A mistake I used to make in dating was assuming that if a guy expressed interest in me, he was:

1) Not in a relationship already
2) Over his ex
3) Interested in a relationship with me
4) We had a lot in common (I know, I know!)

Then I assumed that if I were playing armchair therapist, plus we were hanging out, sleeping together, and, in my eyes, acting like boyfriend and girlfriend even if we hadn’t defined the relationship yet, we were doing so because he was interested in it developing into a relationship.

I was so hung up on whether he was ‘interested’, I failed to pay attention to what his interest pertained to. I’d feel rejected when guys rolled out the usual excuses. ‘You’re a great girl. Any guy would be lucky to have you. But, um, I’m not over my ex /ready for a relationship/ready to be cut from the umbilical cord yet’.

Within certain contexts, they were interested [in me]. Separate from that, though, they weren’t interested in a relationship. I used to make that a me problem. I believed how interesting I was could ‘make’ a man spontaneously combust into being relationship-minded. Even if he had issues that meant he wasn’t. It was also foolhardy of me to make assumptions about where a person’s interests lay when, instead, I could show up and let the person unfold.

Anyone can be interested in you, just like anyone can browse or pick up something and play with it. However, there’s a big difference between interest and commitment.

As humans, we’re interested in a lot of things. However, our interest in something becomes a commitment based on our personal priorities.

Let’s say we have an interest in how online businesses work, fishing, and making paper rosettes to name but a few of our interests, but part of our plan is to run our own business one day. We’re likely to develop the interest in online business if we’re serious about it.

We might, for instance, have a strong interest in fiNshing. Maybe, like so many of us do when the urge to know everything about something overtakes us, we order all sorts of equipment, books, and maybe even a cool outfit to go with it, but never have the fishing rod touch the water or only fish sporadically. It doesn’t mean that the person isn’t interested in fishing. Still, what separates someone interested in something from someone invested in something is the actions.

Similarly, every time they see a paper rosette, they might think, I’d really love to be able to make those. Without actions, though, it’s not a priority or even a developed interest.

Now we could, in the fishing example, take the attitude of, Well, we’ve purchased top of the range equipment and booked (and cancelled) a fishing retreat. How dare anyone question my interest or commitment?’

Realistically, though, the people who are driven by intention, action, a sense of purpose about fishing, fish consistently. Sure, some will fish every day; some will do it weekly, monthly or whatever. None will say, ‘I went fishing once, so that makes me super interested in fishing’.

It’s what someone does with interest that counts.

Interest is not an automatic precursor to commitment or even actions.

I learned the hard way that there is no point in latching on to hallmarks we think indicate a relationship if the landmarks (commitment, consistency, balance, progression and intimacy) aren’t there. We can also tell a great deal about the lengths and breadths of someone’s interest if we open our eyes and ears instead of deceiving ourselves.

Sure, someone might text or call. If they’re afraid to talk about their feelings, reluctant to say that they’re in a relationship, but are happy to shag and ultimately do things on their terms, they’re not interested in a mutual relationship.

This is when we have to acknowledge that a lot of the things that have gone unsaid have really been about dancing around the obvious fact that we’re not in a relationship (or certainly not the one we want). They’ve also been managing down our expectations.

We get too hung up on romantic interest.

Yes, we want a partner to be interested in us and to take an interest in us. However, that’s not where interest starts and ends. This is especially do if you’re like me and the reason you get hung up on interest is that you spent a lot of your childhood craving a parent’s interest and feeling wounded by their physical and/or emotional absence and then diverted that to romantic partners. Someone takes an interest in us and we’re carrying on as if it’s the loaf when it’s really crumbs.

Focusing on ‘making’ someone interested causes us to ignore the content of their interest. It becomes about collecting attention and getting strokes from the supposed hallmarks. Then we wonder, You’ve been giving me attention (albeit sporadically or in certain contexts only). Where is my relationship?

If we’re honest with ourselves, getting stuck on interest taps into a root belief that we’re not interesting and worthy enough (based on our perception of events in the past). Trying to validate How interesting am I? is the real-world equivalent of living your life off of ‘likes’ on Facebook.

If they’re texting, calling, sleeping with you, keeping a foothold in your life, or whatever they’re doing, but you’re not in a loving relationship, you’re clearly ‘interesting’ to them. However, what you truly need, if you want a loving relationship, is someone who will consistently act with love, care, trust, and respect.

A person’s priorities dictate their interest.

Someone can be interested in you but not be interested in co-creating a mutually fulfilling relationship. If someone values and so prioritises being in a mutually fulfilling relationship and is also interested in you, they will demonstrate it. Their interest and commitment will be a by-product of actively engaging in the relationship. They will allow the opportunity to develop rather than narrowing it to only the areas that suit them.

If they’re genuinely interested in a possible relationship as well as you, they’re not trying to dodge it. They don’t burn up their energy resisting being emotionally available and letting the relationship develop.

Want to ensure that you don’t sell yourself short on someone’s ‘interest’? Take a genuine interest in you. Get to know, like, and love yourself. When you do, you won’t rely on other people’s interest as the barometer of your worth.

When you are the thing that you seek, you won’t accept less from others than you already be, do and feel for yourself.

Your thoughts?


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