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We all know what it’s like to have a secret crush. The butterflies. The fear. The excitement. The hope. All those feelings can be overwhelming and burst out of you in unexpected and maybe not so eloquent ways.
There are many ways to tell a girl you like her. Some guys go for over-the-top flattery, while others go for worshipful devotion. One guy told a girl she gave him eagles in his stomach, and that apparently worked. Ruggedly handsome pro athletes on reality shows can say all kinds of cheesy and crazy things and still get the girl. But the rest of us mere mortals have to make sense when we sweet-talk our way into someone’s good graces.
Lucky for you, we’ve broken down the essential steps to telling a girl you like that you like her without sounding like a jerk or a fool. It’s easy to get tongue-tied in front of a crush, but just keep your cool, be sincere, and you’ll be fine.
Are you sure you have to do this over text? Like, really really sure? Because texting may feel safer or more convenient, but it also makes it impossible to read body language, hear someone’s tone, and get a good read on how the other person is feeling — all of which are critical when you’re trying to flirt with someone. If you can, you should really have this talk in person.
Nevertheless, 75% of 18- to 34-year-olds said in a survey that they’d rather send a text than talk to someone in person, so if you’re a fan of texting, you’re certainly not alone. It’s become an increasingly common way to stay in touch with people. Letting someone know you like-like them over text can be tricky, but we’ve put together four steps to get it just right.
First of all, you need to send a general greeting to get the ball rolling. A simple how-are-you text will do fine. If this is the first time you’re sending the girl a text message, be sure to let her know 1) who you are and 2) how you got her number. For example, “Hey, Becca! This is Garrett. I got your number from a friend. Hope that’s OK!”
Next, find out how she’s doing. Maybe today isn’t a good day for her to get a love proposal. Maybe she’s busy with something important and can’t talk. Suss out what’s going on, and then judge if the time is ripe to talk about how you feel.
Just remember, telling someone you’re interested in dating them is a marathon, not a sprint. What I mean is, you don’t get points for rushing headlong into it. Don’t come out of the blue with a long confession. Don’t blurt it out mid-conversation. Ease your way in and establish a friendly connection before transitioning to lovey-dovey stuff.
Saying “I really like you,” “I want to be your boyfriend,” or “You’re my dream girl” is like dropping a bomb on a conversation. You can’t go back and unsay it. So you better be sure you’re on target.
You should throw out a few compliments to test the dating waters before you dive right in and make your declaration of love. Say something nice about her style, her sense of humor, or her personality. It’s easy to transition from “I like your taste in music” to “I like you.”
This approach can help you judge how receptive she is to you. She may give you a little encouragement when she sees where you’re going — or she may try to hint that she’s not interested. Try to notice subtle cues as you chat with her. If she’s using some of these flirty emojis or returning your compliments, that’s a good sign. If she calls you a good friend at any point in the conversation, I wouldn’t start picking out engagement rings.
Whatever you do, don’t hem and haw. Don’t be the guy who can’t admit he has feelings. “Well, I sorta think you’re OK, you know?” No, she doesn’t know. This is important, and you need to be clear and direct about what you think and what you want. You’re not sending her a riddle or a guessing game. I know it’s scary to be vulnerable in front of someone you like, but it’s the only way to know if your feelings are requited.
“Cowards die many times before their deaths; the valiant never taste of death but once.” — William Shakespeare
Bottom line: You have to find the courage to just be straight up and say “I like you.” The good news is that, if you’re doing this over text, you can agonize over every word and comma. Kidding. Look it over once for grammar mistakes and then just hit send. Or have a buddy hit send if you can’t work up the nerve or can’t get out of your head.
Good for you for making it to this step. You’ve done it. You said the thing, and the ball’s in her court now. That’s a whole new level of nerve-wracking, right? There are four possible responses, generally speaking. She could be enthusiastic — she likes you too, and everything is wonderful! She could be hesitant — well, it’s complicated, and there are reasons it may not be a good idea. She could say she doesn’t feel the same way — a bummer, but it happens. Or she could not respond at all.
