DEAR KELLY: I have liked a guy and I thought he really liked me. We hooked up a few times but he always said that he wanted to take it slow, so we never became anything official.
Recently, we went to a party and I kind of freaked out a little when I saw him talking to another girl for a long time. I know she’s liked him the past, but he always said he didn’t like her. I asked to talk to him outside and he told me that I “care too much” about him.
He said that he likes me but that he thinks I care too much and he’s worried we want different things. I have no idea how to take that.
I told him I don’t want a serious relationship, but I also want to know that we aren’t seeing anyone else. He admitted he liked me, but what do I do to stop caring so much? I’m not even sure that’s possible. Isn’t it a good thing to care about someone?
I feel a little confused because when we hooked up he admitted he really liked me first, so now I’m not sure what is happening.
DEAR COURTNEY: Sometimes the signs are right in front of us and we can’t see them. We want to believe one thing but the other person is telling us something different. Instead of tuning in to what they are really saying, we feel confused and miss the message they are sending.
Your hook-up buddy is sending you a pretty clear sign using indirect words. Telling someone they “care too much” is code for “I don’t feel the same about you.” It’s an easy way to say, “Stop liking me so much” or to let you know that he doesn’t want the same level of relationship you do.
It would have been easier if he would have just said, “I’m not interested in you as much as you are interested in me,” but he chose to put it back on you and blame you for caring too much.
It is a good thing to care about someone, if they reciprocate your care and concern. If it’s lopsided or one-sided, the relationship is off-balance and someone is going to get hurt.
You also have to be careful that you aren’t caring so much that you are smothering the other person or coming across like a stalker. Again, it has to be in balance and you need to listen to your inner voice that tells you when things feel funny or awkward.
What did he do, besides hook up with you, to show you that he cared? If that was all that ever happened between you, then I’m questioning his motives. Perhaps he texted you a few times or Snapchatted with you, but did he do anything that took a effort to try and make you feel special or important to him? Take you to the movies? Treat you to a burrito? Hang out and just talk?
If all that ever happened between you was hooking up, then you misread his intentions.
If someone tells you they like you as you are hooking up, be careful. Be more than careful – be wary, be smart and be mindful of what you are doing.
Things said in the moment aren’t necessarily true, and you need to be cautious of what you are doing if you believe someone right before you make out with them. If someone truly likes you, that would not usually be the moment they would pick to tell you and they would be just as happy to just sit and talk all night if that is what makes you most comfortable.
Stop chasing this guy. He gave you the sign and you need to hear what he is really saying.
Don’t waste anymore energy on someone who doesn’t feel the same about you.
And climb down off the hope rope that he will start liking you more or change his tune, because he isn’t looking to have any kind of relationship with you that doesn’t benefit him.
Kelly Richardson, a Folsom therapist, works with adolescents.