5 Things To Remember If You're Nervous To Tell Your Crush How You Feel

In elementary school, you could pass your crush a note saying, "Do you like me? Circle Y or N." In adulthood, confessing a crush is a little more complicated (and a lot more anxiety-provoking). If you're nervous to tell your crush you like them, you're definitely not the only one. There's the obvious fear: What if they don't feel the same way? But putting yourself out there and making yourself vulnerable tends to be scary in general. How can you calm your nerves before sharing how you feel? It might help you to remember this old adage: You miss 100% of the shots you don't take.

I asked dating and relationships expert Anita Chlipala for some tips on confessing a crush if you're feeling anxious, and she pointed out that harboring a crush means potentially living with regret. "Would you rather play it safe and never share your feelings, or [do you] want to live a life with no regrets?" Chlipala asks. If you're in need of some inspo before you shoot your shot, try to keep these important things in mind. While there's never a total guarantee your crush will reciprocate your feelings, these tips might help increase your confidence before you make a move.

Remind Yourself That Keeping Your Feelings Secret Can Have Serious Side Effects

You might think that keeping your crush secret is totally harmless and, in fact, the safest way to handle it. However, secretly crushing on someone from afar might be doing more harm than good. When you develop romantic feelings for someone without seeking reciprocation, that infatuation is hard to control. You might even fall for the idea of your crush rather than the person themselves.

"Keeping [your crush] a secret can actually make things worse," says Chlipala. "You can end up creating an unrealistic idea of this person, where the idea of them is actually better than reality. This also makes it difficult to give anyone else a fair chance because you risk comparing a new person to your crush and they will never measure up." The longer you wait to make your feelings known, the more likely that crush is going to turn into a fantasy rather than actuality.

Start With Subtle Actions

You don't have to lay yourself on the line all at once. It might even be better to gradually make your feelings known so you can build up your confidence and avoid catching your crush completely off-guard. Small, thoughtful gestures can prepare that person for the possibility of romantic feelings, and depending on how your gestures are received, you can get a sense whether your feelings might be reciprocated.

"You can first start with subtle actions, such as sending a flirtatious text or compliment," Chilpala suggests. "Do they seem receptive and flirt back or shut it down or change topics?" If you need more assurance before confessing your crush, you can even suggest spending time together. But as Chilpala points out, you might want to "leave some uncertainty around whether it's a date or you're just hanging out," just in case you two aren't on the same page just yet.

Practice What You Want To Say

Although you probably shouldn't come prepared with a script, it helps to rehearse what you want to say to your crush before actually saying it. When people get nervous, they tend to either clam up or ramble. By entering the conversation with a clear and concise idea of how you feel, you can better convey those feelings to the other person.

"Bring up two to three things about this person that you like and are attracted to," Chilpala advises. She also adds that downplaying your feelings a bit can help minimize the risk factor. "If you're worried about scaring someone off with your feelings, tell them that you're interested in getting to know them better," she says. "That can come across as less threatening than telling them you have a crush on them."

Give Them An Out

As much as you'd like to believe your crush feels the same way you do, that's not always going to happen. While worth the risk, making yourself vulnerable also invites the possibility of disappointment. You can soften the blow of a potential rejection by assuring your crush that you don't expect them to respond to your declaration in a certain way.

"Tell them that you wanted to share your feelings, even if it isn't mutual, and that you respect if they don't feel the same way," says Chilpala. "Tell them you don't want things to be weird and that you're fine going back to 'business as usual.'" Yes, it's totally intimidating to confess a crush, but it can be just as hard for a person to receive the news. Make sure you give them space to process so they don't feel any pressure.

Try Not To Take It Personally

Not taking an unreciprocated crush to heart might be the hardest part of the process, but it's also the most important. Isn't it better to know how someone feels about you rather than pine after them without ever knowing? If you spend too much time wondering whether your crush feels the same way without ever taking action, you'll simply be stuck in stasis.

"If they don't reciprocate your feelings, at least now you know and can move on," Chilpala points out. "Remind yourself not to take it personally and that you deserve to be with someone who wants to be with you as much as you want to be with them." If someone doesn't return your feelings, it might sting in the moment, but it's not the end of the world. On the plus side, that frees you up to enjoy some solo time or dating someone new.

There's a reason why it's called a "crush" — if it's not mutually felt, it hurts. But if you had to choose between a one-sided love or the chance at an actual relationship, isn't the latter option worth the risk?