Posted by Some Dude on December 18, 2010 at 12:00 pm
Hi all! You may know me as a prolific commenter on HarvardFML; this is my new and improved means of doling out relationship advice! Got a question you want to ask, or a situation you want thoughts and advice on? Email me at email@example.com, and watch this space for my answer! M.N. asks,
Sometimes, someone knows that you like them, but they’re not yet ready for a relationship with you (or are looking for something better). However, you don’t belong to the “automatically rejected” file, so they string you along, keeping you on the back-burner. I feel like it’s part of human nature, and maybe they don’t even realize that it’s cruel to the other side, giving them (mostly) false hope! So what’s the deal here? Is there hope? And how to not be someone’s back-up plan?
You’re right, this is a problem that a lot of people have, and I’ve been on both sides of it myself. I have even recommended that everyone not in an exclusive relationship have such a back-up crush, because it dilutes the sting of rejection. But there is always hope. I don’t think you can avoid being someone else’s backup plan, but I don’t think it matters that much, since if you’re attracted to them, your approach will be the same regardless.
First, have a back-up crush of your own. I know it sounds hypocritical in this case, but I still strongly recommend it. It is everyone’s most reliable emotional defense against heartbreak, and better than that, it helps avoid getting hung up on any one person.
Second, and more usefully, become the first choice! If you’re the back-up, you’re the back-up because you’re attractive to the person in question, but not attractive enough. That doesn’t mean you have to stay there, though: as I’ve said before, your initial attractiveness to someone else is a floor, not a ceiling. You’ve already got a leg up because you know the other person feels something for you. The solution, like so much of my advice, is to simply amp up the attraction. Make them drawn to you. This is all the usual things – if you’re a woman, look your best, sound your best, present yourself subtly seductively, tease, be fun to be around, and always always leave the other person wanting more. If you’re a man, be funny, be just a little too full of yourself, have interesting things to talk about, and (as for women) be fun to be around, and always always leave the other person wanting more. Unfortunately my three-part series on attraction from a few months ago got accidentally erased in VeryNoice’s big server crash a while back (rest assured, I’m keeping my own backups from here on out), but I’ll eventually rewrite those posts to give you more specific ideas.
Do not, however, tell them how much you like them, or how great you would be for them, or anything like that – that works less frequently and often backfires. You cannot persuade someone to feel attracted to you using reasoned argument or guilt. Do not gauge their attraction to you, but rather keep on doing things that build their attraction, until it finally bubbles over. If it feels like it’s taking too long, you’ll need to make a judgment call on when it’s time to move on – don’t get hung up on one person until they’re ready to be exclusive with you.
Hope all my readers have a great break! I expect that fewer of you will be reading while you’re all home for break, but I’ll still be answering questions I receive, so ask away.