What if you knew what men secretly wanted but they could never tell you

It’s simpler than you think and I’m here to tell you how.

Do I Like Him Or Am I Just Lonely? – 7 Experts Reveal Exactly How To Distinguish Between the Two

by Jessica Colarco – LCSW, PLLC, Trisha Swinton – LPC, LMFT, Kate Kelly – MSW, LCSW, Joy McNeil – PhD, LPC, TFCBT, Ileana Hinojosa – MLA, LMFT, Heather Champion – MA, LMHC, RYT, TSY, Sally LeBoy – MFT

Do I Like Him Or Am I Just Lonely

“It is necessary, and even vital, to set standards for your life and the people you allow in it.”

~ Mandy Hale

Mandy Hale Standards Quote
Jessica Colarco

How do you know when you truly like a guy?

That you are not just accepting his invitations because you would rather be out than home alone?  Don’t rush to a decision.  

Give yourself some time to see if this relationship is right for you.  

Sift through your feelings.  It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of a new relationship.  Receiving attention from a new guy feels good.  How do you know that you really like this person and that you are not just going on dates to avoid being alone?  

I encourage you to process through your feelings and ask yourself these 4 questions:

1. Do you look forward to his texts/calls? 

When you are truly connecting with someone, you look forward to any connection you may have.  You constantly check your phone for texts, calls, emails, etc.  Just thinking about your next encounter can feel thrilling.  If you are dating him just to kill time you might not be as eager with communication.

2. Do you feel good about yourself when you are together?

When you have found a good partner, you will notice that your personalities complement one another.  Maybe he is calm where you are more anxious.  Or just being in his presence improves your mood.  

Early on in relationships people are just discovering one another and hopefully enjoying what they find.  I’d discourage continuing a relationship in which he is finding fault with you or picking you apart.  You are looking for a man who will accept you for who you are. 

3. Do you have a full life regardless of dates with this guy?

If you are canceling plans or carving out time for a date, then you are probably not just dating to avoid being alone.  It is important to establish your own routine and engage in activities that you enjoy on a daily basis.  You can have a full life without an intimate partner.  And when you do find “the one”, it is important to continue engaging in activities on your own in order to avoid losing yourself in the relationship. 

4. What are you looking for in a partner?

Helping to define what you want in a mate will help you understand whether this is a relationship that you would like to continue to explore.  Having similar interests is extremely important in successful relationships. 

Recreational companionship is most often cited as a top emotional need. 

Another important component to a successful relationship is having long term goals that align.  Where do you both see yourself in 5 years? 10 years?

The dating scene can be difficult to navigate.  It is essential that you are living a balanced life in order to ensure that you are presenting your best self.  

Take care of your own needs. 

Self care does not end when you couple up. When you are feeling your best and living a fulfilling life, you reduce the doubt that you are only dating because you are lonely.  You will be confident that you are dating because you are in search of a partner to share your life with.

Jessica Colarco, LCSW, PLLC – www.jessicacolarcolcsw.com

Sally LeBoy

Everyone likes attention.  The other day a checker at the market told me that he loved my hair.  I felt great!  However, that attention wasn’t enough to define my life for very long.  It was just a nice moment in time.

I think how reliant you are on attention really depends on how you feel about yourself.  Some women are so starved for attention that they will do almost anything to get it.  

Think of it like food.  If you are starving, you’ll eat anything.  As you begin to feel sated, you get pickier.  That’s how it is with men. 

The better you feel about yourself, the less important attention from others, including men, becomes.  As you recognize your own worth, you just don’t need as much recognition.  That’s called self-validation.  People who can self-validate are by definition, less needy.

Don’t get me wrong.  

Everyone needs some attention and external validation.  We don’t live in a vacuum.  And of course, we want some of that attention to come from our partner.  If your partner is ignoring you, something is probably wrong and it’s important to find out what that is.  Is he angry and not telling you about it?  Is there something wrong in his life that has him so absorbed he’s not relating to you? Is he just plain self-centered?  

A temporary lapse of attention can happen to anybody, but it shouldn’t be an ongoing dynamic in your relationship.