In the best-case scenario, asking her out is easy. She just said she likes you, so invite her to dinner or lunch or whatever date plan strikes your fancy. In the worst-case scenario, you have to just bow out and respect her feelings.
If she’s somewhere in between a yes and a no, give her some time to respond and process her feelings, and then follow through to prove you mean what you said. All it takes is a simple, “Hey there, I was wondering if you’d want to get dinner with me sometime?”
Not getting a response at all? You may’ve been ghosted. Ghosting is an unfortunate trend in today’s dating scene — about 80% of millennial singles have been ghosted at least once — but it doesn’t always indicate lack of interest. It could just mean she doesn’t know what to say or feel back. Ask her to give you a chance to change her mind, but do not pressure her or send her more than one or two follow-ups — unless you want her to block your number.
Talking in real life is the mature and gutsy way to ask someone out. It takes a lot of courage to stand in front of someone and open your heart, and that’s bound to earn you a few respect points at the least. There’s also a 0% chance of being ghosted when you tell her you like her in person. Still, it’s not a guaranteed yes, so follow these three steps to make sure you make a good impression.
First off, you need to figure out a way to talk to her one on one. You can arrange a meeting or pull her aside at a party — whatever you can do to ensure no one will be listening in on your conversation. An easy way to pull that off is to ask her to go for a walk. She’ll likely pick up on the subtext and only agree if she’s interested in you back.
If it’s raining outside and there’s no private place you can go, you’ll have to scrap your plan until another time. Trust me, you don’t want an audience during that conversation.
Once you’ve gotten some privacy, you can work your way up to telling that special girl that you’re into her. I know, easier said than done, right. So start small and bring up specific things you like about her. Maybe her athleticism caught your eye, or maybe you think she’s really funny. Tell her that.
AskMen compiled some good examples of the kinds of compliments most women like to hear, but you should use your own words and make it more personal. In the words of the article, “You don’t want your compliments to ring hollow or come across as disingenuous.”
“The key with compliments is to make them thoughtful, specific, and related to things other than her looks.” — AskMen
If you really like her, it shouldn’t be hard to come up with a few reasons why you like her. By listing her attractive qualities, you can show that you’ve thought this through and really appreciate who she is as a person. That can be very flattering, and it’ll make her more likely to take your feelings seriously when you get to the part where you say, “What I’m trying to say is, I really like you, and I want to be more than friends.”
A couple caveats here. Avoid too many compliments on how she looks during this conversation. Yes, that’s probably part of your interest, but you don’t want to seem superficial or make her feel objectified. You should also keep this why-I-like-you list kind of short so you don’t come off like a stalker.
The thing about talking in person is that she has to come up with a response while you’re standing there silently looking at her. Talk about stressful. It can be hard to put your feelings into words, so give her a minute to compose herself and don’t be too impatient for an answer. You can prompt her, politely, by asking what she thinks, but overall you need to say your peace and then let her decide what to do next.
If she seems uncertain for some reason, offer to give her time to think things over and get back to you the next day. The most important thing is to show you respect her opinions and aren’t trying to bully her into a relationship. Take a breath, and show her you want to win her affection the right way.
Go for it, dude. You don’t need to dazzle her with cheesy lines or grand gestures — just be yourself and say what’s on your mind. As long as you’re sincere and respectful, you’re going to get a good result. Even if it is a no. Rejection may hurt, but at least you’ll know you did your best, and you can move on to someone who will be open to your advances. That’s a much better result that staying hopelessly in secret love with some girl who may not even know you like her!
At the end of the day, all it takes to tell someone you like her is the confidence to believe you’re worth liking back. You may not feel confident in her answer, but you should feel confident in what you have to offer her. If she can’t see that, you’re better off with someone who can.
It’s like Matt Damon says in “We Bought a Zoo” when he’s telling his son how he met his wife: “Sometimes all you need is 20 seconds of insane courage. Just literally 20 seconds of just embarrassing bravery. And I promise you, something great will come of it.”