Question: I want attention and love in my life, but every time someone shows interest I go full hermit mode and get the ick. Maybe they just aren’t the right person, but how do I get over that initial reaction of uninterestedness if I want love?
This can be a frustrating dilemma to navigate because it is easy to want love in theory, but when love has the opportunity to come to life, you may find yourself taking a step back. As with many experiences in life, the disconnect between how we think about love and how it is in reality can be starkly different.
Luckily, if you are caught in a love-ick predicament, there are ways to help yourself work around it.
It may be worth figuring out where the ick comes from. Is it a sign that you aren’t ready for romance? If you can think of something you want to work on for yourself personally, it would be worth addressing that before considering love. If you’ve never been with someone else before, it could just be your way of being nervous about new terrain. You may be overthinking what love and attention would involve.
Once you dip your toes in the water, you will most likely figure out how to navigate it as you go. It’s all about experience: There is no driver’s manual for love.
Now that you’ve thought about the origin of the ick, there are two ways I would recommend working through it.
One option is to just reject people who give you the ick and take the search for love into your own hands. You don’t have to give every person who’s interested in you a chance. If you turn down someone who you don’t fully click with, there’s a higher chance that you’ll end up finding someone who suits you better, even though it might not be right away.
It can feel awkward to reject someone, and it may be tempting not to if you want to find love. It is totally okay to not reciprocate interest. Remember that not everyone who shows interest is meant for you, and they are just one person out of many. There’s always the possibility someone else will show interest in you down the line.
Instead of waiting for love to come to you, try flipping the script and making an effort to seek it out, even though that approach might be scary. Maybe there’s someone you’re already interested in. If not, ask yourself what type of person you would be interested in. This might take some time to figure out, and it may evolve over time. Both of those are okay. Just go with the flow.
If you find you’re interested in someone, try spending some time with them (only if they want to, obviously). Once you get to know them, consider whether you could picture yourself with them romantically. If you would like that, be brave and tell them.
The worst that can happen is rejection, but that’s an inevitable part of life. At least you were brave enough to acknowledge your interest in someone and communicate it. Remember that there will always be other chances. You won’t know unless you try.
Or you can try to work on fighting your feelings of aversion. The best way to start is to sit with the ick and give it a chance to wear off.
Although having the ick can sometimes mean you really don’t like the person, it can also be a natural reaction to something unexpected or out of your comfort zone. If you give yourself some time to cool down from the initial shock, the ick may become less intense over time. If it does, you may find that you want to give the person who shows interest in you a chance.
When someone expresses interest in you, you don’t have to decide what to do with that information right away. It’s normal to feel weird. Allow yourself enough time to let your initial reaction and the ick simmer down.
Take as much time as you need to settle into the reality that this person is interested in you. If the person is rushing you into anything or making you feel bad for being indecisive, they are definitely not the right person.
Communication is key. If someone is interested in you and you are conflicted, it’s a good idea to voice your doubts. Being transparent is better than leading someone on, which will just cause confusion.
If you’ve given the person’s interest some time to marinate, hopefully, the ick will become less intense. Then, you will be able to look at the situation through a clearer lens. Think through any qualities you like about the person, whether you’re attracted to them, and whether you can picture yourself with them romantically. It may help to write about it or talk through it with friends and family.
If you are open to the idea, it may be time to test the waters with this person and see if you like being with them. If you do, maybe you’ll feel good enough to stick with it and see where it goes. If not, call it off. You can always break off anything romantic, from a relationship to a situationship or anything in between, if it isn’t working for you.
Finding love might come down to gauging your interest in different people until you find the type of person you want to be with. It might take a couple of people, but if you keep an open mind, your chances of finding a good match are much higher.
You don’t know what to expect from someone romantically until you’ve actually experienced love from them. If your initial ick made you want to turn away, you will never know what the person has to offer. They may surprise you, and it may end up being a positive experience.
Keep in mind that life moves fast. Everything that gets thrown at you can feel overwhelming. It’s okay to take your time, and when you’re ready, it’s okay to take chances and experiment to figure out what you like. As always, make sure your safety and comfort are top priorities.