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How can I tell if I really want to date somebody, or I just want their attention?
July 22, 2009 3:29 PM   Subscribe

How can I tell if I really want to date somebody, or I just want their attention? [i apologize for rambling, inside]

Seems like a simple question. "If you wanted to date them, you would." My last relationship was all getting together-breaking up, repeat, because when I started dating that girl, I'm pretty sure I didn't really want to. I was just extremely lonely from having not had anyone in my life for so long. In the end, I still felt awful breaking up with her... surely we must have had some kind of bond by then, but 2 months after the last break up, I was pretty much ok.

Now I feel like I'm in a similar situation - I do like this girl, but for the first couple months I knew her, wasn't really attracted to her. Purposely tried to not spend a whole lot of time with her, and did not do one thing to mislead her into thinking I wanted anything but platonic stuff. No touchy feely, not lots of solo dates. After about 3 months of seeing her on and off at social things, mostly in groups, she told me she had a crush on me. I waved her off and stuck with the 'just friends for now' thing. However, about 3 months after that, I started spending more and more time with her when my health took a dive. I had been depressed from the health stuff, and umotivated to do alot on my own, proactively, so she kept contacting me saying "let's do this or that", and it was way preferable to hang out with her and do stuff than to sit at home and not want to do solo things.

My health stuff has been scanned and gone over with a lot of detail, and I'm getting that taken care of as best I can. Apparently this stuff going on for so many months and not getting a decent diagnosis has been taking a toll, since my sleep started getting erratic for the first time in my life, ever. Bad enough that I went to do a sleep study, and seek psychiatric assistance. I am not currently on any medication and don't have a history of needing much in that arena, although I come from a typically nervous line of folks in my family. : )

But a few weeks ago, after we hung out again, we finally did some light physical stuff, after which we both just went home to our respective beds. In the middle of the night I woke up super anxious and feeling extremely guilty that I had even alllowed that to occur.

Now while I realize I probably need therapy (been on the hunt for decent therapist for a while now, seen a few) about health stuff and whatnot, to me that was a clear sign that some part of me does not want to date her because it does not feel 'right'.

Since that occurred, and we talked about this, it is clear she is finally starting to reduce attention she gives me and not proactively contact me so much, even though she clearly still wants to be friends. I don't see how it can be easy for her, having given me so many chances to take the reigns, so to speak, and finally this.

Anyway, now that her spotlight on me, so to speak, is receding, I am having that awful anxious feeling you get like when somebody breaks up with you, and you don't want them to date somebody else - even though we have never actually 'dated'.

I want to say I feel like the problem is that I am in a bad place emotionally right now, and that I need SOMebody, and not her in particular, but I am not certain. The two of us discussed this and I told her (maybe stupidly?) that I really wanted to be able to say I wanted to date HER, and not just her because she is around and available.

I realize there's a ton of people that would say "stop overanalyzing, dumbass, and give it a shot", but I am wary of repeating the last dating experience I had. I have dated someone before where I felt really certain of it and good from the get go, and while that did not last, it did last 6 years! So, it seems like a bad idea to start something when you don't even feel right about a person to start with, no?

Vote yea or nay in the comments, please, MeFites, and why. Yeah I know I have to decide for myself, but I really seem stuck here.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (14 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
 
I was depressed and lonely and met a nice fellow who was very interested but not particularly of interest to me. However, we hung out enough, became closer, fooled around for kicks not intending anything meaningful (well, I didn't, anyway) and then dated 2 years.

What's the harm in trying?
posted by Pomo at 3:31 PM on July 22, 2009


What's wrong with pursuing something even if it isn't "for keeps"? Relationships don't have to be black-and-white, "forever" or "not at all". I'm of the opinion that the healthy way to approach them is that it's a learning experience above all, not some search for the flawless soul-mate - because no one is flawless, and no relationship will be without its share of bumps, and if it seems to be than that's merely a deceptive cover.

There's obviously interest between the two of you, and you're obviously lonely. In what way would you be in a worse position for pursuing this?
posted by tybeet at 3:35 PM on July 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


it seems a little unfair to her, though - don't you think she deserves to be with someone who likes her?
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 3:40 PM on July 22, 2009 [3 favorites]


As opposed to someone she likes?
posted by MCTDavid at 4:20 PM on July 22, 2009


I knew what you meant before reading your more inside. Most of the detail in your question was unnecessary, to be honest.

The answer is that you need to get your shit together and be secure and confident in yourself. Then it's a lot easier. If you're in a bad spot and you're not feeling confident about yourself it's very easy to fall into this trap. I've been there -- I'd go on dates and all I could think was "Does she like me?" instead of "Do I like her?" I just wanted to get another date out of it to feel like I succeeded and therefore was worthy of affection. It was silly.

