“Do I like him or the attention?” I wish I had asked myself this question when my first boyfriend, Beanbag (don’t ask why I called him that), asked me to go out with him. Because that relationship ended in complete disaster. Three long years, on and off, and even today, I have no idea why I was with him.
Possibly peer pressure. But another reason could be that he appeared keener to be with me than I was to be with him. It feels good to be wanted by someone, which suggests more insecurity issues than I thought I had. But that’s not the point of this article.
The point is I stayed in the relationship, even though it didn’t do anything for me. I’m not proud of it, for I wasted three years of my life and his. He was too sweet but not really a good match for me. I would avoid his calls, could remember nothing of our conversations the day after, and worst of all, I didn’t even have the guts to tell him. It was far too easy to let him comfort me on a bad day, and conveniently forget him on a good day. I know, I was horrible as a partner, but I never asked myself, “Do I really like him or just the attention?”
Interest Versus Attention
Table of Contents
Like every human, we all have a fundamental need for attention. So ladies, whenever you’re craving male attention, do not beat yourself up for it. When you get attention, all the right circuits glow in your brain and you feel wonderful. But the amount of attention you need before your brain is finally happy depends upon how secure you are as a person. This is ultimately a result of the conditioning in childhood and adolescent years. So, when you’re insecure or something of a narcissist, you’re likely to simply like people who like you back, for the sake of it.
If you are at a point where you don’t know how you feel about him, you’ve come to the right place today. Is it genuine interest in this guy, or do you just like having someone who texts you while you’re having a boring day at work?
|Genuine interest in the guy
|Need for attention
|You feel comfortable around them: When you are truly into someone, there is an air of ease in their presence. When they enter a room, you don’t always get butterflies. It’s almost as if your heart stops pacing because you feel so at peace
|You just want to be noticed: When you do not actually have strong feels for someone, it is only about that dopamine hit. They enter a room and your heart flutters waiting for them to see you and come to talk to you
|You genuinely care about their day: If they’ve had a rough day at work or are struggling with some thoughts, you might feel affected by it. Not just because they’re not being themselves, but because you want them to feel better as you think they deserve the best
|Their mood does not affect you as much: If they’ve told you about an issue that is bothering them, you do feel bad for them. But it is easy for you to move on from it. You don’t actively think of ways to show affection or improve their mood. You feel sorry for them, but you are not personally affected
|When spending time, you want to get to know them: You ask this person personal questions and can listen to them rant about their annoying cousin for an hour. It’s because you love the process of getting to know them and understanding them at their core level
|You just want to have fun: When making plans, the two of you often end up getting drinks, going to a club, or doing some sort of activity that might be pure fun. There is not always room for intense, emotional discussions
It may seem very black and white right now, but it is not that easy in real life. Trouble is, sometimes it is difficult to tell if one is in a relationship because they’re genuinely interested in their partner or the due to the attention their partner bestows on them. There is a scientific explanation for that. Research has suggested two real reasons for people to form close relationships: Proximity and similarity, and to maintain that relationship: Reciprocity and self-disclosure.
Related Reading: How Do I Stop Begging For Attention In A Relationship?
This means people who are physically close to each other and have similar interests are more likely to form a bond. And romantic feelings are invoked in this bond when one person reciprocates the attention they receive from the other. In simple words, if you see someone every day, who is somewhat similar to you, there’s a real chance you’d fall for them if you think they’d fall for you too. Therefore, it’s quite easy to confuse the need for attention with interest, especially if you’re a low-esteem soul like me.
How Do You Tell If You Like Someone?
If you are not sure of your feelings toward this person, let’s clear it up today once and for all. If you have just started dating someone, it’s okay to not entirely be sure if you actually want a future with this person. But here are a few things to consider if thoughts like “Do I like him or am I just bored?” are constantly buzzing in your head:
1. You won’t think about other men
Do you fantasize about someone else while in bed with your partner? Do you try to get another guy’s attention even though you’re in a monogamous relationship? Do you imagine extravagant scenarios where your partner is dead and you can connect with the new guy over your grief for your dead partner? Do you still use your dating profile on Tinder or Bumble?
