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Do I Like Him or the Attention? How to Understand Myself

February 10, 2024

Have you ever found yourself thinking that you’re head over heels for an amazing new guy, only to realize a few months later that you were only really seduced by all of the attention? I know I have. It can be confusing to recognize that we don’t always know how we feel about someone deep down.

Luckily, there are some simple questions that you can ask yourself to help understand how you really feel about him. I’m going to give you those tools, and also show you some ‘signs’ that can mislead you. I’m also going to give you some helpful tips on what to do if you seek out attention more than meaningful relationships.

Key Takeaways

  • Sometimes you’re really into someone but other times you’re just enjoying receiving so much attention
  • It’s important not to string a man along if you realize that you’re not genuinely interested in him
  • Focus on understanding yourself and what you’re looking for in a partner to help you form better relationships 

How to Tell If You Like Someone or Just the Attention

You might think that it’s always easy to know how you feel about someone, but it’s not always that easy. Here are some important questions to ask yourself, and what the answers mean.

1. Do you focus on his feelings or your own?

One of the first questions to ask yourself is whether you pay attention to his feelings or whether you’re only thinking about how he makes you feel. When you genuinely care about someone, you focus on making them happy as well as wanting them to make you happy.

If you realize that you only care about how your man makes you feel, that’s a strong sign that you don’t really care about him as a person. If you’re excited about making him happy as well, there’s probably something deeper going on.

2. How curious are you about other areas of his life?

When you’re only interested in a man because you enjoy his attention, you’re unlikely to be especially interested in how his day went at work or whether he enjoyed his early morning run. You’re not going to feel particularly curious or interested in the details of his life, or how he feels about them.

This is the exact opposite of how you’ll normally feel when you’re dating a guy you’re genuinely attracted to. If he’s a guy you might be interested in building a future with, you’ll be curious about what’s going on in his life.

3. How much do you open up to him?

Couple talking over coffee

As well as thinking about how curious you are about his life, it’s helpful to ask yourself how much you open up to him as well. When we’re first getting to know someone, we almost always want to make a good impression, but that often changes quickly when we start to really fall for them.

This is because, although it might seem fun to start with, we don’t actually want to be put on a pedestal.[1] When we genuinely care about someone, we want them to see us as we really are. 

Think about it this way. It’s lovely to have the man you love find you irresistible when you’ve dressed up especially for him, but that doesn’t let you feel entirely confident. If he’s still head-over-heels for you when you’re hungover and grumpy the next morning, you feel secure.

Letting him see your flaws and things you’re awkward or embarrassed about is taking a risk. You’re making yourself vulnerable to build a closer relationship.[2] If you’re only looking for attention, there’s no reason to take that risk. You’ll keep showing him your surface, perfect self.

4. Does the trust build between you?

When you’re dating someone you care about, you pay attention to them as you’re trying to be sure that they’re someone you might want to be with long-term. You’re constantly trying to see whether you can trust them and show them that you can be trusted.

If you’re noticing the ways that he’s showing you he can be trusted and trying to be there for him as well, the trust between you will build naturally.[3] This is part of you opening up and letting him in.

If you don’t feel as though you know or trust him any better after a few weeks of seeing each other, there are two possibilities; either you’re just looking for his attention or he’s not making you feel safe and showing you that he’s trustworthy. Neither of these bodes well for your relationship.

5. Do you think about your future together?

Enjoying attention from a handsome man is all about the here and now. You’re focused on the present. It’s an opportunity to bask in his attention without needing to think about where things are going or how you might fit into each other’s lives.

If you’re really attracted to him as a person, you’ll probably still have a little bit of that sensation. After all, we all like to bask a little bit. Being in the moment is going to be balanced by trying to imagine a future for you together as a couple.

When you fantasize about what it would be like to be with a guy long-term, you’re not just creating a lovely daydream. You’re also subconsciously problem-solving. You’re thinking about what might go well, and areas where you might disagree or struggle.

