Member Rara Avis
If one is talking about "like" as in friendship, then I absolutely agree it is important to vocalize your feelings. Friends are the cornerstone of life.
If one is talking about "like" as in a serious relationship, then again, I agree. Anything and everything you do in life is a gamble, a weighing of the possible benefits versus the possible hazards, and this is one of those few instances where the benefits GREATLY outweigh any possible downside.
But if we're talking about "like" as in a casual, it-might-become-something-someday romance, then I have to repeat my earlier answer - it depends.
I love to read. Fiction, nonfiction, poetry, the back of cereal boxes - it just doesn't seem to matter. There have been extended periods in my life, lasting several months, where I would average about ten books a week. That kind of intensity (not unusual in my life) is a bit intrusive, of course, and I wasn't getting a whole lot else done. These days I tend to read only during meals and finish about a book a week. Unless I find a particularly absorbing novel, in which case I usually read it in a single sitting.
I wish I could read every book that draws my interest. I can't, because life is short and there are other things I want to do. Reading is both a great joy in my life and a disruptive force, so I've found I need to be selective. Does that mean I miss some really great reads? Probably. Almost certainly. But as much as I enjoy reading, as much as I cherish finding that rare book that can change the way we experience life, I cannot devote too much of my life to the pursuit. I have to hope I can find that rare read through reviews or recommendations - or by pure luck - because I know I can't find it through simple diligence. Life is simply too short.
If I find a person I enjoy spending time with as a friend, without expectations or pressures, that is the equivalent of reading the dust jacket to see if I think I'll like the book. In many instances, that simply means sharing common interests. A trip to the theatre. A visit to local event. Even just a casual lunch or, better, an impromptu picnic. Telling someone I "like" them in a romantic sense at this stage is premature and too much like saying, "I want to be your friend because I think there's the potential for more." I'd much rather just enjoy their company. As friends.
It's not so much that I'm afraid of being rejected as it is I dislike the sense of obligation. I might find the painting on the cover attractive and the inside jacket interesting, but that still doesn't mean I'm going to buy the book. I just want to read a bit more before committing myself to something as serious as "like."