This is going to be a long story, so settle in and sit tight. Ultimately, yes, this is me asking for personal "relationship" advice (if you could really call it that when I'm not in a relationship).
First off, a little background about myself: I'm an INFJ and HSP (Highly Sensitive Person) with ADD, dysgraphia, dyspraxia, SPD (Sensory Processing Disorder), anxiety issues, and seasonal depression. I've always considered myself to be an outcast, an oddball, with far too much emotional baggage (just from having to live with all those conditions) and too many issues to be considered as "dating material" or "girlfriend potential" or whatever. I've just never attracted that kind of attention from guys. Ever. At least, not as far as I know. It really wasn't until tenth grade that I even started being able to talk to guys casually as friends. I've always spent a lot of time reading in favor of human interaction, as well as writing both prose and poetry. I'm more conservatively-minded, you could say. Conservative about a lot of things, but what matters most in this situation is that I don't wear short skirts, or low tops, or crop tops, or tiny shorts, or anything like that. I've never considered myself attractive, and I don't have much in the way of looks. At least weight isn't a problem for me, being 5'6" and a consistent 120 lbs. Even so, I keep thinking that I should get myself thinner, because maybe it'd make me more attractive somehow. I don't have any eating disorders, but the SPD gets in the way because it makes me feel like I'm always hungry even when I'm not, hence my love-hate relationship with food. That's me in a nutshell.
I've had crushes before, and whenever I have a crush on a guy, it always lasts for a long time and really hurts, because it never gets anywhere beyond my own mind. Well, I'm a senior in high-school now, and, having gone to the same K-12 school all my life, I've known a lot of the people in my small graduating class since kindergarten, including the ENFP on whom I have a crush now. (I promise I'm getting to the point soon.) I won't go into all of the many, many details of the interactions he and I have had in the past year, for I fear it'd bore you (even though much of the information is pertinent), but I will say that I've had a crush on him since early August of 2014, and though I've been doing my absolute best, under the circumstances, to interact with him more and to get to know him better and to talk to him as much as I can, I've been so very limited that I only get maybe 15 minutes a day to talk to him, or less. I'm afraid that he's subject to the out-of-sight-out-of-mind paradigm that other ENFPs have as well. And no matter how much I research what ENFPs do when they like somebody, I can't seem to be able to pin him down on one side of the spectrum or the other. I can't tell if he's just a really nice guy, with a dash of that classic ENFP flirtiness that makes me blush and giggle like a middle-school girl, or if he is sincerely interested in me.
Neither of us have made any overt attempts towards an official romantic relationship with the other, and I've always been on my best behavior to be as pleasant and pretty and polite as possible with him. I feel like I've always been the one seeking him out, and that it's never the other way around, which is why I think he doesn't Like me. But, on the other hand, we have a lot of similarities in our interests, and while we don't necessarily agree 100% on everything, we always share some sort of common ground and can calmly agree that the parts we don't agree on are of lesser importance, or at least, that they're matters requiring more research or insight or knowledge to fully resolve than is available to either of us. He's so overwhelmingly positive that I've never seen him sad or upset or angry at anyone; he has an even-tempered-ness that I envy, and I can tell that being around him helps to balance me out and calm down my anxiety. His spontaneity loosens me up while my practicality brings him back down to earth sometimes. He has an incredibly talented mind, as well, being an artist/athlete/engineer/philosopher/reader. While it's true that there seem to be a lot of people like that at my school, more so than you'd usually find in high-schools I suppose, he's one of the ones who seems to excel in everything. He makes me want to be social in a way that few other people do, and when I talk to him, I feel understood. And I suppose that he must trust me too, in a way, because of what happened in June. . . .
We were on our class trip, an annual 18-day educational trip to Greece and Italy for rising seniors, in early June, and the bus had made a stop at a beach in Greece, just for 15-20 minutes or so, and we all went out to the beach to stretch our legs and such. We all took our shoes off, even though the beach was covered in nothing but rocks, and the odd sea urchin. Well, he and I, and I don't know how it ended up this way, maybe I was just the only one who answered his call to go explore, but he and I were alone together walking along the shore in one direction and he posed a question to me that at first he almost didn't ask. I could tell that it was going to be personal, perhaps a sensitive subject, so I gave him some gentle encouragement before he finally decided to come out with it. INFJ confidante/counselor that I am, of course I was willing to listen and help as best I could. I gave him the best answer I could at the time, but I'm horrible at speaking extemporaneously, so I didn't say nearly as much as I could have. In August, it was still bothering me that I hadn't given him a detailed-enough (in my opinion) answer, so I sent him a really long e-mail (quoted below for your convenience) with a better, more explained answer. You can tell what his question was from my response.
