How do I find out how this person feels about me?
February 12, 2016 7:36 AM   Subscribe

I am confused about how someone is feeling towards me, and don't know how to get out of this ambiguous situation, but desperately need to. Please help.

So, a few months ago I met a person I instantly liked.
Ever since then, I got to know them better: we have spent some time together and in those occasions, we have discussed both light topics such as shared interests, of which we have a lot, and deeper things, exposing ourselves to each other in a very vulnerable way.
Incidentally, I am not the flirting type, and neither is this person, but we remember things about each other, and are quite warm to one another.
All the occasions we have had to spend time together were generated by an activity we share. A few weeks ago, however, I asked this person out for drinks, with no further excuse (but not mentioning it was a date, either) and they said they would be busy for the next few weeks preparing for a play they were going to be in.
Being a negative person, I took that as a polite rejection. However, after a few weeks, they asked me out for a dinner themselves. I accepted, and we had a good time, and hugged both at the beginning and the end, but we are now in this twilight zone in which I have not confessed my feelings, and I have no idea how they feel about me.
A few things to add: we are not in thorough contact during the times we don't see each other, i.e. we may email and text occasionally but not regularly. Also, I know this person is single but has been traumatised by a previous relationship and breakup. Lastly, they make me very nervous, which doesn't help my communication skills, but at this point, I want to let them know how I feel, as I am torturing myself, even if it means losing them. I am also getting very jealous of other people floating around them and worry it will be too late.
So, my question is: how do I get out of this situation? Should I ask them out a 2nd time, with the idea of bringing up how I feel, or test the waters? Should I wait for them to invite me? Thank you.
posted by muppets to Human Relations (24 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
"Hey, I had fun going out with you. Can we go out on another date? That was a date, right?"
posted by xingcat at 7:37 AM on February 12, 2016 [1 favorite]

Do you have a mutual friend you could ask for help?
posted by kevinbelt at 7:37 AM on February 12, 2016

Response by poster: I like your thinking! Is it acceptable to ask by text? Cowardly I know but I don't get to see them in between. And if we do go out, do I spill the beans? Thanks.
No common friends, unfortunately.
posted by muppets at 7:40 AM on February 12, 2016

I think a text is fine, but a call is ideal. And I don't think you need to make a big, dramatic confession of feelings, just let them know that you're enjoying spending time together, and make sure to make plans for a third (second?) date at the end of this next one.
posted by capricorn at 7:49 AM on February 12, 2016 [8 favorites]

Sure, text them and ask them if they want to go on a date; there are no beans to spill.
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 7:49 AM on February 12, 2016 [7 favorites]

Response by poster: I just would prefer to bring the word 'date' up in person, so I can gauge their reaction better... but yes I know it's not practical if we don't meet each other. How about, I ask them to hang out and then I suggest a date? Do you think I am complicating things?
posted by muppets at 7:52 AM on February 12, 2016

Best answer: If possible, maybe also tell yourself that the stakes are not as high as they may seem to you. Tell yourself that you don't "desperately" need to resolve the situation, and tell yourself to stop "torturing" yourself. Those are very understandable feelings, and I am not criticizing you for feeling them - but they are not the most useful way to talk to yourself. See if you can envision this not as anything like "this relationship would be the best thing ever if only I can say just the right thing," but instead as "i will gently push myself even with discomfort to see how this thing goes - and i will learn, and gain experience, no matter how it plays out over time."
posted by sheldman at 7:54 AM on February 12, 2016 [15 favorites]

Consider how you'll feel if rejected. If you text about a date and are turned down, will you feel worse than if you ask verbally about a date and have an in-person rejection? I find myself tentatively in favor of text, weirdly enough - something like "I really enjoy hanging out with you. Would you like to go on a date?"

And then, if they say no, you can clarify in a cheerful manner that you would like to hang out as friends in that case.

If you do this all face to face, it may be more awkward, and they may feel worse about saying no. But depending on your personalities, they might feel better if they say no and then you interact in a positive manner so that they can tell you're not going to be all sad panda at them.
posted by Frowner at 7:57 AM on February 12, 2016 [3 favorites]

I just would prefer to bring the word 'date' up in person, so I can gauge their reaction better

Nah. The only reaction you need is "sure, that sounds fun!" or "I'm pretty busy..." If they make a face of surprised delight, you'll see plenty of that later (if you want to). Or if they recoil in disgust when reading your text, that's okay too because you won't have to see them again.
posted by witchen at 7:58 AM on February 12, 2016 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: So you don't think I should just get them to meet up with me and tell them that I like them, face to face? Mind you the idea kills me but I just wonder if text can be perceived as a very low investment, whereas, the stakes are pretty high.
posted by muppets at 8:04 AM on February 12, 2016

Mod note: Heya, muppets, it's okay if you need to post one or two followup/clarifying comments in the course of the answers you're getting but Ask needs to not be a back-and-forth chat space; this is more of an ask your question, wait for answers format than a highly-interactive thing.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:06 AM on February 12, 2016

But the stakes really aren't that high. If this person isn't the person for you, that is ok! You've met other people before and you can meet other people again.

