Let’s get real: After you post an Instagram photo and the notifications start rolling in, you totally track who’s giving you digital hearts. If the person you’ve been crushing on has liked your latest, you are almost certainly aware—as is the case when that person views your Instagram Stories. In short, you know when someone is keeping up with you on the reg, but that reality doesn’t stop your stomach butterflies from fluttering or your mind from wandering and wondering about what it means.
Because, hey, a sudden uptick in Instagram Story-viewing must mean something, right? And by liking your photo, the object of your desire surely intends to subliminally communicate that what they really like is you, correct? Well, according to one expert, these feelings may just be a case of seeing what you want to see.
A big part of how we perceive a person’s interaction with us is how we feel about them, says sex therapist Amie Harwick, PhD, MFT. “Our feelings toward the other person can be projected on a situation. We tend to see what we want through the lens of our own experiences, desires, and fears.” So it’s important to look at the bigger picture of your interaction with your crush—not just their Instagram behavior. Are they texting you, or singling you out to talk to you when you’re with a big group of people? If so, there may well be attraction there. But if your relationship is limited to passive social media interactions, all signs point to the romance beginning and starkly ending right there.
If your relationship is limited to passive social media interactions, all signs point to the romance beginning and starkly ending right there.
So, before you start organizing Pinterest boards for your wedding with this cutie who’s dependable for watching all of your Stories, know that things aren’t all that cut and dry. “If a crush starts liking your photos and watching your Stories, it’s possible that there is an interest,” Dr. Harwick says. “It’s also possible that they are simply doing their routine of scrolling, viewing, and liking. It’s understandable that one would get excited by the idea of potential attraction, but let’s not jump to that conclusion until there is more evidence of interest.”
The best way to figure all of this out? Ask. “When you think there could be an interest or a flirtation, simply clarify with that person if they are interested,” Dr. Harwick says. And just keep in mind that the worst-case scenario here is that the person says no. Could it bruise your ego? Sure. But, IMHO, that’s better than walking around, delusional, with a nothing but a romantically optimistic question mark floating over your head.
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