If you're like many other anxious daters and nervous types, the instant you have feelings for someone, your life's mission becomes hiding those feelings at all costs. Because, when it comes to dating, you're supposed to play it cool, right?
Well, if you ask relationship experts, most will say nothing good comes from taking such a passive stance, or acting like you don't give a damn. They all seem to agree there's a healthy middle path — where you're not too needy or too chill — when it comes to scoring dates, winning people over, and cultivating relationships.
"Women who play the 'chill girl' are hoping that if they wait around long enough, they might get noticed," marriage counselor and relationship coach Samantha Burns tells Bustle. "What’s wrong with this approach is that they are ignoring their own needs for commitment, love, and intimacy, which is developmentally appropriate and normal."
In other words, it's totally OK to ask for what you want. If you don't approach your love interest, text them back, or show you're interested in anyway, it can hold you back when it comes to dating. So, if you'd like to meet new people, have some fun, or start a healthy relationship but are having zero luck, read on for a few signs you might need to up your game.
1. You're Getting Matches Online, But No Dates
If your love life hasn't gone anywhere in a while, take it as a sign that you may need to make some extra effort. "If you get a lot of online matches or people expressing interest in you, but these never turn into actual dates, you’re probably playing it a little too cool," says certified counselor Jonathan Bennett. "It shows that others find you attractive, but something is keeping the next step (a date or relationship) from happening. It might be your lack of initiative."
2. Your Relationships Always Feel Superficial
If you're too passive in the dating world, you might find yourself caught up with people who don't take you very seriously. "Only the most outgoing men ... will put in the effort needed to win over a woman who takes little personal initiative," Bennett says. So, while you might think you're doing yourself a favor by being chill, your passiveness might actually be attracting the wrong type of guy.
3. You're Stuck In The "Friend Zone"
The friend zone is another side effect of overly-chill vibes. "If you’re the go-to friend to give him dating advice, it means he respects your opinion, but he’s probably not looking at you as the one he really desires," says Burns. If this sounds familiar, it may be time to call him out, and ask for what you want.
4. Or, You're In The "Friends With Benefits" Zone
While it's fun to have friends with benefits, sometime you just wanna take it to the next level. But if you play it too cool, that might never happen. "Be assertive and say, 'Listen, I’m attracted to you, and I know we’re friends, but if we’re going to do this you need to actually date me and give us a real shot,'" says Burns. "A statement like this shows him you value yourself and that you’re confident enough to ask for what you want and take a risk."
5. You Try Not To Smile Or Make Eye Contact
If you're afraid to come off as needy, and thus hide your interest, please do think twice. "It sounds simple, but men look for physical signs to show a woman is interested," Candice Alstar, dating coach and founder of Toronto Wingwoman, tells Bustle. "If you do not smile or don't make eye contact with someone, they won't know you are interested." And that'll be the end of that.
6. You Don't Text Back For A Few Days
Do you get a text from a guy, and then wait two or three (or more) days to respond? As Alstar tells me, this may seem like a fun way to play hard to get, but it isn't actually a great idea. "You think this is playing it cool, but dating is a two person game, and if he doesn't get a response he'll think he's playing by himself." So go ahead and text back; you'll likely be glad you did.
7. You Try To Keep Your Opinion To Yourself
In an effort to be easy going, you might let him take the lead on dates. But this "easy going" mentality isn't very likable. "If he asks what your favorite food is, tell him," says Alstar. Same goes for what movie you want to see, or where you'd like to go get drinks. It may seem "cool" to let your date decide, but tactic can also make you seem passive, and even a little disinterested.
8. You Haven't Been Asked Out In A Minute
While you might think it's over-the-top to express your desire, people actually really like that. "Men and women want to feel desired and wanted and this sends a message of ambiguity, which will hold you back in love," says Bonnie Winston, a celebrity matchmaker and relationship expert. But if you can be honest about your feelings, and even a little flirty, you might find yourself on a few more dates.
9. You Haven't Actually Talked On The Phone
I know, texting is the preferred (and most comfortable) form of communication. And yet, when trying to get a relationship off the ground, you might want to step it up a notch. "If you don't want to communicate via phone, you might find that people don't take you seriously," says Chicago-based dating expert Stef Safran. "Direct communication that takes effort shows more of an interest, rather than just texting messaging."
10. You Don't Get A Second Or Third Date
OK, so it can be awkward to walk up to someone and say, "I like you." But this has to be done, in some form, if you want a relationship to begin. "If you don't let people know you like them, by expressing interest by light touching offering up additional plan options, smiling and asking questions, you might find that you aren't getting asked out on second and third dates," Safran says.
11. You Don't Bother To Make An Effort
Some people are lucky and meet a great partner on a random Wednesday, without even trying. But everyone else has to make an effort and actually put themselves out there. "If you aren't actively reaching out to people on dating sites, or asking to meet people through friends, you might find that meeting people for dates is very hard," Safran says.
12. You Don't Feel Authentic
Hey, if you're into someone, you should probably tell them. Because if you don't, and instead try to "play it cool," you'll likely end up feeling inauthentic. As clinical psychologist Dr. Joshua Klapow says, "Another challenge of playing cool is that it often requires us to play a role. To not be authentic, to not express naturally what we are feeling. The result here is a vibe towards the other person of being fake, of being aloof, of not really being engaged in the attraction." And that's not going to win anyone over.
13. You Sit Around Staring At Your Phone
You might think it's cool to sit back and wait for an invitation, but this tactic often backfires. "If you like a guy or want to go out on a date, there are times you might have to speak up, even if to give him signs he needs to make the move," Bennett says. "This could be hinting that you want a second date or subtly letting him know he’s attractive."
14. You Don't Want To Feel Rejected
As Winston tells me, some ladies (and men) who play hard to get — especially the ones who really lay it on thick — are doing so because they fear rejection. But that's part of the dating process. If you don't put yourself out there, and risk a few rejections, you'll really be holding yourself back.
15. You Don't Know If You're Actually Together
As relationship counselor Julienne B. Derichs, LCPC asks, "Are you my girlfriend, boyfriend, significant other, friend, acquaintance, friend of a friend, co-worker?" While this discussion can come up organically for some, other couples need to have a heart-to-heart about being official.
It can feel awkward, and you might be tempted to sit idly by and wait to find out. But if you want things to move forward, it's smart to put yourself out there and ask.
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