When you’re first dating someone everything feels so exciting. From speaking to them every day, going on dates and feeling butterflies when you see them, it feels like you’re on cloud 9.
But sometimes in this honeymoon phase we can get so caught up with the romance, it can blind us from our actual feelings. Do we actually like our new found lover or do we just like the attention they give us?
This week’s reader Carol writes in asking: “How do I know if I like someone or like the attention they’re giving me? I’ve started dating someone and we have fun together, but I’m not sure if I like him or like the attention.”
How do we know when we like someone?
Counselling Directory Claire Elmes says “when we like someone everything feels more exciting and positive”.
“You may start to notice your thoughts and feelings change to be centred around them such as starting to like the same things, or missing them when they aren’t around,” she says.
“Our bodies have physiological changes when we like someone and we release dopamine and norepinephrine which can make us feel excited and energetic and almost euphoric. Oxytocin levels also increase which boost attachment and safety feelings and can also make us feel a bit uneasy if relationships have been difficult in the past.”
How do we know when we only like the attention someone is giving us?
Elmes advises watching out for these signs:
You may not be interested with them as a person, and find it difficult to get to know them on a deeper level.
You may get lonely easily when they’re not around.
It can be hard to know whether we like a person or if we just like the attention they are giving us, especially as all of us like to feel special and so if we get positive attention from someone we are likely to respond with positive emotions.
Do you tell others about the other person? Sometimes if we just enjoy the attention that a person gives us we won’t find them exciting to speak about and therefore don’t tell our friends and family about them.
How can we tell someone that we don’t have feelings for them without hurting them?
“Communicate with the other person in a warm and kind way, express that you currently don’t have feelings for the individual in a clear but warm way,” says Elmes.
“Don’t ignore them - it’s important to confront the issue and give an explanation that you do not have feelings for someone rather than ignore them. Being ignored can be hurtful for the individual, and is often the least effective way to let someone know you don’t have feelings for them.”
If you are confident in your decision and your feelings, Elmes says it’s important not to give the person false hope by putting the decision off (while you soak up that attention).
If you only like hanging out with someone for the attention – but can’t see a future with them – it’s not fair on the other person.
“This may lead to them having hopes for the future, and eventually getting let down and hurt when this doesn’t happen,” says Elmes.
“It is also useful to remember that feelings grow over time so if you are not sure it might be useful to explore this with the person. Sometimes love grows and depending on the past relationships of both parties it might be that you get to know each other first.”
Love Stuck is for those who’ve hit a romantic wall, whether you’re single or have been coupled up for decades. With the help of trained sex and relationship therapists, HuffPost UK will help answer your dilemmas. Submit a question here.