I am done having crushes on people. Or at least I’m done telling people about them, even people I think I can trust.

My last crush was a couple of months ago. Its object was a friend of mine, but I definitely didn’t want to tell him how I felt. I told only a few very close friends. “We knew it,” they said nonchalantly. I was relieved that they didn’t make a big deal about it, and I felt comfortable coming to them whenever I need to talk about this guy. Aside from teasing me a little bit in the normal way, they were pretty chill about it. For a while.

Their teasing started ramping up, little by little, until it finally became full-on humiliation. Like, whenever he’d pass by our table at lunch, they’d yell, “HI LUKE!*” and he’d look at us quizzically and I’d want to hide under the table. Or they’d say out loud, but not so loud as to guarantee he’d hear them, “Britney loves you!” Then there was the time they actually dragged him over to where I was sitting and told him I wanted to talk to him. (That time I actually did hide under a table.)

Last Friday, when Luke walked by our table and my friends called out to him as usual, and as usual I tried to hide. When he was far enough away that it felt safe to resurface, I tried to laugh the whole thing off. “I hope he doesn’t notice that you say hi to him every time he walks by,” I said to my friends.

“Oh, he does,” one of them said. “Last week he came up to me and said, ‘Why do you guys yell at me every time I pass by your table? Does it have to do with Britney?’”

I suddenly felt very warm, and had a strong urge to run out of the cafeteria screaming. “W-what did you tell him?” I asked.

“I made it seem like a joke,” she said. “I told him that the people at this table are obsessed with him, and he laughed. Don’t worry about it, Britney.”

But I was worrying about it. I couldn’t do anything but worry about it. Sure, he had laughed, but deep down he must have known that the yells were because of me, and that they meant that I liked him.

This wouldn’t be so bad if he were just some random crush that I admired from afar, but Luke was actually my friend. I wanted it to stay that way, which is the main reason I never told him how I felt (the other ones were the usual: nervousness and insecurity). Luke was funny, and I enjoyed talking to him. Now I’ll probably never talk to him again. ♦

* Name has been changed to protect the truly innocent—i.e., me.