Why it’s so hard to tell someone you like them

I was talking to my client the other day, let’s call her Neely. Neely’s been seeing a guy over the last 6 months but just as friends. In the last couple of months, it’s become clear to her that she really likes him and wants more than just a friendship. Neely was terrified of telling him because she didn’t want to lose the friendship. Spending time with him made her feel so good, and yet she also knew she couldn’t keep it from him because it was eating her up inside.

Ever had this predicament?

Keep reading even if you’re in a relationship because what I am about to reveal is super important.

A couple of weeks ago I told Neely, “The only way to have clarity is to let him know how you feel.” She immediately got scared.

Her mind started churning and creating all kinds of reasons for why it didn’t make sense to tell him how she really felt. Reasons, that honestly, sound very logical, like….

If he felt a romantic connection, shouldn’t he have made a move by now?

Why do I have to lead in this? I don’t want to seem “too much” or too masculine.

So many of my friends have said I should let him come to me. Don’t push it, men don’t like that.

Friends have also said if a man is interested, he will make it known.

He has already told me that he is still trying to get over his Ex.

He’s also told me he feels a little lost in life right now.

You can use all the logic in the world. It doesn’t actually mean it’s the right direction for your soul.

After she got done with all the heady logic, I said, “I understand you’re really scared.”

She started crying, and said through her tears, “Yes, what if he doesn’t feel the same way? Then I’ll feel I’ve lost everything.”

What was happening to Neely, and I see this all the time with women (regardless of relationship status), is she’s forgotten how powerful she is as a women.

Here’s what I mean. When we were little, there were many situations that happened to us that made us feel like our lives were out of control. Like we didn’t have a say.

It could have been something as simple as asking your Mom for a hug, and her saying, “Oh honey I can’t right now, Mom is busy.” Or your Dad saying, “Why can’t you be more like your brother/sister?” Or your stepmom saying, “You’re doing it wrong.” Or a parent or stepparent being abusive or leaving. Those moments were painful. We were deeply hurt.

These kinds of hurtful moments over years cause us to start forgoing love and freedom for safety and security. We become afraid of the unknown because it could hurt. We even forgo the joy that comes from venturing into the unknown, because we don’t want to get hurt. Our mind, the ego, fears the unknown as a way to keep us safe.

Neely’s mind was doing just that. She was trying to control the outcome by assuming he wasn’t interested. All those reasons to not tell him how she felt were her mind’s attempt to guess, assume, and predict her way back to safety and security. That way, the ego doesn’t have to be wrong; it’s addicted to wanting to be right.

The problem is true love or profound connection requires a leap of faith, a strength to venture into the unknown and a willingness to get out of control. Because most of us are afraid of that, we haven’t allowed ourselves to experience a soul level connection, not because we aren’t “meant” to, but because it’s hard for us to be in the unknown. The mind, ego, won’t allow it.

So, what do we do with this conundrum?

Well, this is what I said to Neely…

“Every reason you expressed, for why you can’t tell him how you feel, were all about HIM. Each statement was either a way to get him to come to you (through some game like ignoring him which isn’t authentic or what you actually want to do), or you’re trying to figure out what he is thinking and feeling and then adjusting your response from there. This is our way of playing it safe by trying to control what we think the outcome is going to be.

Meanwhile, all you’re left with is anxiety and a lot of obsessing over what he’s thinking and feeling. And in the process of trying to control the outcome or him, you lose your connection to yourself, self expression, your power to INFLUENCE, and standing in your worthiness.”

She said, “I totally feel the anxiety, and I see what you are saying about trying to control everything to feel safe. That’s also what I’m doing.”

I clarified more by saying, “When you say things like, ‘he told me he is trying to get over his Ex,’ or ‘he would’ve made a move by now,’ or ‘he’s feeling lost,’ those are all ways to say to yourself, you don’t need to let him know how you feel because you’ve already received the answer.

It’s a No.

But… you also don’t really believe that because you haven’t let him know how you feel, so there’s always this doubt that keeps eating away at you.”

Here are some more examples of how controlling can look…

Maybe you assume your partner isn’t emotional enough for him/her to understand you. So you don’t let them into your heart. You’re scared to open up and see if they’re capable of meeting you there, or even giving it another chance. You try to control the situation by assuming they can’t meet you there. Then, you don’t have to step into the unknown.

You could be into a man that isn’t responding or staying in communication but responds when you reach out. You may give yourself an internal deadline, if he doesn’t reach out by this date, then I am done. Meanwhile, he may have no clue that you’re into him, or that you would like something more.

It all comes back to INFLUENCE. When we try to control the outcome, we lose our power to influence the situation. But when you stop trying to figure him out, stop obsessing over what you think he might be feeling or thinking, or stop controlling what you think he’s going to say or do, you’re able to take all the energy, power and focus back and place it on YOU; that’s when you have influence.

When you start asking yourself, what do I need to express, what do I want, how can I be more of myself, how can I be more open and honest, that’s when you position yourself to allow things to unfold moment to moment. Coming back to these questions over and over again taps you back into that internal power and worth to actually influence an outcome.

Let me know what you think. Does this resonate with you? If so why?

