You meet a person. You’re attracted. You learn more about him or her, and you become interested in the possibility of pursuing a relationship with the person. What now?
Here’s what doesn’t work:
- Directly tell the person that you want to be together without a bit of back and forth flirtation, hints, and time spent together leading up to it.
- Think about the person constantly even though you’re not actually dating him or her.
- Plan your future with the person in your head in ways that wind up causing you to feel empty or discouraged.
- Worry a lot about whether or not the person will be interested in you, will stay interested in you if you do get together, and will actually make you happy once you’re together.
- Debate or criticize yourself about whether you should feel this way about this person.
- Get way more emotionally invested in the outcome of your interactions or relationship than the other person is.
- Get caught up in waves of intense highs of hope and lows of despair.
- Determine that this person is the one person you want, and no one else will do before you’ve even dated.
- Get ahead of where the relationship is.
- Contemplate how to potentially get with the person for hours upon hours.
- Learn as much as you can about the person before dating him or her.
- Believe that this person could save you from feeling empty inside.
- Talk about the person to your friends constantly.
- Contact the person a lot even though they don’t contact you as often, doesn’t always respond, and don’t seem to care as much about your interactions as you do.
- Spend more time focused on the other person than your own life.
When you’re very focused on the other person, your feelings for the person, how to get with the person, or what a relationship with the person would be like, you’re filling up a whole lot of room in your mind and heart with ideas about the person. It doesn’t leave much room for the actual person even if he or she might otherwise be interested in being involved with you.
When you’re significantly more emotionally invested in a person than they are in you, you’ll unconsciously send out that message, and it will repel the person whether he or she realizes it or not.
When you believe that another person can save you from loneliness, you’re setting yourself up for severe disappointment no matter what happens because while human being do need connection, affection, and intimacy, whether your need for those things will be met is entirely dependent on you, not your partner or a potential partner.
When your moods are very dependent on your perception of how things are going or your sense of how likely it is that your feelings will be returned, you won’t be capable of truly receiving the person’s feelings, particularly his or her feelings for you. You can’t truly understand and connect with another person unless you’re able to accept his or her feelings in a given moment, whatever they are. When your own feelings hinge on other people’s, not only are you not able to see theirs clearly, but you’re also prone to reacting to them in ways that make it unsafe for them to truly show you themselves.
So what does work?
- Go ahead and appreciate the things about the person that you admire. Feel the warmth of the experience, and then let it go when the feeling passes. Don’t go out of your way to do or think things to feed that feeling outside of your interactions with the person. It will come back if you and the person are a good match and proceed towards dating and then being together. Do this for anyone you meet, not just that person.
- Do daydream about your desires if you’re able to do it in ways that leave you feeling good. It’s okay to put that person’s face to your daydream if it helps you create the feeling of being in a happy, healthy, loving, supportive relationship. However, know that this mental practice is about showing your unconscious mind what you want in a relationship, not about getting exactly what you see with exactly that person. If your daydreams leave you feeling deflated or lonely, then you’re putting too much expectation into it. Back off and focus on other things that work for now.
- Ask yourself what conditions would make you feel better about yourself. Explore how it would feel to feel better about yourself. How would you act? How would you interact with others? What would it look like? What would your home look like if you felt better about yourself? Then ask yourself if there are any little steps you could take right now that are in line with what you saw. Focus on the things that are within your power to do right away. Consider this multiple times per day. Do those things.
- If you find yourself thinking about the person in a way that makes you feel bad, just notice those thoughts and feelings, and then either sit with the sensations you feel (refocus your attention on the sensations when your mind wanders) until they pass or up to fifteen minutes, whichever comes first, or…
- Do something nice for yourself. Ask yourself what you need right now. A night out with friends? A delicious meal from your favorite take out restaurant? More sleep? A hot, relaxing bath? Time in meditation? To wrap yourself up in a warm blanket and watch your favorite old movie? To go for a hike? To go back to school for a new career??? Ask yourself this multiple times per day, and then tune into the most compassionate, loving, wisest part of yourself. Use that part to decide whether or not to do it.
- Focus on the above actions until you feel you can interact with the person without being too invested in the outcome. When it feels right and you’re in a pretty positive place with yourself regardless of what that individual says or does, it’s time to put yourself in his or her path. You’ll be in a position to casually show positive reactions to the person, to truly see and feel how the person behaves and interacts with you, to develop an equal relationship if that’s where it goes, and to happily walk away if you discover that you’re not as good a match with the person as you might have previously suspected. If you do walk away, you’ll then be in a position to start a happy, healthy relationship with another person with whom you’re more compatible whenever he or she happens to walk into your life. You also won’t be as likely to carry the baggage of past loves and rejections into the relationship, and you won’t just restart the same old pattern of longing and despair from which you finally just escaped with another person.
- If you do wind up dating and in a relationship with the person, take one step at a time. Make a conscious effort to communicate openly about where each of you is, including openly receiving their feelings for you, so that you’re both connected to where the relationship actually is and are open to each other instead of getting caught up in your ideas and disconnecting from each other.
In short, be AWESOME to yourself, and you’ll wind up in a position to attract, date, and get into a relationship with the right person for you. That person may very well be the one who initially caught your eye! If it’s not, you’ll feel just fine about walking away from that possibility because you will see it for what it is and know that there are better options for you (even if you don’t know what they are yet).