Do I Like Him Or The Attention? Ways To Determine Whether You're Really Interested In Someone

By Sarah Khan

Updated March 18, 2020

Have you ever gotten those butterflies in your stomach when your crush looks your way, speaks to you, nudges your shoulder, smiles at you, or gives you attention in some other way? It's a natural feeling to want to be liked by others. It's especially wonderful to feel liked by someone you're crushing on. Unfortunately, sometimes we confuse actually liking a guy and liking the attention he gives us. Humans crave human contact and interaction. That's why being in isolation for extended periods of time can become so mentally damaging. We are wired to want connections with others. If you're someone who doesn't get a lot of attention in other areas of life through the people in your life, you may not actually like your crush, but rather the attention you're gaining from him.


A Lack Of Attention In The Modern Age

From the time we are young, we crave attention. Even before we are able to verbalize speech, as babies, when our parents put us down, we cry and scream to be picked up again. Why? Sure, babies crying are indicators they may need to be changed, fed, or put to sleep, but we as humans develop another cry after feeling the attention, care, and touch of our caregivers. When we cease to feel the attention we're given, we often cry and yearn to be soothed.

Later, once we learn to speak, we are constantly looking to display something we've accomplished. Children are always screaming for their parents and others nearby to look at them, wanting to show anyone something as long as they will listen or follow. We may not really think about this much, but as adults, this need has not changed, merely evolved.

In a world where we are all so connected due to the invention of the internet and smartphones, we crave new types of attention. First and foremost, there's the attention of those around us every day and those we want to be around us (crushes, potential friends). We are constantly acting to impress our families, bosses, crushes, and friends, to make sure they are giving us attention. Now, there's the added element of social media where we are capturing our lives in real-time and making sure to post about every single thing we experience, hoping for likes and comments, looking for validation that someone is watching.

Unfortunately, because of how connected we are to an unlimited audience, no amount of attention is really ever enough. We wonder why our friends don't respond to our text messages immediately, why our crush hasn't liked our new profile photo, or why your newest post hasn't gotten enough likes. Our newfound connections are actually creating a lack of true attention and a new level of loneliness, making us crave more and more, sometimes never to be satisfied.

What Is Interest Versus Attention?

Before we get into how you figure out whether you like him or the attention, let's talk about what those two things really mean. Attention is important to your physical and mental wellbeing. It is an important component of relationships. However, not all attention is good attention, and that's a distinction that is not made enough. When you actually like a person, it means you have a genuine interest in them, their wellbeing, what they have to say, and everything else they bring to the table.


Sometimes it's just nice to have regular and reliable human interaction, especially when you have nothing else to do. It's nice to be able to reach out to a guy and text with him on a lazy day off or have someone accompany you to the movies. This is you liking the attention. When you feel indifferent and can easily see yourself replacing this person with someone else and doing the same things, having the same interactions, this is you enjoying the attention, enjoying having someone to interact with and share experiences with. It has no actual anchor to the person as an individual.

When you are actually interested in a person, you feel a connection to them that is specific to the individual. You enjoy speaking with them and look forward to doing things with them. It's not so easy to simply switch him out for another guy because it wouldn't be this guy. If you are interested in him, you can see a real relationship with him and cannot easily picture yourself without him.

It can be difficult to set the two apart sometimes, especially since there may be some bleed over from attention to actual interest, so let's take a look at some ways you can start to figure out if it's him or the attention you're enjoying.

Are You Excited To Hear From Him?

When you first start talking to a guy, there are a number of reasons to overthink what, how, and, and when you text him back. However, one thing becomes clear as you develop your online or phone communications. If you've been seeing each other for a while and you're not even slightly hesitant to send him to voicemail when you're not in the mood or otherwise preoccupied, this may be a sign that you're not really into him. If you're excited by a simple morning text or excited to hear from him after a long shift at work, you're showing interest and actual feelings towards him.

There are definitely some cases where you may be interested in someone but just not be in the mood to talk, and that's completely normal, but if you notice that you're only interested in communicating on your terms, when it's convenient to you, or you simply leave him hanging for a while without a second thought, these are very clear signs that you may just enjoy the attention. It's important to evaluate the way you feel and your communication overall, as oftentimes, we don't realize that we may be using a guy and stringing him along. It may be completely innocent on your end, especially since we all enjoy having someone to talk to and interact with, but you may not be with him for him and should consider re-evaluating the relationship.


Is The Relationship Growing?

