Whether you want to exit the friend zone or shoot your shot with someone who's returning the vibes, making the first move is hard, period. You may realize that analyzing your crush's texts or decoding their cryptic Instagram Story is fruitless. But even when you know taking initiative will give you real insight into how your crush feels, the thought may still make you want to puke. Understandable!
Ultimately (and as cringey as it might be to hear), experts say fear of asking someone out is rooted in an underlying fear of rejection. The prospect of a crush leaving you on read or laughing in your face after you were vulnerable enough to shoot your shot can be terrifying AF. "As humans, we learned to stay away from things that are potentially hurtful. No one wants to confront the possibility that the one they are interested in does not return the feeling," Julie Wadley, a certified dating coach and matchmaker, tells Elite Daily. "So, we hold back and wait for obvious clues of interest."
But like with most other nerve-wracking situations, the more you do it, the easier it gets, says clinical psychologist Dr. Joshua Klapow. "The more you are comfortable with asking someone out, and either being accepted or rejected, the less anxiety the act of asking [them] out you'll have," Klapow previously told Elite Daily.
There are a few ways to mitigate your fear of rejection. Wadley recommends approaching the situation with empathy, thoughtfulness, and patience. "Ask yourself, what is the worst thing that can happen? Will they say no? Embarrass you? Make you feel insignificant and lowly for even thinking that it would work? Think about the most terrifying outcome and find a way to work through that possibility," says Wadley.
Next, create a list of ways to ask your crush out that minimize the possibility of rejection. "Maybe make a sweet gesture like sending a note over to them asking them out. Or instead of asking them out on a one-on-one date, invite them to the next group outing with friends," Wadley explains.
And remember: You are the catch. "Remind yourself of all your positive traits, and how much your friends and family value you and why. Understand what you are bringing to the relationship table," Wadley says. If your crush isn't interested in dating you, that doesn't mean you're a bad, unlovable, or unworthy person.
Another reason you might find it difficult to make the first move has less to do with rejection, and more to do with, well, the complete opposite: That your crush likes you too and you'll get swept up in a relationship before you're ready. "Another factor that holds people back is the idea that they will be held accountable for all of the things that come along with a relationship, [like] discipline, open and honest communication, responsible decision-making," Wadley says. "Some people want the benefits of a relationship, but not the responsibility of one."
If you like someone, but not enough to date them, that's OK. What ultimately matters is that you're willing to be honest and communicative with the other person. Tell your crush that you're digging them, but also that you want to take things slow, or that you're still figuring out what you want from your dating life.
So, maybe you'll DM your crush about getting tickets to that new Marvel movie or art exhibition. Maybe, they'll tell you "no," eagerly say "yes," or hit you with an "I'll let you know." No matter the outcome, know you can survive it and that you'll learn something valuable about yourself in the process.
"Just like other parts of your life that you make happen, your love life should be the same. If you are interested in someone, don't waste your time waiting around for someone else to notice," Wadley says. "Put your cards on the table and see where you stand in the moment. Whether you land your crush, or you learned that you take your chips and move on, you've won."
Julie Wadley, certified coach and owner of Eli Simone Matchmaking and Coaching