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Does everyone take dating WAY too personally?

Stephen Hussey

I was initially surprised this week at some of the reactions to Matt’s latest video blog.

In case you missed it, the video was about some of the fun, high-value messages you can send back to a guy when he texts you out-the-blue after “going cold” for a few weeks.

Although many of the comments were overwhelmingly positive (as proven by the like/dislike ratio on the YouTube video), I also noticed that some of the most popular comments were the angry ones, which said something like the following:

“I would NEVER message a guy back after he did any of these to me. I would just tell him to F**K off and stop playing mind games. Matthew, why are you telling people to be playful with these guys who are obviously PRICKS that just want to mess women around. Not impressed with this advice!”

That’s not an exact quote, but it’s the general summary. On reflection, I can see why this topic would provoke so much anger.

I can imagine the frustration: “Why would Matt tell me to be playful or confident or even care AT ALL about what messages I send to some douchebag that didn’t get back to me for weeks!”

Well, ok.

Fair enough.

And yet…

I can’t help but worry about people who approach dating with this kind of mentality. It’s not that I believe the reaction is somehow wrong, but something about the aggressive, affronted, tone in the comments makes me wonder if there’s a little too much being taken personally here.

In other words, is such an emotive, infuriated response to a guy suddenly getting in touch after a few weeks of no-contact really necessary?

Because the truth is, sometimes, just sometimes, there are reasons not to hastily dismiss someone just because they went off the radar for a while, or just because they prioritized other things above us at first.

Sometimes it pays to have an open-mind before we write someone off and allow our blood to boil with rage at the very thought of them. Even if it’s just for our health.

When And When Not To Be Pissed Off

Let’s face it, after a few dates, we still don’t really know someone at all.

We barely know what’s going on in their real lives, we know they are presenting a slightly better, more polished version of themselves in order to impress us, and consequently we don’t really have a reason to expect a lot of obligation from their side.

The point is, sometimes life gets in the way. Sometimes a man (or woman) really is in a month where his or her career takes absolute priority over everything else and they just don’t have time to keep moving ahead with a burgeoning relationship. So maybe they drop off the radar for a while.

Then maybe they come back and send one of those texts, like the ones Matt mentioned in his video: e.g. “Miss u” or “Thinking of you”.

Now, as I see it, Matt’s point here is that although in the moment you might immediately feel hurt or offended that this guy hasn’t been in touch and then suddenly messages you out of the blue, there is a way you can respond and stay high-value, whilst still giving HIM a chance to try to win you back over. Or at the very least, you’re not giving him what he wants (i.e. your affection) in that moment.

It doesn’t mean he will win you over. And even if you don’t want him to win you back over, it’s still worth being confident and not overly reactive in your response. 

Maybe his excuse will be crappy and you’ll decide he’s not worth it. Maybe he won’t even make an excuse at all and you’ll realise he doesn’t care much about how he behaves (or doesn’t even realise there’s anything wrong with not getting back for so long). Maybe you just can’t be bothered and have better options. Who knows? I’ll let you judge that for yourself.

But we can lose a lot in life by letting pride continually get the better of us.

While it’s true that Matt and I have always talked about the importance of having standards, I like to think that can also mean having a standard of being open-minded to giving people second chances, or even just not taking ourselves too seriously in dating.

Now, of course, that’s not appropriate in every case.

If you’re receiving a text saying “miss u” from a particularly shitty ex-boyfriend who has jerked you around for the last year, and now wants to mess with your feelings one last time just as you’re about to heal and finally be over him…then be my guest. Ignore away. Think him a prick. Be judgmental, tell him never to message again, and resolve not to give the manipulative asshole another single minute of your time.

But my impression is that this isn’t always the case.

My impression is more that we sometimes come to just simply expect that a new person we’re dating should see how awesome, unforgettable, and unique we are after a relatively short amount of time. And if they don’t see it immediately? NEXT!

My worry is that this becomes about our ego, an expression of our need to protect ourselves by immediately branding the other person a user, jerk, player, fuckboy, whatever adjective you choose.

I told a friend about this and she said to me, “But you have to be careful, because women will read this and assume that you’re just telling them to be blind when it’s obvious a guy is treating them like crap.”

So then let me say as a disclaimer: If a guy’s behaviour seems in any way to be purely motivated by selfishness, or you feel used, or messed around, then I would be the first person to recommend cutting them out of your life without a second thought.