For your own peace of mind, I would frame this less as a declaration of Feelings and more of "making a plan to hang out again because I enjoy their company." If you get to know each other more and your feelings deepen, you will have plenty of time to say those things IRL. But now is not about feelings. Now is about getting to know each other.
posted by witchen at 8:11 AM on February 12, 2016 [2 favorites]

So you don't think I should just get them to meet up with me and tell them that I like them, face to face? Mind you the idea kills me but I just wonder if text can be perceived as a very low investment, whereas, the stakes are pretty high.

Nope, you should not. Despite what we all read in fanfic and despite what seems so intense and right and so on (and I say this without any mockery at all), it's better to avoid just point-blank telling people you have feelings for them.

On the one hand, if it works, it's great! Everyone is happy! On the other hand, if it doesn't work, the rejection feels worse because you've made yourself extra vulnerable, and if you do actually want to have a regular friendship if you can't date, you're reducing the odds of this. You also risk making the other person feel cornered and pressured - they don't want to make you feel terrible if they reject you, of course, but they still have to reject you.

"Here are my feelings, what do you think" is pretty heavy-duty - it's like asking the other person to have a referendum on you as a human. "I would be open to this developing in a romantic direction if you're into that, but otherwise that's cool" is better. Now, you may still feel like it's a referendum on you, but believe me, it leaves a lot more space to have a friendship later, not look back in embarrassment, etc.

Also, think about this: You get them to meet up with you, share your feelings....and then if they don't want to date you, you either have to deal with a really awkward coffee or you have to have a "let's abruptly leave this place" moment.

I think there's a lot of fear of loss in this process, and you have to accept that loss is a risk. It's true that if you set up a dinner with them, you definitely will see them again, and you have a lot of the pleasure/anxiety of anticipation, whereas if you text them, there is a slim possibility that you will simply never hear from them again. It's scarier because you can't comfort yourself with the "well, we have one more chance to meet" thing. But after the text, your odds of staying friends are much greater, because you've kept it low key.

This is hard to learn, but a vital part of being able to start up relationships as an adult.
posted by Frowner at 8:12 AM on February 12, 2016 [3 favorites]

Best answer: In my opinion, the best medium to us to ask someone out is the one you will actually use. If saying to them in person, "Hey, would you be interested in going on a date Saturday?" terrifies you and the chances of you actually getting up the nerve to say something are in the 0-5% range, but the chances of you getting up the nerve to text them the same question are in the 70-90% range, then I think you should just text them.

Something I learned from dating: there are no magic words that will make someone like you. If this person is into you, then they will say, "Yes!" if you text them and "Yes!" if you say it to them out loud. If they aren't into you like that, then they will say no, no matter what the medium is.

Also: I think it's okay for the invitation to seem low-stakes, because that's actually what this is.
posted by colfax at 8:14 AM on February 12, 2016 [16 favorites]

It is not cowardly to ask people out by text. It is bold to be clear about your desires and ask people out, period, and I wish people would stop perpetuating the idea that text is not an acceptable way to do it.
posted by needs more cowbell at 8:20 AM on February 12, 2016 [3 favorites]

Best answer: So you don't think I should just get them to meet up with me and tell them that I like them, face to face?

No, I don't think so. I have a feeling that would be an awkward interaction for both of you. It's unusual to have that sort of confessional moment, beyond maybe relationships between young teenagers, and might be a little intense for them to experience so early on in dating. What I think you should do is ask them on a date, and then go on a date. And you aren't failing to communicate your feelings, in doing that. If you ask someone on a date, you are tacitly saying you're interested.

