relationship. In other words, he might like you, but he might not want to date you.

But the more time you spend decoding his e-mails and coming up with convenient excuses for why he hasn’t asked you out yet, the more of an investment you’ve made in this totally hypothetical relationship. The more you invest in something, the more you want it to pay off.

And so the more you think about him, the more your crush grows, the more you can’t stop thinking about him; basically: the more you think about him, the crazier you feel.

Of course, not thinking about him is much easier in theory. In practice, every time you see him, well…

You have to work to ignore your attraction. In an ideal world, you could distract yourself with a new guy. But the best coping mechanism is the one that works even if your office blocks OK Cupid, and it involves training yourself to think of him in totally platonic terms. Every time you feel yourself obsessing, take a walk, start a blog, make a 5-year plan, whatever. Remind yourself that, at the end of the day, he’s just a person, and if he can do it for you, you can probably find someone else in the 6 billion you have to choose from.

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