Sex + Love

Say Everything

If you love someone, let them know.

Illustration by Leanna.

Illustration by Leanna.

So, you’ve finally done it! You’ve decided to let love lift you up where you belong and have plans to tell the remarkable, fascinating, deeply cute person you’re smitten with exactly how you feel. It’s been two overwhelming years/months/days/minutes/seconds since your beloved took up seemingly permanent residence in your mind, your heart, and your soul, and they brought with them some noteworthy changes: Whereas, not long ago, you had no opinion whatsoever about adult contemporary music, suddenly you’ve discovered that every soft rock and smooth jazz ballad is an extraordinarily accurate description of your innermost longings and most passionate fantasies. Even songs that have nothing to do with love, romance, or the sweetest taboo remind you of your crush (just recently you heard the Law & Order theme and got a little titillated).

You think about this person all the time and imagine the beautifully mundane life the two of you might build together: The kisses you’ll share. The photo booth pictures you’ll take. The burritos you’ll eat. (Oh, the burritos you will eat!) Maybe you’re currently friends with this person, or you’ve recently started flirting with them. Perhaps the two of you have exchanged sexually charged high-fives. Or maybe you’ve simply been pining for them from afar. All you know is that you’d like to be closer. Much, much closer. And so here you are, about to take the first step toward transforming this fervid infatuation into something tangible (and hopefully just as fervid).

Although you’ve passed the stage of neurotically wondering (and asking everyone you know and don’t know) if you should tell them how you feel (and congratulations on getting through that torture!), it’s perfectly understandable that you might feel a little nervous—maybe even a touch nauseated—about what’s about to happen. Because to tell someone that you like-like them is to make yourself vulnerable to ridicule, rejection, embarrassment, the works. Better to not say anything at all, or to couch your sincere emotions in fake irony, right?

Honestly, I’m not an especially bold person. Sometimes I struggle to stand up for my beliefs or just to articulate my thoughts to other people in casual, friendly conversation. Oddly, though, I am rather daring when it comes to these sorts of declarations. It might be because I watched too many Richard Curtis movies at an impressionable age, but I’ve never had too big of a problem being a girl standing in front of a boy and asking him to love her.

Of course, because I live in the real world, my affections routinely went unreturned. I’ve experienced some truly mortifying rejections—like, back in high school, when I wrote a love letter to a guy and later stumbled upon him and a friend reading my letter…and laughing. I’ve also had plenty of unremarkable but still unequivocal rejections where a guy I liked told me he wanted to “just be friends” or that he wasn’t “ready for a relationship” or that he liked Jennifer Cooper and did not like me.

But do you think I let any of these experiences get me down? Of course I did. At least for a little while. Getting rejected always sucks, right? But there can be freedom in rejection! Freedom from obsessing over a person who doesn’t reciprocate your feelings.

Or maybe—and this is a big maybe—you won’t be rejected. And that’s the really wonderful part about all of this, isn’t it? Right now, as you prepare to make your big announcement, you just might be standing on a metaphorical railway platform, seconds away from boarding the express train to Makeout City (or Snuggle Junction—it’s up to you).

I refused to allow the countless rejections I amassed over the years keep me from wearing my heart on my sleeve. I once told a close friend that I had a crush on him by earnestly quoting the “to me, you are perfect” bit from Love Actually. This schmaltzy plagiarized confession actually led to a brief romantic relationship, and even though we didn’t end up getting married and acquiring babies and matching forehead tattoos, the experience was exhilarating—both because that dude was hella adorable and because, like Mulan, I had been true to my heart. I was being this unfiltered version of myself, and that by itself was exciting. I also learned that this guy was perfect as a friend or as the star of an erotic daydream, but not so perfect as a boyfriend. As the two of us eventually settled comfortably back into a friendship, I was happy that I could stop asking myself what it might be like to date him.

being vulnerable stop you from chasing something. A dream? An opportunity? Love? And maybe there will be another such moment in your future. But this moment, right now, is different. In this moment, right now, you will do the difficult thing. You will say your piece, and it will feel strange and uncomfortable, but that’s OK, because, regardless of the outcome, you will have been brave. You will have been true to your heart. And that’s something you can be proud of.

