If you clicked on this, you might be thinking to yourself, “What do you mean? I know when I like someone, that’s easy.” But do you really?
I’m sure you know when you dislike someone, but the feeling of liking someone can be brought on by so many false positives. And, if you’re like me, you may question what your true feelings are for someone.
Some things I frequently ask myself when over-analyzing my relationships are:
Do I like them? Or do I just like what they do for me?
Do I like them? Or am I just lonely?
Do I like them? Or am I just trying to get over my ex?
Do I like them? Or do I just like the idea of them?
Do I like them? Or do I just like having sex with them?
Do I like them? Or do I just like the potential I see in them?
Do I like them? Or do I just like the attention they give me?
I could go on and on, and a lot of times I’m asking the questions in reverse (eg: do they just like the idea of me?), and there’s nothing wrong with this. It doesn’t mean that you’re not in tune with your emotions it just means you’re human and that love (and like) is complicated.
Sometimes, the reasons we may think we like someone are more chemical and less rational, so I’m going to try to play to the rational side of things so you can take off (or at least wipe down the lenses of) your rose-colored glasses.
1. They make you feel good.
I know I’m not the only one who has fallen for someone that didn’t always make me feel good, so I figured I’d put this one first.
Our brain chemicals can mess with us and make us feel a strong pull towards a person simply because they’re hard to get or not giving us what we want.
In turn, this can make us feel like we’re not good enough or we have to “prove something” to win them over—and it sucks.
Instead, ask yourself: Does this person make me feel good (or possibly better than usual) when I’m around them? Do I feel super comfortable around them?
If the answer is yes, that’s a step in the right direction.
2. They don’t just make you feel good—they make you want to be better.
It’s a common cliché that when you find the right partner, they’ll push you to want to be a better person, and while it may sound corny—I think there’s some truth to it.
Does this person push to you finally start working on that project you’ve been putting off? Does the mere thought of them help get you out of bed in the morning to that early spin class you used to hit in a slightly-more-motivated phase of your life? Great! You probably like them.
3. You prioritize them over other people and other plans.
This one can be problematic, but it’s still definitely a surefire way to tell if you like someone.
Picture this: your best friend invites you to a concert that your favorite artist is playing on Saturday night, but you already have plans to go out with the person you like—what are you doing?
Obviously, there’s not a right answer. But, if it’s a more difficult decision than you thought it’d be, then you probably like this person.
Here’s another one: imagine your “one that got away” texts you saying they’re in town and would love to catch up over dinner. How interested are you?
Ask yourself honestly, and it may give some insight into how much you like this new person in your life.
At minimum, if you like someone, you’re probably much less interested in dating apps. You might even—*gasp*—delete them!
4. You can’t wait to learn more about them.
I recently read a tweet that said something like, “Imagine if we formed relationships based off wanting to learn more about a person rather than trying to fill a void within ourselves,” and I felt that.
A lot of times, especially in romantic relationships, we’re trying to fill a space in our lives that we perceive as empty—whether consciously or not.
A really great way to tell if you like someone for authentic reasons is that you genuinely are interested in hearing about their day—and not just so you can make sure they didn’t flirt with anyone else. You actually want to learn more about their childhood and family history, but not just so you can figure out if their parents will make good in-laws. You want to hear about their hopes and dreams, but not only so you can figure out what their earning potential is in 10 years’ time.
5. You find ways to incorporate them into all your conversations.
Much to the annoyance of our friends, I’m sure we’ve all done this before. We think our crush is so cool/smart/interesting that we want to tell everyone we know about them.
6. You like them for who they are, not who they might be.
When I was in my early 20s dating other guys in their early 20s, I made this mistake a lot—and I think it’s a bit easier for women to make because we’re constantly told that men mature late, we have to teach them to be good boyfriends/husbands, etc.
I would constantly think things like, “Well, he’s pretty immature when it comes to relationships, but I’ll teach him.” Or, “He’s kind of self-conscious, but I’m sure he’ll grow out of that.” Or, “he’s soooo cheap—but when he graduates he’ll get a good job and be willing to spend more money on things.”
But the thing is, if they’re not making you happy now, or you can’t deal with their shortcomings now, then they’re probably not the right person for you. Yes, every relationship does take work, but you have to ask yourself whether you’re being realistic or you’re simply settling—and that’s not always an easy question to answer.
That doesn’t mean you can’t still have fun with this person, but if you have the tendency to end up in a relationship with most people you have initially casual flings with—be careful and be aware of your patterns. Speaking from someone who’s been there.
Whether you like someone enough to make them your monogamous partner, or you just like someone enough to want to have sex with them—congrats! Having feelings is awesome and exciting and part of what makes us feel human. Enjoy the highs and the lows and always take a minute to self-reflect on yourself and your relationships, it’s what makes you a good partner.