You have to like yourself enough to believe that there will always be another girl who would like you and want to be with you. The fact that a girl likes you is nice, but it doesn't mean you have to date her.

I want to say I feel like the problem is that I am in a bad place emotionally right now, and that I need SOMebody, and not her in particular, but I am not certain. The two of us discussed this and I told her (maybe stupidly?) that I really wanted to be able to say I wanted to date HER, and not just her because she is around and available.

It sounds like you've got a pretty good perspective on things. Go with this.

I realize there's a ton of people that would say "stop overanalyzing, dumbass, and give it a shot"

What do you mean? Who are "a ton of people?" Why does it matter what they would supposedly think?

If you're not into this girl, stick to your guns. It does neither you nor her any good to date her as a stopgap measure until something better comes along.
posted by ludwig_van at 4:31 PM on July 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


Put yourself in situations where you talk with a number of other people, particularly girls. Then you won't be so lonely. If you still like her, you win. If you like somebody else, you still win.
posted by amtho at 4:33 PM on July 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


I dated someone just like you. For what it's worth: I got pretty hurt, and it sucked. Please let it go until you have it together a little better. If you date her just because you need a warm body and she happens to have one, that's a bad reason (or at least, it'll suck for her, because she'll want you to, you know, want her).
posted by Houstonian at 4:45 PM on July 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


It sounds like you're going to hurt her feelings if you do this. Don't go there. Pass.
posted by water bear at 4:49 PM on July 22, 2009


It doesn't sound like you actually like her or want to date her. Good relationships don't usually start with one person waking up in the middle of the night after things got physical thinking "what have I done?!" It's tempting to drift into a relationship when you're lonely and the other person is doing all the work, but in my experience the "this just doesn't feel right" feeling never really goes away.
All that said, if you're just looking to have some fun, and she knows this, then have some fun. But if you're looking for something more meaningful, you'll know when you find someone you like and want to date, as you've experienced before.
posted by janerica at 5:56 PM on July 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


I want to say I feel like the problem is that I am in a bad place emotionally right now, and that I need SOMebody, and not her in particular, but I am not certain. The two of us discussed this and I told her (maybe stupidly?) that I really wanted to be able to say I wanted to date HER, and not just her because she is around and available.

I don't think it was stupid of you to say that at all. To me, it demonstrates honesty, compassion, and self-awareness, not necessarily over-analyzing things.

Others are correct in that you don't have to go into every relationship telling yourself it has to be "for keeps" or it's not worth it, but all the same, if you don't want to date someone in particular, then don't.
posted by Nattie at 6:16 PM on July 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Too me it sounds like you feel like you "should" date her because why not.

We do know she has a crush on you, so it's not like you're two people who met and want to see where it goes. From the post, it sounds like you are a guy with not much romantic interest in a girl who very much wants to be with you in that special lovey couple together way.

Did you wake up feeling guilty because you felt like you had used her? Or because you just have no idea what you want and confusion is causing anxiety?

If we could figure that out, we'd get somewhere.

With your health issues - do you think maybe you are just not yourself and can't make decisions right now?

In any case, if you are not feeling like it would be fun to get in to her underroos, keep her in the friend zone.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 7:42 PM on July 22, 2009


I am having that awful anxious feeling you get like when somebody breaks up with you, and you don't want them to date somebody else

OK, that's a form of jealousy, and even if you were the one who pulled the plug on her, it's reasonably normal to feel some residual jealousy anyway.

Something that might help you to evaluate & deal with the situation is to think about how much of that jealousy is related to generic things that anybody could provide, as opposed to things that are specific to this particular girl.

If it's mostly just generic stuff (say, attention, warmth, or somebody who actually gives a shit what happened today at the office) then it's easily replaceable by any other partner, and you're just grieving over the fact that "somebody" is no longer paying you that attention, as opposed to "thisgirl" paying you attention.

You might like to think of it this way: anybody can prepare a grilled cheese sandwich for you, but was there anything particularly special about this girl's grilled cheese sandwiches that you specifically miss? If the answer is no, then I'd say you don't want to date them & just miss the attention.

Hope this helps.
posted by UbuRoivas at 8:48 PM on July 22, 2009


No. You should've woken up with hot memories of time together, not crazy anxiety. You're just not that into her.
posted by kathrineg at 9:12 PM on July 22, 2009


Dude, listen to yourself. Do you spend nights thinking about her? When she calls you to hang out, does your heart leap a little with happiness? Do you smile a lot when you are around her, and then smile even more when you're alone and she pops into your mind? I'm guessing no.

If you want to go out with her because you want SOME body (and not specifically her), go ahead, but make it clear to her ("I don't think I am able to commit right now, sorry, but I should make it clear that I am not looking for a serious long term relationship etc).

Above all, be truthful to yourself and know what you are getting into.
posted by moiraine at 1:07 PM on July 23, 2009


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