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Do You Like Him, Or Do You Just Want Him To Like You?

By: Hana Tilksew

Leonardo DiCaprio

When you start liking a guy, you probably enter “make him like me” mode right away. You try to look your best and act cooler than you really are to make him think wow, this girl is so amazing! But then he starts reciprocating and you suddenly get the ick. Once he likes you back, you don’t want him anymore. What’s up with that?

I’ve heard lots of girls say that their type is guys who don’t share their feelings. Some say it’s because they prefer the chase. Some say it’s because they’re afraid of attachment. On a case-to-case basis, these things might be true for different people. But I think the root of this issue isn’t actually romantic love at all — it’s self-esteem.

Once upon a time, I had a major crush on this guy. He was good-looking, tall, popular, and smart. Everyone — guys and girls — looked up to him. We all agreed that he was the coolest person we knew, and every girl had at least a tiny crush on him. I would think about him 24/7 and constantly try to get his attention. At the time, I thought I had genuine feelings for him. But when he showed signs of being attracted to me, I immediately wanted to back off.

My own uncertainty shocked me. It came out of nowhere! Why didn’t I actually want to be in a relationship with this guy when I’d been fantasizing about him for so long? It took a lot of reflection to realize that the reason I’d been so into him initially wasn’t because I was head-over-heels in love. It was because I felt like if the guy who everyone thought of as the coolest person ever liked me, then his affection would validate my worth. It wasn’t actually the guy that I wanted, it was his approval.

So how come once I got his approval, this boy didn’t seem like he was all that anymore? This is a question I had to ask myself many times. I couldn’t figure out why my obsession evaporated as soon as actually having him became a possibility. And that’s when I realized what my real problem was: I didn’t think very highly of myself. My self-image was so poor that if someone approved of me and wanted to be with me, I thought there had to be something wrong with them. They couldn’t possibly be the cool and amazing person I’d thought they were if they were willing to stoop so low to want me.

All of this happened a while ago, and my self-esteem is much better now. When I look back at this time in my life, I can’t even believe that I had such a warped mindset. When you stop seeing romance as something that you have to prove yourself worthy of, your whole mindset towards boys and dating shifts. Instead of going into every interaction thinking “Does he like me?” you start asking “Do I like him?” Trust me, that’s the question you should really be trying to crack.

When you’re looking for actual connection instead of mere approval, not only are you more likely to find someone who’ll actually make you happy, but you’ll also have more peace of mind. Spending all your time worrying about how you’re being perceived is draining. Chasing validation from other people is like being addicted to a drug: once you get the fix you’ve been looking for, you seek out even more of it. Your hunger for it never ends until you validate your worth for yourself. And this worth isn’t something you have to prove to anyone; it’s an inherent part of you.

It’s your right as a human being to be treated with dignity. If anyone makes you feel like you have to earn that treatment, they’re the ones with the problem, not you. And if it’s your own brain making you feel that way, you still shouldn’t listen. We already get countless messages from the outside world telling us that we’re not good enough. We don’t need to contribute anymore inside our own head. What we really need to give ourselves is patience, grace, and respect. That’s right, respect — a girl who respects herself glows, and the right boy will notice that.

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