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Sex + Relationships

Why is it so Hard to Tell that Special Someone How We Feel?

You know that iconic scene in The Notebook where Noah admits that he is still in love with Allie and they share that passionate kiss in the rain? The one that has inspired countless scenes for scripts to follow and has essentially changed the human perception on love? Yea, well, let’s be real here- we grow up seeing these dramatic rain kisses after a confession of love and assume it will always be that special… well, it is not always. Most of the time, we cannot even express our true feelings.

Let’s talk about feelings. Seriously, we all need to open up about this and realize that there is a stigma behind the concept of finally telling whoever you’re into how you really feel.  A number of common denominators and unique factors are making it difficult for teenagers and young adults to tell that special someone how they truly feel about them -- all for what? The more time we spend wondering if we should really tell our secret crush our true affection for them is also the more time that we waste not doing anything and making the matter even more confusing.

So, based on the movies, it should be easy to just flip that mental switch, send that text, or march to your best friend's house of 10 years tell him “hey, I know we have been good friends forever, but I actually have loved you for so long.” But that’s just not how things work.

Your mental pattern, instead, is something like this:

Well, if my crush doesn't like me back our friendship can get awkward. Am I okay with a ruined friendship?

What happens if I get rejected?

We watch these romantic comedies, stuff our faces with popcorn, pull out the tissues and wonder where the f*** is my happy ending?

Well maybe we can if we just realize what is holding us back…

I asked college students some questions about how they express their emotions in relationships and their thoughts on being more transparent with feelings in hope to better conclude why exactly this is a common question for many. So here is some insight from fellow young adults, both men and women, to better understand this and remember that you are not alone:

 

1. Have You Ever Really Liked Someone And Had a Hard Time Expressing How You Felt To that Person for personal reasons? If yes, share.

19 year old female student. PA: Yes, because I was afraid of rejection!!

20 year old male student. CT- No. I like being straightforward with people, and I want them to be straightforward with me.

19 year old female student. CT- Yes. The whole idea of it made me feel so vulnerable and I think that is why I had a hard time telling my ex- fling how I felt about him in the beginning. I was afraid to tell him upfront “hey, I think you are cute and I am super into you” so I tried to drop subtle hints for weeks until I was confident that he liked me mutually. By the time I expressed how I felt to him, it was a bit too late. I was scared that he would see me differently or think that I was crazy just by telling him how I felt. I wanted to be sure to not deal with rejection, and I wish I just told him sooner.

 

2. Your friend Janice has been best friends with Craig for years now. Everyone knows that Janice has been developing the biggest crush on Craig, but no one can really tell if Craig feels the same way or if he even knows Janice likes him like that. Their friendship is super special and it would make Janice so upset if if anything got in the way of it. Janice tells you one day that she is tired of hiding how she feels and just wants to confess her love to Craig. She asks you for some insight. What do you say?

18 year old female student. PA“I would ask Janice if she really loves Craig and believes it would work out and not ruin their friendship then she should go for it.”

19 year old female student. PA- “ I would tell her to tell him how she feels in a chill way, saying she is okay remaining friends while being honest about how she feels.”

19 year old female student. CT- “I would tell Janice to trust her gut. If she wants to tell Craig, she should do it in a really nonchalant way so nothing feels forced. However, she should be aware of how it can change things for the better or for the worse”

Why should we be “nonchalant” in expressing our feelings and “chill?” Why can we not just be direct? This could do with the stigma of women expressing their feelings and the fear of being seen as “too emotionally attached or crazy.” If that special someone considers you crazy for expressing how you feel, you just have to say thank you… next.

 

3. Do you feel as though it is easier for guys or girls to express emotions in any form of relationship. What stigmas do you think may be associated with feelings in relation to gender roles in a relationship.

18 year old female student. PA- I feel like it is easier for girls to express their emotions because they do not have an ego to uphold. Like guys think that if they show emotion they’ll be seen as a girl. 

18 year old male student. PA-  I think that in a heterosexual relationship it is easier for a guy to express his feelings. Even though it is not considered a masculine thing to do, men have feelings and convey them from time to time. I believe that the men who say they cannot express their feelings in a relationship, many times, let their masculinity get in the way.

19 year old male student from California- It is easier for girls. Guys hold back because they do not want to actually let someone into their life/ open up.

19 year old female student. PA- Girls have an easier time.

20 year old male student. CT- I think guys have an easier time, but that is just how it is for me. Generally though, girls are more likely to share how they feel.

 

4. Why may you hold back in telling your crush your affection/love for them?

19 year old male student from California- Rejection and [the notion of] what if they don't like me back.

19 year old female student from CT- It may make things awkward. I would not want to expose myself like that.

20 year old male student from Connecticut- I would be afraid of their response.

20 year old female student from Virgina- Fear of rejection and self insecurity. For sure.

 

At the end of the day, no one wants to be rejected. We may hold back our feelings because we are afraid of the unknown. Although the reasons for holding back feelings are quite common, there is not much to do to change it. However, know that you are not alone. It is not just you struggling with this: you are NOT crazy, vulnerable, or moving too fast. Tons of other college students and young adults struggle with this too. It takes time. Your feelings are valid, important, and you deserve to be around people who appreciate you and how you feel.

Just remember, at the end of the day, regardless how your crush may feel about you after you say how you feel, you are still amazing. You are still important and now you do not have to stress anymore about whether or not to tell Brad from High School that you’ve always wanted to hook up with him.

Because you just did.

I am a full time student (class of 2022!) at Temple University and part time model in NYC. I love all things related to fashion, feminism, food, travel, books, and media.
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