Today’s Hard Dating Lesson: Attention and Affection Aren’t Always the Same Thing

I’ve been immersed in the wide world of dating for about eight months now, and I’ve learned so much in that time. I mean seriously. But one of the things that’s struck me most about dating is how careful you have to be when it comes to confusing attention/desire with true affection. I saw a friend post this quote and I was like, “YASSSS!” and then knew I had to write about it:

We all crave affection. There’s no shame in it. It’s human nature. We want someone to listen to our stories, think we’re sexy, celebrate our accomplishments with us, give us sympathy when we’re sick, and laugh at our jokes. If you’ve been in a relationship for a while, you’re used to having a steady stream of this from a significant other.

When you break up and are on your own again, it’s easy to crave this kind of support and love desperately, and to search for it in all of the wrong places. You meet someone who starts Snapchatting you/liking your Instagram pictures/texting you back in a reasonably quick fashion, so they MUST care about you deeply, right? Welp, not always.

Anyone can give you a basic level of attention, but this doesn’t always mean that they care about you/value you in their life/are invested in the connection that the two of you have. That can be a crappy thing to realize, but it’s important.

Before you get caught up in something that may or may not be real, take a step back and analyze what’s really going on. How and when is the person communicating with you? Who’s powering the conversation? Do they take the time to ask questions about things you have going on in your life, outside of the very superficial? Do they actually even know anything about you?

It’s easy to tell yourself what you want to hear because it’s nice to feel wanted and cared for. But don’t get caught up in a relationship that isn’t what it appears to be just because you crave that feeling. Instead, find it in other places. You’ve got friends. You’ve got family. And don’t forget, you can (and should) depend on yourself first and foremost. If you want someone to be proud of you, be proud of yourself first. If you want someone to think you’re attractive, make sure you feel good about yourself first. Once you’ve got that in place, you’ll be able to chill and wait to find someone who truly gives you back something meaningful.

Do you find that it’s hard to separate attention and affection/really being valued?

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