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if only i’d known: it’s better to know than to wonder

Ps I love you
I’m no relationship guru, but for the love of Thor will someone advocate ownership of feelings and spare us all the turmoil of the ‘does he like me?’ conversation.

This isn’t an exclusively female issue but since most of my conversations on this have been with women, I’m going to address it from that perspective. Nor am I claiming to be above this somehow. Hell, every encounter with a male has left me baffled. I’m the queen of replaying every banal conversation over and over in my mind until what was once witty banter becomes a never-ending string of words without pause or punctuation – a bit like playing a tape in fast forward.

But that doesn’t mean I don’t have some really great advice on the topic – advice that revolves solely around talking to one another.

Last week every communication platform from Whatsapp to email was flooded with recounts of some mild miscommunication on the romance front. Oddly enough it also coincided with the week I was giving a first year lecture on ‘intercultural communication’ and it made me realise we all just needed to correspond more honestly and effectively.

I’m a huge believer in the power of communication and I’m not alone. Apparently Mark Zuckerberg and whoever invented text messaging were pretty fond of it too. The difference between Zuckerberg and me, apart from some startlingly obvious ones like sex and wealth, is that I believe wholeheartedly in the power of honest communication, not over-sharing.

A lot of the drama seems to stem from boys not knowing why they’re doing something their lady friend isn’t too keen on. Obviously the situation can also work the other way. Regardless of who is on the offending side, communication is the key to your salvation.

Let’s take the imminent ‘Does he like me?’ question.

The reality of this situation is, if you’re asking yourself ‘does he like me?’ then he probably doesn’t, at least not in a romantic, I’d-like-to-get-to-know-you-better-let’s-get-married, kind of way. A friend of mine once told me ‘if a guy likes you, you know it.’ And it’s true. You do. Which might be a little upsetting at first but remember it’s better to be alone than be with someone who has lukewarm feelings for you.

But that response has never satisfied anyone, least of all anybody holding out hope for a relationship. In these instances you need a surefire way to understand what is really going on.

Presumably if you’re interested in finding out where they stand, it’s because you’re a little fond of them. The only way to know for sure is to bite the bullet and tell them how you feel.

If you don’t want to tell them yourself, for whatever reason, then get someone you trust to tell them. DISCLAIMER: do not allocate this task to a known gossip, unless you want your personal information to be front-page news, or a public Facebook status.

I understand that this is really scary. It takes a lot of courage to put yourself out there and make yourself vulnerable but if you want to know, that’s how you go about it.

This isn’t the first time I’ve dispensed this advice and I promise you it has a 100% success rate of attaining answers.

The number one reason preventing people from taking up this advice is a fear of rejection. But it’s also about power. Women, in particular, seem to feel that letting someone know you like them is relinquishing power, thus causing an imbalance in the relationship. But the flipside of that is that it can actually be very empowering to have a concrete answer.

I have seen many women wait around for someone they like, and whom they assume likes them, based on the interactions they have, only to be told that he’s seeing someone else. And I assure you that hurts a whole lot more than being told, usually very politely, that he’s just not that into you.

Nobody wants to hear from the person they like that they’re not the most exciting, intelligent, intriguing personality to ever walk to the face of the planet, but this is also a matter of taking control of your own feelings. It’s a way of deciding whether or not this is something you should continue thinking about, day dreaming about and talking to your friends about or whether you should free that mental space for more pressing tasks, like finding a cure for cancer.

Moreover, if somebody uses your feelings as a weapon against you, then the technical term for that person is ‘douche bag’ and everyone unanimously agrees, he or she is not worth your time.

The most important thing to remember is that rejection is not personal. When a person says ‘sorry I’m not interested in you in that way’, it’s simply a way of saying ‘I don’t think we’re compatible on that level’. It doesn’t make you any less wonderful.

Owning your feelings and acknowledging them is a really powerful thing. It doesn’t mean you flaunt your every romantic thought on social media; it means you acknowledge that you have those feelings, you recognise that there’s nothing shameful in being attracted to another human being, whether or not that person happens to be attracted to you in the same way.

Denying attraction doesn’t make you a stronger person; it sets you on a path to self-destruction.

If you think it’s just a fleeting crush, then by all means, do nothing. If you think it’s serious and you want that person to know then look deep inside yourself, take a deep breath and tell them. You’ll feel so much better once you do.

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