If you struggle to imagine your future together, that’s not necessarily a sign that you’re only looking for attention. You might just have a lot of differences to overcome. The warning sign is if you don’t particularly want to think about a shared future.

6. Are you pushing for his approval?

This might sound counterintuitive, but being too focused on whether he approves of you or not can be a sign that you like his attention more than you do him. 

I’ve already talked about how deep, intimate relationships mean that you have to be vulnerable to each other. This means being honest rather than always telling the other person what they want to hear. If you need him to see your true self, he clearly matters to you.

If you only want to show him parts of yourself that you know he’ll like and approve of, you’re probably more focused on keeping his attention than being authentic. 

7. Are you willing to make compromises for him?

If you only like him for the attention, there’s no need to compromise on anything. You can always find someone else to give you attention if he walks away, and you’re not really attracted to much about him personally.

In fact, refusing to make compromises, and having him give in to your demands, can make you feel even more special and important. You feel powerful and desirable because you know that he’s willing to adapt and change to keep you in his life.

On the other hand, if you’re keen to make compromises and find solutions to problems that work for both of you, you’re working to build a healthy relationship between you. Wanting to compromise is an even better sign than just being willing to let him have his own way. You’re showing that you want to create something that lasts.

Use this tool to check whether he actually is who he says he is
Whether you're married or have just started seeing someone, infidelity rates are on the rise and have increased over 40% in the last 20 years, so you have all the right to be worried.

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Clues that Don’t Tell You Whether You Like Your Guy or Not

When you’re trying to understand how you really feel about a guy, there are a few ‘signs’ or ‘clues’ that look like they might help - but they don’t.

Here are some of the false clues and why they don’t mean as much as you think.

1. You get butterflies thinking about him

Couple in a flower field

You might think that getting butterflies when you think about a guy must mean that you’re really into him. Those butterflies are a sign of excitement, but his attention can be exciting too. Sadly, butterflies don’t equal love.

2. You get nervous about seeing him

The same is true of feeling nervous about seeing him. Those nerves can just as easily be about whether he’s still going to give you the attention you crave, rather than whether he’s hoping for a deeper relationship. 

3. You put effort into your appearance before seeing him

If you’re loving the attention he gives you, you’re going to do everything you can to make sure that you keep that attention. This usually means that you put effort into looking good before spending time with him. 

4. You enjoy his physical attention

I’ve seen a lot of advice that suggests that one sign that you’re only interested in him for the attention is that you don’t want him to touch you or to be physically intimate. 

That might be true for some people, but the opposite doesn’t hold. You can absolutely crave his physical attention, including sex, without wanting him in a more meaningful way.

5. He makes you feel special

Of course, a guy who is giving you his attention makes you feel special. That’s one of the biggest reasons why we love to receive attention from men. It makes us feel special. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying feeling special, but it doesn’t tell you anything important about how you feel about him. 

6. You don’t think about other guys

Whether you think about other guys or not depends more on you and your temperament than it does whether you really care about him or not. Some women only focus on one man at a time. When they fall for someone, they’re not interested in anyone else at all.

Other women (including me) can have genuine, deep feelings for several different people at the same time.[4] Most women fall somewhere in the middle. Having feelings for someone else doesn’t automatically mean that your feelings for him aren’t real and meaningful. 

What If I Don’t Like Him but I Want His Attention?

Now you have the tools to help you work out how you really feel about him, let’s look at what you can do if you realize that you only like him for the attention. Even more importantly, what to do if this becomes a pattern in your life.

1. Understand why you feel this way

The first step in dealing with any problems always has to be making sure that you understand exactly what’s going on. When it comes to seeking out attention rather than deeper connections, that means understanding why you feel this way.

There are lots of different reasons why you might want attention more than love. One of the most common is that you have an insecure attachment style. Specifically, enjoying surface-level relationships rather than finding someone you really like is associated with an avoidant or disorganized attachment style.[5]

If you have one of these attachment styles, forming deep connections feels scary. You feel more comfortable having shallow, short-term relationships.