What I need to know is . . . do I give up, even though I can see how things could go perfectly between us, or do I keep trying, even though my foresight of a perfect future means that there's a 99% chance that perfect future isn't going to happen? I've tried giving up on him already, but I can't stop myself from reacting the way I do when he's around. Sometimes I wonder if I'm just desperate and my subconscious keeps picking out good guys who I know would be good for me and treat me well, etc., or if my affection is pure and genuine. These words from the Frozen outtake song "More Than Just the Spare" well summarize my feelings: "If only all this feeling I have in my heart/Could mean something to someone/How I'd love to play that part. . . . So maybe I don't have a magic touch/And maybe I don't ave a talent, as such,/Just this heart with much too much to share." I want to mean something to someone, someone who is good, someone who I trust and who I know well. Maybe it's just because I don't know how to flirt, and maybe it's because I'm not sufficiently posing myself as being receptive of his potential attentions, and maybe it's because I'm far too pre-occupied with stressful things to be doing this right, but I don't seem to be getting anywhere with him. Do I keep trying? If so, how can I give him a subtle hint at my feelings without exposing myself to a blunt and painful rejection? Do I give up? If so, how do I move on and make myself stop smiling like a fool whenever he's around? (I can't help but smile whenever he's around. *sigh*)
Here's that e-mail I promised:I have never been good at speaking extemporaneously, and I always look back and think of how much more I could have said and how much better I could have said it. At the time when you asked me your question back on Grand Tour, when we stopped at the beach on the Gulf of Corinth, I did not get to say all that I felt I ought to have, all that I wanted to say. So, I am writing this explanation out as a supplement and explanation to what I said then.
You proposed to me the question of what to do when you know with your head that you are "well loved and all," but do not feel it in your heart. (I've put the question in terms of head or heart to make things clearer and easier for me to explain.) To accept a fact as truth and to know/feel its truth are two different things. Before Grand Tour, people would tell us how beautiful the mountains are in Greece and how beautiful the Italian countryside is. We knew it with our heads then. Now that we've been to Greece and Italy and seen those things for ourselves, we know with our hearts how very true those statements are. We would not be so convicted about the veracity of the statement, "The mountains in Greece are beautiful," if we had not experienced them for ourselves. Experience is what transmutes head knowledge to heart knowledge, so to speak.
When one knows in their head that one is loved by their friends and family but do not know it with their heart, it is also a matter of experience. Perspective is something that also plays a role in this, however. Our perspective, the way we intake and analyze our surroundings and circumstances, is the set of colored lenses tinting our world. Perspective is like happiness in that our perspective is our own choice, but we often let it be dictated by circumstances. To control our perspective, and our own happiness, despite our circumstances, is what the Stoics promoted. Indeed, one's happiness and one's perspective are interdependent upon each other. But, I digress.
When we lack the feeling of being loved and appreciated, we often fall into a certain mindset, or perspective, which only serves to prolong and intensify the feeling of loneliness. Giving in to this mindset leads to social withdrawal, self-made isolation, spiritual degeneracy, and, inevitably, depression. I have listed the effects in the order that they occur. Choosing not to participate in conversations, not to speak when there are others around, is the first thing that we are tempted to do. Rather than try to recover from all of those things listed above, it is far better to prevent the downward spiral at its initiation. When the feeling of depreciation, neglect, loneliness (whichever way it manifests itself) begins, it is best to seek out company, to put yourself in a group of close friends, those you know to be good people and whom you trust. As has happened to me on occasion, sometimes the topic of conversation comes around to something where a friend compliments you or just says something that is very uplifting and gives us enough of a high to be motivated to participate socially, which is the experience needed to transmute our head knowledge into heart knowledge once more. It won't always be the first conversation, and it might take several conversations/efforts until the desired result is achieved, but it is a good start and the best immediate "treatment" for when this happens.
My own experience with these sorts of problems are what have given me the knowledge to know how to answer your question. After all, hindsight is 20/20 and we tend to learn from our mistakes after we make them, not before we do. Thank you for trusting me enough to ask about this, because I would have hated seeing you slip into the downward spiral and lose yourself, then try to struggle your way out. Its not easy, especially when there's nobody there to help. Like I said, isolating yourself and withdrawing from people is how it all starts, and it's possibly the worst thing to do. It removes you from those who would help you and it creates an emotional/psychological environment that allows feelings of loneliness, inferiority, bitterness, and the like to fester and dominate your mind. Now that I've (finally) clawed my way out of the spiral, I know better, and I do my best to stay out of it. Some days are better than others, of course.
I have realized that when I explain emotional/mental/psychological/spiritual processes, like this one, I tend to explain it either in a highly scientific, precise way, or in a flowery, poetic way, and sometimes one or the other of these causes confusion instead of clarity. If I haven't been clear, please let me know and I can try to rephrase things and explain them in a different way so that it makes more sense to you. I hope your last week of summer is an enjoyable one and that things are going well with you. I'll be seeing you when the school-year starts up again.