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I have a problem that might be pretty common – because it seems like all my friends have had this problem as well. There’s a guy in my life who I just CANNOT FIGURE OUT. I guess he’s the Prospect I’m Not Sure Is A Prospect in my dah. That is, if he’s even in my dah. Sometimes I’m not sure. It’s all very hot and cold.
Six months ago, I took a night class in Italian and met him there. A group from the class became friendly and started going out for drinks, and I always thought he was pretty cute, but it wasn’t until we started Facebook messaging about some funny class photos that I thought our friendship (or whatever) might branch out from the group.
Also, I think we almost made out one night after class – the vibe was there, unless I’m crazy – but then we got interrupted and never really mentioned it again.
And now…I don’t know. We’ve never hung out one-on-one, but we have fun together in group settings. We also text and Gchat pretty regularly – but his tone is inconsistent. One day he’ll be texting me and seem really enthusiastic, and then a week later, I’ll text him and he’ll barely get back to me. Sometimes he casually brings up things we should do together – try out a new restaurant, watch a baseball game – but then he rarely follows up, which annoys me. Yet since we haven’t hooked up or “dated,” it doesn’t necessarily feel like he’s blowing me off. It just feels like I’m in this weird no man’s land of his dah.
What am I supposed to do here? How can I insert myself into his dah without seeming desperate or pushy? Or is it just a lost cause? I kinda like him. If there’s a shot to be had, I’d like to take that shot.
Mixed and Muddled Millie
You are correct – this problem is definitely common. So common, in fact, that there’s a whole chapter of Dating & Hookup book devoted to dealing with the mixed signals of a Prospect You’re Not Sure Is A Prospect! I’m not saying you should get a copy, but…you should get a copy. It’ll help you figure out how to deal with this guy (and all the other guys in your life and dah as well). Promise.
But downloading an e-book takes time, and you want to start exploring your connection with him now, right? Fair enough! In the meantime, here’s some advice.
First, Some Hope
Good news – this is not a lost cause! I mean, it’s not a guaranteed cause, either. He might not be into you. He might be kind of into you, but more into some other girl(s). He might be on the fence. He might be thinking about his latest work project or his upcoming trip to Argentina or his last-minute efforts to find a new roommate or whatever, and not be all that focused on you. There’s no way of knowing right now. Don’t waste valuable brain cells trying to guess.
My hunch is that, in his dah, you’re what we call a Possibility. In the guy’s dah, this role is defined as:
A girl who is on his radar and in his wider sphere, but not in an immediately present way. He finds her attractive, and she could eventually join the active ranks of his day-to-day dah. But for now, due to timing or distance or the fact that they just don’t know each other very well, she is hanging out in the back of his brain.
The point is, you can’t know exactly what he thinks of you right now. He probably doesn’t even know that. But what you can know is that, in this era of expanding networks and ever-shifting dahs, connections evolve all the time. I’ve explored dynamics with guys that went from slightly ambivalent to hot and heavy (and back…?), and I’ve met women all over the country who have done the same. Sometimes connections grow. Sometimes they don’t. But you like this guy – so why not see if you can speed up the evolution process, sway his attentions towards you, and become more than just a Possibility?
Space! The Answer to (Almost) All Questions
So here’s where we start: for the most part, give him space. I know, I know – this is almost always my advice. How annoying. But in this case, giving him space doesn’t have to mean not reaching out to him or not being open to wherever your connection may go. It just means acknowledging that, for whatever reason, the timing between you two isn’t perfect right now.
Let’s be honest – no epic relationship’s moment of lift-off occurred when one party wasn’t even sure if they wanted to text the other party back. Hot and cold dynamics are not the key to long-lasting awesomeness and passion and happiness. So for now, put him on your mental back burner. Note: you should still be keeping him on a burner! Just not your front one. Don’t spend a ton of time on him, or think of him as the #1 guy in your dah right now – he hasn’t earned it yet. Of course, he still might. We’ll see.
Once upon a time, when I was dealing with a Prospect I Wasn’t Sure Was A Prospect who clearly enjoyed my company but just wasn’t particularly present, a dear, wise friend gave me a piece of advice that I will now pass on to you. She told me to start thinking of him – and treating him – like a guy who was going to be in my life for a long time. She advised me to approach our connection as a long haul. That meant not making him a top priority, and not trying to build some intense and crazy momentum right off the bat, and not placing tons of weight and hope and importance on every interaction right now – but also not forgetting about him completely. It meant assuming that, if our connection was really special, then it would reveal itself when the time was right. And in the meantime, it meant that I’d be focusing on other dah adventures with other guys that would lead me who-knows-where.
She was totally right, by the way. Smart girl.
So make that shift. Acknowledge that, yes, he is definitely in your dah, but scale back your hopes and expectations and put him on the back (but still lit with a low flame) burner. And of course, actively cultivate the rest of your dah.
But he’s still in your dah – which means that you should be interacting with him, too. So how to maximize the possibility that he’ll start to see you as a real, live, viable romantic prospect? Sooner rather than later?
A Sneaky, Fairly Ridiculous Trick
For starters, I’ve got a cheap trick for you. I find this slightly manipulative and silly, but, I’ve seen and heard it enough in my conversations with men and women that it seems worth a mention. If you want to make a splash on his radar in an indirect, subtle way (while still “giving it space”), use social media to your advantage.
You said that you and him talk via Facebook message? Okay – then throw up some cute photos of yourself from this past weekend on Facebook. Look attractive. Look like you’re having fun. Look interesting. Look like you have male friends who seem to be enjoying your company. Look like a girl that any sane guy would obviously want to hang out with. And then cross your fingers that he happens to see them.
