Disclosing a crush
September 15, 2013 3:38 PM   Subscribe

If you have a crush on someone, is it okay to tell them so out of the blue?

There is someone I have known for a long time who I am friends with and I like. It is my piano teacher so I see him once a week. I am not sure if he likes me back. I guess it's about a 50/50 chance. I am not flirty or seductive and do not do dating manual ritual things. But I am friendly toward him and we have a nice time together. I don't want to engineer any situations where I have to be coy or act a certain way that I am not or touch his arm more than a normal amount, etc. I wondered if it would be okay okay if I was leaving next time to say, "Hey, I had a crush on you for a long time" right before leaving. And then just act normal/ kind of pretend I didn't say it next time I see him so it wouldn't come across like I was being like, "WELL?" or so I wouldn't be putting him on the spot.

I have been trying to think through the ramifications. I think it would be okay if he didn't do anything and then I'd kind of feel like I'd given it a shot, and that would be good. But maybe it WOULD be super awkward to say that anyway, and that's why people don't do it that way typically. The other possible ramification is maybe I'd find it more difficult than planned to act normal the next time. I asked another asking out my piano teacher question before but it was too hard and I couldn't follow through. Anyway, I guess I just wanted to see if it was a normal way that people do that or if I should expect him to look at me like I am crazy if I do.
posted by mermily to Human Relations (16 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
No, that's not a nice thing to do at all. If you want to ask him out, ask him out, don't engineer some game with him.

But as someone you hire to do a service, It's not really appropriate for you to do that at all. You generally can't hit on someone you're paying without putting them in a really uncomfortable situation, whether or not your feelings are returned.
posted by brainmouse at 3:42 PM on September 15, 2013 [12 favorites]

I just went back and re-read your old question about him. You basically did ask him out, he didn't respond. That was your answer. Don't try again, at least not until you are no longer in a client-type relationship with him (i.e., if you stop using him as your piano teacher, then you can ask him out again).
posted by brainmouse at 3:43 PM on September 15, 2013 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: hey, yeah, I hear you. Just a little more info re previous question. He responded the next day and said, "Sorry I didn't get your email. But sure! Just let me know when" and I was feeling awkward so I was like, "Let's figure it out later!" and never followed up which probably wasn't the right thing to do. But anyway, yeah.
posted by mermily at 3:46 PM on September 15, 2013

I think your opportunity to follow up lapsed a long time ago. Additionally, in your last question you mentioned that you'd be likely to say something to the effect of, '"Can we pretend I didn't say that?" or "You really don't have to"' after asking this guy out and following up with him re: date/time. This suggests to me that you have poor self esteem, so I am going to gently suggest that you nip that in the bud now because asking somebody out or letting them know you have a crush on them but then saying "never mind" or "you don't have to go out with me" is pityingly irritating and will impede your ability to have a normal, successful romantic relationship with anybody. It's like you're groveling. Nobody reasonable wants to date somebody with so weak a spine, and it is insulting to the other person to treat yourself that way in their presence. Respect yourself, and look for ways to boost your confidence about your own self-worth. If you're going to tell him you have a crush on him, you need the confidence to follow up, and it doesn't sound like you have it.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 3:48 PM on September 15, 2013 [9 favorites]

I think you gave him enough hints that if he were into it he would have picked up the ball and suggested a follow up. Add to that that you hire him to teach you and I think it's a perfect crush to enjoy without making his problem.
posted by Salamandrous at 4:00 PM on September 15, 2013 [4 favorites]

I don't want to engineer any situations where I have to be coy or act a certain way that I am not or touch his arm more than a normal amount, etc. I wondered if it would be okay okay if I was leaving next time to say, "Hey, I had a crush on you for a long time" right before leaving. And then just act normal/ kind of pretend I didn't say it next time I see him so it wouldn't come across like I was being like, "WELL?" or so I wouldn't be putting him on the spot.

I'm going to be frank: this isn't acting normal. This is acting terrified of rejection to the point where you're going to come across as nice but perhaps also a bit completely batty. Likewise, asking him out and then never following up. There's nothing wrong with actually flirting with a guy (you know, "act a certain way . . . or touch his arm more than a normal amount") and it is, in fact, normal. The next piano lesson you have, you should turn to him at the end, make eye contact, and say, "Hey, do you want to get coffee sometime?"

Pull off the band-aid. Act like a person.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 4:08 PM on September 15, 2013 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: hey, everyone. thanks, I guess that was what I needed to hear. sort of difficult to hear, but I guess it's the right advice. Will take it to heart.
posted by mermily at 4:11 PM on September 15, 2013

I wondered if it would be okay okay if I was leaving next time to say, "Hey, I had a crush on you for a long time" right before leaving. And then just act normal/ kind of pretend I didn't say it next time I see him so it wouldn't come across like I was being like, "WELL?" or so I wouldn't be putting him on the spot.

