Life 101: Why people are afraid of making a move

(Josh Shettler/CU Independent Illustration)
CU Independent advice columnist Ellis Arnold takes you through making the first move. (Josh Shettler/CU Independent Illustration)

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Today, we’re going to talk about the anxious, nail-biting situation that you may have been through before: attempting to make a move with your crush. Being that person who can waltz over and strike up the right conversation is something that many of us want to do, and going into Ryan Gosling mode would make things a whole lot easier. But this isn’t a movie, you aren’t Steve Carell and I can’t take you shopping for suits (or dresses.) But I can get you a few steps closer to overcoming the fear of talking to whomever you have your eye on.

In order to confidently talk to your crush, we first have to understand why people are so afraid of making the first move.

For some reason, the fear of making a move is more dire than most other everyday fears. We consider other common mistakes in life to be forgivable. For example, if you fail a test and tell your friends about it, they probably just say, “Hey, you’ll study harder and do better next time. You’ve got this!”

“Nobody’s perfect,” the phrase that we’ve all heard a thousand times, is based upon the common idea of getting up when life kicks you down. Mistakes are going to happen, and it’s all about learning from them.

But in the case of attempting to talk to your crush, everything is different. You’re asking yourself, “Should I sit next to them in class? Or maybe go over and say something afterward? Or write them a note? Do people still do that? Gah, no, that can’t be right…”

It’s a straining process, because we exaggerate the possible consequences of every action and are so afraid of rejection. The very word can evoke images of sitting alone, shoving Ben and Jerry’s ice cream into your mouth as you reflect upon how you totally blew your chance yesterday in the hallway.

The emotional toll it takes is the difference between everyday failure and failure in talking to a crush.

We see rejection, however subtle it may be, as a person telling us that we aren’t good enough for them. A normal failure is like something rejecting one part of you. A failure in your love life? That’s someone rejecting all of you.

Or at least, that’s how we tend to look at it. This perspective is the true problem, but you don’t have to look at it this way. There is hope!

Let’s say you have a crush. You have two options: A) Go talk to and get to know him or her, or B) do nothing because you see it as too risky. Before you make any move, your chances of making something happen with that person is zero. If you go with option A, and it works out, let’s say your chances increase to one. If you go with option B, or you go with option A and it’s just not working out, your chances are still at zero. We tend to think that if you try and fail, you are now less likely to ever succeed, putting your chances at negative one with every crush in the future.

Whether you try and you fail, or you do absolutely nothing, you only end up where you started. So why not go for it? That’s the only way to give yourself the chance at succeeding.

Once you’ve worked up the courage, slip them a note, ask for his or her number or just strike up a casual conversation to see how it goes. You don’t have to take a huge leap. Find small ways to let someone know that you’re interested. And once you’ve gotten to know him or her a little better, ask your crush on a date, or if you’re confident, just tell them how you feel. You never know; they might just feel the same way.

And lastly, don’t get discouraged if things don’t go the way you planned. If we stop seeing failure with a crush as an unfixable mistake, then it becomes a mere speed bump, and you can get right back up and keep going. If things don’t work out with one person, that doesn’t mean it won’t work out with the next. Everyone has different tastes, so take advantage of that, and find what works for you. Don’t stop looking for that right person. The search must go on.

Contact CU Independent advice columnist Ellis Arnold at

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