I really like this girl, but I fear getting hurt down the road

br0000d asks: 
I started seeing this girl, who I have known for a few years. We aren’t exclusive, and have just been messing around.

However, I’m starting to really like her. I’ve also always been one to get exclusive and date seriously. We are both clicking so well, but I’m not sure if either of us are ready for something serious.

This has put me out of my comfort zone as I’m not sure how to play it casual and just go with the flow that is casually seeing each other. I’m afraid she’ll get bored, meet somebody else etc.

Any advice to get over these mental hurdles and just go with the flow.

I can sympathize with how uncomfortable dating can get. Your natural instincts tell you one thing, people tell you another, and the little voice in your head pushes even more doubt and fear into your head. Well, let me just be the voice of reason here.

Everyone gets hurt when it comes to dating. In fact, even if you end up with this woman for the rest of your life, at some point she’s going to hurt you. It’s what happens in life, people hurt each other whether they mean it or not. I’m not saying it will be the kind of hurt you can never get over, but eventually, you get hurt in any relationship. Shit happens, as they say. Before we tackle this situation you need to drop the fear of getting hurt because buddy, whether things work out or not, you’re going to get hurt. If you can’t drop the fear, try to remember that getting hurt is an inevitability when it comes to love and life.

I could end things here, but I’m guessing you want specific steps on how to play it cool, without coming off as too disinterested. You want to find a balance between your first instinct to put all your eggs in her basket, so to speak, and also want to play it cool, but not too cool. Normally I’d give you the whole “Just be yourself” speech but let’s just be real. If you come on too strong too early you can push someone away. Here’s what you should do to increase the odds that she’ll stick around:

1. Limit how often you hang out

This one might be your biggest challenge because it sounds to me like you’re very much infatuated with this girl. There is nothing wrong with wanting to spend a bunch of time with this girl, getting to know her, making out, all that jazz, but you need to set aside some time apart. If you’ve known each other a while it might be very difficult to pull off because it’s possible you’re both embedded in each other’s friend groups. Just make sure that the amount of time you spend with her is not more than the amount of time you do not spend with her. 7 days in a week right? Lets say you work an 8 hr job,  you sleep 8 hours, and your commute is 1 hr a day. That leaves 7 hours of available time per day, 35 hours a week. I’d say, spend about 15 hours with her per week on average, which comes out to about 2 or 3 dates a week. I’d say that’s more than a fair amount of dates per week, wouldn’t you?

2. Limit how often you communicate

I know, I know, I keep imposing limits, but that’s the point. You need to go on what amounts to a “diet” when it comes to the attention you spend with her. That means not only the amount of time you hang out, but also how often you communicate. This might be a bit harder to do if you already communicate pretty frequently, in which case I would recommend slowing things down a bit. I’m not saying you need to impose a strict limit of how often you communicate, just try to approach your frequency of communication the way you would communicate with a really good friend. Not your best friend, but a really good platonic friend. Would you text them at 1am because you can’t sleep because you’ve been thinking about them? Probably not. The reason I use the friend example is because dating is a lot like making a new friend. If you made a friend today, and tomorrow they just started texting you non-stop, you’d be a little freaked out right? Text as often as you would a platonic friend. Don’t increase your frequency until she does. Try to avoid extremes when it comes to your communications (i.e. everyday or once a week)

3. Reciprocate her level of interest

I say reciprocate, but you also want to reciprocate at a slightly higher level. Just bear with me. Let’s pretend that each word or phrase has a specific numeric value when it comes to dating. If I asked you to go on a date and you said “cool” that’s a .5, or 50% interested. If I asked you on a date and you said “That sounds great” that’s a 1.0, or 100% interested. If your response was Oh my god I’ve been waiting for you to ask me out, this is so exciting” well, that’s a 2.0 or a 200%. VERY INTERESTED. It’s not the most sophisticated system (I just made it up while writing this) but I’m hoping you get what I mean. When she says “I had a great time tonight” after a date (which by this system is about a 1.0) go up to about 1.1 by replying “I had a great time tonight too!”. It’s all about matching her interest and showing that you’re slightly more interested (or at least, feel comfortable expressing your interest a little more freely). Yes it could be as simple as adding an exclamation point, or using words that convey a bit more excitement than “great”, but if you slowly raise the level of how you communicate from good, to great, to awesome, or that sounds amazing, you’ll convey your interest without coming on too strong.

Remember, getting over the fear and mental hurdles is all balancing your interest based on the appropriate level of interest that she is showing you.

Good Luck Out There.

Demetrius Figueroa

Demetrius is a sex, dating, and relationship writer based in Brooklyn.

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