I always think that the best way to figure out what is going on is to just ask.  Tell him how you are feeling, not as an accusation, but as a description of how things are for you.  See what he has to say.  He just may not be a demonstrative person but knowing that you would like a little more may make him more conscious of showing attention and affection.

You are not wrong for wanting some validation from your partner.  

Just make sure that you’re not looking for it as a way to replace self-validation.  When you aren’t needy it becomes very easy to tell if you are with him for the attention or if the attraction to him is based on real substance.

Sally LeBoy, MFT – www.sallyleboymft.com

Trisha Swinton

Often people prefer being in relationships then being alone; however remember there is a difference between being lonely and being alone.

It is beneficial to being happy and content being alone, or without a partner prior to jumping into a relationship. The main reason for this is that you most likely will not be satisfied or fulfilled if you say yes to the first person who shows an interest, just because you are lonely.

Be honest with yourself in terms of;

  • Does this person have the traits that I am looking for in a partner? 
  • Do I enjoy being around him?
  • Does he treat me with kindness and respect and; do I genuinely like this person and can I see a future with him?

If you answer those questions honestly; it will be fairly easy if you are only interested in this person because you are lonely.

Continuing this is not fair to either person. He might have true feelings for you and if you do not feel the same way; it is better to tell him early on so you can both find people that are better matches. 

If you are alone; put yourself first.

This is a time in life when you can do so. Figure out what your interests and hobbies might be. Connect with friends. Work on strengthening the relationships that you already have. Surround yourself with people who support and encourage you. Take a class, join a group, make new friends.

Remember being alone does not have to mean being lonely. You do not need to jump into a relationship that is not what you really want just because you are alone! 

Trisha Swinton, LPC, LMFT – www.trishaswintoncounseling.com

Kate Kelly

The quality of our relationships has a direct impact on our mental health and well-being.

You have noticed this if you have ever been in an unhealthy relationship of any kind and found that it has changed how you view yourself. When single people come into my office and speak about their dates I pay close attention to their body language. Often, people will make outrageous attempts to find something redeemable about a really bad date. This can be out of desperation, loneliness, or poor self-image.

Chances are as with anything, if you are asking yourself the question: “do I really like this person or am I just lonely?” there is a reason.

Loneliness is one of the worst human emotions to cope with. Death was always a preferable fate to exile and at times we can feel exiled when single. After all, the wedding industry has surrounded us with images of happy couples, engagement rings, and far off destinations that would be great for any couple. We can easily be lured into a sense of comfort having anyone for companionship rather than no one.

This is of course problematic as after the initial attraction wears off you are left with the reality of the situation and if your eyes weren’t open before, they will be then! So how do we avoid this scenario?

First, improve your perception of yourself.

If you really believe you are worthy of the person who would be a great fit for you, you will accept no substitutions even when you are lonely. This one is so important and often draws to us what we believe we deserve. Believe you deserve a person that brings out the best in you and complements you and this is what you will get. Believe that all you deserve is the person no one else wants and this is what you will get. It’s strange, but it really does work out this way. If you think back on your earliest relationships you will likely find evidence to support this.

Second, make sure you couldn’t possibly be lonely.

If this is a challenge for you then it will be helpful to make some new friends. If there is something you like to do, make sure you get out and do it even if it is by yourself. We are all alone in a sense and if we learn how to become our own best company, we need never be lonely. Also, there is a meetup for everyone. If you need friends find several that sound interesting and go to them. You don’t have to stay if you’re not into it! Even extreme introverts have their people and can find groups this way.

And lastly, desperation is never attractive and generally attracts all the wrong people.

Typically, it will attract those that only want something from you. If you go out seeking love in this manner you will only likely attract wolves seeking prey. Please take some time to take care of yourself. Spend some time with close friends or family that loves you and pay attention to how much they care about you. 

There is no one that can fill this void for you but if we attempt to look at ourselves from their perspective and consider whether or not they would want this for us, we will likely find answers. Self-love is the most important, start there and everything else will follow.

