Back in the summer of ’97 (jaysus that was a long time ago), I spent the summer living in Baltimore, partying it up and working. In typical me fashion (back then anyway), I clapped eyes on the team leader and went into instant lust. I was determined to, as we say here in the UK, ‘pull him’ and it took two days and a few drinks before my mission was accomplished. He was actually a Mr Unavailable with a very complicated history and quite the ladies man although I was too blinded to see it. After pulling him, he started blowing cold on me which only had me smarting from rejection and feeling even more interested in him.
We spent the whole summer ‘hanging out’ but we were just friends which really wound me up! I burned up copious levels of brain energy analysing ‘the situation’. He never explained what the hell had happened (I could have just heeded the signs and drawn a conclusion) and I spent the summer lusting after him. We hooked up again before the end of the summer which was around the time I discovered that he was hooking up with another girl who’d been lurking around, that sat about a stones throw away from me in the office. To add insult to injury, she had a boyfriend! Oddly, this was all I needed to give me the kick in the teeth wake up call that I needed. I instantly lost respect for him as well as the interest and adoration. In fact, I saw him through brand new eyes and rather than feel compelled to compete with this girl, I realised how silly, deceitful, and pathetic he was.
I almost cringe now at how I lurked around pining for him and waiting for him to throw me scraps of attention although it wasn’t the last time I was interested in someone who wasn’t interested in me. When I cast my mind back to that summer, I have to admit that most of what took place was in my head, trapped not only in the fantasy of him realising his ‘burning desire’ for me, but also trapped by the shackles of rejection.
What I can tell you is this: When you don’t heed the signs either direct or indirect that someone isn’t interested, you will disrespect yourself and do things that on reflection cause you to feel embarrassed or even humiliated.
When a guy is interested, you know he’s interested, not because he’s treating you like Dial-a-lay calling you up late at night arranging to hook up, treating you like a ‘mate’, emailing or texting, or burning your ears by relaying all of his problems from Me Me Me Land, but because guys who are interested don’t leave you in doubt about their interest and treat you with care, trust, and respect, ultimately followed by love. They don’t let you hang around on the fringes, let you watch while they flirt it up with other people, or tell you bullsh*t like ‘I’m not ready for a relationship but I like hanging out’ or ‘I’m not ready for a relationship’ while undoing your bra and making a beeline for the bedroom. We also know when someone isn’t interested and in fact, for some women, you’ll actually know when someone isn’t interested because you are interested – this is because what hooks you in to someone and has you feeling like you want to be with them is ‘disinterest’.
When disinterest increases your own level of interest, be very afraid because it is a red flag of unhealthy love habits because if you only want people who are not interested in you, you have to ask what type of people you’re interested in and why you only want people who don’t share your interest?
Often when this happens it’s because your pattern is to feel interested when you know that their interest is not there, going on to seek validation and getting trapped in feelings of rejection. This doesn’t mean you’re interested – it means you want to be right and chosen. In fact, if they do ‘choose you’, your own interest is likely to go ‘floppy’.
However you come to be in a situation where you are interested in someone who isn’t reciprocating, always remember that when someone is not interested in you, it’s a major red flag that signals that it’s time to come down to earth with a rather big bump. If I had spent more time asking myself why I was so interested instead of fantasising about what could happen under certain circumstances and trying to capture a ‘feeling’, I’d probably have lost interest a hell of a lot sooner.
We have to remember that feeling interested in someone doesn’t come with an IOU where you can slap a demand on them for their love. In fact, you will alienate them if you demand their attentions and affections when they are not interested.
To be fair, it is important to remember that sometimes we are up against mixed signals and people who lack enough integrity and conscientiousness to kill off an uncomfortable situation. This is why no signals or mixed signals are a sign that you need to investigate, ask questions, process information or even ask yourself what those mixed signals mean because someone shouldn’t be ‘mixed’ about their interest in you.
Some people will tell you that they’re not interested but still keep you around to feed their ego and enjoy the fringe benefits of your interest. This is incredibly confusing because on one hand the person says they’re not interested or don’t want a relationship but on the other they’re still calling you up, trying to sleep with you, or even still sleeping with you.
This is where stated disinterest trumps actions because there is no way in hell that you should still be sleeping with someone that has had the brass balls to state disinterest on any level.
Some of you will say, ‘But Natalie, actions speak louder than words’ and this is true and trust me when I say that the fact that someone has stated their interest but is still shagging you or trying to speaks volumes about their lack of character – it’s incredibly disrespectful.
There is no such thing as a level of mixed signals that justifies why someone would tell you that they’re not interested but still give themselves license to use you up. It’s a test that you’re set up to fail because up until the moment where you continue ego stoking, shagging them, and giving them the time of day, the test is to see what you’re prepared to do in an effort to potentially ‘win’ their interest. It’s generally an unspoken message that if you ‘play ball’ you may be rewarded with their interest and a relationship. However, it’s a trap, and if you give them all the fringe benefits of a relationship without them having to be 1) actually interested in you and 2) in a relationship, a signal will go off in their brain that you weren’t relationship material anyway but that they may as well stay at the proverbial table and ‘eat’.
They figure it’s on offer, why not take it.
A decent person who knows that they’re not interested and that you are, will not continue to lead you astray and this means that if you pursue them, you may encounter them doing the No Contact Rule on you – try not to put yourself in the position of needing to be shut down in order to get the message.
But it is our job to assess the risk and be 100% responsible for ourselves which means we have to act with love, care, trust, and respect towards ourselves and opt out of any situations that serve to detract from us. Period.
One of the foundations of boosting your self-esteem that also serves to protect you from damaging yourself further, is to apply limits to yourself.
Make a pact with you that the moment that someone states disinterest or shows disinterest through disrespect, you will opt out. This means that not only will you back away from them but you will back away from your interest in them.
One of the foundations of a healthy relationship is mutual love, care, trust, and respect – you can’t have a healthy basis to your interest in them if in spite of the fact that they don’t share your interest, you persist in wanting them.
From the moment that they say or show they’re not interested, and you remain interested, it has now become a fantasy relationship.
The only way this can end is by letting go of what you thought might be – that’s taking them off the pedestal you’re putting them on, seeing them in a real light, and mourning the loss of everything you thought could and would take place. You have to do this because it is natural when you feel interested in someone to start ‘picturing’ yourselves together. If you don’t divorce yourself from this picture, you will cling to the illusion of them and stall the process of getting over them.
Don’t rob your dignity by pursuing someone who has either directly or indirectly shown their lack of interest in you. You don’t need them to tell you to leave them alone or spell it out point blank that they’re not interested, although this is helpful albeit hurtful. You need to be able to take visual and auditory cues which is why it’s important not to love and trust blindly before you have interest confirmed – slow your roll. Don’t commit to someone before there is something to commit to. Keep those feet firmly in reality and by loving yourself you’ll learn to accept that when they don’t love or want you, you don’t love or want them either.