Allow me to set the scene for you: It’s a Tuesday night. You’re sitting at home with your roommates, “sharing” a bottle of wine and gushing about your innermost thoughts. Laughing and crying, all while Jesse McCartney’s Greatest Hits plays in the background.
What’s ironic is that we all know his greatest hit was “Beautiful Soul,” so actually it’s just playing on repeat. Don’t shy away from this story, fellas. I know you do this too. Except instead of wine its PBR or some other form of Satan’s nectar. And it’s not Jesse McCartney, it’s Reba Mcentire. Men love Reba — it’s a scientific fact. Somehow it gets brought up that you have a certain heart sparkle for someone. The gloves come off and the walls come down — it’s time to “share the deets.” Arguably, it’s also a good time to ask your roommate why they’re wearing gloves indoors. What’s that about?
I digress. Let’s get back to the love-stricken gushy stuff.
You begin to analyze every single interaction you have ever had with or about this person you have feelings for, convincing your friends that there is something there. Something real. Something honest. Something PG-13.
You turn the simplest of gestures into a formula for a subliminal love language.
Here’s a brief example: “Well you see, to everyone that was watching us it probably just looked like he wanted the last bagel, but I know what I felt. He wanted to touch my hand. He kind of lingered a bit with his hand on top of mine. That’s when he got cream cheese all over my shirt. It was awesome.” As a supportive friend, it’s your job to follow these cues and respond with empathy and excitement. Something like, “You’re so right. He totally likes you. He’s just dating her to pass the time. He actually wants to be with you. Maybe her family is in the mob and he can’t dump her out of fear for his life. Or worse. Maybe it’s blood diamonds.”
You say whatever you have to in order to make your friend feel justified that their feelings are real. Maybe something like, “She’s totally into you, dude. I saw her at Rec Room last week and I swear she said she liked you. Or maybe she said, ‘Where are my shoes?’ I don’t know — it was really loud in there. But yeah, she wants you.”
We turn to our friends for answers about our relationships rather than just asking the people we like what’s up. But this is incredibly problematic. Often, we find ourselves unsure what to do about a possible romantic partner and seek guidance from others for an outside perspective. We are inherently aware that two heads are better than one, but in my personal opinion, three or five heads may be too many. Do you think Angelina Jolie asked her friends to text Brad Pitt if he liked her? Heck no. She asserted herself as a powerful and strong woman who knew what she wanted and told him how she felt. And now look at her. She’s happily married to the man of all of our dreams and they have an entire caravan full of children. Granted, she ruined America’s favorite ’90s marriage, but my point still stands. Sorry, Jen.
You have to feel confident enough to take your relationship into your own hands and not rely on any external factors. At the end of the day, your relationship needs to stand on its own. Not on what your friend thinks, or your over-analyzed interpretation of, “Yeah, I’ll see you l8r.”
I don’t know how this became the norm for our generation, but I think we could all use a reality check. Seeking advice from friends should not serve as merit for the possibility of love. Laurel House, a contributor for Fox News Magazine says,”While a sounding board is great and talking through problems and experiences can help bring clarity, talking to the wrong people at the wrong time, as well as taking their insight for fact, can not only steer you wrong, but can completely derail a really good thing.” Though House clearly has an affinity for run-on sentences and excess of comas, she makes a good point. And she works for Fox, so that’s saying something.
We have reached a tipping point in our adult lives where we take our peers’ words about potential feelings as fact rather than as opinion. I believe the only person you should really be discussing your relationship with is your partner. Or the person who you aspire to have as a partner. And maybe your mother. Give her a call from time to time — she still likes to feel like she is a part of your ever-exciting life.
It’s simple to turn to our friends for affirmation. And it’s really hard to ask the people you like if they feel the same way. I am urging you to expand your comfort zone and ask them anyway. The worst things that can happen is they say they don’t want to be with you, and that’s okay. Someone better will always come along. And you won’t have to share your food with anyone until they do. Honestly, who’s the real winner here?
Collegian Columnist Kendall McElhaney has had many successful relationships. Clearly. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @kendallaftrdark.