What Do You Do When Someone Likes You But You Don’t Feel the Same

IMAGE Unsplash/ Afif Kusuma

(There is no way to write this without sounding like a self-absorbed asshole.)

I think you and everybody else can relate to the topic at hand. Unless you’re easy. I want to talk about the pain of not liking somebody who likes you. See, the more obvious and bewailed universal experience might be that of liking somebody who doesn’t like you. But who does that?

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Who likes you is not in your control.

The prettiest girl in my university once told me that her number one rule is “don’t like anybody who doesn’t like you.” Easy for her to say because everyone liked her. Easy enough for the rest of us to follow. Who we like is at least in our control.

What’s not in our control is who likes us. The pretty girl can’t help it if half the boys on campus are taken by her smile, which was never directed at them. The dashing lawyer can’t help it if his wit blows an impressionable boy’s brains out. The straight girl who jokes about being gay can’t help it if a lesbian takes her seriously. So what the hell are they supposed to do?

Yes, of course, someone liking you is always flattering. Except when the person is not cute, then it’s creepy. Anyway, when the flattery fades before the attraction, it’s replaced by a little awkward pain that, if unrequited and persists, becomes a big pain.


What kind of heartless human being doesn’t feel pain over breaking another human being’s heart? When people like us but we don’t like them, we wish we did. We wish we were ready for a relationship. We wish she had different friends or he didn’t post so many shirtless gym selfies. We wish we could be bothered.

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Not liking someone who likes you is painful.

But none of that works out and we’re left with feeling like a stray dog wailing outside the door, waiting for someone to let it in. Everybody likes dogs but that doesn’t mean I’ll adopt just any dog, and that doesn’t mean I don’t feel bad every time I see one on the street and leave it there.

Is pain not a two-way street, at least sometimes? It hurts the pretty girl when she has to turn down a date for the seventh time today. Even if it makes looking at the mirror just that much sweeter. It hurts the dashing lawyer to let the impressionable boy down because he too was once an impressionable boy and had also been let down and remembers how that hurt. It hurts the girl who jokes about being gay when she receives a confession of love in a letter from the lesbian because maybe she is gay but can’t come to terms with it.

Not liking somebody who likes you might not be a failure on your end, but it is a loss. Unreciprocated love is painful for the person who does not reciprocate because it is still a potential love that will never be actualized.

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Not liking someone who likes you comes with a lot of emotions—pride, surprise, the pleasure that comes with the attention of another and without the inconvenience of your own attachment. But given enough thought and a modicum of humanity, there is always pain. So maybe just don’t think about it so much.

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Romano Santos
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