If the answer to these is no, well then, congratulations, you are clearly very interested in your partner/date. Even though you may not be exclusive yet and have only been seeing each other casually, you don’t quite feel like scrolling on those dating apps or replying to a text from the guy you hooked up with six months ago.
2. You care when he stops paying attention
Impassivity is not a sign of true love, so think about this one for a moment. When he stops texting you back or doesn’t call you even when he said he would — How affected do you feel by it? Do you consider those red flags, or do you just not care that much and are happy to text someone else instead?
What does liking someone feel like? When you actually like someone, then even a change in their texting tone will make you worried and concerned for your connection. You feel like doing everything to get them to talk to you again.
Related Reading: How To Play Hard To Get With A Guy & Make Him Want You
3. Think about when you seek him
This is the best way to answer your question, “Do I like him or am I just lonely?” Do you seek conversation with him only when you need comfort? For example, after a blow at work or to discuss general frustrations of your life? Or do you also seek conversations with him when something makes you happy? Do you seek him if he is not in a good place? Do you try to find out if he needs comfort from you?
If you reach out to him only in your times of need, it is possible you do not have actual feelings for this guy. But if just the idea of talking to him, catching up with him over coffee, or asking him about his favorite movies excites you — Then you might be falling in love.
4. How well do you know him?
How well do you know your partner? Can you tell a thing about him that nobody else knows? Do you know what will upset him immediately and why? Do you know what his mechanism is to deal with the things that upset him? In contrast to this, how much does he know about you?
Think long and hard about this question and be real with yourself. One sign that you like someone is that you know them way too well, maybe even as well as a family member does. You’ve picked up on details in their stories, habits, and other things while they weren’t even paying attention.
5. You ignore him for everyone else
This is clearly not an act of seeking attention if you are always going out of your way to make time for this person. If you never let his calls go to voicemail, or return them as soon as you can, you might be smitten by him.
Do you always reply to him even if you are busy doing things like reading or working or watching Netflix? Do you end up double texting him more often than not? Do you think about what he thinks (or how he feels) when you ignore him? If you find it completely normal to ignore your colleagues or best friend to talk to this guy, then you know what to say to “Do I like him or the attention?”
5 Signs You Only Like The Attention
It’s not difficult to give someone attention in a relationship, but sometimes it can be overpowering for one person. Being with someone for the attention they give you instead of being with them due to genuine affection is not just unfair to your partner who might have romantic feelings for you. It is also unfair to yourself as you are ridding yourself of a chance to find the right person for yourself.
You’re also ignoring the deep-seated issues in your psyche which are responsible for this behavior. This can create further issues between two people. To find the answer to “Do I like him or do I like the attention?” you need to think about the following questions, and answer honestly.
1. Who initiates contact more often?
On an average day, does he call you more often than you do? Does he initiate a conversation or text more often than you do? How large is this difference? If you’re wondering, “Am I attracted to him or does he just fill a void in my life?” then ask yourself these tough questions.
It’s certainly one of the indicators of who is keener to communicate in the relationship. If you feel like he is doing all the grunt work in this dynamic, chances are you are not as invested in him. And that’s okay because it doesn’t make you a bad person.
Related Reading: Are You Unknowingly Flirting? How To Know?
2. Are your conversations uni-directional?
When you two talk to each other, who is the subject of your conversations the majority of the time? Are most of your conversations complaints you have about other people that you are venting to him? How often does he talk about himself? If the conversations feature primarily you as the active speaker and him as the listener, it’s a sign he is single in the relationship.
This could mean that you do not actually have true feelings for this person. If he sees other women, you are probably okay with that too. You just enjoy the comfort of communicating with him and having him around, but you don’t actually feel possessive or invested in any way.
