Today, Ferrett Steinmetz, writing for The Good Men Project, made a mistake. He called anyone who goes after what they want in love a “douche.” He is wrong. Unlike Steinmetz, I think crushes are not all about getting laid. I think revealing your crush isn’t an obligation, it’s a question. I think by telling someone you like them, you’re not putting your happiness over theirs, as he says. No, you’re valuing yourself equally. Being honest isn’t being a douche. It’s the first step towards being someone worth crushing on.
Now, there are some crushes where the crusher knows they’re acting dumb. They’re over-invested, preoccupied, and infatuated. This is not a crush. It’s a sort of low-level obsession, and, as high-functioning adults who do not have “1D” somewhere in our Twitter handles, we need to work on not letting these kinds of crushes happen anymore. But there’s another kind of crush — the “I want to spend daylight hours with this person” crush — that is great. You just have to learn to distinguish between the two. If you’re falling for some hot dude you see riding the train each morning, it’s not something worthy of pursuit. It’s shallow and a bit gross and you need to move on to something more fulfilling.
Lucky for you, once you’ve developed actual feelings for someone, you have to do the hard part and try to actually pursue it. If you decide to tell your crush about all the feels, that’s awesome — as long as you remember that their answer does not define you. Just like your expression of emotion isn’t an obligation (as Steinmetz would have you believe) for them to do anything, their reciprocation of your feelings can’t be the only thing that you’re living for. You existed before they knew your secret, and you’ll exist after. So will they.
Steinmetz’s main argument goes like this: by telling someone you’ve got a crush on them, you’re putting your happiness, your need for approval, and your sex drive over theirs. Wrong. By admitting your feelings, while also respecting theirs, you’re valuing both of you — equally.
When you’re crushing, you place the other person on a pedestal. Her eyes are so pretty and his smile is somehow bright like a child and sexy like a movie star and they’re just perfect! But they’re not. And neither are you. You’re both people who deserve to be heard with a sense of dignity. Yes, they’re amazing, that’s why you like them so much. But to be able to give them anything of value, you have to realize that you are amazing too.
In Steinmetz’s own words, “I could have written this whole essay in two words — ‘Be courteous’ — but I felt it need some more concrete details.” To that, I give a solid and boisterous “Hurrah!” You should absolutely be courteous. You should be kind, and thoughtful, and self-sacrificing, and patient, and gallant, and unselfish and – oh shit, you just died alone. You withered away while making sure to not inconvenience anyone with your silly feelings. Wrong!
Love and happiness are the biggest risks you’ll take in life and are by far the most worthwhile. Feelings will get hurt and uncomfortable moments will happen and to that I say, in the graceful candor of comedy legend Mick Napier, “Fuck your fear.” Go out and admit some stuff about feelings. Dare to let someone know what’s really going on in your head and have a genuine, vulnerable life. That’s so much better than being polite. If Steinmetz’s essay can be replaced with “Be courteous” then mine can be replaced with “Be brave.” And who doesn’t want to date someone open and courageous.