Kate Kelly, MSW, LCSW – www.willowcreekwellness.com

Joy McNeil

“The trouble is not that I am single and likely to stay single, but that I am lonely and likely to stay lonely.” ― Charlotte Brontë

People attempt to fill the hole in their lives with people, places or things.  While they are pleasant distractions, it only numbs loneliness and the need for human interaction temporarily.  

Regarding dating relationships, loneliness will cause a person to tolerate dating a person or person(s) who they simply deem as placeholders, interesting enough for a good time, but not quite relationship material. 

The distinction is that the person is tolerated and perhaps even likable, but not the One. 

When a lonely person shows interest, they show it from a place of lack, needing to fill time and distract from the ups and downs of life and singledom. 

When experiencing loneliness, people tend to settle into relationships that are comfortable, but not courageous; easy, but not edifying. 

On the contrary, when a person likes a person, one of the best gifts of the relationship is that it comes from a place of wholeness and genuine connection, not lack.  The person is able to feel excited, empowered and embodied fully when being around the romantic interest. 

While loneliness may come and go as a natural, temporary feeling, the person does not operate out of loneliness but out of genuine interest, acceptance and authentic involvement within their interest. 

One specific way to tell that you like a person is that you desire to present your full self around the person and encourage him or her to show you more of who they are without reservation.

Some of the detriments of loneliness dating are that it can turn into fruitless, resentful marriages or long-term relationships.  

One person realizes in hindsight that they did not choose to be with their partner due to true love, but because of convenience, great physical intimacy or appearances.  

Some chose to prematurely end their single lives to have someone, anyone bearable to connect with.  Human beings desire connection, and loneliness confirms that desire.  

When we understand that loneliness is temporary and must be dealt with by confronting the thoughts, feelings and behaviors stemming from loneliness, we find a stronger sense of self and make stronger, more life-giving relationship choices. 

Joy McNeil, PhD, LPC, TFCBT – www.thewellingplace.com

Ileana Hinojosa

Maybe he checks all the boxes but there is no spark.

He might be a good catch, but is he the one? You can love someone and not be in love. Good friends can have great relationships but the spark that makes it a romantic one may be missing, and you need to be honest with yourself and him. If you are not sure, take inventory and assess what you really need and want from him.  

Keeping him around for the sake of companionship is in effect settling.

Depending on what you want and need from the relationship, you could be cheating yourself. You are also leading him on if he expects more than you do from the relationship. 

Be mindful that you are not attached to the idea of a relationship because you are lonely and need someone to fill in a space in your life. If you are not compatible and it is not a good fit, don’t force it. It would be like trying to force a square peg into a round hole and it just won’t fit.

Take inventory

Take inventory by spending time alone and reflecting on how you feel when you are alone. 

  • Are you restless? 
  • Do you need attention? 
  • Are you needy and want someone there to validate your feelings? 
  • Are you able to self-soothe and internally regulate your emotions? 
  • What is the discomfort you feel when you are alone? 
  • Where is it coming from and how do you manage it?

It can be difficult to be alone in our thoughts, especially if we tend to be anxious and need to keep busy. Assess the way you feel when he is around.  Is he filling your agenda with things to do? Is the time you spend with him engaging and productive to the relationship? Are you bored and disengaged within minutes of being with him?

Being alone can be uncomfortable

Being alone means that you sometimes have to sit in your discomfort because you have only yourself to engage with when you are alone.  It means that you might think about things that you don’t like or want to remember. 

Keeping busy and constantly being in motion is a way to avoid confronting our feelings and not think about our worst fears.  

Being alone makes people anxious and it is important to be able to internally validate yourself without the need for someone else being there to do it for you.

Be mindful not to build up his expectation for more when all you are interested in is friendship. Be honest and let him know how you feel.  Your feelings might change over time, but don’t hang onto him based on the idea that you might grow to like him romantically. Remember that his needs are as important as yours so don’t yank him around just because he has a crush on you.

If you want a relationship and he is not the one, stop wasting his time and yours.

Spend the time you are alone on being your own best friend. Start by doing things that you enjoy and trying new things. Go to an after work social event or go to a meetup event that you think you might like. Take a class or sign-up for a workshop. You won’t meet new friends staying home. Online dating is a good option, but you also need to engage with people in person. This will help you feel more connected to others and less lonely.

