Why Do I Get Bored When a Man Starts to Care About Me?

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Reader’s Question

I have a problem. Whenever I like a man I just feel bored once he starts showing care for me, even before I get to know him. I have somebody now that I like but my feelings are fluctuating. Sometimes I feel that I need to get to know him more and sometimes I feel that I just hate the situation or the person. Sometimes I think that I will never be in a relationship because of that feeling that comes to me once somebody shows care. By the way, I have never been in a relationship.

Psychologist’s Reply

It’s very rewarding when a new person likes us, or finds us attractive, especially if that new person is desirable. Reciprocated desire validates our attractiveness and apparent worth to potential romantic partners. That validation may explain at least some of the motives for flirting and doing what we can to get attractive people to like us. Once we’ve obtained the validation, however, interest in further involvement may deflate rapidly. Just because we want the other person’s attention doesn’t mean we want a full-blown relationship.

There is also the fact that newly budding relationships entail many fewer obligations and expectations compared to maturing relationships. So, you may feel as though the cost-benefit ratio associated with a new relationship suddenly shifts as your partner expresses feelings that typically lead to greater commitment and exclusivity. To invest more in getting to know the other person at that point might feel like you’re agreeing to greater commitment, or at least making it more complicated to break things off later.

A little darker possible explanation involves self-esteem. I think it may have been Groucho Marx who had a line: “I wouldn’t want to belong to any club that would have someone like me as a member.” As applied to relationships, sometimes we respect someone less if they appear eager to be in a relationship. The assumption may be that the other person may not be so desirable after all if he or she is excited about a relationship with a partner as flawed as me.

I present these possible explanations simply to stimulate your introspection as to your own experience. It may just be a case of not having met someone who knocks your socks off. In other words, perhaps all the possible partners you’ve encountered so far simply weren’t desirable enough to outlast the cost-benefit ratio as the relationship progressed to that critical juncture of developing more lasting feelings. In support of that possibility, you described your experience as one of boredom with partners, rather than anxiety or fear in response to their increasing interest. That distinction bodes well in terms of simply holding out for the man who ends up being the exception.

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