Just want to make sure I'm reading it right. The plan is to announce you have a crush on him just as you are leaving your lesson, then run away. (I'm reading between the lines there). And then, you are going to come back the next week, for your next lesson, and pretend you never said anything?!

Dude. Duuuuuude. That would be so so awkward for everyone. It's kind of like you're throwing the Awkward Ball into his lap and going, "YOU do something about this!" and waiting to see what happens.

It's not a problem to have a crush on him and it's not a problem to want to ask him out. It's not even a problem to want him to ask YOU out and try to nudge him that way even though IMO your odds of getting what you want are way lower that way.

What you really can't do is this sort of, say something and take it back, or say something then run away, or say something then pretend you never said anything kind of thing. It's ultra confusing, creates so much more awkwardness than there would otherwise be, and just makes people feel really really weird.

I mean, of course you CAN do it, if you kind of aren't being honest with yourself and don't really want something to happen with him for real. It will still probably be uncomfortable for him.

It's also not good to overtly turn the issue of what to do about your crush into something HE has to figure out, just because you feel like you can't figure it out or are too scared, or just want to fast forward through the parts you find confusing awkward or too hard. That's what you'd be doing by just saying something and running away or pretending you didn't say anything.

You already asked him to do something with you and he agreed. Great! The next step is to ask for a specific time and place. IT IS NOT TOO LATE FOR THAT. Ask for a specific time and place at least 3 days into the future.
posted by cairdeas at 4:13 PM on September 15, 2013 [13 favorites]

i would not tell someone that i have a crush on them as it would be awkward. what are they supposed to say in response? if you want to try to ask him out again then say "hey, do you still want to go get that coffee i mentioned before?" the thing is, if you are going to do this you need to see it through and not put it out there and then drop the ball. that sends all sorts of mixed messages. good luck!
posted by wildflower at 4:17 PM on September 15, 2013 [2 favorites]

Yeah, don't keep throwing this hot potato at him and then running away. It's unfair to him and it doesn't get you what you want. Therefore it's not a good idea to do it.

Instead, say something specific: "hey, would you still like to get coffee sometime?" If he says yes, MAKE A PLAN: "cool, how about Saturday afternoon?" There you go.

If he says no (or hems and haws in a way that can reasonably be inferred as a no), then you say something like: "okay, no worries. See you at our next lesson." There you go.
posted by scody at 4:39 PM on September 15, 2013 [4 favorites]

There are many schools of thought on this.

What kind of personality do you have? A lot depends on this.

If you are the serious type, and never have crushes on anyone except people you are really interested in, then being circumspect might be best. This is my approach in ALL situations where any interest seems coercive (like work, or places where women get hit on all the time, or folks clearly of a certain disposition, or who have been dealing with bigger issues than love/like/lust stuff. ) A sense of fervent consideration is essential to preserve folks who are vulnerable.

However, if you are effervescent and whacko, like I can be, you can just out with it and who gives a damn? I often have crushes every time I run into a new female, almost. (So far, no boys, but at my age, I suspect that's permanent.) I used to tell a woman I knew AND her husband (at the time) that I was going to kill him and steal her away. I just met her new boyfriend and did the same thing. Another woman local to me and I kid relentlessly, and I messaged her all pissed off recently to complain how hard it was to maintain a crush if she didn't let me meet her for coffee. I am always promising to buy people boats if they'll do something I need done, and/or be their sex slave for a year. So far, no takers. Hope springs eternal, though, which pisses my wife off. Actually, neither one of us cares. She can have all the crushes she wants. I always say, if she finds someone better, she finds someone BETTER! Hard to believe there is anyone better. Might be, though. It's a risk I accept.

Point is, emotions aren't facts. They don't have an off switch. They are your body reacting to its world. The issue is that they run into your brain and rational being, a more algorithmic beast that weighs everything and feels nothing. It usually wants you to trade desire for pain. Sucks.

I find it harder to be dishonest than funny and am not an exploiter. If I make someone uncomfortable, I sense and adjust. Again, it's just personality. Who you are and how you greet all this nonsense is part of the fun of living.

I think we often waste our precious love and fun on hiding. There is a time for serious and always time for play. You don't quit playing because you get old, you know? You get old because you quit playing. So play. If you want. Or don't. No one cares, really.

