Dear Auntie SparkNotes,
I'm a freshman in college with absolutely NO prior dating experience from high school. I had crushes in high school, but nothing ever came from any of them. From what I could tell, I got friendzoned (even though I hate the concept of "friendzoning," but that's another day's rant).
Naturally, there's a girl that I like (Let's call her "Mary"). For the past month, we'd meet for breakfast, go to class together, then study for a few hours until our next classes. From there, we would occasionally get lunch together, as well as study together for exams. We spent a lot of time together. To me, at least, it didn't seem like it was a case of the friendzone. I had several people (her roommate, her best friend, and a couple other mutual friends) ask me if we were dating or make comments like "Oh, you guys are so cute together!"
After a lot of advice-asking, I came up with an idea: A group of friends were going to watch a movie one night. After that, I thought Mary and I could go exploring up on the roof of one of the buildings here, make s'mores on a mini-campfire, look at the stars and awesome city view, etc. I didn't really have romantic advances in mind, I just wanted to make a move to say, "Hey! I like you and wanna make it clear", as well as test her interest. So, I asked her and she agreed. A few days later, though, one of our mutual friends told me it wasn't entirely clear that it was intended as a date and that Mary thought the whole group would go check out the view. She suggested I clarify my intentions so it wouldn't get creepy, but when I did, she told me she thought it was a group thing and that she would "rather stay with the group that night." The next day, we still met up like normal, but everything felt awkward to me. Now I'm at a loss. Did I move things too quickly? Is there any hope for me/us? If so, is there a better way to go about things? Should I just move on, even though I don't really want to?
Wait! No! Before we get to the advice part, this is actually the perfect time to talk about the term "friendzone"... and how it's become the pathetic battle cry of whiners who've somehow convinced themselves that unrequited interest is something terrible that someone does to you ("She friendzoned me! AAAAAGH!"), instead of a simple, inoffensive fact of life: that not every person you're attracted to will necessarily be attracted back. And since the word "friendzone" carries with it such a strong aroma of entitled jerkitude, it'll serve you—and everyone else—much better to describe your non-starter crushes thusly:
"S/he doesn't like me that way."
Because really, when someone doesn't return your interest, that's all it is. And you, darling Sparkler, will have much better chances of finding love if you accept that getting into a relationship isn't about elaborate plans or strategic movements or perfect rooftop dates complete with impromptu s'mores; it's about liking a girl who likes you back.
And it's just not that complicated.
Which is not to say that there's officially no hope for your current crush, even if a girl telling you she'd rather stay with the group than be alone with you is pretty damning (and even if I personally think that any girl who could receive your rooftop/campfire/star-gazing invite and not immediately recognize it as a date must be as dumb as a box of hair). But here's the problem, and the reason why this sort of intricately-plotted approach to wooing is generally not recommended: you can guess, infer, and speculate, but at the end of the day, you know nothing more about her feelings than you did before. And that's so awful! I mean, you planned and prepped, asked advice, and worked up a mind-boggling amount of courage to make that move—all to end up in exactly the same clueless pining place, wondering why she bailed, and with no real idea how she feels about you.
Whereas if you'd used the same amount of energy and nerve to just turn to her after lunch one day and say, "Look, I really like you. Would you want to go out sometime?"—even if her response was, "Not if you were the last man on earth"—you'd have all the information you need in order to figure out your next move.
So yes, my friend, there is a better way to go about things. And here it is: stop asking everyone else's advice about how you should approach Mary, stop second-guessing yourself into anything but a straightforward expression of interest, and just tell the girl you like her. In words! And if she likes you back, then congrats, you're golden.
And if she doesn't, at least you'll know.
Got any theories about what happened here? Share 'em in the comments! And to get advice from Auntie, email her at email@example.com.