3. Do I like him or the idea of him?
Do you often imagine your guy behaving in a manner that is completely different from how he is? Do you often seek to change things about his personality? When it comes to liking someone, the answer to this is usually no. But if you have answered in the affirmative, it is possible that you are not falling for this person. He just makes you feel good, but that is the end of it.
This happened a lot to me in my own relationship. I hated Beanbag for being too laid-back and wanted him to be more decisive and in control, which is why I named him Beanbag. I often pushed him for not being how the heroes of my books were, an alpha male. It was just impossible for me to accept him the way he was. Yet, I didn’t break up with him because he always made me feel safe and feel special in a way nobody else did.
Related Reading: 35 Cute Ways To Say I Like You Over Text
4. Do I make room for him in my life?
So you had an afternoon date planned with this guy, but your neighbor invited you to a board games party that very morning. In that moment, you decided to ditch your partner and go play games with your friends instead. If this sounds similar to something you may have done in the past, it is possible that you are in this relationship just for the attention you are receiving from this person.
In a real relationship with genuine feelings, people make time and room for each other. If you were in love, you would either cancel on the board games party, or take him along. Either way, you would not hurt his feelings and toss him aside since you had already made plans with each other. That’s what making room for someone in your life is. It’s taking them to places as your plus one, doing social media posts of them, and truly taking the time out to spend quality time with them.
5. Final question: Do I like him or the attention?
Using this questionnaire below, you can finally know if you are in a relationship for attention or for love. You should also consider if your need for attention can create relationship insecurity for you in your future relationships. Think:
- Are you a narcissist?: Narcissism is a result of conditioning in the early formative years of a person, where a person may develop attention issues for not getting enough attention as a child. Does this describe you? Do you feel like you are constantly begging for attention?
- Do you have insecurity issues?: Do you crave validation from everyone around you? Do you have low self-esteem in general, and often undermine yourself? Do you also seem to have a pattern of comparing your life with others or other forms of self-sabotage?
- Do you need help?: If you feel that any of the above is true for you, or want to understand various attachment styles and how it affects your relationship, then you can get in touch with Bonobology’s panel of expert counselors to help you figure out your issues
- It’s completely normal to confuse genuine interest in somebody with just a need for attention from them
- When you like someone truly, you make the effort to get to know them. But if you just want attention, your conversations are mostly centered around yourself
- When you are with someone for attention, they never show up on your social media posts and your friends don’t even know them
- It’s possible that you like the idea of a person and truly admire them, without actually falling for them
Being in love is a great feeling, perhaps even the greatest in the world. But being in love is often more complicated than it appears. And the question “Do I like him or the attention?” can reveal a great deal about a person. When you are with someone because of your inherent need for attention, it affects the both of you.
The relationship that you share is not built on love that can sustain over time, but over a demand-supply equation that both of you are somehow making work. So whether you like him or don’t like him, if you are not fully invested in the relationship and are constantly asking yourself questions, it’s only a matter of time before it all breaks apart.
This article was updated in July 2023.
The question “Do I like him or the idea of him?” may often present itself to you. Think about whether you would be happy in a relationship with someone else. This will tell you if it’s truly the relationship or the person that brings you joy. If you’re comfortable in a relationship but not in love, then you don’t really like him.
Blame it on your deep-rooted psychological issues or modern multi-option culture or past relationship trauma, it can often be difficult to decide on anything – Including a partner. Top it with the anxiety of getting into a relationship, trying to get the guy’s attention, and dreading the opinions of your friends – All of these factors can make it difficult to decide if you like someone. But when you do like someone, the answer to “Do I like him or the attention?” is never attention.
It’s possible to like someone but not want to date them. It’s called a platonic relationship and doesn’t require any physical intimacy to form a relationship. Or maybe you can’t decide about this guy and keep thinking to yourself, “I don’t know if I like him”. In such a case, it is always good to wait, instead of hurrying into a relationship.