As a dating coach, I often see a tendency to end budding relationships prematurely the moment someone suspects the other person might be more — dare I say, too — into them. Sometimes this is a good call, but often that relationship might have been great for the less interested party had they been more measured in how they moved forward.
Rather than run for the hills, I suggest my clients take a beat and mitigate the possibility of making a rash decision by asking themselves these four questions that build self-awareness.
1. Could the imbalance be temporary?
Ken Page, LCSW, and author of “Deeper Dating: How to Drop the Games of Seduction and Discover the Power of Intimacy,” describes a common emotional response in the early days of romance he calls “the wave.” When experiencing this, Page says, we “unconsciously push a caring and available person away by inwardly diminishing [their] worth.”
In other words, the more available and interested someone is, the more real the possibility of falling in love becomes. In an attempt to protect ourselves from the possibility of pain and loss, we might find ourselves focusing disproportionately on what we don’t like about this person. However, this is a phenomenon that can pass if we wait it out.
“Patience is a factor,” says relationship coach Jordan Gray. “Just because the person you’re engaging with likes you more than you like them at this point in time doesn’t indicate anything about how you’ll feel about them by next week. If there’s enough alignment and romantic potential in the connection, why not give it a bit of time and see if your feelings catch up to theirs?”
In the early stages of dating, feelings shift and oscillate a whole lot, and one person might be ready for a relationship before the other. As we get to know someone and see different facets of them, surges of affection can emerge in sporadic bursts. Don’t make judgements about the climate based on one day of weather.
2. Are you holding yourself back?
Before calling it quits when they send you one too many heart-eye emojis, first level with yourself about whether you’re actually willing to develop feelings for this person.
“Ask yourself, ‘what kind of relationship am I emotionally available to experience?’” says Staci Weller, founder of Date Coach Northwest.
According to Gray, sometimes we’re not totally honest with ourselves about how into someone we are because we’re afraid of things working out. Maybe the timing isn’t ideal, you’re worried about what your friends will think, you’re considering moving across the country, or you’re still pining for an ex.
A good indicator that you’re afraid is if you’re over-analyzing the dynamic. Rationalizing, calculating, and evaluating your feelings towards someone provides a sense of control when we’re anxious and afraid of losing our footing.
“When I started dating my partner I was always calling my friends freaking out about things like whether it mattered that she didn’t have a driver’s license because what if we wanted to go on a road trip later and blah, blah, blah,” says Kate, 26. “One of my friends finally told that I needed to stop talking about it, because first of all, I was being super annoying and second of all, I wasn’t going to figure anything out by being in my head about it. Honestly, I think I just really liked her but wasn’t ready to admit it to myself yet.”
If you find yourself over-analyzing and trying to control how you feel, consider setting a time a few weeks out to check in with yourself about the pros and cons of the relationship. Until then, do your damned best to chill out and allow feelings to develop if they’re going to develop.
3. Have you given this person a fair shot?
There’s a fallacy that we either do or don’t have a connection with someone. While it’s true that we might have a proclivity to connect with some people more than others, we also feel connected to someone when we put in the effort to get to know them.
Max Alley, founder of Matchup Online Dating Coaching, suggests an overnight trip if you’re in a juncture where you don’t know how you see things progressing. “You get out of your routine and you get to see each other in different contexts,” he says.
The overnight trip worked for Devon, 22, who was on the fence about a guy who seemed pretty serious about her. “He invited me to go as a plus one to his cousin’s wedding,” she says. “Seeing him be so caring with his family and dancing with his little cousins was so cute, and I saw him in a new light. We also got along so well the whole weekend, and he was attentive and always made sure that I felt comfortable at a wedding where he was the only person I knew. That’s when I started to have real feelings for him.”
You don’t know what you don’t know about someone. You might think they’re kind of boring but feel very differently after spending a weekend with them singing along to the “Moana” soundtrack and sneaking into a pool to skinny dip. If you can’t simply leave town, try spending a couple days straight together, and make a point to bring up conversation topics and choose activities that allow you to share different sides of yourselves.
4. If the roles were reversed, how would you want to be treated?
You’ve probably had the experience of being more into someone than they are into you. You’ve also probably had the experience of someone breaking up with you prematurely before you felt like they knew you at all. After taking stock of where your emotions truly are, consider the kind of treatment you’d you want if you were on the other side of the relationship.
That said, there’s a point where indefinite uncertainty becomes a waste of the other person’s time. “If you know that there is zero potential for this connection and the person isn’t a fit for you, then do both of yourselves a favor and move forward without each other,” says Gray. Everyone deserves to be with someone who is sure about them, so be kind and don’t deny the other person the opportunity to find that with someone else. And for god’s sake, don’t ghost.