I also think it's a good idea for you to dial back on this a little and reframe your feelings from "in love and need to initiate a long-term relationship now before someone else steals them away!" to "I have a crush, I'm really interested in this person, and now I really want to get to know them better and decide if a relationship with them would work". Until you try going on some dates, you can't really know that this person is perfect for you. I get that your feelings are telling you otherwise! But feelings are sneaky like that. Your goal now is to figure out if they really are as good a match for you in terms of your relationship needs, goals, and personality as they are in terms of attraction.
posted by capricorn at 8:53 AM on February 12, 2016 [3 favorites]

The great thing about asking someone out on a date is that it clearly communicates your feelings. You're interested in them as "more than friends" and want to spend more time with them. As was said upthread, there's no magic words that you can say to get someone to like you, but "date" is the magic word that you can use to communicate that you like someone.
posted by Betelgeuse at 9:01 AM on February 12, 2016 [1 favorite]

The fact that you're dating indicates that you have a romantic interest. So ask this person on dates.

"I had a great time on our date last week, how do you feel about curry?" It can be texted, since it assumes you're dating.

If the other person doesn't think you're dating, or doesn't feel the same interest you feel, they'll let you know soon enough.

One thing you might want to say on your next date is, "I have SUCH a crush on you!" The other person can say, "Gosh! I feel the same way!" Or they might say, "Thank you, I like you a lot too!" Or, they might say, "Oh. Wow. I just don't feel the same way about you." Either way, you now know where you stand. This is terrifying, but ultimately, it either fast tracks you to coupledom, or to dumpsville, but you're not investing emotions into something that's not going anywhere. I advocate that.

Another thing you might want to do is invite the object of your affections out on Sunday. Very few people would be confused about being invited out on Valentine's day. I'd be straight about it, "How about we have a romantic valentine's date? I'm kind of broke, but my local Chinese place makes a lovely Kung Pao!"

You get my drift.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 9:31 AM on February 12, 2016 [2 favorites]

Also, whilst as Cortex said AskMe isn't a space for tons of back-and-forth action, if you ask your person on a date and the date goes well and there are schmoops, this is superb grounds for coming back and letting us know :)
posted by greenish at 9:32 AM on February 12, 2016 [3 favorites]

Here is one downside to asking in person. If your person of interest is like me, this person may display things facially in response to hearing something that you perceive as meaning one thing but may have absolutely nothing to do with what you just said. I am like that and have had people believe I was unhappy with them when my brain just sent me information at an inopportune time. Texting and email is great because it gives both of you time to consider how you want to respond. That is not a bug. For some of us, that's a feature.
posted by Bella Donna at 10:39 AM on February 12, 2016

Hi. Is this the same person you referred to in your last question?

If yes: This "does he like me?" pondering been going on for more than half a year. He does not like you enough.

If no: This "does he like me?" pondering is not good for you. Would you rather do this for months, or just do one small uncomfortable 10 second shot of "Hey, do you want to date me, or are we just friends"?

If yes: Move on.
If no: Move on up.
posted by hal_c_on at 11:38 AM on February 12, 2016 [4 favorites]

Yup. Ask the out again. At some point, if you're feeling it, ask them point blank if they're open to dating. Worst they can do is say "no."
posted by meeeese at 6:17 PM on February 22, 2016

Response by poster: So, I thought I'd update you all on this. Unfortunately, my story does not have a happy ending.
In the end, I asked this person if we could meet up as I wanted to talk to them.
I know you all said I should text instead, but regardless of what everyone thought, the stakes were high for me, and I thought the answer was too important to just entrust it to a 'phone.
When we met I asked this person how they felt about dating (scariest thing I have ever done), and their response was that they have been single for a long time, and in therapy, but were flattered nonetheless.
I made it clear that in that case I do not wish to see them again, as I'd be suffering too much; you see, friendship was never my aim, because I am too emotionally invested.
So that's that. Kind of crazy when you think we had some pretty deep conversations and all, but you can't persuade someone to date you, can you?
Thanks everyone for your advice and support; it's been really helpful.
posted by muppets at 1:47 AM on February 23, 2016 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I wouldn't say it's not a happy ending. I think you should feel proud that you had the courage to tell them how you feel, and this is something you can hold onto for the next time someone comes along who you admire. It's a super positive thing to be able to tell people how you feel and take the response in your stride.

It sounds like you are struggling a little with the response - you sound a bit shocked that they could cultivate such a strong relationship with you without having romantic intent ("Kind of crazy when you think we had some pretty deep conversations") - and once the adrenaline has died down from the shock of having your feelings out in the open, it's worth trying to process this in a positive way. By this I mean that, it doesn't have to be so crazy for someone to like you enough to want to hang out with you a lot whilst not wanting to date you, and again this can be taken as a positive thing.

But yeah, good on you for putting your feelings out there! I hope you can take this as the positive thing it is and hold onto it for the future.
posted by greenish at 8:40 AM on February 23, 2016

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