Let’s start this off with a confession: When I was writing out my college bucket list last year (things I wanted to do before graduation), I almost added, “Have a secret admirer.”
Because, admit it, that sounds cool, right? I could just picture it…I’d get a note with letters cut out of a magazine…in a code based on the Gettysburg Address…with flowers arranged according to the art of Victorian floral language. (Because if a guy was willing to go to that much trouble, he’d totally be leaving me an anonymous note.)
Then I thought about it for another five seconds and realized that this was not something I actually wanted. This became especially true this week when a “Secret Admirers” Facebook page for my university popped up, where people could leave anonymous notes of love, dramatic tributes to a secret crush’s good qualities, or ridiculously obvious jokes.
Content issues and general creepiness aside, most of the posts are harmless and pretty entertaining, even if you know half of them are written by the person’s roommate as a prank. Still, it made me think about secret admirers again, and why I don’t want one. Here are a few reasons:
One: It’s too easy.
I think I’ve said this before (wait…I know I have—here): I can sometimes be extremely awkward about accepting compliments. Or giving them. But, in general, things that are hard for us are also really good for us. So maybe venting our emotions anonymously on a Facebook page really doesn’t do much as far as developing our personal character, especially in areas like courage, honesty, and self-control.
Along these lines, a lot of people on the Secret Admirers page will post or comment about the fact that people should just muster up the bravery to tell the guy or girl about their undying affection in person instead of posting anonymously. And I see their point. But I think you can take another angle on this too: in some circumstances it might be better to not tell the guy or girl to their face OR post on Facebook.
Let me explain (and also give the warning that this may sound somewhat heartless). Many of the posts are to people who are already dating or engaged, or from people who say the guy/girl is “out of my league,” so they’re clearly not ready to be in a relationship with that person. If you know that, why not have the self-control to keep your crush to yourself? Or better yet, stop pretending that puppy love is this irresistible force that makes you dream about a guy or girl who is not yours to dream about. It’s not. Just because we have the capability to anonymously post our every emotion on Facebook doesn’t mean we should.
Two: Secrets create drama.
Let’s face it, this is a universal truth and has been since your jr. high years. There’s nothing like a secret admirer to create rumors and guesses and wrong assumptions that lead to mishaps like something out of one of those dumb high school comedies. Especially if it turns out the post was just a joke. To say I dislike drama is an understatement, so putting something inherently drama-creating on my bucket list seems like a really bad idea.
Three: I might start to believe that the best things about me are things that can be noticed and appreciated from afar.
Stop. Read that again. And take time to think if you subconsciously believe that. Because I did.
The typical secret admirer says things like, “From the moment I saw you, I knew….” or “Even though you don’t know I exist, I’ve always noticed that you….” Romantic comedies, pop songs, and the idea of “love at first sight” tend to say the same thing: you are essentially what can be known about you from a very surface encounter.
This has a lot of unintended negative consequences. 1. We tend to hold up a certain type of person (handsome, athletic, guitar-playing guy or beautiful, extroverted, fashionable girl) as the most worthy of admiration. 2. We want everyone to see and notice the good things about us, leading to bragging of all kinds, whether that means carefully framing our Facebook image or doing good deeds so others think we’re great people. 3. We feel bad about ourselves when we think we don’t measure up to a certain standard.
I’m not saying that it’s wrong to be attractive or wear nice clothes or even have the kind of personality traits that people notice and like even if they don’t know you very well.
But I do hope that those who know me best also appreciate me the most, and that at least some of my good qualities are quieter and less noticeable, the kind that may not even show up at all until a long period of adversity.
Four: Admiration unattached to a person I respect doesn’t mean anything to me.
This is probably the most important one on the list. I will always remember the compliments given to me by people who I really respect. I’ve already forgotten the ones from my hair stylist, random acquaintances, or that popular kid in high school who might still be my friend on Facebook.