So, as you brush your teeth tonight, mentally compose a love poem, practice your “I want to go on a date with you” interpretive dance, or do whatever it is that you have to do to get ready for this special event. And remember: No matter how things go, your declaration of love will enable you to move forward. Because when you choose to tell a crush how you feel about them, you are also choosing to embrace and be fueled by uncertainty instead of letting it smother your wonderful romantic, idealistic spirit. Anything is possible, right?

So maybe you’ll get a date or maybe you won’t. Or maybe, just maybe, sea shanties will be sung about your bravery on this day. There’s only one way to find out. ♦


  • spudzine June 18th, 2014 11:58 PM

    I like the fact that the concept of this article is ‘embrace uncertainty’ and not ‘be flawless.’
    http://emotwins.tumblr com/

  • violinplayer456 June 19th, 2014 12:15 AM

    I’ve tried this. Even when you are rejected, it doesn’t hurt. It ALWAYS feels good to tell the truth about your feelings even if it isn’t reciprocated. Great article.

  • Me_Magalloway June 19th, 2014 12:16 AM

    Man, this doesn’t much relate to me right now, but goodness are you a great writer! This made me laugh a lot. Love it!

  • AnarchyAndrea June 19th, 2014 12:19 AM

    I cannot relate to this because I feel like I will never feel the flesh burning longing I did when I was younger, and I’m only 18. I’m so incredibly jealous of any of you out there pining for someone.

  • beanqueen June 19th, 2014 12:30 AM

    Amber, if I was any good at articulating just how this made me feel, I’d lay it out on a silver platter and serve it to you for breakfast. I’ve been needing to read something like this for two years (lucky n relatable that you actually used “two” in the piece) and I think I’m finally motivated to do so. He’s my best friend and while a lot is at stake, it’s important that I take initiative now before the opportunity slips through my fingers. Thank you so much Amber, you’re an inspiration.

  • Nova June 19th, 2014 1:37 AM

    It must be known, I read this and when I got to the “you will have been brave” part, I played Alicia Keys’ Unthinkable (I’m Ready) and just enjoyed it that much more. I teared up a bit too. Lovely advice, Amber and beautiful art work, Leanna!

  • saff June 19th, 2014 1:45 AM

    but what if said crush is your friend’s ex, who also does happen to really like you. -_-

  • Joyce June 19th, 2014 3:35 AM

    i admire you guys i can never do this. my crush for two years just graduated and i’m pretty sure i’ll never see him again

  • Janinaloose June 19th, 2014 11:28 AM

    But how do I though. Huh. Anyway, great article. Embracing uncertainty to figure it out!

  • gentleman honey farmer June 19th, 2014 12:56 PM

    I am struggling with the opposite of this – to know when to tell someone that I don’t love him, to know when to leave a relationship that is very difficult. I feel like such a coward, but embracing uncertainty is something that has challenged me my whole life. I’m feeling very depressed about all of it, but I think this is a tiny push in the right direction, so thank you.

  • Maz June 19th, 2014 1:40 PM

    I literally did this a week ago and my crush says he wants to wait until he gets back from vacation to talk about it (a couple of days). I’m so terrified.

  • x.noel June 19th, 2014 2:05 PM

    Man oh man is this relatable right now. I have feelings for someone I’ve been friends with for years but he’s a bit older than me so I’ve been scared to say anything. This helped me feel a little better because lately I’ve been thinking, “the time is now!”… But then I always over think it and freak out and don’t do anything.
    But a combination of newly graduating and this article has convinced me to suck it up and go for it, I’ve had feelings for him for years and the time is indeed now.

  • Sea goddess June 19th, 2014 2:37 PM

    This is so good, I really needed to read soemthing like this..the fear of rejection is horrible and does stop us, thank you so much for writing this..

