Ask Jono: Why Doesn't This Guy Approach Me?
I come to you today in search of expertise that few can surpass. You have a knack for giving sage advice while mixing in a good bit of well aimed humor. (Dear readers, now Jono is going to try to refute my praise. I ask you to, kindly, ignore him because he honestly does know what he's taking about!) You have become The Teen Boy Whisperer for all girls acquainted with SparkLife, and because of this I ask you for advice on my little situation with a boy. (Yeah, I know. Cliche. So sue me.)
Anyway, lets call this boy James. And I like him a lot. Hardcore crushing has ensued since early October. (We would actually be the perfect nerd couple. Same tastes, same humor. We both happened to watch The Fellowship of the Ring same night, randomly. Like I said, PERFECT.) But the issue is here, I don't know if he likes me. (I think know what you're going to say, because you almost ALWAYS think the guy likes the girl. Cross my fingers that's the verdict you come to today.) You see, he's just so nice, I can't tell if it's friendly or not! (It's actually gotten to the point where I half wish he was a d-bag so I knew if he's legitimately flirting or not. Sad, right?) And all the other guides you have are aimed towards girls who like guys who go to their same school, and see them, like most of their waking week. But you see, James goes to my church. I'm lucky if I see him twice on a Sunday, if that. And if we talk outside, I am 98.47% of the time contacting him first.
But when we're together in person, it SEEMS like he could possibly like me. More flirty than he was when I first met him, hugs, perpetual questioning so that I literally cannot leave youth group, and other things of the such.
So now that you kind of know how this is going, I have a few questions. First, would there be any reasons he wouldn't want to contact me first? (In case this affects anything, he's crazy busy because he pretty much doesn't do anything other than breathe and swim.) Second, is it bad if I occasionally contact him first? As in, will that make me appear to be Ms. McClingy Pants? And finally, is there any way for me to be a bit more flirtatious to get his full attention, as long as its not like, "Hold that thought. Your lips, my face, now," sort of ordeal? Feel free to be brutally honest, I think I can take it. Thanks so much!
I'm trying to rein in my impulse to say, "Yes, every boy likes you always! Kiss him and become married!" even though I think that's usually the correct answer. Heck, I very recently met a girl like your guy—so friendly I wasn't even sure what was happening—which means I've had a chance to wonder about this very issue. I usually understand the subtext when a girl is like "Hello!! Giggle!! Huuugs!!!" but in this case I was at a loss, and kept checking over my shoulder to see if there was a cooler guy behind me somewhere. The point is, I get where you're coming from. I still think you're getting some pretty obvious signals here, but first things first:
"First, would there be any reasons he wouldn't want to contact me first?"
Boys are afraid of you. Not you specifically, but your gender, and relationships, and being rebuffed, and all of that stuff. Especially dudes who like Lord of the Rings (I am allowed to make fun of dudes who like Lord of the Rings because I am a dude who likes Lord of the Rings).
In short, he doesn't come up to you first because of what I'm constantly telling you Sparklers—a dude approaching you for any reason except that you are drowning or on fire is innately hitting on you. Even if a dude isn't trying to hit on you, he realizes that this is how it will seem (at least to him and me, anyway). He doesn't want to approach you because you're going to go "EWW A BOY" and laugh in his crying face, or so he thinks. Yes, he still thinks this even though you two apparently talk a lot. After all, if you can't tell if this is flirtation or friendliness, then he probably can't either; he could very well have been the one who wrote in, asking, "There's this girl, she talks to me a lot, is she just being friendly or are we gonna have like twenty babies??"
"Second, is it bad if I occasionally contact him first? As in, will that make me appear to be Ms. McClingy Pants?"
Not even the tiniest bit. I know some people disapprove of girls approaching guys, but I'm pretty sure all of those people are girls. Or, like, 40. There are probably guys out there who believe girls should never make the approach, but I expect that they also believe girls should spend their days baking pies and not voting, and I don't think most of you would want to date them anyway. "Clingy" would be constantly texting him to ask whether or not he has received your texts about what he is doing this exact second, and then bursting out of his closet to correct him if he lies about it. Merely walking up to a dude is never clingy.
Look, nerdy guys don't really know what to do with you at this point in life. They know that you are biologically female, and that this is important in some way. Beyond that you are an unknowable mystery. It's extremely helpful for them if you approach first, even if they still half-think you're going to call them gross nerds.
"And finally, is there any way for me to be a bit more flirtatious to get his full attention?"
There are tons of ways to go about this, and I've covered some of them, but in your situation, I'm going to recommend very casual physical contact. You two already talk, and you guys already evidently hug goodbye, but these can technically just be friendly things; the next step up would be something really subtle, like touching his arm while you're talking. It's very unobtrusive while also being really, really rare among just-friends (in my experience, anyway, maybe I just have extremely not-touchable arms). If he's responsive, the next thing is to try to meet him outside of church sometime. Of course you don't have to be like "Would you like to go on a Literal Date and then be my boyfriend??" You can do this subtly, so subtly he's not sure if you're even asking, or if you are even here at all, or if this is just a dream. Mention a place that you intend to go to study and have coffee, for example, without explicitly asking him, and see what happens.
All of the information you've given me here—more flirty than when you first met him, hugging, talking to you a lot—makes this a pretty easy diagnosis (the only odd thing is that he never approaches you, but I think the fact that he is a nerdy dude and you are a girl explains that part). The diagnosis is Boy Likes You Syndrome. Gradually ramp up your flirtiness and see what happens—I'm pretty sure he'll start taking the initiative once he knows how you feel about him.