“So I’ve kind of been driving myself crazy trying to figure out what it is he wants, and what he’s thinking and what his last text meant. Can I read it to you?”
“Why don’t you just pick up the phone and call him so you can ask him?” I responded.
My friend looked at me like I was nuts. “No. OMG no way. I’m not calling him. I don’t want him to think I’m obsessing over this.”
Yeaaaa…except you are. And we all have done this at one time in our life or many times in our life. Our ego gets in the way of communicating. We’re scared to say how we feel or ask how they feel. We’re scared to admit we don’t know something or that they aren’t being clear about what they want from us.
We wait around. And wait. And wait.
We screenshot their text messages and send to friends with a ????? asking what they think it means. We count the days between the last time we heard from them, and make that mean something. We hold onto one moment we’ve had with them that was amazing, when the rest of the time surrounding that moment kinda sucks.
So the spiral downward continues and we waste a whole lot of time in a relationship that isn’t going anywhere. And in some cases, we do this with another person we’re not even in a relationship with trying to figure out if they’ll ever want a relationship with us.
I’ve been guilty of doing this myself, back in the days before I realized I don’t need to waste time or energy guessing what another person wants from me. I did this when I didn’t fully love myself or believe I deserved more than I was getting. I was so afraid to let go of what I had even when what I had wasn’t what I wanted. I wouldn’t speak up and ask the hard questions I needed answers to even if it may have been hard to hear.
But having the hard conversations is what help us grow. They teach us to get comfortable asking for what we need rather than settling for what we don’t. They set us up to attract in people and relationships that don’t require guessing games or really, any games at all.
So, if you want to waste less time in a relationship that may be going nowhere, these are five tips that actually work:
1. Recognize red flags early on.
Pay attention to red flags in the beginning, and don’t dismiss them. Red flags are clear, but often we choose to ignore them because our physical attraction to that person is strong. Red flags may include a lack of trust, emotional unavailability, being hot one minute, cold the next, not communicating with you regularly, lots of unresolved issues and drama with an ex, or keeping you away from their friends. Ignoring these warning signs can lead to prolonged suffering and wasted time. Don’t bury your head in the sand. Face the red flags early on so you don’t waste time with someone who isn’t right for you.
2. Trust your intuition.
If something feels off, it’s probably off. Don’t second-guess your gut reaction to someone or something. If your intuition is telling you this person is not invested in the relationship, lying about something, or you’re simply feeling the lack of connection, trust that. Ninety-nine percent of the time, our gut instinct is dead-on, but we don’t want to listen to it. Think about all the times you went down the wrong path only to later say, “I knew I shouldn’t have done that. I should have listened to myself.” So listen to yourself.
3. Don’t allow lust or physical attraction to blind you.
Chemistry is powerful. We have all kept rose-colored glasses on at one time or another in a relationship with someone we were attracted to but knew wasn’t right for us. I still joke with my friends about one guy I dated (let’s call him Joe) who was super hot yet we had little to talk about or connect on outside the bedroom. I wasted a lot of time (although, admittedly, some of that time was quite enjoyable) trying to turn the physical chemistry into the kind of relationship I wanted. Waste of time. If you aren’t connecting with the person when your clothes are on, it’s better to let them go earlier rather than later unless you both are totally okay being sex buddies with nothing more. If that, however, is not your jam, wave your hand and say buh-bye.
4. Make your desires clear from the beginning.
If he or she doesn’t know how you really feel, they may not understand that moving things forward is important to you. They may not know that you need to hear from them every day, even if it’s a, “Hey, how’s your day going?” They may have no idea you want to meet their friends or spend a certain amount of time together each week. So for the love of God, tell them!
You should always be clear with what you’re looking for from the beginning, and if that changes along the way, let them know. Don’t be afraid to tell the person what you want even if you aren’t sure what they want. You don’t want to not be true to yourself, and you should never waste time with someone you’re afraid of telling what you need and want.
5. Say what you mean and mean what you say.
My #1 rule for not wasting time is: say it like it is sister. Stop analyzing their text messages. Stop reading into your conversations without asking for clarification around something you still need answers to. Stop waiting around for them to bring up whatever it is that needs to be talked about. Stop thinking you’re going to come across needy, desperate, or pathetic because you reach out to them first to start a conversation.
Communication is our best friend in relationships and often the #1 thing we struggle with most because we’re scared. We’re scared of rejection or how the other person will receive us and that stops lots of conversations from happening that need to be had.
But doing these things will save both of you time.
We want to invest our energy and give our hearts to people who are aligned with us. The sooner we know whether someone is invested in us and in the relationship in the same way we are, the less time we need to spend in a state of wondering and guessing where they’re at.
The dream you have to love and be loved is possible. So don’t waste time on the ones who don’t want to give that to you.
Make space for the one who will.