  • amelia3 June 19th, 2014 2:57 PM

    “Just now you heard the Law & Order theme and got a little titillated” LOL.

  • fromanotherearth June 19th, 2014 3:05 PM

    As per usual, this is scarily in sync with my life!!
    Gonna bring the format back from the infinitely perfect “My High School Crushes” article by Amber.

    Name- Will
    Grade- Sophomore
    Height- Taller
    Year(s) of crush- Since I met him (January) – now
    Most memorable trait- Blonde hair/silliness/humor
    ’90s Slow Jam Played on Loop During Crush: Playground Love – Air
    Misguided attempt at flirting- having only a $20 bill when he was going on a run for food and thinking giving him way too much money for a slice of pizza would make me automatically irresistible
    Crush Highlight- Kissing him at a party!! Now woah, woah this sounds like I’ve told him how I feel but this was actually before I knew him at all and we were both under the influence. I hadn’t spoken him to for a longgg time until last week but i ended up hanging out with him and some others and we were all laying on a blanket and he was next to me, our legs were touching, and he was talking in my ear.

    Wish me luck!!!

  • vvk97 June 19th, 2014 3:40 PM

    Rookie has spooky timing. This is super relatable right now!

  • kelsey June 19th, 2014 8:28 PM

    I’ve already got my love stuff figured out for the moment, but I NEEDED this anyways. I’m trying to quit being a coward and just go after what I want. Thanks loads for this.

  • cindycc101e2 June 19th, 2014 9:14 PM

    SO RELATABLE RIGHT NOW. A few days ago I decided to ask a guy friend out to the movies next week (he’s off on vacation) BUT I’m really nervous because I havent known him that long. But this isn’t my first time around the “declaration of feelings to my crushes” rodeo but hopefully this time i won’t get rejected. *fingers crossed*

  • Lorelei June 19th, 2014 11:07 PM

    the timing on this is perfect as I recently (like last week recently) finally plucked up the courage to start texting (baby steps) this guy I’ve been crushin’ on from afar

    now my only real fear is that when we do hang out together he won’t like me…or maybe I won’t like him

  • htcpunk June 20th, 2014 2:49 PM

    Did anyone else read the article and was like “Rookie you have crossed the line. how dare you tell to jump into abyss of sexual uncertainty it’s like puberty all over again.” But as cliche as it is what’s the worst thing that can happen they don’t like you back well someone will.

  • Anne June 20th, 2014 3:36 PM

    what about after the fact of crush :S?? I had an awkward heated moment with a friend that kind of rippled into an “I’m kind of angry at this because I know you want to be friends and me too because I just don’t think our lives would mesh well together but I’ve always harboured some feelings for you deep down and now you changed from my guy friend into just another guy who rejected me” and since then I just feel like we’re not the same friends and we sometimes have these weird tensions at parties and I haven’t really been able to say all of that because I didn’t want him thinking it was a big deal and lose him as a friend but now it happened anyway… UGH STUPID BOYS

    we need a PSA about all of these complicated situations in these times of modern love wherein we’re both super public about stuff (everyone’s watching) and super guarded about our feeling (because everyone’s watching). how about a Foucauldian analysis of modern love??

  • astrea June 20th, 2014 6:42 PM

    This article is wonderful and such a coincidence. Well, sort of. Just great timing really.

    I’m usually one to keep my crushes to myself and just let them pass with time but just recently I took a spontaneous leap. I asked a boy out to coffee who I had only met a week or so before and to my surprise he said yes and since then we’ve been in a wonderful relationship.

    I’m being serious my fellow rookies, GO FOR IT.
    You can all do it. Ask that sparkling man or woman that catches your eye out for a coffee. Do it. You don’t want to live with regrets, that’s not fun.
    Hell, it’s worth a try, no?