Not all crushes have to lead to sex, or to love, or to anything. Most you can and do easily and safely ignore. It's just your hormones and your feelings. It's who that precious bird is that Mary Oliver talks about. Soft body, wanting what it wants....

You can do whatever you want. If the test comes back negative, just clam up and study piano. Someone else will be along shortly. Teachers often get a lot of crushing students. I am sure you aren't the first for this guy.
posted by FauxScot at 4:44 PM on September 15, 2013 [1 favorite]

The thing is, we don't know what's going on with Piano Teacher. He was amenable to hanging out with you in some social capacity a while ago, that's all we know.

Don't say "I have a crush on you" - that only works in a certain type of book. It's a cute thing to confess after you've had a successful date/make-out session/etc, on the lines of "oh, I had a total crush on you since forever!" It's a cute thing to confess years later at a reunion when everyone is partnered and the crush has lapsed - "oh, yes, back in junior high I had a huge crush on you!" But in most situations, it just makes things weird. For one thing, it's unusual for a person to have a crush that they can reciprocally confess, even if they think you're attractive or would not turn down a date. It is much better to make a small ask, like going on a date, than a big abstract reveal or question.

If I were you, I would do two things: First, I'd say to your piano teacher in the flesh, "Hey, a couple of months ago we talked about hanging out, but my life got really, really busy. I'm sorry I let that lapse - would you still want to get coffee some time?"

Second, consider why you're self-sabotaging. You got a "yes" before, right? What made you not follow up? Are you just so accustomed to anxiety that you can't break out of it? Do some reflection!

And as a side note: most of the time, people are well-disposed toward those who have the good taste to be romantically interested in them, as long as they aren't all weird about it. Even if someone doesn't want to go out with you, he is going to be flattered that you asked (unless he's so dazzlingly good looking and popular that everyone falls in love with him - I have a friend like this, and we're friends in part because he's fairly confident that I won't fall in love with him and that's a bit of a relief.) This isn't junior high, where people are engaged in brutal status games all the time and getting asked out by someone "not good enough" is a status threat that has to be repelled with social violence. Anyway, you should totally ask people out nicely and politely and resolve to be good about it if they say no. Eventually several will say yes and then bob's your uncle.

I look back, actually, on the many times that I did not ask people out, and I realize that I could absolutely have gone out with some of them and that I would have been spared several protracted, awkward and agonizing crushes on the ones who would have said no. Also, learning that you won't wither from shame and the world will not explode if you ask someone out and they decline is a good lesson.
posted by Frowner at 5:16 PM on September 15, 2013 [4 favorites]

I am not flirty or seductive and do not do dating manual ritual things.

This situation is precisely what the ambiguity of flirting is for! Basically it is a form of interpersonal tennis. You lob an ambiguous flirt ball into his side of the court If he lobs it back you can decide if you want to increase the velocity on your return. If he doesn't return it then it was just a bit of harmless flirting fun. The important thing is not to use any pressure and to only gradually increase your flirting 'velocity'. Don't smash a lobbed return

Choosing not to flirt, even without goals, is to deny yourself one of the joys of life. Mind you I have some french DNA so I might be biased.
posted by srboisvert at 5:26 PM on September 15, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Okay. Thanks for setting me straight everyone. It's a little embarrassing and disconcerting to find my judgment was so wildly off the mark. I guess it is my anonymous banjo moment. It sounds like the takeaways are:
- reflect about why I am uncomfortable about being direct with my interest or if I need to examine my insecurities/self worth
- it's putting him in a really awkward position to "put the ball in his court" as I think someone said and not follow through (this makes sense, it really does)
- if I bring it up again, it needs to be asking him out more directly
- it's possible that it could be inappropriate to ask out someone in a paid position relative to me or that he figured it out and is uninterested

I guess the one other piece of relevant information is the next piano lesson after the emails at the end he asked, "Is there anything else you want to ask me?" and looked at me kind of curious and slightly romantic maybe and I sort of freaked out and said no, I don't think so! and sort of rushed away. I can see all the reasons why this was awkward and not a good thing to do, and I will reflect about everything. Sorry to seem so childish.
posted by mermily at 6:01 PM on September 15, 2013

You don't seem childish and this isn't anywhere near anonymous banjo levels. I will say, while there's no way to know if he had a particular question in mind when he said that, I think conditions sound favorable.
posted by cairdeas at 6:58 PM on September 15, 2013 [2 favorites]

I think conditions sound favorable... for asking him out, not for disclosing the crush. Don't disclose that until you've actually gone on at least a few dates and it looks like you might continue them.
posted by CathyG at 3:28 PM on September 16, 2013 [2 favorites]

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