Having a crush in college is confusing. It’s not as straightforward as it was when we were little kids, where we could pass a love note stating we are madly in love with them, start dating and share our lunch and hold hands with our partner for a week. (Can we go back to that please?) A lot of us have no idea how to even make the first move anymore, but more significantly, we don’t know if we should at all. Where do we go when we need advice? How do we solve this dilemma of whether or not we should just ask out that hottie already?
Lucky for you, we’ve gotten seven Her Campus moms to share their advice and stories to help you feel secure enough to make the first move, because mothers always know best. They’ll tell you the exact signs that it’s time for you to bend down on one knee and propose for a coffee date. Let’s turn to our moms and see what they have to say.
1. They’ve been sending very clear signals that they’re into you
As much as people try to play it cool, having a crush can make your behavior completely neurotic. We do stupid things around the people we like, from trying to impress them to openly staring at them and ogling whenever they speak, and our moms have been watching us play this game for years. If the two of you have been ridiculously flirting and sending romantic signals for a while, it’s probably time for you to make the first move.
“Here’s what I want to say to all these college honeys out there: beautiful things, you know if a boy likes you or not,” advises mom Angie Galleno, who has put one daughter and two sons through college. “Women have some strong intuition, and men lack subtlety. If he reciprocates your feelings, he’s going to show it, and in that you can find comfort with making the first move.”
Some signals that they may like you are physical touch, use of affectionate words, playfulness both verbally and physically, giving of gifts or spending a lot of time together–and those are just the really obvious ones! Romantic signals are unique to each person, and hopefully you know them well enough by now to tell that they’re interested. It can be frustrating that they haven’t made the first move yet, but HC and the moms of the world have the confidence that you’re going to rock this one.
2. They haven’t shown interest in anybody else
While we may get fed up with waiting and feel that it’s time for us to ask them out, we still want some reassurance they actually do like us and not someone else. It’s important to make sure that we haven’t misinterpreted their feelings, and after being clear about that we can give it a go.
“If a person likes you, they would be an idiot to start pursuing someone else!” says mom Lisa Hunt–and isn’t she right! “My daughter, Heather, goes to California State University, Fullerton, and we have a pretty close relationship,” Lisa continues. “She’s good about calling me and informing me about her love life, and lately she’s liked this girl, but isn’t sure if she likes her back or likes someone else. In my mind this is a no brainer! I would go for someone who very clearly likes me and isn’t flaky about who they have feelings for.”
Basically, you can take solace in the fact that your crush likes you and only you. It’s promising if they aren’t flirting with a bunch of other people. If they haven’t shown interest in anybody else, you can have confidence that they are only interested in you. So what are you waiting for? Go ask them out already!
Related: The Ultimate Pep Talk for Talking to Your Crush
3. Other people have noted that they probably have feelings for you
Remember back in elementary school when liking someone was school-wide gossip that everybody got to participate in? Your friends helped you put love notes in your crush’s pencil box and organized games of playing house so that you two could always be the mom and the dad. Well, adult versions of liking someone can be like that too. It may not be as obvious or silly, but if your crush likes you, people are pretty likely to notice it and talk about it.
“I meet a lot of my daughter’s friends whenever I go visit her at school, and I can always pick out which of the boys like her,” says mom Gail Escandon, who has a daughter attending Cal Poly State University, San Luis Obispo. “When I tell her who likes her, it’s just some affirmation that other people besides her can confirm that some guy she has feelings for probably has feelings for her too, and that she can go ahead and ask him out for coffee. Usually her friends have noticed it too and we always have a blast teasing her about it.”
While a mom may be more keen on noticing subtle romantic feelings, friends always notice them too! If you’ve ever received a comment like, “Is something going on between you and so-and-so?” or “Have you seen the way that they look at you? Do they like you?” then you can definitely confirm that you’re not imagining their feelings, but that the mutual affection is very real. If friends and moms can confirm that it looks like something is going on, feel secure enough to make the first move, and expect a “yes!” in return.
4. They actively try to spend time with you
Time is a precious thing in college. The balancing act of class, homework, personal time and friends is stressful, so if your crush is actively setting aside time to spend with you, it might be a hint that you should make the first move because they’ve already made one by being present in your life.