  • Rhianna June 21st, 2014 10:59 AM

    Even if you do suffer rejection from ‘the one’ it isnt the end. I put myself on the line in about november to this guy who at the time was in a relationship, he told me no, he told me he was flattered-but no. They broke up a month or so after and he still didn’t get together with me-I was bitter and angry that i’d put myself on the line like that, telling him how I felt and even then after he was single he stillwasnt interested in me romantically, or so I thought.
    If I hadn’t have told him, i’m sure our friendship would have disapated
    If he’d have said yes and I hadn’t suffered months of feeling rejected and less than I probably wouldn’t have appricated him enough
    But I stayed a good friend to him despite the anger and hurt, I accepted that everyone has their reasons.
    On my 18th birthday, March 1st, he kissed me and 2 weeks later he told me he loved me and always had, that he just couldnt trust himself enough to not mess up our friendship at the time.
    Since then the past few months he’s given me great happiness and joy and even been vocal about spending the rest of his life with me- we’re going to Paris in a month and he’s had my finger measurement for an engagement ring.
    I guess what I’m trying to say is don’t give up, just stay true to yourself and it might happen, but if it doesn’t-at least you tried

  • Yayo June 21st, 2014 8:57 PM

    Oh god I left my major crush in another country a couple of months ago and it absolutely kills me I couldn’t tell him how adorable I think he is to his face.


  • Nadifa June 22nd, 2014 1:16 AM

    Ugh i don’t know about these stuff. I might want to do this but it seems useless cause we’re about to go to a different univ. in different cities :’(

  • witheringslytherin June 22nd, 2014 6:04 PM

    I had a situation recently where I was vvvvv confused about this guy and after a day of talking to literally every friend in the world about WHAT TO DO I told him and it was ridiculously awkward and I literally fled the room but I am SO glad I did it because now there is no wondering/there’s closure/I feel like I was “”"”true to myself”"”"”. And people who are actually worth it will be kind, and if they aren’t then – as cut throat as it sounds – it’s so for the best things may not have worked out!! + nobody deserves someone who is merely lukewarm about them!!
    well DONE amber

  • vilena2345 June 22nd, 2014 7:25 PM

    I completely agree with everything from the article. Speaking from experience, even when it doesn’t go the way we want it to, it still won’t go as BAD as we are imagining it.

  • rosewater June 22nd, 2014 10:55 PM

    I have told my crush about my crush, but how do you know whether you got rejected, when they did not give you a clear and conclusive answer? I’m confused. My crush is a lecturer at my university but I’m not a minor and he’s quite young for a lecturer, so the age difference isn’t an issue here because there isn’t much. He’s never been my lecturer or tutor so he can’t have an influence on my grades, well, at least that’s my guess. I gave my crush a letter where I told him that he didn’t have to do or say anything but I just wanted to tell him that I liked him. So he had no obligation to do or say anything in response. I got no response so I thought that was the end of it, he didn’t call me etc. I saw him a couple of days later and to pretend I was a really cool and amazing person who can handle rejection, I waved at him and he asked me to approach him, and we just had a bit of small talk. But then he went onto say that “there were rules for teachers and students and that’s why I can’t ‘do’ anything” (he made sure to emphasise the word ‘do’). He then said “thank you for your letter, I appreciate it”. What does all of that mean? Was that a rejection or is there hope? I would really love it if some of you could help me out? I have no idea. We’ve seen each other since, and he’s always smiling at me with a huge smile, and we’ve had a few exchanges, in which the only thing that stood out was that when talking about the cold weather, he referred to Spanish women not being cold, as in we’re hot (I’m Spanish). Any advice from anyone would be really appreciated.

    • rosewater June 22nd, 2014 11:33 PM

      Minor correction: His actual words were “there are rules for teachers and students, and that’s why I (as in him) can’t do anything”

  • tweedcoats June 24th, 2014 12:23 AM

    This is extremely relevant to me right now. I’ve had a crush on a co-worker turned friend turned insane crush for 6 months now. We’ve started hanging out more this summer and I’ve fallen hard for him. I don’t think he knows…I’ve been flirting with him and probably making googly eyes at him for awhile now. The next time I see him alone, I’ve promised myself that I would say something. Wish me luck…