Dating Alert: How to Decipher Their Change of Heart

Couple arguing in restaurant
Couple arguing in restaurant

Why is dating so difficult? When you like someone, you show them and hope to receive the same level of attention in return. That's how dating should be, right? But too often, things are different. You get excited and hopeful about a person you're dating, then they change and leave you wondering if they are still interested. We gauge our interactions, share our stories with friends and resign to the conclusion that "It's complicated."

Sometimes things start off great, then suddenly shift in the wrong direction. A friend who frequently texts or calls now inconsistently responds to you. The concerned guy who made plans now cancels dates at the last minute. And, let's not forget about the short, one or two word responses to your attempts at conversing through text. Yes, their behavior change is easy to spot and produces uneasy and uncertain feelings about the relationship. If you're anything like me, you're left wondering what caused their change of heart.

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It's Not Always About You

New relationships are fragile and exploratory. Despite promising beginnings, it's not uncommon for one (or both) partners to experience a sudden change of heart. Sometimes, the reason is obvious. But when it's not, you're left puzzled, confused and anxious for answers. Did I do something wrong? Was it something I said? Did I seem too needy or clingy? Or, does someone else have their attention?

A sudden change of heart without an obvious reason is often a triggered emotional response. Some behavior, interaction or new information triggered a negative emotion in your partner and caused them to experience anxiety. This uneasiness gets associated with you, and poof, they're gone. Unless you were offensive, or made an awkward faux pas, the trigger is related to something in your partner's past and has nothing to do with you. A trigger could be almost anything: behaviors, gestures, expressions, differences of opinion, or even the way you laugh.

Sometimes a trigger is an alert to important differences between two people. But often, a trigger is simply an irrational emotional response to something your partner isn't even aware of. So, don't blame yourself or spend endless hours worrying about what went wrong. It happens to everyone, it happens frequently and it's not a reflection of you. Period!

But Sometimes It Is About You

Let's face it -- sometimes people need a reality check. If you get more than your fair share of rejection, it may be time for a self-evaluation. Did you turn your partner off? Perhaps a joke you made was misconstrued or misinterpreted. Or, were you drinking or smoking cigarettes on the date? Something as simple as a difference in lifestyle could explain everything. That's not to suggest that you shouldn't be yourself. You should be! In fact, it is essential you be true to yourself and not compromise your feelings and values to be the "perfect partner."

So, conduct an in-depth probe of your personality, attitude, and behavior. There may be ways you need to change. For most, an honest self-evaluation will reveal the problem, but some people will struggle to recognize how they sabotage their success with potential dates. If that's your experience, enlist the help of a professional dating coach or relationship therapist. Doing so might be the most effective way to turn your dating dilemmas into dating delight!

Remember, anyone who is dating will have these experiences and it won't feel good. What's important is that you quickly recognize when your feelings are no longer being reciprocated --and once you're aware, adjust your behaviors and feelings accordingly. Don't waste your time worrying about the person who isn't showing as much interest as you are. Move forward and meet someone as eager about a relationship as you are. Don't settle for anything less. You deserve a person who's excited about you and knows how to show it.