When I was in Nicaragua a few years ago I met this guy. I was fasting from men at the time, so I didn’t give him the time of day… even though he was incredibly good looking. Like, just walked out of an American Eagle ad good looking.
Instead I would talk to the girls on the trip I was leading, or the other members of his team. But not him.
Then one day we ended up on a log together. At the beach. Everyone else from our teams was swimming in the ocean, splashing and playing, but we were glued to that log. The sun beat down on us as we talked, and talked, and talked…until the waves came crashing on us and everyone’s belongings. We jumped up and immediately started chasing after floating flip flops and water bottles.
I was intrigued.
But still I stayed away. Until, that is, he came up to me a day or two later and said, “Hey Esperanza, we need to finish our conversation from the beach.”
My knees became weak, along with my heart.
From there on out our conversation continued… for days. I never initiated, as that’s what I had done the year before that led me to a bruised heart, and consequently this fast from men. He always found me, though, and I didn’t mind.
My girls began to notice. They told me he would ask for me when I wasn’t there. They thought he liked me.
No, no, no, I would tell them.
But secretly I wondered.
The last day he was there he took me up to the roof of his hotel. We talked for four hours, our sweat piling in puddles around us. But neither of us moved.
Surely this was love.
I desperately wanted to ask him for clarification – what did this all mean? Something? Nothing? Was I reading into things? Was I a fool to wait for him to get back from his mission trip?
He had seven more months left on that trip, and there was a very strict DO NOT DATE OR EVEN TALK ABOUT DATING OR YOU WILL DIE rule (I knew about it because I had been on that trip. And broken that rule. And while I didn’t die, it sure did hurt.)
I told myself the rule was the reason I wasn’t asking for clarification, but really it was because I was afraid of rejection.
The good news: he happened to be from a town 15 minutes away from where I was living. Clearly, the stars were aligned in my favor.
And so I waited. For seven months.
He came back and I saw him for the first time at a social gathering, where he said he really wanted to get together to catch up. This was it!
And then I found out he kissed someone the week before.
I was crushed.
More than that, I felt stupid. I felt stupid for dreaming (literally and figuratively) all those months while he thought nothing of me.
It took me a while to grieve and get over everything from this experience, but I also learned a valuable life lesson…
CLARIFICATION IS KEY.
And so, the next two times I was confused, I clarified.
One time that meant sending a letter (he was long distance) in which I literally did one of these:
(Go big or go home, right?)
The time after that was in person, which was super scary. It was January and I was about to leave for a few months. I didn’t want to waste those months waiting for something that wasn’t real, so at my going away party I asked him if we could talk. We put on our coats and stepped onto the back deck.
It was dark and cold, and I stumbled through my words. “So, um, I think we get along really well as friends, and, uh, I’m not sure if you’re interested in taking this to the next level, but, um, I just wanted to let you know that if you are that’s like, totally fine by me.”
Wow, he said. You’re bold.
I told him that actually I wasn’t. I let him know I had been hurt before and it was no longer worth it to me to wait around to find out I was rejected; I would rather know up front and save myself months of fantasy, false hope and the grief that follows.
He told me he was flattered, that he had considered it, but no, that was not the direction he was moving.
Okay, I said. Now I’m going to run away for 4 months. We laughed. And then we hugged.
I figured we would never be friends again, because clearly he would think I’m forever in love with him, and because I was embarrassed.
The truth? We are still friends to this day.
Here’s where I preach. Ladies, if you are confused about where your friendship with a guy stands, ASK HIM. It doesn’t have to be a big deal. You don’t have to tell him you like him. All you have to do is say, “does this mean anything when you do this?”
Honestly, 95% of the time IT DOESN’T MEAN ANYTHING. Either A) the guy is just being nice or B) he has affirmation issues and uses friendships with women to fulfill that need.
If you live in confusion and stay silent, it’s on YOU.
One time my friend Hannah sat down with a guy and asked for clarification. She had him look her in the eyes and say, “I don’t like you and nothing will ever happen between us.” Damn!
She knew she needed to do that to protect herself from creating a fantasy and holding onto false hope. That, my friends, is a woman.
There is a lie that says if we initiate a clarifying conversation with the opposite sex we are stepping over our boundaries as women and acting like men. THIS IS FALSE. False false false.
I know too many women who allow themselves to be victims of passivity. And they are dying inside. I know, I used to be one of them.
Save yourselves the heartache and ask. It’s not ruining anything that “could be” – it’s setting yourself free.