It was my freshman year at college. My first day on campus, as I wandered around aimlessly with my roommate looking for the dining hall, I walked by a guy who completely took my breath away. It was the first time I had been struck with the “love at first sight” feeling. He nodded his head in acknowledgement and barely cocked a smile, but my heart raced. I had to know who he was. Was he a freshman, too? Where was he living? I had to meet him somehow….
As the months passed I learned the answers to all my questions. No, he wasn’t a freshman. He was a Sophmore, and living quite close to my dorm. We would cross paths on Thursdays while I was on my way to Spanish. Sometimes I mustered a hello, sometimes just a smile. I knew he was in a Fraternity, and at any chance I got, I attended their parties but only to swoon from afar. I just never got up the courage to introduce myself.
Then, one day, one of my friends grew tired of hearing how much I like this guy and while we were out at a local dive bar, she grabbed his arm and pulled him over. “This is Jessica.” she said. “Jessica, this is hot-guy-you-have-been-pining-over-for-almost-a-year.” No, she didn’t really say that. She said his name, which I’ll keep confidential. Hot guy smiled at me, shook my hand, and said, “You wanna dance?”
The rest of the night was a happy blur of events. I was on cloud nine. Hot guy never left my side, ran to fill my beverage, sat with his arm around me, and then walked me to my car and asked to exchange numbers. I couldn’t believe it. I was officially going to date hot guy and this was the beginning of what would be a beautiful relationship….or so I thought.
A week passed after that night and nothing but crickets. I didn’t leave my dorm for fear I would miss his call and my answering machine would fail me (yes, cell phones were for rich people at this point in time.) On the way to Thursdays Spanish class I saw him standing outside Thompson Hall smoking a cigarette with some friends. He saw me and waved. That was it.
That night, I sat around with some girls that lived on my hall and retold the story of the wonderful night I had the weekend before and how crushed I was that I had not heard from hot guy. Then, one of their boyfriend’s who was sitting nearby eavesdropping came over and gave me what would become known as the worst piece of advice I’ve ever gotten. “Call him,” he said. “He’s probably scared to make a move.” Now, I had been told by my mother repeatedly not to chase boys, so this counsel was met with resistance at first, but the boyfriend continued making his case for why calling hot guy would be a good idea.
“He was drinking and he probably isn’t sure that you’re interested. If he was drunk, he probably lost your number. It’s 1996 and girls call guys now and we like it! It takes the pressure off. You’re in control.” And then he finally added, “It can’t hurt.” So, after 10 minutes of convincing, I picked up the phone and called hot guy.
It did not go well.
His roommate picked up the phone and told me to hold. “Hot guy!” he yelled. “Jessica is on the phone for you!” To which hot guy replied, “Who??” The next two minutes were cringe-worthy. Hot guy got on the phone and we struggled through 120 seconds of conversation. Then he told me his roommate needed to use the phone and he would call me back. He never did.
Even though I was crushed by this incident, and no relationship ever materialized between us, hot guy did me a favor that night by not calling me back. He wasn’t interested in me and although it took a while to get over that fact, at least he didn’t feign attraction or take advantage of my infatuation. My dorm-mates boyfriend convinced me that calling hot guy couldn’t hurt, but if he had taken my call, asked me to come over, hooked up with me and never talked to me again, that would have definitely caused me pain.
I might have been spared, but many single girls today fall into “go-nowhere” relationships with guys and the most of the time, it is due in large part to initiating contact first just as I did. They are under the impression that initiating a simple text to someone they like can’t hurt, but truly, it is this small misstep in the “hanging out” phase that can lead to a girl wasting her time with a guy who’s only moderately interested. It can segue into an unbalanced relationship, and the possibility of being used by someone for a mere steady hook-up.
Reaching out over the phone, email, text, instant messenger, or via some social media site when you are just starting to talk to a guy, not only sends the message that you are chasing him, it also robs you of the opportunity to assess if he is truly interested in pursing a relationship with you. I always tell my coaching clients that they need to read a guy’s buying signs, and those signs will tell you most everything you need to know about his interest. One of the biggest signs is, does he text you first after you’ve seen him? If he does, then he’s likely very interested. If he doesn’t, then he isn’t.
It’s easy to accidentally sabotage a potential relationship by doing something you normally would not do if not for cell phones or the Internet. After my epic fail with hot guy, I never called another boy again. And I’m happy to say, that strategy served me very well for all the years I dated. But most girls today don’t get the clear cut “not interested” sign like I did. Relationship have become more ambiguous and knowing when and what to text someone can be as complicated as a Game of Thrones plotline.
If you need help even on the smallest scale with someone you are hanging out with or dating, you don’t need to hire an expensive dating coach and spend an hour on the phone trying to decode a text and craft one back. I offer quick, inexpensive email advice for these small but critical situations. You can write me up to 800 words, allowing you to give me ample backstory, and within 24 hours, you’ll have a response from me about what you should or should not do. Best of all, you’ll have the peace of mind that you didn’t make an impulsive decision that cost you a chance with your own hot guy.