In Love,


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  • Dana NeChelle Cody

    How do you see someone for 6 months as friends? I am pretty sure he knows that this woman likes him. I wouldn’t devote 6 months to a man as a friend. I wonder what type of friend duties she is doing for him.

    • Kavita J Patel

      Hi Dana, you can absolutely be friends with someone for 6 months. It can be hard for some to fully express themselves. In fact I have worked with hundreds of women and this is a common theme. Friendship can be a beautiful path to something more, but once you have feelings those need to be expressed.

  • Amber Perkins

    I can relate to her. I was afraid to tell the guy I was seeing that I wanted more. I finally broke down and told him. I could barely remain composed because it all built up. He didn’t run like I imagined he would. I still have doubts, but I’m trying to not let them control me.

    • Kavita J Patel

      Hi Amber, great job in expressing yourself. Keep going the doubts fade as you do.

  • Andi

    I can totally relate and I understand your point about losing the ability to influence the situation when we try to control the outcome. The main thing that keeps me from sharing my feelings is the fact that we work together, and I think he’s seeing someone. He recently sent me a “thanks buddy” text after I complimented him on his work. It made me feel like shit! He’s never called me buddy before. I don’t know what to do now….I just want to avoid him as much as possible. I didn’t even respond to the text. I might burst into tears if I were to reveal my feelings and then he says, “oh I only see you as a friend, nothing more.” That would crush me.

    • Kavita J Patel

      Hi Andi, it would be crushing but what does it feel like now? It’s so important to put our clarity first. Also remember you don’t even know him yet, so all you are actually asking is “are you available?” There are always deeper roots to why we are so scared of rejection, and it comes down to how we saw and experienced love when we were younger.

  • becky

    Nelly, Love, you gotta understand if he has already told you where he is and you’re still not sure, you can go ahead and ask or express your desires and feelings all day long, but deep down you might already know the answer. Sounds like he is just not on the same boat and is not really into you. It is very emotionally hard to get clarification, but I am always grateful when I do because I can move forward, seeking for the right guy instead of hoping the one I was with will change. Love yourself.

    • Kavita J Patel

      HI Nelly, good point, and if we know within ourselves the answer then that’s great, but if we are even slightly unsure it’s important to communicate. I say through dialogue understanding and love happens.

  • Natasha M:

    My thing is that I met a guy and we connected right away and there was loads of flirting until I found out after knowing for about a month and half that he had a girlfriend of 10 years. For me that’s a line I won’t cross but it’s been difficult to adjust from the flirty fun talk to just be friendly without it leading to anything else.

    • Kavita J Patel

      HI Natasha, information is powerful to have and get as soon as possible. You’re still allowed to flirt but you know it’s not what you want ultimately.

  • Christina L

    Been here. Was friends with a guy – finally told him and was told he only wants to be friends. It’s devasting! Not sure if I would be honest again in the future.

    • Kavita J Patel

      Christina, I know it’s devastating but the alternative would been wondering for years, not sure which is harder. Clarity is so much more important then protecting your heart. Your heart is really resilient.

  • Vaytay

    I asked an acquaintance if he wanted to go and see a play with me that I knew he was interested in. He thought I was asking him on a date and reacted like I’d insulted him and couldn’t get away quick enough. One thing I do know – if you express an interest in someone you certainly find out what they think of you.

    • Kavita J Patel

      Hi Vaytay, yes and then you don’t have to wonder or even obsess about it. Good point.

  • Andi

    Hi I’m back…so I asked my crush if he had plans for Valentine’s Day (posed the same question to another colleague) so I wasn’t asking him out on a date. I was coming from a place of curiosity–just making conversation during our conference break. But I really wanted to find out if he is in fact seeing someone. Well, it turns out that he is not involved with anyone–he even joked about putting out an advertisement for a Valentine. Then this crazy thing happened, we left the conference roughly at the same time (from two totally different parking decks) and wound up driving next to each other for a few blocks. It was definitely flirtatious and he makes me feel like the interest is mutual. I want to talk openly to him about my feelings. I’m just really scared of rejection. It would be so much easier if he was sending me clear signs that he’s into me. Is there any way to influence the man to express an interest first?

    • Kavita J Patel

      Hi Andi, why does he have to express interest first? Maybe he’s just as a scared as you in expressing what he is thinking and feeling in this situation. Remember the only way to really know where someone is at is to express yourself, and see how they follow.

  • Ursula Manvatkar

    Hi Kavita

    Very interesting blog. I am currently in a strange situation with a very close male friend and business colleague since almost 2 years now. He is the most caring, gentle, loving and genuine guy I ever met. I feel we are soulmates. There are certain things he says and does (cares and worries a lot) which blur the line between friendship and may be more, but he has never made a physical move or put it in writing ever. He is separated, but not divorced, and every time I do ask him what his plans are in that department, he just says his life is a mess and complicated and he does not want to think about it. I even asked him if he sees this going beyond friendship but his response was again very vague – not quite a yes and not quite a no. I really adore this man and I know we will be great together. But I have this deep fear of rejection and hurt and I don’t want to belittle myself in front of anyone. What is your take on this?