Dear Wise and All-Knowing Jono,
Do you prefer monkeys or pandas? Sorry, that's not really my question but I'm trying to be original (I would go on and on about how much I love your column but that would probably take up the entire page).
Neither. Gelationous blobfish.
Anyway, so I'm trying to figure out what's going on with me and my crush. We live in the same neighborhood but go to different schools and are the same age. We were childhood friends and then I saw him again a few months ago and my brain was like "wow you have gotten very attractive please talk to me so I can stop sweating so much." Anyhow, we started talking and decided to hang out. We hung out 3 times in like 2 weeks and they honestly kind of felt like dates (watching the stars, etc). We really clicked and he also gave me his number and always tried to set up another hangout after. On our last hangout, the subject of crushes came up and he said "well, I know you've been flirting with me" and I kinda freaked out that I was coming on wayyy too strong but then he said "I've been flirting with you too... you just haven't noticed" and smiled and even admitted he was a nervous wreck. I swear it felt like we were going to kiss, but then my dad called me inside so we both had to go. He gave me a hug and then went home pretty quickly.
I know from this it sounds like he likes me back, but here's where the problem comes in: since then, we haven't hung out. I knocked on his door a few days later, but he said he had to do homework and that this week was pretty busy for him so we probably couldn't hang out this week (granted, it was his first week back at school). Several days later, I asked if he wanted to hang out again but he again said he was busy (had to eat dinner and do homework, etc) but that he would text me (he hasn't yet, but it's only been a day since he said that). Now, I'm kinda starting to doubt that he likes me back and that worries me because I really really really like him and when we hung out it felt really amazing and he outright ADMITTED to flirting with me. But my question is: based on this, do you think he still likes me and is just legitimately busy, or did he change his mind and think I came on too strong?
Sparkler, given the situation you described, I declare it impossible that you came on too strong, by the power vested in me by Being A Dude. And if you're like "But what if I winked all those extra times and licked my lips accidentally and and-!!" then shhh. I'm not saying it's impossible to ever come on too strong, but that's not what you did; that's something else entirely.
In my personal experience, when a girl is aggressive enough to scare a guy off, it's not because she flirted too flirtily; it's because she did something that was either overbearing or way too committed for that stage of the relationship (texting a million times when the guy isn't even responding, walking up on a first date and saying "Hello! I HAVE ALWAYS LOVED YOU"). Frankly, if your only concern about your flirting is that he realized you were flirting with him, you're doing it right. More high school girls should do whatever you did, because many of them seem to flirt by saying "Hi! Ummm... N-nothing!" and then running away in tears.
If a guy would have been interested in you in the first place, there's practically no wrong way to flirt. You can smile shyly at him, or you can say, "You've got something in your teeth! Let me remove it, with my tongue." A guy isn't going to dislike your being too forward, and in fact he'll probably feel relieved. You have to realize that boys do not understand you, because they are blunt and you are subtle. If you could coax an ancient genie to render all pickup lines 100% honest, every single guy would lead with "Hello, may I please make out with you now, please." As it stands, most guys aren't positive if you're just having a friendly conversation, or if it means something more, and overt flirting on a date can only ever help in this respect. Just trust me that no guy is ever going to think "I like this girl a lot! Oh wait, she likes me back?? BLECH, no thanks."
And these were dates, by the way. If you go out with a boy and you watch the stars and then he gives you his phone number, that was the datey-est date ever dated. Heck, you could stand in a ditch and watch a pile of garbage, and if the boy gave you his number afterward, that was still a date. If you're alone with a dude, and it's on purpose, you are probably on a date.
So unless you spent these dates describing the many different ways that you have married him in your imagination, I don't think you came on too strong. You certainly didn't discover a method of flirting so obtuse that his level of interest rolled over from 100% (Completely Yes) to 0% (Oh Yuck). I think his interest is legitimate, and I feel even more confident than usual saying that, since he already said it out of his actual human mouth. I also think, given what you've told me, that he has honestly just been busy and isn't trying to avoid you. I can't speak for him, because everyone has different priorities in high school; some guys are like "studying responsibly is important!" while I was like "I would happily fail every class if a girl would look at me intentionally."
I think the best course of action here is just to text him (that's what he gave you his number for!) and ask him when he's free. If he gives you some kind of time frame for when he might be able to "hang out" ("GO ON A LITERAL DATE"), then he's still interested, and he has genuinely been busy. If he's like "Well... school is happening, and, um... books," and otherwise dodges your invitations, then something else happened here. Maybe he just decided he wasn't interested after all. Maybe his interests were only of the sleazy variety. Either way, this should establish where he stands, because any guy who likes you, no matter how busy, will somehow find a way to put down his calc homework and see you in person. If he makes it seem like he is busy forever and doesn't offer an alternative time to hang out, it is time to simply move on.