But sometimes, just sometimes, we can react too quickly. Or we try so hard to protect ourselves we give no-one a real chance. Or we tell ourselves if a guy isn’t immediately everything we hoped for then they aren’t worth another thought. Or we just take everything way too seriously and forget to amuse ourselves along the way (which is what those text messages are for!).

I know that in my love life, sometimes it’s taken me a while to really fall for someone. To really make them a priority and realise I have something special in front of me. That means I let myself be open-minded for other people to do the same.

Why Matt’s Texts Still Make You High-Value

For those still in doubt, the reasons Matt’s texts from the video are so effective are the following:

  • They are short
  • They are non-commital
  • They don’t require you to put yourself on the line
  • They make you MORE High-Value by showing no emotional reaction to him
  • They’re amusing (if only for yourself)

Plus, you always get the option to ignore him whenever you want. So it’s totally win-win in every scenario!

I’m not saying you should have low expectations. By all means, aim for the best. But dating isn’t an exact science. Sometimes people’s situations change, circumstances change, and that means we should keep a sense of proportion when taking everything so personally.

If nothing else, we gain so much more from letting go of our anger. It’s at least good for the blood pressure.


Stephen Hussey helped co-write the Get The Guy book and is a wealth of knowledge on dating and relationships.

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52 Replies to “Does everyone take dating WAY too personally?”

  • I’m with going with one’s gut. Mine is always right. Usually when a guy is like that he’s not that interested. Even if you go with the high value response, in my experience it never goes anywhere. Just like a guy who is late to your first date. Or second date. He’s going to be late to things.

    People are who they are. I’m not advocating rage or anger about it. But if a woman wants a more attentive guy, I don’t see the harm in cutting these guys busy with other stuff loose. Besides, if she is a woman to get mad about that stuff wouldn’t you agree those two aren’t a match anyway?

  • One of my favourite quotes is:
    “Angels can fly because they take themselves lightly.”

    So I’d agree to favour a balanced and prudential approach over a vindictive over-reaction, in most cases. And in situations where that’s obviously not right (jerk of an ex-boyfriend wanting to mess with your feelings one more time etc.), the question of what to text back doesn’t pose itself, you should just ignore them.

  • I’m a French young woman. I talked with this guy for a month. We only have been in one date. It was very great! He told me that he wanted to see me again! Because of my tests, I wasn’t very available but I wanted to see him. After my tests, we talked about go out on a date. He stopped responding to my texts the day before and I didn’t have any news from him for 10 days. I needed something so I texted him. He texted me back like nothing happened. So I asked him. His excuse wasn’t very good but it could be true. He also gave me the best excuses ever! So we started to talk again… For 2 days and he went away again… I don’t know what to think…
    Why did he gave me this excuses if he didn’t wanted to talk to me again?
    Do I go for answers?
    What if he come back?

    (Sorry for grammar errors.. ;) Ca aurait été plus simple en français)

    1. Noemie, je te reponds en francais parce que c’est aussi plus simpe pour moi en francais.

      Ca parait radical, mais laisse le tomber. La, stepshen parle d’un d’un gars qui a fait ca une fois! Chez toi le gars, il disparait a chaque fois que vous plannifiez quelque chose de concret.

      Mais comme le dis Stephen, a toi de sentir avec ton instinct si c’est un fuckbo ou pas. Les gars contrairement a nous, ont besoin de nous connaitre plus pour avoir envie de faire des choses ensemble, de se revoir, etc

      Tu viens de la france ou de la belgique?


  • I agree with the non-chalant approach to vanishers and enjoyed the advice, thank you. However, it’s not that often that guys text ‘I miss you’ at early stages of dating. Most often, it’s something like ‘Hey, sorry I’ve been out of touch. The last weeks have been crazy for me. How are you?’. It’s such a lame question, as it’s so devoid of meaning! I hate answering it. So, usually, I’d sit on the message for a few hours, then respond along the lines of ‘I’m great, thanks! Yeah, January is tough on everyone :)’. And leave it there. What usually follows is more meaningless exchange ending with ‘let’s get together sometime. I’ll talk to you later’, after which he disappears for another 2-3 weeks.