Relationship beginnings can be tricky, especially as you and a guy start to learn more about what each other wants. Sometimes, there appears to be an instant connection, which is great. You guys might have a lot in common with each other and you may start to grow some feelings. However, there are many cases where this seemingly growing relationship starts to get a bit stale on one or both ends and starts to devolve, becoming a hook-up. If you started out with going on dates and partaking in shared activities, but are now your hangouts are meeting up and hooking up, it may be time to reevaluate the relationship and your needs. If you notice that you're starting to feel less like going out and more like just seeing him on your terms, you may not actually be interested in him, though you may be enjoying that you guys can easily and comfortably kill time together. There is nothing wrong with a hooking up relationship, though both parties should be on the same page and understand that there's not a personal investment on either end.

Are You Getting To Know Him?

Getting to know a person goes hand in hand with showing interest in them. Can you honestly tell yourself that you're learning more about him, where he comes from, who he is, where he's going, and his personal life? If you hesitate to answer yes or answer no entirely, this is indicative of you enjoying the attention and not the actual guy. If you aren't concerned with learning about him and getting to know him better, you may just like that he's showing you that interest. Spending more time talking about yourself and your interests and then not reciprocating, shows that you may just be looking for a friend to listen to you, which is fine. We all enjoy being able to talk about ourselves and have someone else listen. We like storytelling and sharing. However, if we aren't receptive to someone else's need to do the same or feel indifferent about it, that shows a lack of genuine care for that person.

Are You With Him Out Of Comfort?

Ladies, it may be difficult to come to terms with, but sometimes, we just get comfortable in our current situation and are not ready to face all the unknown variables that come along with changing them. Many of us are creatures of habit. We like what's familiar, safe, and certain. There's nothing wrong with that, except that you may be holding someone else back for your comfort.

We can all agree, just the thought of going on a slew of first dates again is daunting, stressful, and tiring. Getting ready over and over again, going on dates with guys you may never see again or not like at all, and then answering the same questions night after night is far from fun. You never know how first dates will go, whether you'll have anything in common, or if you're going to hit it off at all. Sure, some elements of this may be exciting, but when you've been on first date bust after first date bust, it becomes a bit of a drag.

Now ask yourself, are you interested in him because you actually like him and want to be with him or because you want to avoid the mess of starting all over again, having to get back onto dating sites, and hope for something better next time? Are you comfortable with the life and guy you've been seeing and figure, "Hey, this isn't so bad, let's not roll the dice"? If you feel like you're seeing someone because you're comfortable and not ready or willing to try to start over and explore other options, this is indicative that you're in it for the attention.

Instead of wondering who you'll hang out with, you know you have him right there waiting. You always have a partner in crime lined up, someone to spend your lonely nights with, someone to text when your friends are busy, and someone that you enjoy spending time with. However, there is another person and their feelings involved, so if you're not really sure what you're feeling, just staying that way without taking action shows that you're not interested in him, but the ease of the relationship he provides.

Do You Have Online Dating Apps On Your Mobile Device?

Okay, so you may be thinking, "oh man, I've just been too lazy to delete them", but let's talk about this for a minute. If you've found someone that you're really interested in and can see something growing with, would you want to have a safety net?


Some of us are so jaded by negative dating experiences that we find it hard to believe anything can become something real and lasting, and that's just the 'price of doing business', so to speak. However, if you have found someone that you feel a real connection with, why do you still have dating apps on your phone? You're not going to be opening them, right? So why have them? If you're worried about things not working out and having to get back on them, guess what? You can download them again, and simply log in! Having dating apps as a backup and especially opening them and checking them out from time to time are signs that you are looking for attention more than caring about a guy. Those of you ladies who have nixed the dating apps and are focusing on him alone, you're showing true interest in developing something more.

The world of dating can be confusing, difficult to navigate, and sometimes full of stress and anxiety. However, when you have a crush on someone, are dating someone, or are even in a relationship with someone, it's important from time to time, to evaluate what your feelings and actions mean. Over time, we may excuse some of our behaviors for comfort. Being comfortable with someone you like is essential to any successful behavior, but it's the type of comfort that matters. You should feel able to be yourself around him and not have to put your best foot forward at all times. On the other hand, you should also still show that you are actively interested in the relationship and not just complacent in having a partner that gives you regular attention. Humans are interesting creatures that crave attention and social interactions. We need to be wary of this feature of ourselves and how they may affect others.

For more information about determining where you stand in your relationship and understanding the difference between liking someone and simply liking the attention, they provide you, visit where you'll be able to speak with a licensed mental health professional who can help you better understand your interpersonal relationships.

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