Don’t be needy. Don’t be desperate. Don’t even think about telling him you like him.
We hear these things all the time. We, both men and women, are told these very simple rules whenever we find ourselves interested in someone. Our friends and coworkers will remind us to play it cool, keep it casual, and keep the text messaging to the perfect I-like-you-but-still-could-take-you-or-leave-you level.
You know where that leaves you? It leaves you sitting at home constantly looking at your phone while you watch some Nora Ephron film that makes you feel really comforted for awhile but then really alone when it all works out in the end. That’s not fun, is it? And does it work?
No, not usually.
I have to be completely honest with you and tell you that it is possible I am not a big proponent of the “play it cool” philosophy because I have never been able to play it cool. Once, in high school, I really liked this guy in my science class. He seemed to like me, too. We talked about liking each other and he told me that he was really busy with his hockey season but we could totally date come October when things died down for him. (Looking back now, we were fourteen and didn’t really do much outside of school so I’m not sure what needed to die down but at the time this seemed totally legitimate and this is part of my problem.) Obviously I was all, “Yeah, totally cool, let’s date in October.” (Also I’m not sure if he said we would ever actually date or that we would just talk about it but, again, playing it cool is not my thing.) Anyway, what did I do for the remainder of September? Did I pass the time thinking about the glorious lifelong union that was awaiting for me when the leaves began to change? Did I quietly write in my journal about how excited I was for when my life finally started?
No. Of course I didn’t. Instead, I put a countdown to October in my very public MSN name. I don’t have an exact copy right now but I imagine a conversation with me looked something like this:
~*~*~*~CaItLiN~*~*~*~ (8)waiting is the hardest part(8) …12 days(L)… says: I’m a total creep.
I probably never said that, either, but only because it went without saying.
That guy and I did date for a whopping two weeks or so and then it ended. It wasn’t mutual, surprisingly, but in fact he told me it wasn’t going to work because he just didn’t like me as much as I liked him. He probably was also getting really tired of me walking with him after school every day without question.
I didn’t learn my lesson since a year later I was writing a letter to a guy in my journal about how much I liked him and passing it to him in class. He thought we should just be friends.
I could go on and on with similarly horrifying anecdotes about my attempts to get people to like me and completely misreading the signs. (“I made some of your favourite cookies because I wanted to bake and chose these despite having to buy all the ingredients!” “Of course I like death metal!” “Are we actually dating or what?” [This last one was said while on a date.}) The point is, despite how horrifically this all turned out, I would still take desperate and needy over playing it cool any day.
As I got a little older I realized that my regular, insanely intense tactics were not going to work. I would be calmer, more rational, and actually save these insane impulses for the pages of my journal. I dated a few people and we really seemed to like each other. The problem with being something you’re not (calm and cool), though, is that when it comes time to actually make something happen you have no idea what to do. I played it too cool. I was all, “Yeah, I don’t really care if we get serious or whatever like this is awesome how it is so, yeah, totally cool.” And then he would date someone else who actually cared.
And I would sit at home creeping his social media, noticing how many obnoxious posts that girl made a day about how perfect they were together and wonder why he hadn’t chosen me when I can totally social media the shit out of any relationship.
I realized that not being desperate was actually hurting me more than it was helping me. I had better luck as a crazy person than I did as this “cool girl” and if Gone Girl taught us anything it’s that the cool girls end up being batshit as well so there is no winning. I decided to be honest and real.
I met Sam and I didn’t hold back from messaging him. I cooperated in making plans and allowed my eagerness to see him show through. I wasn’t afraid to make it clear I liked him and that I wanted something more than a few dates. Now we are in love and very happy, nearly two years later.
Of course, you have to meet the right person for this to happen but what I’m saying is that even if you meet someone and you don’t want to date them, tell them. And if you meet someone you totally want to get serious with, at least make it clear that you’re interested. If they blow you off, well, it’s probably for the best.
We are told all the time that desperation isn’t cute, that neediness has no place in relationships. Well I am here to tell you, alongside my also successful in love fictional counterparts, Gigi from He’s Just Not That Into You and Dr. Mindy Lahiri, that playing it cool sometimes just isn’t the way to play it.