You might also find yourself looking for attention rather than finding someone you really like if you’re insecure or have low self-esteem, for example following a bad breakup or after an abusive relationship.[6]

Another reason that you might date a guy for attention rather than a man you really like is if you’re scared of being alone. This can push you to jump straight into dating the first guy who shows you attention and affection without asking whether you really like him. 

2. Don’t string him along if you’re not really interested

Once you understand why you find yourself dating someone you don’t really like, it’s time to set him free. It’s not fair to keep a guy hanging around if you know that he’s not really your type or that you don’t have any deep feelings for him.

You wouldn’t want someone to string you along just for the attention, so make sure that you don’t treat him that way either. 

3. Work with a professional

Many of the reasons that you might find yourself dating a guy even though you’re not sure whether you really like him are deep and they might go back as far as your childhood. That means that they’re probably going to take quite a bit of effort to fix.

The good news is that they can be dealt with and you can start to have deeper and more meaningful relationships. You might need some help from a professional, though. 

Work with a qualified therapist to help you process your feelings and make sure that you don’t make the same mistakes again.

4. Take relationships slowly in the future

One factor that can make it more likely that you’ll find yourself in a relationship with a guy you don’t really like is that you rush into relationships. You get carried away by the enthusiasm and the passion without taking the time to work out whether you really like him or not.

Take things slowly in new relationships. If you usually go straight to seeing him 3 times per week, try setting a limit of only seeing him every 10 days for the first few months. If you’d usually consider becoming exclusive after a few weeks, keep things casual for a few months.

Use the extra time to really think carefully about how you feel and what you’re getting out of the relationship.

FAQs

Is it wrong to date someone for attention?

It’s completely normal and ok to enjoy receiving attention from someone you’re dating, but that shouldn’t be the only thing going for you in your relationship. If you’re not genuinely attracted to him for who he is, the kindest thing to do is to cut him loose. 

Am I a bad person if I realize I was only interested in his attention?

Realizing that you weren’t actually into the guy you’re dating doesn’t make you a bad person. It’s surprisingly easy to get confused about your feelings, especially if you’re enjoying his attention. The more important thing is that you don’t string him along once you finally realize.

Conclusion

Realizing that you tend to date guys for attention and affection, rather than being sure that you really like him, isn’t nice. It’s also a form of self-sabotage. Dig deep to understand what’s really going on for you and work with a professional to help you heal old wounds.

Did you enjoy this article? Did it help you understand how to tell whether you really like him or not? Let me know in the comments and don’t forget to share this article with someone else who might enjoy it.

Utilize this tool to verify if he's truly who he claims to be
Whether you're married or just started dating someone, infidelity rates have risen by over 40% in the past 20 years, so your concerns are justified.

Do you want to find out if he's texting other women behind your back? Or if he has an active Tinder or dating profile? Or even worse, if he has a criminal record or is cheating on you?

This tool can help by uncovering hidden social media and dating profiles, photos, criminal records, and much more, potentially putting your doubts to rest.

6 Sources:
  1. Tomlinson, J. M., Aron, A., Carmichael, C. L., Reis, H. T., & Holmes, J. G. (2013). The costs of being put on a pedestal. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 31(3), 384–409. https://doi.org/10.1177/0265407513498656
  2. Brene Brown. (2012). Daring Greatly : How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead. Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Group.
  3. Wright, S. (2009). Trust and Trustworthiness. Philosophia, 38(3), 615–627. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11406-009-9218-0
  4. Klesse, C. (2014). Polyamory: Intimate practice, identity or sexual orientation? Sexualities, 17(1-2), 81–99. https://doi.org/10.1177/1363460713511096
  5. Feeney, J. A., & Noller, P. (1990). Attachment style as a predictor of adult romantic relationships. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 58(2), 281–291. https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-3514.58.2.281
  6. Foster, J. D., Kernis, M. H., & Goldman, B. M. (2007). Linking adult attachment to self-esteem stability. Self and Identity, 6(1), 64–73. https://doi.org/10.1080/15298860600832139
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