Again, I know, this sounds a little immature and forced. But I’m being honest here – this came up during quite a few of my interviews with guys. “What made me text her, even though I hadn’t seen her in a while? Well, haha, this is funny – she put up some Facebook photos of her skiing trip to Vermont, and it reminded me that we hadn’t hung out in ages, so…” “What can a girl do to get my attention? Hot Facebook photos never hurt!” etc. So be it. If this guy is not interested, then it won’t make any difference. But if he’s just distracted by life and/or other girls, then your Facebook fabulousness might be just the reminder he needs to get back in touch in an enthusiastic way.
Now on to the real stuff!
Mixed and Muddled Millie, Meet Your Best Self
When you are interacting with this guy, the goal should be to leave him wanting to interact with you more. You can do this just by displaying all of your legitimately great and attractive qualities. And by not letting those mixed signals bring out your less-than-fantastic sides (read: insecure. passive aggressive. anxious. neurotic. guarded). This happens to the best of us – but, fight it!
From now on, when you text or Gchat with him, I want you to ask yourself one question: am I acting out of confidence or insecurity? Is what I’m saying coming from a good, happy, positive place of belief in all my awesomeness? Or is it coming from a nervous, anxious, passive aggressive, uh-oh-what-if-he-doesn’t-text-me-back-and-no-one-ever-loves-me???? place?
You’d be shocked – shocked! – by the way in which asking yourself this question can change the tone of your (e-)communication. When you’re focusing on the fact that this guy has been sending you mixed signals, then you’re probably feeling compelled to act cool and slightly detached. You’re playing games. Testing the waters. Protecting your pride. But while that may be fine for safeguarding your ego, it’s not going to make him realize that he’d love to see you. ASAP.
So instead, how would you act if you knew that he wanted to see you? What would you say if you were 100% sure that he was looking forward to it? Probably something more friendly and enthusiastic and fun, right? Something lighter. Something coming from a place of confidence, instead of a place of insecurity. Maybe even something with an exclamation point, or god forbid, an emoticon.
I’m telling you, when in doubt – include the exclamation point. Add the joke. Display your enthusiasm. Act as if any guy in his right mind would love to get that text. And then hit SEND and don’t look back.
Sure, he might not respond, or he might react ambivalently. But the goal is for you to be able to look at that text and think to yourself, you know, I really like the girl who sent that text. Based on this little piece of communication, I can honestly say that if he doesn’t respond, then he’s an idiot and is obviously missing out on a great conversation (not to mention a great girl). In this scenario, not only will you feel better if you get radio silence, but to be honest, it’s a lot less likely that you’ll be getting radio silence. Because if a guy receives a text from a girl that’s smart, funny, sweet, friendly and/or enticing, then he’d have to be pretty disinterested to blow that off (and if he does blow you off, repeatedly, even though you’re giving him lots of great stuff to work with, then…he’s legitimately disinterested. Now you know).
What it comes down to is, during this phase, always showing him your best self. This holds true in e-communication and also when you finally do see him. When you hang out with him, even in a group – be great. Whatever that means to you. If you pride yourself on being intellectual and deep, then be notably intellectual and deep. If you’re fun and laid-back, then show up and keep reminding yourself to ignore the mixed signals and be that fun, laid-back girl. Instead of standing in a corner and sulking when he doesn’t run across the room to give you a big hug, or feeling your heart drop when you see him flirting with another girl, or remembering that unanswered Gchat and putting up your guard, just force yourself to be your best self. Make him feel like he wants to see you again, because what guy in his right mind wouldn’t want to see you again? You’re great! You’re an awesome addition to anyone’s life! (his included, duh) Make him want more of you, but not by being coy or playing games – just by reminding him of how great it is to be around you. And then rinse and repeat.
Again, you’re not faking anything – that great side of you is actually much more authentic than the confused, frustrated, guarded one that might be reacting to his sorta-blow-offs. Right? There’s no lying here. There’s just the reminder to be the best version of yourself, regardless of how he seems to be responding to that. And as it turns out, being the best version of yourself feels pretty nice either way.
BOTTOM LINE: You might still have a shot with this guy – so let’s do this thing! Put him on the mental back burner and give him space, but keep him in your dah. Think long-term, and continue to cultivate connections with other guys who might be more immediate prospects. And then, in the meantime, put your awesomeness on full display for him to see and react to. Remind him of your coolness on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. When you’re texting or Gchatting with him, only interact in ways that feel like they’re stemming out of utmost confidence, and not insecurity, passive aggressiveness or game-playing. And when you see him, give yourself a pep talk and then be your best self. Repeatedly. Either he’ll be reminded of your greatness and start making an effort to be around you more, or, he’s not interested and you can take your fabulous self elsewhere.
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PS: Have a question for Jess? Email it to [email protected]!
PPS: Want more? Read a free excerpt of Jess’s book Dating & Hookup HERE!
Jess is the co-creator of Dating & Hookup, alongside her childhood best friend Becky Lynch, and is the author of the book - yep! - Dating & Hookup. She never tires of hearing your post-dating stories. She wants you to enjoy your love life, and is full of advice on how to do so.
datingandhookup.com is a website that explores modern romance – which, let’s be honest, looks nothing like we were taught to expect. We feature essay, advice and social commentary with humor, compassion and brains, and we vow never, ever to publish a piece called “The 10 Best Ways to Satisfy Your Man in Bed”. Do click to submit your work to us. We love you.
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