Are you obsessing about a romantic interest? Are you needlessly leaving text messages, doing drive-bys and hoping to spot the object of your desire while you are out and about? Are you frenziedly working to try to see him, working to connect with him and wanting to spend time with him despite his lack of interest?
Pushing forth with a love interest despite seeing red flags can signals a person’s overwhelming need for redemption. Many women (men too, but I am just going to speak about women) unconsciously play out a type of scenario where they obsessively work to try to connect with a standoffish and noncommittal suitor. There is a kind of fantasy that if they can somehow win this dark creature over, they will score a more complete and healthy self-image. This fantasy and desire to feel triumphant about themselves often stems from troubled attachment experiences in childhood. The adult desire to win over critics through making an aloof man warm and connected sadly, typically, never delivers. The woman involved is often left to feel even more depleted and insecure about her very nature
The urge to correct a wrong or recalibrate a relationship is natural and oftentimes healthy. This urge can become dysfunctional when it is channeled into an obsessive and frenetic attempt to make a romantic relationship more than it can actually be.
As I describe in Having Sex, Wanting Intimacy—Why Women Settle for One-Sided Relationships, Sextimacy is the pursuit of sex with the hope of also achieving emotional intimacy. Sextimacy becomes a dysfunctional way to get the unmet and very normal childhood needs for attention, affection and genuine care met. Sextimacy at first can feel like love at first sight or instant chemistry. Sadly the intrigue and allure that he will become something she has never before experienced gives way, and she is left feeling once again hopeless about finding real love.
There are certain universal red flags that need be considered and taken seriously.
1. If your crush or love interest makes plans with you and then backs out, cancels or makes excuses as to why he did not deliver, deeply consider that he may not be able to provide a healthy, emotionally reciprocal relationship. Plans change occasionally, but he should respectfully let you know. Notice if you are spending excessive time waiting around hoping and wondering if he will contact you.
2. Believe the behavior your romantic partner is displaying. It is common when attracted to someone to want to rationalize their poor behavior (i.e. is he passive aggressive, avoidant or often non-committal in his attitude with you?) If someone treats you with disrespect or chronically lets you down, take this as data that reveals to you who he actually is. If you try to talk with him and he dismisses you or justifies his mistreatment of you, take this seriously; it means he may not be a suitable match.
3. If a potential romantic interest says he is not looking for “anything serious” or he needs a lot of “space,” stop approaching and let him go. This means he is not in the same place you are and may not want the same things you want.
4. Believe what your romantic interest is verbally communicating about himself. If a romantic interest regularly (more than once in a while) communicates in a way that leaves you feeling hurt, talk with him about it. If he can’t hear you or take your feelings seriously, move on. Instead of overworking the relationship and trying to right the wrong, accept that the match is not viable. It is not your job to bring him along or show him a better way; it is your job to work on growing as a person.
5. Notice if you are obsessing about how to spend more time with your love interest, are you calling, texting, asking him questions but not getting much in return? Does it feel like you see him more on his terms than on your own? If so, pull back. You are over functioning. A relationship cannot launch, let alone continue to run, on your fumes alone. If you are feeling low energy from your partners and a sense that you are doing all of the work, redirect your attention and energy elsewhere.
Are you rationalizing these red flags? Maybe telling yourself that it is your fault or if you do something differently, perhaps he will not act in the ways described above? Remember, it is impossible to bring a successful relationship into being if you are the only one doing the work. Cease. Desist. Move on. Distract into self-improvement or connecting with other more emotionally healthy friends and romantic interests.
Jill P. Weber, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist and author of Having Sex, Wanting Intimacy—Why Women Settle for One-Sided Relationships. Click here to follow Jill on Facebook or here to follow Jill on Twitter @DrJillWeber