Sometimes it seems like you’re just one step away from getting someone attracted to you, and if you just push a little bit harder, the person will finally start to “get it” and want you back.
It’s hard to admit it to yourself, but this feeling is just an illusion.
It’s too bad life isn’t more like a romantic comedy, because unlike in movies, any drastic gestures you try to take will usually backfire.
What’s more, it will usually hurt your self-respect in the process.
As much as we hate to admit it, we can all relate to the experience of throwing away our self-respect to chase after someone who’s just not that into us.
I made this mistake over and over, until I learned to focus on the bigger picture.
Instead of scheming and manipulating to get a woman to like me, I started focusing on the habits that would boost my self-respect instead of undermining it.
These are some of the most important habits I’ve learned for dating when you’re single:
1. Be assertive and ask for what you want.
There is rarely a downside to being assertive, honest and open.
You owe it to yourself and everyone you meet to be upfront about who you are and what you’re looking for.
Assertiveness is like any other skill; it takes practice to get better.
Our generation was never taught this kind of communication skill growing up, and that’s part of the reason why dating can be so difficult.
Guys who complain about being in the dreaded “friend zone” end up there because they’re unwilling to be assertive.
It’s scary to directly state your intentions, but it’s also a weak move to befriend a woman under false pretenses; be direct instead. We all know that women love confidence.
This habit applies for women as well. Even though social norms say men should be the initiator in relationships, there are norms from older generations.
They just don’t apply in the modern dating landscape.
You can avoid chasing someone who only has lukewarm feelings for you if you are honest from day one.
2. View people in shades of gray.
Have you ever jumped into a relationship with someone, only to have it come crashing down when you realize he or she who you initially fell for?
When you first start to like someone, it’s a natural tendency to subconsciously overlook flaws.
The sparks of attraction make us idealize and put people on a pedestal.
We forget that no one’s character is black and white.
Everyone has flaws, but emotion makes us blind to these flaws.
Be honest about the red flags you see in others.
It’s too easy to try to force yourself into a relationship that isn’t quite right for you, just because you don't want to face the potential of loneliness.
3. Don’t mistake anxiety for attraction.
On a physiological level, feeling anxious that you might lose someone is very similar to the emotions of attraction. It’s crucial to distinguish between the two.
There’s a famous study in social psychology where researchers had an attractive research assistant interact with men on two different bridges to complete a survey.
When the men were interviewed afterward, the men who talked to the researcher on a rickety narrow bridge thought she was more attractive than the men on the more stable bridge.
They mistook their feelings of anxiety and excitement from being on the nerve-racking bridge to actual attraction.
It’s the same phenomenon we experience when we get more attracted to someone after seeing a scary movie with him or her.
Are you doing the same thing in your dating life?
If you start to crave someone’s attention more when he or she starts to pull away, you’re mistaking anxiety for attraction.
Don’t set yourself up to be in an unsatisfying relationship. Understand what real attraction looks and feels like rather than just anxiety about possibly losing someone.
4. Don’t try to manipulate people.
Unless you take a hard look at your own actions, it can be hard to realize when you’re trying to manipulate someone.
We hear the word manipulation and think of lying, cheating or consciously trying to control others. But, in the social world, it’s usually more subtle than that.
If you’re trying to get someone to feel differently about you, there’s a good chance you’re trying to manipulate him or her.
If you’re trying to get someone to like you more, there’s a good chance you’re trying to manipulate him or her.
If someone isn’t into you, manipulation might drag out or soften the inevitable rejection, but it won’t ever force the person into being attracted to you.
Especially when it comes to attraction and dating, people act emotionally then rationalize it logically.
No amount of logically convincing someone to like you will work.
It can hurt, and it can be difficult to stop doing it, but chasing and manipulating will always hurt your self-respect in the long run.
5. Walk away if you’re not getting enough interest or respect.
Often, the reason someone isn’t interested has nothing to do with you.
You never completely know someone’s prior dating experiences, emotional patterns or subconscious preferences.
Don’t waste your time on someone who isn’t showing you affection back.
Emotionally available people will respond positively to your advances when there is genuine attraction between the two of you.
Showing that you are confident enough to walk away when you’re not being treated well is the best way to maintain your self-respect in your dating life.
You may be able to consciously lie to yourself, but you can’t fool your subconscious.
Deep down in your gut, you know when you’re sticking around, even though you’re not being treated the way you deserve.
And, when it’s over, make sure it’s really over. Ruminating over someone who got away or beating yourself up trying to understand what happened will only undermine your self-respect.
Living by these rules will help you make better decisions in your dating life.
Over time, they’ll help you maintain a healthy level of self-respect, and whomever you do decide to settle down with will be grateful for your confidence.