Ileana Hinojosa, MLA, LMFT – www.themindfullife.net

Heather Champion

So, you’ve met someone who seems interesting and seems interested in you.

This makes you happy, right? But, what if your interest is solely from a fear of loneliness? To figure this out we need to understand your fears and how you see yourself in respect to others.

Fear is the biggest driver of behavior, whether good or bad.

When we understand and accept our fears we can better handle situations like this one. To begin, make a list of your genuine fears. Nothing is too silly to include on the list, personally I have a genuine fear of birds. These are real fears and I need to both be accepting of them and be ready for them if they come up in my life. The list of fears you make will get you started on understanding yourself.

Next, write an explanation on why you have each of the fears.

Think about the origin of the fear and what you think will happen if the fear is enacted. My fear of birds comes from feeding the ducks as a little girl, I got a little too close and the geese and swans attacked. Then a neighbor told me about being attacked by a blue jay. My grandfather kept a blue jay as a pet and one day it attacked me too. Solid fear of birds with a real origin. Granted, I was only about two feet tall when it happened, but still a real and genuine fear.

When you look over your fears and their origins look for patterns of that might indicate loneliness is a fear.

For instance, if you have a fear of eating in a restaurant alone, or just going out alone, where does that fear come from? Is it fear of being judged by others? Or maybe a fear of looking vulnerable to others, potentially making yourself a target? 

All fears are valid and come from our experiences, remember to keep that in mind as you look over and analyze your fears. 

Tell yourself “my fears are valid, it’s okay that I feel this way.” Repeat it 10 times a day if you need to, acceptance is the key to letting these things go.

After you’ve made the list of fears, put it aside and make two more lists

(1) things I enjoy doing by myself and (2) things I enjoy doing with others. For the second list, include who you enjoy sharing these activities. Include the reasons why you enjoy doing these things alone or with others. 

Be honest with yourself and don’t make a list of the things you’re “supposed” to enjoy doing alone or with others. 

Do you sleep better with someone next to you, or do you sleep better alone? Do you like to binge watch girly TV shows alone, or watch chick flicks by yourself? It’s okay, try not to judge, right now we’re trying to understand and accept.

Compare your three lists, do you see any patterns?

Maybe you found a few more fears when thinking about why you enjoy doing things with others. Look at how long your list of things you enjoy doing alone is as compared to you list of things you enjoy doing with others. 

A healthy list of things you enjoy doing alone is about as long as the one you enjoy doing with others. Also, see how many things you enjoy doing with others include a boyfriend or date. Again, healthy lists show an even distribution between all the categories. If you’re not seeing an even distribution, then ask yourself why that pattern exists. Maybe look back to your fears.

Once you’ve completed all of your lists you’ll likely have a better understanding of your motivation for your relationship

It’s natural to enjoy spending time with others; however, when we examine what we’re doing in a relationship we really need to look at what the relationship entails. Think about your role in the relationship and the things you do with your new friend. Is he there just to fill up the room and keep you from eating alone?

What do you think of his most annoying habits, when we like them it’s called a picadillo, when we don’t it’s just plain annoying. Think about how much you are going out of your comfort zone for the relationship and if it’s healthy. 

For example, is the relationship impacting your ability to spend time with your friends or taking you away from the things you enjoy doing? If this is happening, then think honestly how its impacting you and your ability to care for yourself. Happy and healthy relationships propel us to be stronger and better versions of who we really are, not take on a new identity to meet the needs of our partners.

When we know, love, and accept ourselves it’s easy to observe our actions and notice how we feel.

But if we’re disconnected in any way from ourselves it is difficult to figure out our feelings. Lopsided lists and putting aside who and what you enjoy to make someone else happy is a clear indication that you’re probably in the relationship due to loneliness. Also, looking at your fears and seeing how many of them are tied to loneliness will give a clear indication. Remember, just having someone in the room with you doesn’t necessarily mean you’re not going to feel lonely.

Heather Champion, MA, LMHC, RYT, TSY – www.maitri-therapy.com

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