We Learn … Sharing Our Feelings Is Stupid (or Just a Very Bad Idea)
It all starts with a first crush. That’s when we first smell danger. It’s also when we first learn that sharing our feelings is a VERY BAD idea or just plain stupid. From the first “like” our knee-jerk reaction is to avoid letting anyone know. We might confide in a friend or two, but the only way we are willing to openly share our feelings is if we are 100 percent certain the person we like will like us back.
We’ll flirt, ask friends to ask questions, creep on Facebook, ogle, Google, and investigate, but rarely say what we feel. We get as much information as possible without letting the people we like know we like them. We want to know if someone is available and interested. We ask friends to do our dirty work for us. The reason we use friends is so we can distance ourselves far enough to deny our feelings ever existed should the person we like not reciprocate or others find out about them. Technology and friends give us a safe buffer to cast blame and run like hell should rejection or humiliation find us.
As a result, we have imaginary relationships with people who don’t know they’re in relationships with us (thank you, Facebook). We get jealous of people who like the people we secretly like. We have friends find out information about the people we like, which inadvertently gets the people we like interested in our friends because they are the only ones talking. Most friends won’t date the people we like, but some will. It’s difficult not to blame them. It’s hard to meet people.
If we do share our feelings and our crush shares our interest we breathe a sigh of relief. If a crush doesn’t share our feelings the results can be devastating. It only reaffirms why it was wrong and stupid for us to share our feelings in the first place. We quickly learn that sharing our feelings and not having them reciprocated is about the worst thing that can happen. We can’t stand the pain of not being liked by the people we like. If other people find out it’s that much more humiliating. So we learn to hide our feelings and run like hell when we smell rejection coming.
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Step 1 will give you the power to say and do what you feel without the fear of being rejected and/or humiliated.
My biggest hang-up was me. I was so worried about how I was perceived by other people that I didn’t get involved. It was self-preservation.
—Heidi, twenty-six, married
Copyright © 2012 by Harlan Cohen