Most of us have been in “that type of relationship” before in our lives: The one where it’s not exactly a relationship, but we’re OK with that because at least our needs are being satisfied. Only, they’re not, really – we’re just acting like they are because we’d feel needy if we asked for more.
If you find yourself stuck in this situation, here are some questions you should ask yourself to see if you’re being strung along or if it’s just not the right time yet:
1. Am I voicing my needs?
If you’re voicing your needs and the other person still isn’t getting the point, maybe they don’t want to. You can’t force someone to be interested in meeting your needs – but you can choose to walk away from someone who isn’t.
If, on the other hand, you’re not telling them what they need to hear to make you happy – you will have to ask yourself why not. If you’re worried about what she’ll think of you, or you’re worried that your needs will make you sound bad – maybe there are other issues you need to work on before you begin chasing after a relationship.
2. Am I giving up more than she is?
This has to be an honest answer – if you’re only thinking about the things you want and completely disregarding the things she wants, it could be you’re the one playing games. It sucks to accidentally be the manipulator! Make sure you’re not taking advantage.
If you find that you are giving up more than she is, and you have made your needs known, she may be taking advantage of you or stringing you along. It’s important to look at all the facts before you form a verdict, though.
3. Does she say she’s interested?
If she clearly lets you know that she’s not interested in dating you, you’re not being strung along – but you are wasting your time. Pursuing someone who doesn’t want to be pursued rarely pays off in the long run, and you’re just going to get your heart broken – by yourself. If she told you no, you assume all risks for your pining.
If she does express an interest in you but just isn’t ready for a relationship, you should have an idea of why. In some cases, she may just not be ready yet, and this is something you have to respect. After all, you shouldn’t rush into things, especially love.
4. Does she show she’s interested?
Actions speak a million times louder than words, and this is the one place where it may be beneficial to chase someone who says they’re not interested. As little sense as it makes, there are still women (and men!) who play hard-to-get to appeal more alluring. You’ll notice my use of the word playing, though – this is still definitely a mind game and could be a sign of things to come if you keep going in circles with this girl.
On the other side of the coin is the girl who says she’s interested, but shows she’s not – avoid these girls like the plague. These girls are definitely not looking for a relationship, just the thrill of the chase. Most likely they will want to keep you all to themselves while they are free to explore their options. It can work out for those who are interested in that type of relationship, but those who want mutual exclusivity need to look elsewhere.
5. Do you think the feelings are equal?
The way someone actually feels for you can be really difficult to figure out. They might say one thing, act another way, and truly feel a third way altogether. If you think you feel a lot stronger for your prospective partner than she feels for you, this could be your intuition telling you that you’re being played.
If you think it’s about equal (with some certainty), chances are there’s no foul play going on. Maybe she’s busy, maybe she’s not good at expressing herself, or maybe you’re just being paranoid. It can be hard to keep our emotions fully in check, especially if we have been through pain in the past – but your ex’s faults are not automatically your new partner’s faults, so remember that.
6. Are you putting in all the effort?
Okay, be honest with yourself on this one. Are you giving this little fling 90% while she’s only giving 10% – or is it a little more even? Sometimes we can feel like we’re putting in more than our fair share, when the reality is that other things are taking over our lives and we’re blaming it on the romance. This isn’t fair to anyone. If you’re not actually putting all the effort you’d like to say you’re putting into the relationship, can you really blame your interest if she’s only putting in a little, too?
If you find, after you recount your efforts, that you are putting all your effort into this relationship, you’ll need to decide whether it’s because of something outside of your romance interest’s control. If she’s got a lot going on with family, work, school, etc. it might be best to take a step back, as she’s not ready for a relationship at the moment. If it seems like she really is playing games with you, it might be difficult to let go, but you need to for your own happiness.
7. Is it worth it to keep trying?
Whatever your actual situation entails, just because someone is unavailable doesn’t automatically mean you need to retreat – and that’s something you’ll have to evaluate on your own. Sometimes, it’s worth it to stay just out of the spotlight and wait for the perfect moment. But no one can make that decision but you.
Sometimes, the situations we’re stuck in just aren’t ideal, and it’s not really anyone’s fault. I do believe that love can come from the most unexpected of places, and it’s important that we don’t block ourselves out of the possibility just because we’re afraid. If you want this person, and it’s worth the risk of pain – proceed, respectfully.
Take care of yourselves, and each other!