Once upon a time, I was an 18-year-old college freshman with a more-than-slightly-complicated hook up situation. I liked the boy, and my main objective was to make sure he thought I was elusive and cool. A really effective way of doing this seemed to be for me to get drunk and make out with other boys in front of him at parties.
Before you go thinking I'm a terrible human being, let me just make it clear that he did the same thing. And then we'd both pretend not to have seen the other person's round of tonsil hockey and head home together. Very healthy, mature relationship -- I know.
Our relationship went up in flames by the end of the year. Minus a few tearful drunken exchanges and more than a few failed attempts to avoid each other on campus, we didn't cross paths again until years later. As is normal for most couples (using the term very loosely here) who decide to reconnect, we accidentally hooked up times before settling on just staying friends.
The morning after one of those slip-ups, we had the talk we probably should have had three years earlier. He explained hooking up with me was simultaneously the best and worst time of his life. The time we spent together was great, but the minute I left, his brain went into overdrive trying to figure out what I wanted and how I felt. It was the unknown that made him miserable.
But you know what's funny? I felt the same way. I exhausted my friends and family with overly-detailed accounts of every exchange the two of us ever shared in hopes of having them define for me what only he could. I spent hours rereading our text thread, trying to find and decipher any clues as to how he felt. The situation turned me into a complete nut job, mapping out excuses to text him and creating a schedule for them.
Let me be clear: I didn't want to be one of those girls who got a boyfriend her freshman year of college and missed out on close friendships, late night bonding with roommates and the days spent uninterrupted by a million texts. But I really liked him and just wanted some sort of inkling about what was going through his head.
He felt the same way, but I found out three years too late. When I asked him, he answered:
“I really liked you a lot. But I don't think I was ready for a relationship. I think what stressed me out was I had no idea whether or not you liked me anywhere near as much as I liked you. After a while, I just couldn't take the overarching vagueness that defined us.”
Overarching vagueness. That term always stuck with me, because it captures the vast majority of these weird hook up relationships. They're just about two people being intentionally vague to keep their respective guards up. I can tell you from personal experience that tactic got me nowhere.
So, why didn't we just ask each other how we felt? If we were both going insane trying to figure out what the other person was thinking, why didn't we just take a minute to talk it out?
We were scared. The minute one of us addressed the topic, the other person might have freaked out.
I think that fear is really common. My cousin, a sophomore in college, has been hooking up with one guy for a while. She's going crazy trying to figure out how he feels, but is too scared to ask. What if she puts herself out there and he's awful about it?
I've finally come to the conclusion that fear has no merit. If someone doesn't respect me enough to even engage in a conversation about he wants out of our relationship, I probably shouldn't be part of that relationship at all. Fear holds you back from being honest and vulnerable, from reaching out to the only person on the planet who can answer the relationship questions you have.
In short: Being “crazy about” someone sounds cute, but no human being should ever make you feel like a crazy person. You shouldn't be like an investigator, putting together clues. If you're comfortable enough to let him stick his tongue down your throat, you should also be able to ask what it is you guys are doing. Otherwise, you probably shouldn't be anything.