‘I really like this person but I’m afraid to let them know.’ I hear this so much, from both women and men, and it’s a sentiment that has always puzzled me.
Why do people feel such fear at the idea of telling someone that they might like them romantically? Is it the repression of desire so many of us were raised with? The fear of rejection? I believe it is, deep down, a fear of vulnerability — and that can be such a sad reason to turn a maybe into a might-have-been.
After all, what’s the worst that could happen? Assuming you’ve chosen an even-somewhat-decent man or woman, they’re not actually going to point and laugh at you as they race out of the room.
Meanwhile, consider the alternative. So many people I know have lost out on a possible relationship because neither expressed their feelings, even when the feelings were mutual.One such couple, Riya and Anand, were in college together. Their entire batch could see they were in love, but neither of the two said a word. After graduation, life took over. They married other people. A decade later, at a class reunion, older and more confident, they finally shared what they had felt. An affair began. This is so far from ideal, and yet not at all uncommon.
My preference has always been to let the other person know. These things usually start with what can safely be called a crush, and I would describe it as such when I expressed myself to the other person. I went out with a few of the men I shared my feelings with. Some said that they did not feel the same way. Once the initial sting dissipated, I moved on.
This approach kept me from wasting time and energy. Most of my crushes did not go beyond three dates.
Had I not shared my feelings, I might have pined for who knows how long. This way, I found out what didn’t work, learnt things about myself and others, and moved on. No wasted energy; no months or years of what-ifs. Instead, in a couple of benign dates,I realised that my feelings were fleeting or we didn’t have as much in common as I had thought. Most relationships get the depth of real connection only over time. So sharing how you feel with a person as early as possible helps. Any rejection you face, you get over fast,because you haven’t invested much yet; it’s still a hypothetical. A few failed dates don’t hurt too much, for the same reason, and can help you get clarity on what you seek in a relationship.
Most vitally, when you start out with honesty and clarity, you can proceed in the same vein. When I first met my husband, I knew in the first few interactions that he was the one. And I told him how I felt.
Now, married all these years, we continue to have an honest relationship, and I have the added advantage of no regrets. I invested fully in my marriage, with no distractions, and I believe that’s part of what keeps it super-strong.
Simran Mangharam is a dating coach and founder of floh.in, a real-world community for singles seeking a meaningful relationship
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