Hey Jono! I've been reading your column for so long, but it's only now that I actually have my confidence pants on and ask you to give me a piece of wisdom about the male species.
Anyway, I've been friends with this guy for the past three years. We have several classes together and his friends and my friends always hang out together. I realized during the summer before our junior year that I actually like him and during the first few months, I felt like he reciprocated my feelings (even though I never really told him). It just seemed like he'd compliment me a lot more and tell me sweet things (which was really out of character of him because he's practically one of the most awkward guys ever). But after a couple of months, rumors spread that he liked one of the popular girls in our school.
So senior year came and I was actually moving on when we had to play the lead roles in our school play. Our classmates would tell us how we look so good together. And I was back to liking him all over again. Then during our prom, he requested to have my favorite song played and asked me to dance with him (he'd been telling almost everyone that he wanted me as his last dance). His dedication in my yearbook even said: "every moment with you made my high school life special." Since I was too shy to admit the I like him, I wrote a really long letter and told him everything I wanted to tell him.
After a day, I was surprised when he told me (via Facebook) that he liked me for so long and was just really shy to tell me too. But when we (along with our other friends) went to this theme park, it's like nothing happened, like we just didn't admit our feelings to each other. What's worse was that he chose to ride with my best friend in most of the rides in the park. I was practically invisible to him. So, Jono, did he honestly like me? Or did he say that just because he pitied me and tried to be nice? Thanks a bunch!
At first, I thought this was one of those posts where I could just underline the phrase "one of the most awkward guys ever" and then stand here sternly with my hands on my hips. But upon closer inspection, there are some other possibilities here, and I may have to reluctantly admit that some situations in the universe cannot be explained by "teenage boys are hopeless."
With that out of the way, I am 75% sure that this situation can be explained by "teenage boys are hopeless." I think his shyness accounts for everything. But I'll cover the other possibilities too, because I would be remiss if I didn't, and my boss, Pendleton Q. SparkNotes, would give me Spark Demerits, which serve no purpose but are emotionally upsetting. So here are the three potential explanations for this guy's sudden weirdness, in decreasing order of likelihood.
Possibility 1: Teenage boys are hopeless.
I'm assuming that you two were alone when you had your heartfelt prom moment. If so, then here's a rundown of events:
- He approached you (and only you, alone) at prom;
- He wrote something sweet to you (alone) in your yearbook;
- He told you he liked you, privately, over Facebook;
- He immediately went somewhere very public with you and a bunch of other people and was like "OH JEEZ, OH DANG" because he is super awkward.
I have previously talked about how, for some people, it's infinitely easier to be yourself online than in person (and you obviously already know this, since you wrote him a letter instead of just talking to him). Online, you can compose your thoughts and say everything the way you actually mean it; when you're forced to rely on the actual mouth that is on your face, you might get so flustered that you just mumble something inaudible and walk into a telephone pole. But this situation is that times two (or times however many other people were there), because here's how your dude probably felt:
I think simple shyness, and boneheadedness, in a crowded setting is the most likely scenario by far. I am a mostly functional member of society, and even I still do this sometimes, reacting to a change of scenery like I've been replaced by an alternate timeline version of myself who specializes in saying the exactly wrongest possible thing at all times. So I have no difficulty picturing a high school guy doing the same thing, even after you two had comfortably professed your feelings the day before.
Possibility 2: This was a goodbye "I-like-you."
I gather that you're both graduating (and, presumably, going to different schools). In this case, he may not actually think anything was going to happen between the two of you. I have kiiind of done something like this before (although I certainly didn't follow it up by ignoring the girl so I could ride roller coasters with her best friend). If you're wondering why someone would pour his heart out right before exiting your life stage left, well, I have no idea. When I did it, I was just being honest, and possibly romantic, and most certainly a moron. The girl thought it was a horrible and baffling thing to do. The point is, I can imagine your guy responding to your letter by saying "Yeah, me too! ... ...Welp," and just walking off into the sunset with question marks floating over his big dumb head, not even realizing that you might actually want this to turn into something more substantive.
Possibility 3: He was just being nice and/or insincere.
There is like a 1% chance of this, but it is technically possible. Sometimes mixed signals are intentional, part of a ploy to get you to pay more attention to a guy. It's theoretically possible he was just hanging around with your friend to get you to pursue him harder. But I really can't picture an awkward, shy dude professing his feelings in numerous sweet ways and then twirling his mustache and going "Nyah hah ha!" as he hatches Machiavellian plots to manipulate you. I also strongly doubt that he was just being nice—if all he'd done is write that dedication, then maybe, but not even the nicest boy alive will invent a story like "I have always liked you!" just to be polite.
In the end, I'm fairly sure he just didn't know how to follow up on the feelings you had both expressed before—that, or he just has literally no idea what he wants (this also falls under the category of "Teenage boys are hopeless"). I think he genuinely does like you, but it took him years to say and do enough sweet things for you to suspect how he felt—the prospect of actually acting on all of this made him freeze up and act like a goon (which the medical community calls Sudden-Onset Being A Teenage Boy). If you put him in a setting where he feels more comfortable—talking to him one-on-one somewhere—you can find out what he actually wants from this situation, and if there's any future to it.