When you're casually dating multiple people, there's always that one person you like more than everyone else. Unless you've already agreed to be exclusive with that person, you have to assume they're dating other people as well. Nobody ever wants to be someone's second choice, or feel like they're being settled for, especially when you're starting to fall for someone. So, how can you tell if the person you're dating genuinely wants to be with you or just sees you as their second choice? According to experts, there are some signs you can look out for.
"Naturally, people put more value on their first choice. So you'll get treated to all the good things in life," Celia Schweyer, dating and relationship expert at DatingScout, tells Bustle. When you're someone's first choice, your feelings will actually matter to them. You won't ever be stood up, they'll text you regularly just to check in, their friends actually know who you are, and they'll make you feel like a priority in their life.
"If they're still actively looking for someone through dating apps, or cancel things with you the last minute, then you may really be the backup fling you are dreading to become," Schweyer says. So here are some signs you may only be someone's second choice, according to experts.
1. They Only Reach Out At The Very Last Second
If you used to plan dates at the beginning of your relationship, and now they're only texting you to hang out at the very last minute, you may be their second choice. "You'll notice they're only asking you if you’re free after they’ve asked their first choice," Schweyer says. "It would be obvious due to the time they ask." For example, if they have a pair of tickets to a show that's starting in an hour, that's a pretty good sign you weren't their first choice. In order to prevent this from happening again in the future, have a conversation with them. Let them know that you need a head's up before agreeing to meet them somewhere. That way they'll know to make actual plans with you.
2. They Always Say "I'll Think About It" When You Invite Them To Something
One sign that you may not be someone’s first choice is that they always need a lot more time before responding to your invitations to holidays, Saturday night dates, and special events. They don't immediately say yes. Instead, they almost always need time to think about it. "If you get the sense you are playing second fiddle, while they see if their number one pick wants to do something first, trust your gut," Christine Scott-Hudson, licensed psychotherapist and owner of Create Your Life Studio, tells Bustle. "Queens and Kings don’t chase, that’s how your crown falls off. Know your worth."
3. They're Very Hard To Pin Down
"You are the 'yes' person," Schweyer says. "Whenever they ask you out, you're always available and raring to go. You keep your calendar open just in case they ask. But when you turn the tables on them, they just can’t seem to make themselves available for you." If you're always available when they ask, but they're hardly available when you ask, they may see themselves as settling. It's understandable that people get tired and busy. But if this is a constant thing in your situation, that's not a good sign. The best thing to do is to set up a date a couple weeks in advance, that way they can put it on their calendar. If they think you're important, Schewyer says, they will make time for you regardless of what's going on in their life.
4. They're Not Always Engaging When You're Together
If nothing you say or do gives them a thrill or makes them "giddy with excitement," Kevin Darné, relationship expert and author of My Cat Won't Bark! (A Relationship Epiphany), tells Bustle, you may not be their priority. When you're spending time together, you may get the feeling that they're not completely present. You'll sometimes feel like you have to force conversation out of them. When you finally get them to do something with you, Darné says you may get the feeling they're only doing it out of a sense of obligation, and not a desire to make you happy. If the person you're dating isn't fully present, you can always ask them if there's anything going on. It may just be a case of them having a bad week.
5. They're Not Really Making An Effort To Get To Know The Real You
"When you're not very high on their priority list, you'll notice they act lukewarm about spending time with you and won't seem very interested in getting to know you in a deeper way," Elizabeth Stone, love coach and founder of Attract The One, tells Bustle. They may not go out of their way to remember the important details about you, and they won't seem that excited about getting to know you. Your conversations may not really go beyond basic small talk. If this is happening, you can try offering up information about your life when it's appropriate. Don't wait for them to ask. Sometimes people don't always know the right questions to ask. It's a good sign when they start asking follow-up questions and seem interested in what you have to say.
6. They're Still Using Dating Apps
Even if you're not exclusively dating yet, a person who really likes you and sees a future with you will naturally stop using dating apps. "If they still have their accounts up on [on apps and websites] then that means you are just their option," Schweyer says. "If someone is convinced that you are the right one for them, they don’t need dating apps anymore, and they would rather focus on getting to know you better." If you really want to know where they see your situation going, don't be afraid to ask. If they still want to date around but you're ready for something more serious, asking them directly will save you from wasting any more time.
7. You're Constantly Worried About The Future Of Your Relationship
When you're someone's priority, you will feel it. You'll feel wanted and cared about, because your partner makes an effort to make you feel that way. But if you're feeling anxious about the future of your relationship, that's not a good sign. "Oftentimes, if people stop and consider how they truly feel, they realize whether the other person is really right for them," psychotherapists Lin Anderson and Aaron Sternlicht, tell Bustle. "It's common for people to avoid considering their own feelings because they falsely believe any relationship is better than no relationship, but you deserve to be accepted, respected, and loved." If the person you're dating makes you feel more anxious and worried than loved and cared for, you may want to think about whether this is really the partner you want.
Feeling like someone is settling for you can make you think you're not good enough. But try as hard as you can to not give into any negative self-talk. If a person you're dating wants to be with someone else, let them. There are a lot of people in this world. If you stay positive and you keep going, you will find someone who will make you their first choice.