It’s a bit sad, actually. Many hours of reading and viewing are available to the hopeful romantic trying to interpret the signs their crush presents to them. Unfortunately, those hours of browsing usually leave the hopeful just as confused as when he/she started. Most all of the information out there is just other people’s opinions and experiences that may or may not apply to a person’s own case. So how do we know?
Epistemology, or the study of knowledge, is one of my passions. It sounds like some highly technical, hard-to-grasp term, but when applied to everyday life, it becomes a very practical tool. I’m going to take a few minutes to apply epistemology to the topic of how to know if someone likes you.
As self-conscious beings, we humans tend to view the world from a first-person perspective. We see with our own eyes, hear with our own ears, feel with our own fingers. We interact with the world, never questioning the certainty of things such as our own feelings because, to us, they are very real and very obvious. But when we try to grasp knowledge of something outside ourselves, the nature of certainty changes greatly. To our crush, our own personal feelings are one of those uncertain things.
The truth is, none of us is a mind reader. Some of us may try very hard to read the signs, suggestions, and indications that our crush shows, but when scrutinized carefully, even the largest collection of these uncertain observations still cannot help us know for certain. We can say that we know what the other person is probably feeling, but we can never be certain just by reading the signs.
Yet that’s precisely how 9 out of 10 people approach the communication of feelings. They will spend hours on YouTube and Google trying to decode their crush. They will poll their friends and read books and magazines to learn how to encrypt their own feelings toward their crush without actually expressing them. But when feelings are ‘communicated’ in this way, are they really knowable, in an epistemic sense? No, they aren’t.
So how can we know if someone likes us? The only way to know for certain is if they tell us. Words are a very powerful force – perhaps the only force – that can solidify feelings in an instant. They can take something that has no substance in itself and set it in stone. They’re the evidence we need to know those unknowable feelings of someone else. And while words can also be twisted into lies and deceit, they are still our most certain indication of how someone feels. Even if everything else suggests that their feelings are something different from what they said, we must accept what is spoken.
Of course, the obvious problem would be, ‘Then how do I get him/her to tell me???’ I would suggest leading by example. While we cannot be certain of the other person’s feelings, we are certain of our own, which is something they don’t know for certain. We can’t read their minds, but we can help them read ours. That’s really what communication is all about – presenting something about ourselves in the substance of words. It gives the other person something real, something certain to which he/she can grasp and respond. Then your crush will respond with his/her own feelings. That’s how to know for certain if someone likes you.