Jessica Ryan
Jessica Ryan

Maybe it's the lazy afternoon heat, or the fact that summer leaves so much room for activities, but lately it seems everyone's gotten a bit swoony. Summer lovin' happens so fast, but sometimes we nerds go about it in all the wrong ways.

I've noticed a rash of people deciding they like someone and not telling them until months (or years) have passed. They wrap themselves up in the hope and potential of something happening with this one person, but they don't do much about it besides a little bit of flirting.

So, why do we get wrapped up in these infatuations without doing anything about it? It's pretty simple: we've been raised to believe rejection at the hands of a potential date is the worst thing we could possibly experience. When we've been trained to fear rejection — when we've been trained to think nobody would ever want to be with us, anyway — we develop one-sided relationships with our crushes, and it's not healthy at all.

I was talking to a friend about this recently and she said, "This all feels so middle school." And it is! Remember how many times you said "Oh my god, don't tell anyone I like him" during those brutal years? For most of us, middle school was the time of our lives when we were most vulnerable, when we were unbelievably cruel to one another, and when we started to be conditioned to feel badly about ourselves if we didn't have a partner.

But we're not in middle school anymore, and holding on to crushes for weeks, months or years without saying or doing anything ultimately just crushes us. We turn into little Gatsbys running around, caring more about the idea of the person than the actual person themselves, waiting for the right time to say something, waiting until everything is "perfect," and then being let down when we find out the other person is (gasp!) a person, or when we do, in fact, get rejected.

I'm not saying we're all going to be rejected all the time. Rejection does happen, though, and it hurts like hell. But being direct and honest early on takes away some of the sting. Just saying "hey, I like you" or casually suggesting a date to a person you're interested in (versus a prize you've placed on a pedestal) is a simple, low-stakes place to start. When you come to the person from a place of respect, instead of obsession, you'll be able to approach the situation with confidence.

And who knows? They might have had a crush on you this whole time, too.

Jess Ryan is a community manager and CU grad. She writes about nerdy things once a week for the Colorado Daily. On Twitter: @jessryanco.