A new crush is so much fun. You get butterflies, imagine your dating life together, and have a special reason to dress up whenever you know they’ll be around. It can also be cause for some anxiety, though, especially if they don’t seem to be picking up your signals. Here’s what to do.
Identify if this is appropriate
Is this person a coworker? What about a roommate? Are you in a relationship with someone who wouldn’t be thrilled to know you’re trying to hit on someone else?
If the other person isn’t picking up what you’re putting down, they might not see your existing relationship—whatever it is—as one that is conducive to anything romantic. The problem here might be less about their ability to read between the lines and more about your inability to recognize a risky or difficult situation.
Try to look at it objectively or ask a third party, like a friend, for their opinion. You can make a move on a crush at work, at school, if you know each other through an ex, or really in any situation, but you can’t deny if there are circumstantial barriers to this going smoothly.
Figure out if they’re obtuse or deliberately ignoring you
Some people are just really polite and might not want to hurt your feelings. In other instances, someone could be pretending not to detect your crush on them because they’re afraid of retaliation or just plain old negative vibes if you get rejected.
All together now: No means no. If this person really isn’t feeling you, don’t pretend they’re just misguided, confused, or oblivious. Are you picking up their hints that this isn’t something they want to pursue? Be rational and fair. Rejection happens. Some people just aren’t going to be into you. It’s better to accept that than dwell on it, even though it can sting.
Notch up the flirting
If there aren’t any strange circumstances in your way, and the person really does just seem to not realize that you’re crushing on them, then start small. Flirt a little more. Put some intention behind your words.
Say you have a crush on a classmate. Don’t just save them a seat, which is standard friendly practice—instead, save them the seat and say, “I held the seat for you. I really love when you sit next to me.”
Without being creepy, make sure your compliments are more pointed, too. Don’t just tell a friend you like their outfit, for instance. Say, “You look really pretty in that color.” Pretty is slightly more romantic than nice. See?
Remember actions speak louder than words sometimes, too.
“I’m much more behavioral than verbal in the way that I try to communicate my interest in someone, and I’ve found that giving them a level of attention that makes them feel like they’re the only person that matters is a good way to pique their interest,” said New Yorker Mike Kinsella. “Then, of course, at the same time, take advantage of any inadvertent physical contact. Let it linger. Patience is important, because I feel anything that you say could pull back the curtain too much and then the mystery is gone. What fun is that?”
He added that verbally communicating feelings can be “corny,” so try to flirt and prioritize having fun while you feel out if you’re ready to say something.
When you’re nervous around someone, you might think you’re being direct—overbearing, even!—but your anxiety is likely tamping down your output a little. Don’t overthink this or wonder if you’ve already been outright enough. Be more direct. Communication is really important, especially if you’re trying to launch a full relationship with someone. If you end up dating, you’ll need to be good communicators, right? Start now.
So, eventually, you might have to outright tell them. Yeah, it can be, as Kinsella says, “corny,” but there comes a point when subtly has failed and you need answers. When you have a moment to yourselves, say, “I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but I’ve really started to like you a lot. I hope you feel the same because I’m about to ask you out for a drink.”
State your intentions clearly. One of three things will most likely happen: They’ll be genuinely surprised and say they hadn’t realized how you felt, but would like to think about it a little bit; they’ll say they’re interested in seeing where things go; or, they’ll say thanks, but no thanks. No matter what happens, it’s always better to say exactly how you feel and hear exactly how they feel back. Then, you can either move on or move forward, both of which are way better than just sitting around wondering how they feel and if they can tell how you feel.