It doesn’t work like that, I don’t like it, and I don’t know.
Some of my friends were recently complaining about dating — as they do — and, specifically, the frustration of “almost-relationships” and getting stuck in “the casual.” Not knowing where they stand drives them mad, and one of them whined,
“It’d be some much easier if we were just like ‘do you like me? yes or no?’… no mixed signals.’”
And that’s cute and all, but jokes aside: this isn’t elementary school.
(1) People do not think in terms of black and white binaries
Especially about other human beings.
People are messy and fluid; our relationships, interactions, and feelings for one another ebb and flow.
Even married couples have days where they’re like “omg, I love you but I don’t like you right now.” I hear almost all of them have days where they think: “this marriage was a mistake” or “I want out.”
I once attended a 50th wedding anniversary party where the husband and wife were asked the secret to their longevity. She answered, “we never fell out of love at the same time.”
But they did both, at times, fall out of love.
(2) Forcing black and white can force false feedback
Maybe they’re still deciding. I mean shit, yo, that’s the point of dating. So if you demand an answer anyway, you’re going to get bad data.
False positives: Some people are going to panic a bit if asked this. They don’t want to lose you, so they say the sort of sweet nothings you want to hear, and profess their live prematurely. Then both of you are a little blindsided when, come to find out a while later, they’ve “changed their minds.”
False negatives: I don’t like being fucked with or prodded, so if I feel like you are, my answer is going to be: “whatever gets me closer to you backing the fuck off,” which is going to sound a lot like “fuck no.”
But it could just be too soon.
No item I own brings me greater joy than my motorcycle — that thing makes me insanely happy; it’s the first thing I’d save in a fire and the last thing I’d give up. But six months before I bought it, when I started test riding the model I liked, I was still on the fence with “no, I’m not quite ready.” (Sound familiar?) Had someone pressured me to buy it then and there, I would have literally walked, bc fuck off. Your insecurity is not my urgency. I do what I want when I want, and sometimes I just need a minute to get there on my own.
I like a wide berth in dating. Even when I really like someone, I like breathing room and space to operate. On top of this, I also don’t like to fuck with people or drag them along, so my early-on rapid-fire answer, forced to give one, is probably “nah. I’m good.”
(3) You already have the answer to your ultimatum
I’ve never agreed with the advice: “it’s either a hell yes or it’s a no.”
Or, perhaps more accurately: sure, maybe decisions should be “hell yes or no,” but maintenance is messy. So the decision to propose — or accept a proposal — can be “hell yes.” But the decision, each morning, to stay together is sloppy. Relationships take work, and everything worthwhile is behind the muddy “ugh.”
Pushed to choose, I’d happily take the low-burn, slow-burn sort of lover, because eventually “fuck yeah” will taper off. And some of the greatest love in life is built without ever having had “hells yes” to begin with. (Just consider the number of unplanned children who go on to be their parents’ greatest joys.)
That being said, if you insist on living by “it’s either a hell yes or it’s a no,” someone’s lack of “hell yes” is, by definition, already your “no.”
By your own admission, don’t actually need them to say it. If you wanna throw ultimatums around, fine — but you already got what you think you need. So go ahead and move on.
(4) Asking is anxiety and anxiety is insecure
…and insecurity is a huge turn-off for a lot of people.
I’m not here to be your baby-sitter or your mom. I refuse to be your sole source of validation.
I may have liked you, but the minute you start pawing at me for affirmation and answers, all I hear is “I am needy.”
The real problem is that it won’t stop at one “yes.” Because if you’re the type who needs to hear “yes,” you’re also the type who needs to hear “yes” all the time.
I can already tell that you’re going to need daily texts and consistent compliments and words of affirmation, and fam, I just ain’t down.
This isn’t about me liking you. This is about you.
(5) Do *you* like you? Yes or no?
My friend: “I wish I could just take it back to third grade — do you like me, yes or no? There’s no ‘maybe’ on that list.”
Same friend: “I swing back and forth between: ‘I’m so proud of myself’… and then the next day I’m like, ‘I hate myself; nothing is going right.’”
Me: 😐… giiirl.
If you can’t answer a definitive “yes or no” about yourself, you can’t demand a “yes or no” from others.
Huffington Post recently shared an article titled The Career Advice No One Will Give You. In it, the author advised:
“Stop Vacillating between ‘I Am Garbage’ and ‘I Am God’
This is annoying. And it’s exhausting. All these self-esteem swings are tuckering you out. You don’t need to be one or the other. You’re in the middle. Everyone is… Some days you will feel good… some days you will feel bad, but all days you are fundamentally the same. Ground yourself so you don’t crave constant validation.”
There are two types of people:
- Those who get their validation from themselves
- Those who need it from others
I don’t waver when asked whether or not I like myself. I do not go from feeling “like God” one day, to garbage the next. (Really, I never think I’m garbage. Asked “do I like me?”, I definitively check yes. I know I do.)
So my definitive answer doesn’t depend on someone else. Idgaf if they like me. I do me, they do them. I make my decisions about me and them, and let them operate over there accordingly.
But there are other types of people out there who don’t do the work, who move through life as empty vessels with holes in the bottom, continuously needing to be re-filled. They waver regarding their own self-love, so they desperately demand definitive “liking” from others.
And I mean, I guess. If getting your clear answer is better than developing the skill of patience. And self-esteem.
But one might consider that working on that would resolve the hunger and empty chase; the pleading for black and white. It’s having, instead:
“Do you like me? I assume you do. And if you don’t, it doesn’t matter.”