1. Admiration. I wanted to be wanted. Anytime someone would give me a compliment — even a crude, inappropriate compliment that should have been a red flag — I would blush. I would get a boost of confidence and automatically feel better about myself. I would be excited about the fact someone else actually found me attractive when the only thing I could see when looking in the mirror were flaws.
2. Friendship. Whenever someone made me laugh, had long conversations with me, and was at least somewhat attractive, I assumed we were soulmates. I assumed our friendship was only the first step toward a long, fulfilling, committed relationship. I had trouble telling the difference between people who were simply friends and people who were meant to become more.
3. Obsession. There have been times when someone stayed stuck on my mind, when I couldn’t stop thinking about them, when they were the first thing in my head in the morning and the last thing in my head at night. I assumed this meant we were destined to be together. I assumed this was what blossoming love was supposed to feel like. At the time, I didn’t realize that obsession and love are not necessarily linked together. They can be two completely separate things.
4. Nervousness. Like Halsey has said: “The warning signs can feel like they’re butterflies.” There were moments I mistook for attraction, for excitement, for adrenaline, when really, I was only buzzing with nerves. Not because I wanted to be with the person. Because I wanted to impress that person. Because I thought their opinion mattered. Because I thought it was what I was supposed to feel while looking at them.
5. Attention. I like attention. I like validation. I like ego boosts. Everyone does. It’s part of being human. In the past, I didn’t care where the attention came from. I would be grateful to get any at all. I wasn’t picky. I wasn’t greedy. I took whatever I could get. However, there’s a difference between wanting attention in general and wanting it to come from one specific person.
6. Jealousy. I used to think getting jealous over seeing a certain crush with someone else meant I wanted to be with them. However, that’s not always the case. Sometimes, I’m simply jealous of their happiness. Or jealous of the fact their attention is off of me. Jealousy doesn’t always have to do with love.
7. Passion. Getting into screaming matches with someone all the time looks romantic in movies — but it’s not romantic in real life. Constant arguments aren’t a sign of attraction. If anything, they’re a sign of incompatibility. They mean you’re not meant to be together. You’re meant to stay far, far apart.
8. On-paper chemistry. There were certain qualities I was searching for in a partner. If someone matched the description, then I assumed we would be a great fit. However, just because someone crosses off items on your Dream Partner list doesn’t mean they’re actually right for you. You could be a perfect match on paper — but make absolutely no sense in real life.