Dear Kelly: I have a crush on a guy, but I have no idea how he feels about me. Recently I cut my hair from long to short, a drastic change, and everyone at school kept saying how cute it was and how different it made me look (but) he said nothing. I put a picture on Instagram and said “new do” and I got 178 likes, and he didn’t like it or say anything. When I finally got the nerve to ask him if he liked my hair, his comment was, “I’m more of a long-hair guy.”
I felt like a total lame-o and didn’t say anything else. Later that day he texted me and said he was sorry and he didn’t mean to hurt my feelings. He was just being honest. I told him he did but he could make it up to me by bringing me a Starbucks to school the next day. He did and even brought me two little scones. I made him special monster cookies that weekend to say thanks for the coffee and when I gave them to him, he thanked me but didn’t eat any. When I asked him the next day how they were, he told me that he had one and that it was “OK,” but he didn’t “really like cookies with a lot of stuff in it.” Ugh! Then I brought him a special mechanical pencil because he always uses mine, and he never used it and didn’t even say thanks.
I keep doing nice things and he keeps not being happy with it, which hurts my feelings. Then he might text me later and we talk and he did bring me a coffee, so I don’t know how he feels about me. One of my friends said that if a guy is mean to you it might mean he likes you, is that true?
Any suggestions or advice on how to find out if he does like me or not? I’m confused and don’t know if I should keep trying or just give up on him.
Dear Geni: There is a fine line between being honest and being abrasive, and he seems to walk that line pretty closely. I can respect his opinion, but I’m not sure he should always say it. When someone does something nice for you the proper response is to show gratitude and appreciation, not be picky and thankless. Regardless of whether or not he likes you, I think he needs some lessons in manners and how to be grateful for nice things people do.
What is it you like about him? He texts you and brought you a Starbucks after he was mean. Anything else that makes him endearing? Is he friendly? Sweet? Helpful? Interested in your life? What is it that makes you want to continue to do nice things for him when he always seems unhappy with your efforts?
Sometimes we can be a glutton for punishment. We keep going back for more even when we get hurt repeatedly. It’s a cycle of behavior and is a bad pattern to get yourself in the habit of doing. When we allow people to treat us in a certain way, they will. You determine how people treat you based on what you allow.
He brought you a coffee. But don’t hang everything on that. It was nice but not telling. If he really likes you, he should treat you nice all the time, not just after he says something insensitive. When a guy is mean to you, he’s not into you. And if he is into you and thinks it’s OK to be mean to you, he’s not the right guy.
Stand up for yourself. If he is thankless, stop doing nice things for him. Be yourself but don’t go out of your way to be extra kind to someone who can’t even say, “Thank you.” What message does that send?
Stop trying to figure out if he likes you and ask yourself why you like him? If he can’t be nice or show appreciation for the little thoughtful things you do, then stop wasting your time on him. Even if he does like you, tell yourself that you won’t allow him to continue to hurt your feelings. Texting and a coffee shouldn’t be enough to keep you coming back to get hurt each time. You are better than that and deserve to be treated with more respect than he is giving you.
Kelly Richardson, a Folsom therapist, works with adolescents.