I didn’t like math, but I looked forward to class because he was there. He sat in the next row, one seat back.

I had admired him all year, hoping that somehow, someday, he would notice me in return.

One day, we said hi to each other. We exchanged actual words!

His picture was in our small-town newspaper once for a great high-school golf accomplishment, and I kept the clipping. (Back then, we didn’t have Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, so newspaper clippings were as good as it got!)

At a casual all-school dance, the DJ announced a girl-ask-guy slow song. A friend and I made a deal: She would ask a guy she thought was cute, and I would ask him. I asked, and he agreed, and we swayed back and forth.

That night, I journaled that it was “like dancing on pink clouds.”

When the exhilaration ended, I only felt embarrassed. Did he enjoy it? What if he only said yes to be nice? Would anything happen, or had I just made a total fool of myself? What once seemed like a brave idea only led to awkwardness and disappointment.

* * *

I admit, crushes can be fun. There’s something special about sharing a giddy moment with a friend after that special guy walks by. In the cafeteria, you and your friends “just happen” to sit at the table next to his. When you see him in the hallway, your best friend gives you a knowing glance. You even make up code names for the guys you like.

You are certain that you’re the girl of his dreams. He just doesn’t know it yet, and it’s your job to show him.

You put energy into getting his attention, but nothing seems to work. Eventually, you start to wonder, “Aren’t I good enough?”

Eventually, the crush just leaves you, well, crushed. 

I’ve tried a lot of tactics to get the attention of different guys. Most of them didn’t work. Some of them led to fleeting romance, but nothing lasting.

My best relationship began when I wasn’t looking for it.

I went to a dinner party a new friend was hosting. Along with some of my close friends, there were a few other people there. I had a great conversation with the guy seated near me, but the thought of getting a new boyfriend out of the evening didn’t cross my mind.

When I got home, I had a Facebook message from him. He had enjoyed meeting me, and he wondered whether I would be interested in going out sometime soon.

There were no vague hints, no flirtatious games, no guesswork. He was interested, and it was obvious. We had our first date the next night.

A favorite snapshot from early in our relationship. This wasn't long after our first date.

A favorite snapshot from early in our relationship. This wasn’t long after our first date.

I had all the usual first-date nerves going in, but those soon faded as the long, comfortable evening passed. I didn’t need to impress him. I didn’t have to try. All I had to do was be myself.

The next year, we got married. We’ll be able to be ourselves with each other for the rest of our lives.

One of my friends just began an unexpected relationship of her own. There’s a guy at her church who she’s known for a couple years, and he recently asked her if she wanted to get together sometime.

It quickly became obvious that he’s very interested in her. When a girl finds flowers waiting in the passenger seat of the car, there’s no question about it!

She wasn’t trying to catch his eye. She was just being her sweet, wonderful self.

I could tell you several other stories like this, but you get the idea: The best relationships happen when you’re not looking for them, and they happen because you’re just being yourself. 

Oh, and when a guy is really interested, he’ll let you know.

According to my husband, if a guy is not interested in you, he may not even see all your hints. Or, if he does, he might just get annoyed.

Sometimes, the guy you like just isn’t going to be interested in you. But remember, it also works the other way. Sometimes, the guy who likes you just isn’t someone you want to go out with, so you give him a firm but polite, “No, thank-you.”

This doesn’t mean you have to avoid your crush. It’s good to say hello, reach out, and get to know him. But put your energy into building a relaxed friendship, rather than draining your energy, and your heart, by putting on an exhausting show.

If you feel like you have to struggle for his attention, he’s not the guy for you.

If you are more stressed than peaceful around him, he’s not the guy for you.

And if you feel like you have to change any part of yourself to be his ideal girl, then he’s definitely not the guy for you.

You deserve a guy who is going to appreciate you for exactly who you are. You’ll bring out the best in each other, and you’ll inspire each other to grow. It might take a long time for you to find each other, but trust me: No matter how long it takes, it is worth it.

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