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So you’re interested . . .

‘All it takes is 10 seconds of courage’

By Rae J. Kinsel | Contributor

There seems to be an unspoken rule on Taylor’s campus that asking someone out automatically means committing to a lifelong relationship. I am writing to say that this is not truth.

At times, there may be that person who catches your attention (often, this happens when we are purposely avoiding a relationship). Whether it be due to her genuine interest in philosophy or his incredible taste in music, we are suddenly intrigued by this person. Our curiosity is piqued, and whenever we see said person, the adrenaline pumps: sentences lose all semblance of structure, hearts patter wildly out of control, etc. etc.

Should feelings of attraction arise, there are a couple of common responses here at Taylor.

One: Shove down your chemical impulses and ignore the situation (and that person) entirely. Pretend that there is no attraction whatsoever and run in the opposite direction.

Two: Passively signal the person of your interest. What does this look like in practice? Well, there is what I call the ‘cool guy walk-by’ in which you intentionally enter into their line of vision, making certain they notice your presence without actually having to approach them. Often, the ‘braver’ among us will even strategically converse with a friend in proximity to our person of interest in hopes they see us.

These are understandable methods, and 99 percent of us have tried at least one if not all of them. However, these endeavors are almost always fruitless, draining and cyclical. They tend to be responses based out of fear: fear of rejection, the loss of control, change in plans, etc. And as a person who often operates from a fear-driven mindset, I can tell you with confidence that allowing fear to dictate your thoughts and actions is crippling and exhausting. In one of the most empowering quotes I have come across, Sheryl Sandberg writes, “So please ask yourself: What would I do if I weren’t afraid? And then go do it.”

In practical application, there is no right answer or equation for what comes next. Every situation is different just as every person is different. But I believe in being honest, direct and embracing the moment. This means figuring out what it is that you want (whether through internalizing or processing with a friend) and acting on it — even if you don’t know what you want beyond a get-to-know-you date. It is perfectly acceptable to take things one step at a time. Sharing a meal or coffee does not mean you have committed to a serious relationship. If after a couple dates you realize that this person may be better suited as a friend, you have the right to keep things platonic. However, if you decide to keep it platonic, communicate that fact clearly.

Passive signaling is fruitless, draining and cyclical; we need directness and honesty. (Illustration by Jacie Smeltzer)

Passive signaling is fruitless, draining and cyclical; we need directness and honesty. (Illustration by Jacie Smeltzer)

Perhaps most importantly, it is crucial to remember that another person’s thoughts and actions do not determine your value. In the midst of raging thoughts and emotions, it is easy to place your worth in the hands of someone else. Please don’t. No human is capable of safely holding your ultimate satisfaction and fulfillment.

Now, if someone asks you out, you have every right to say no. However, I would argue that most everyone deserves a first date. It is a privilege to get to know someone, and it is likely that, after a get-to-know-you date, you will be walking away with a new friend on some level. Also, be honored. Someone found you interesting enough to pursue. Please don’t take that lightly.

Do not hear me saying that romantic relationships are the epitome of success or happiness. Being in a relationship is a wonderful thing, but being single is equally so. The objective of this article is to help put words to the unspoken tensions most of us experience at one point or another and develop a loose system to follow instead of playing passive games.

All it takes is 10 seconds of courage.

“Why not go out on a limb? That’s where the fruit is.” — Mark Twain

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