Ladies, You Don’t Have To Downplay Your Interest To Make Him Like You

Emily & Steve Photography
Emily & Steve Photography

A guy reached out to me just yesterday. He was talking essentially about winning over a woman’s heart. Should he show his interest or play it cool? Like most of us, he was tangled up in the image of love. In how he should act, in how that would look, in how that would then effect his chances dating her.

The modern dater, he wrote me, assumes that if they send long texts or letters they may come off as having too much time on their hands and thus must be a very boring person.

This is one of the greatest tragedies facing modern romance today. We actually think our desirability hinges on our productivity, our busyness in the world.

It’s the idea that our value increases in proportion to the amount of time we don’t have for someone else.

Does this not baffle you? Because for me it’s ironic that the appearance of unavailability would heighten your odds at entering into a committed relationship. If we wanted to persuade someone into dating us wouldn’t we, at the very least, need to show them that we have time to date them? Or, will make time to date them?

I know what you’re thinking: We don’t want to date someone who doesn’t have anything going for them, who won’t have a life outside of us. I get that. As much as we want someone to make us their world, we also find comfort in knowing they have their own world. For one, that world becomes a coveted reality they can offer us and bring us into. It also illustrates that time stopped when they met us, that life as they knew it shifted, that life as they knew it was no longer enough. What we are so attracted to is the feeling that we are special. We yearn for this, for a world where we are chosen, a world where we are elevated above the rest.

Ultimately, someone who has “too much time on their hands,” someone who is a “boring” person, well, what are they elevating us above? Who are they favoring us to? What are they offering us besides their time and undivided attention? It’s sad that there is always a catch, you know? That in order to be wanted, we have to look like a made man and appear unattainable. And that on the flip side, to feel wanted, we have to feel like the exception, like someone a person bends over backwards to make room for. While this perception may very well happen, isn’t it just a matter of mindset though?

Let’s start with what prompted this whole thing, the idea that a long text or letter insinuates an excess of time and someone who is doing nothing with it. Is this even true? What if I told you that receiving a longer, more thoughtful text from someone actually just makes me think about myself?

Wow, I might say. This person actually took the time to personalize his message to me. That makes me feel special. In fact, that also makes me think he’s rare. That he isn’t hung up on appearances or so wrapped up in downplaying everything. I mean, his message wasn’t just a generic text which is just about the easiest thing to breeze over.

This guy might actually have substance to him. Even if the message was longwinded, I can acknowledge that while also thinking that at least it wasn’t the typical “hey, what’s up?” I mean, a message with only three words? Now that is boring. Also, let’s say someone appears to have time to spare, what keeps me from feeling flattered regardless. After all, that person spent time reaching out to me. He could have been watching porn or mindlessly flicking through Tinder. Hopefully, you get my drift. Just because you don’t send a generic message doesn’t mean you’re suddenly a loser.

So, what keeps us from feeling flattered? For those of us who do mock a message that is long and a person who appears boring, what makes us go there? I’m of the opinion that it’s our own disbelief. That that’s what we’re caught up in, not the length or brevity of a text and certainly not the appearance of how we look because of our text but, more than anything, we are entangled in our own doubtfulness.

So, when you receive a thoughtful (read: “long”) text, it’s not that you are equating length with desperation and that’s what turns you off. Whether we realize it or not, you are equating length with readiness. That’s what you are shutting down. That’s what you are rejecting. Someone who is ready to know you, really. Someone who thinks you are enough as you are. The only reason we prefer someone who seems on the fence about us is because we are on the fence about us. We’re on the fence about how ready we are to show ourselves, let alone love. Like, really love.

It’s okay that we aren’t ready for the “real” thing though. Dating isn’t about already being ready. It’s about readying ourselves for the ultimate commitment, for the commitment that thrives on vulnerability,

the commitment that stems from two people opening their worlds to one another and giving each other their time.

For those of us who desire the person who shows mild intrigue in us or the person who bait us along, our desire is based in self-doubt. Doubt that who we are today is enough to hold someone’s attention and captivate their heart. We fall for the baiting because we imagine that if the relationship is invested in hope and on showing only a little bit of ourselves at a time, then the other person we are trying to date won’t outgrow us.

So, what does this mean for the modern dater? For the person questioning the amount of interest their text messages should convey? It means the questions themselves are useless. It means you have to have yourself in mind, first and foremost. You have to be motivated by what you can give and not what the person on the receiving end is going to take away from you—be that a perception, a judgment, or a sense of intrigue and interest. To get where you want, you must first communicate from where you are.

Because whether that aligns with the person you are reaching out to’s reality can only ever be determined by the sincerity that prompts the interaction. So, if you give off a mild sense of interest, you will receive, at best, a mild sense of interest. If you are vague about your feelings, your relationship will evolve into something poorly defined. This might be okay if you and another are only interested in causality. But, if you’re not, expect to experience disappointment.

Dating, whether modern or old-fashioned, has always been largely impacted by timing. We connect because of timing. Our lives overlap because of timing.

But our relationships are sustained and empowered by truth.

If you are interested in someone and convey that interest, you won’t look boring, you will look interested. How great, your image matches who you are. Celebrate that, that you have no reason to hide.

Now, if someone backs away from that interest then, good, they are unfit for you. Knowledge is power. Celebrate not wasting yourself on what you are not meant for. The bottom line is, if you want to attract someone who is right for you, who is “on your level,” you have to show up and be seen. But if you want to fool around, then be a fool. Act like you are more or less than you are. Just don’t blame the world when you receive more or less than you are. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

A Breakup Coach, Advice Columnist, and the Podcast Host of Thank You Heartbreak.

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