  • So where do you draw the line between someone who’s genuinely busy and had to reshuffle his priorities, vs someone who needs time and space so he can analyze to death everything about me, vs someone who’s out looking elsewhere while keeping me as an option in case he fails miserably?

    If he did it once and I was receptive when he came back, will that not encourage a repeat behavior? Guys know what they’re doing. Sadly, this often happens early into dating when open communication has not been established.

    1. Maybe just let their actions define that differentiation rather than trying to shuffle them yourself?

      EG, instead of worrying about drawing the line, just take it that the amount of time and effort they’re putting forth at any given point in time is the amount they are both willing and able to give.

      If we were talking about a solid exchange in transactional terms — if he was /paying you in time and effort for your time and effort/ — how much did he just earn from you?

      It’s not Disney pretty but it’s sometimes nicer to just be able to determine what’s going on without the fairy tale mythos.

      Short answer: You don’t have to differentiate between these guys or their intentions. They will. Your responsibility is to “price” your own time in such a way that you’re getting the payout for your value. <3

  • Great article Stephen. I have had a lot of people come back after months (even year) of being cold. I either gave them a second chance or brush them off nicely. No point adding wrinkle to my face with boiling blood and anger. Thank you :)

  • Like others here, I completely agree with the argument that taking things personally and jumping to conclusions–especially when you’re first getting to know someone–can reflect insecurity on your part as much as douchebaggery on theirs. I can also see the perspective of women (and men) who are concerned with the advice being taken out of context (without the disclaimer) and interpreted as ‘you should just play cool without consulting your feelings or thinking of your best interest.’

    For me, especially as a woman raised in a culture that teaches women to always think of others’ needs over their own (always ‘be nice’, always give others the benefit of the doubt), I find it important to:
    -Look within and acknowledge how the flaky behavior really makes me feel.
    -Remind myself this is likely more about that person than about me. Step back and think rationally.
    -Identify where my values are around this behavior–not just for how people treat me but for how I want to treat others.
    -Think about what my gut says, what I really want, what I sense is healthiest for me.
    -Act on that in a way that honors my values, whether that means no contact, a playful text, or a more direct response.

    These steps may seem super obvious, but for me it’s been an ongoing revelation that dating is not about convincing random guys to like or even highly value me–it’s about learning and growing and building the kind of life and relationships *I* want. (Coming to that realization has helped me drop my defenses more than anything else.) I see scripts like the ones in the video as excellent resources for when I *choose* to stay in touch.

    FWIW, I’ve been reading a lot on attachment theory and find it interesting how securely-attached people tend to not take things personally (see others like oneself, assume the best, realize the flakiness, etc. has more to do with them than with you) AND to have high standards (securely-attached people get burned too, but from what I’ve read they’re less likely to put up with disrespectful treatment). As someone who tends to take things personally AND have a hard time standing up for myself, I’m not there yet, but this information–including the insightful videos and articles on this site–have helped me feel a lot more grounded and empowered.

  • Hi Stephen I did that, I overreacted, I “over expected from a guy” and I made a sort of a tsunami and he backed off, this was a ping pong date whenever I back him off he goes back but return, but still we never manage to pull things togheter, help me with this on, because that text seem written to me. I like him a lot and that gets me to exaggerated reactions. But you know sometimes as a woman you might think that the guy is in to you when he is just playing around. Because in my head if he were truly in to me he would stay even with my drama but still people are different and at this point I am aware that men also have feelings. Please help me with this one, what are your thoughts. Regards both Stephen and Matthew xoxo

  • Way to call ppl out on their comments! Love it! Snap! Lol. (Hopefully you don’t always take comments too seriously either.) That’s why I quoted Kanye in a reply recently. Did not know you liked him! You are so proper – that in itself is a unique pairing ;)

  • I think the best response to men who are flaky is give them a doze of their own medicine. If he texts “hey how are you?” Or “i miss you” it’s best to sit on it for a week then reply, “hey, ive been super busy as well. glad you had the time to text. Let’s catch up soon.” (If you still want to meet with him)

  • Dear Stephen,

    But is it correct to assume that if a man says he’s not ready for a relationship after two beautiful months of seeing each other, he is not the right guy?

    If he starts to show signs of going cold, should you just let him get back in touch or communicate that you are not ok with this treatment? How relaxed should you be at this phase: is 2 months still “early dating” when patience and no pressure is key or is it normal to be expecting more?

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