I’ve had my fair share of d&m’s with friends over guys I’ve dated. When I say “d&m’s”, what I mean is hour-long dissections of texts, entire nights analysing whether not hearing from someone for 2 days means they’re not into me, and making excuses for shitty behaviour. Dating – the bit before you’re together, but are past the “couple of dates” part – is tricky.

I’m not alone when it comes to this obsessive analysis. I’ve counselled almost all of my single friends (or once-single friends) through some sort of weird not-relationship bullshit in the past. Sometimes for months. When you really like someone and they seem into it, but aren’t being as keen as you’d like them to be? That’s a tough one.

Something I’ve realised over the years however is that if your dating “thing” feels shit, it probably is shit. Sorry, but it’s true. Nothing that’s healthy will make you feel like a bag of dicks.

So I’ve come up with some signs that might hint it’s time for things to end.

1. You’re Analysing All Their Texts

When you’re dating someone you feel comfortable around and who is giving you enough contact to make you confident they’re feeling what you’re feeling, you don’t analyse their texts. Sure, maybe you screenshot one or two to send to your mates from time to time. But constant deep diving on “what does she mean when she says ‘have a good one'”? That kind of anxiety indicates an issue, in my experience.

I’ve never obsessed over texts (constantly) when I’ve felt secure in my dating thing. If it’s coasting along well, I don’t feel the need to.

2. You Constantly Feel Disappointed

I once dated a guy I really liked, but he always put me in priority #5 or lower. As in, he would look at his week, factor out nights he wanted to work for extra cash, nights his mates had locked in, and nights he wanted to party before he scheduled any time for me. It meant we’d see each other once a week, twice if I was lucky. And I always felt SO shitty when we would eventually make a plan around all of these factors – because I didn’t feel valued.

It wasn’t like we would fight and I would feel shitty, things were actually good when we hung out. But underneath that was the fact I just didn’t mean as much to him as he did to me. And that’s not sustainable. So if things between you in person are fine, but you’re generally feeling this icky disappointment? Cancelled.

3. Your Self-Esteem Has Gone To Shit

Self-esteem is a fragile thing – and relationships can really wreak havoc on yours if you’re not careful. Some stuff we need to sort out ourselves when it comes to self-esteem – for example, if you feel rejected when the person you’re dating doesn’t want to stay over one night because they’ve got an early start, that’s likely to be more about your own issues than them being an asshole.

But if you’re constantly feeling rejected that might hint at a deeper issue about how this person makes you feel. Be honest with yourself and suss when the rejection feeling is strongest. For example, I was dating someone once and things were clearly fizzling out, but I didn’t want to believe it. But after two cancelled dates and no plans from him for more, I realised the constant feeling of rejection was because, well, he wasn’t that into me anymore and I was ignoring that fact.

4. You Feel Frustrated

Does it feel like nothing is progressing with you two? That feeling of limbo can lead to frustration. It’s totally cool to go slow, and it’s equally as fine to just mutually enjoy a casual relationship with no strings. But only if both parties feel good about it.

Stop pretending you’re okay with things like: seeing them once a week, not meeting their friends, only meeting up late at night. That is, if it makes you feel shitty. It’s not insane to want a relationship to progress, and it’s okay to be someone who needs commitment to feel good about the relationship. Be honest about what you want, and also be prepared that you might not get the answer you want.

5. People That Matter To You Don’t Approve

This is a complex one. If you’re dating someone and people you trust are disapproving of it, that’s a red flag. It’s also something that’ll absolutely get you down. But do you listen to them, even when your feelings say otherwise?

My general advice is yes, you do. If the people you trust have known you for years and have your back, there’s almost zero chance their take is wrong – and because you’re blinded by love/lust/whatever, you’re likely refusing to see it.

HOWEVER. Sometimes people can be assholes, even good friends and family. So the real crux of the issue here is to be honest with yourself. Assess what your closest people are saying, and then assess the person you’re dating. What does the evidence say?

At the end of the day, it really comes down to being honest with yourself. I get it, dating sucks and when you meet someone you really like, it’s hard to accept the fact that they might not be giving you what you need to make you happy. But sitting stagnant in some shitty thing that makes you feel like ass is way less of a fun time than cutting the cord on someone who doesn’t treat you like they moon/stars and moving on. Trust me.

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