“Quality time is probably the most important love language,” says mom Lynn Donovan, who has a daughter at Biola University. “If you have a boy who’s scheduling their time around you, he’s a keeper.”
Nobody appreciates quality time like moms, so let’s follow their lead on this. Putting effort in is a stunning quality to look for in a partner, so it’s a plus if they already do that before you’re even dating!
5. They haven’t tried to hook up with you
Hookup culture is everywhere in college, and it’s confusing whether a hookup counts as a first move or not. Let’s just assume that it doesn’t and differentiate between hookup-type relationships and the typical going-on-dates and holding hands relationships. The difference is that one has more to do with a sexual connection and the other is more emotional. If your crush hasn’t tried to hook up with you, it’s a sign that they are interested in making a kind of connection that can only come with dating.
“If the person you like is using you physically, I would think that that’s what they would prefer over a relationship with you,” advises the mother of two collegiette daughters, Tiffany Verdugo. “If that’s what you would like too, by all means, but I would certainly want my daughter to have a meaningful relationship with a partner. Ask out the person that is clearly interested in you, but that has respected your body and boundaries enough to prefer a conversation with your heart rather than jumping into sex. Those types of people are going to say yes when you try to have a legitimate date with them.”
These words are such a brilliant reminder that it might be time to steer away from our millennial views on relationships and turn back toward the system that our moms grew up with, which is first going on a date and forming a connection, and worrying about sex second. Definitely make the first move if your potential partner has consistently made an effort to get to know you for who you are, your lady parts excused. If you’re just looking for a hookup, that’s fine too! Just make sure you know what you want.
Related: 7 Things You Should Be Able to Tell Your Hookup Buddy
6. The two of you can actually talk
Finding people that we can truly connect with–especially in a college with thousands of students–can be a challenge. It’s even harder when you’re trying to forge a connection with the person you want to date, because you’re probably so tongue-tied around them real words won’t even come out of your mouth. Needless to say, a level of comfortability and having an easy friendship with them should be a big reassurance when considering whether or not to make the first move.
“I had dated a lot of men in college before I met my husband,” reminisces mom Amy Ham, who has raised four children, three of who have been married in the last year, all having met their spouses in college (she’s very proud of this). “The thing that set him apart was that we were friends first, and that we had incredible conversations with one another. He was painfully shy, but was always good at talking to me, and our communication is part of what made us start dating in the first place, because it just felt different than with other people. We were comfortable, and we could talk about everything, and that meant our relationship would never be boring.”
We love hearing the stories about what made our Her Campus moms start dating their husbands! They probably know best on this point, and if it’s easy for your crush to have great conversations with you, then asking them out and talking about taking your relationship to the next level should be a piece of cake!
7. Out of the two of you, you are consistently the braver one
The final hint that it’s time for you to make the first move is if you get the feeling they never will. This doesn’t mean they don’t like you, but some people are inherently incapable of asking another person out for various reasons. If you are consistently more outgoing and honest about your feelings than they are, it’s up to you to be the initiator.
“Here’s a rude awakening: men fear rejection more than women do,” says mom Gaynell Gallagher, who has two daughters attending the University of Colorado Boulder. “I remember this one man I dated in my early 20s. He was timid and wrapped up in his shell tight like a little peanut, and I needed to crack him open. I knew he was never going to initiate anything, so I swallowed my fear of rejection and asked him out instead. I always tell my daughters the same thing, which is that they can’t wait around for something to happen. If they want something they have to make it happen–especially when dealing with the male species.”
Don’t stress too much about asking them out. It doesn’t have to be a grand gesture, but just make sure that you clearly present your feelings and what you’re looking for. By now you’re probably pretty sure that they like you anyways, so you should be confident about receiving a positive answer in return.
With reassurance from our moms, we hope all you ladies will feel confident about making the first move. Let’s face it, this has been coming for a while now, and this advice was the last thing we needed to make us brave and push us forward. Moms make us stronger, better versions of ourselves, and they have raised us to find the happiness we deserve. That being considered, go forth collegiettes, and conquer!