Is It Desperate to Show I Like Him?

Stephen Hussey

I recently received an email from a listener of our podcast that was such a great question that I couldn’t resist writing some thoughts about it, because I think this is one of THE problems in modern dating: i.e. people trying to play it too cool.

So here it is!

Question from a reader:

What constitutes chasing? Ie. Is telling someone you would love to hang out again after a date or that you like them in general desperate? Or equivalent to chasing? It’s hard to gauge sometimes if you want to have honest communication but common advice is that guys should always initiate and dictate the pace of a relationship. 

“Desperate” is a subjective term.

If after a date I send a text saying “had so much fun!” or “would love to hang out again!”, and it gets a cold reception, then I just got some useful info.

The info is: this isn’t someone I need in my life.

“But what if my enthusiasm turned them off?” you may reply.

Who cares?

Here’s the key question: Will a guy who is mesmerised by your beauty, fascinated by your company, and generally finds himself thinking about you all night after your first date be put off by you saying: “Would love to hang out again!”?


People are generally turned off by unwarranted affection.

This would happen if you only had one or two dates but your messages implied he is the greatest person you’ve ever met and you can’t imagine why he would ever find interest in a lowly creature like you. If this happens, then yes, he will think: this sounds desperate. And intense. She doesn’t even know me. I’m scared.

But you knew that already.

What people often want to know is: if i play it cooler, like, ICE COLD, will he be more attracted to me than if I tell him I had a wonderful time? 

This is where filters come into play.

In every friendship, conversation, and romantic relationship we have, we are always applying filters.

And if we decide to be ICE COLD. i.e. no text, no follow-up, no response, no anything after a date, one of two things tends to happen:


(1) people assume we just aren’t very interested (especially people with high self-esteem)


(2) we attract people who love hot and cold game-playing (who then lose interest later when we finally show them attention and things get too “boring”)


That’s why applying the ICE COLD filter tends to backfire so often. It’s a bad filter for attracting the kind of people who are best for the healthy long-term relationship.

I’m not afraid of rejection. I don’t care if someone had a mediocre time in my company and doesn’t feel a spark. I’d rather know that instantly and get on with finding someone who IS into what I’m selling sooner rather than later.

Which brings me to the point: I want to be upfront if I had a good time. Because I ONLY want someone who feels exactly the same.

Your biggest filter in dating should be: I want someone who is never in doubt that they want to see me again. 

This is the ultimate filter for healthy, happy, mutual relationships where you avoid all the BS that most people put up with who “love the chase”.

And what if you meet someone who says they “love the chase”? Run (careful though, they might chase you!). These are the people that really are desperate. Desperate for validation, attention, the desire to fill an endless void that will only see them jumping from relationship to relationship like lily pads as they look for another fix. They will cause you nothing but anxiety, confusion, and will lower your self-esteem as they play their hot and cold games with you.

Your goal is not to attract everyone. It is to attract the right people.

I remember someone I matched with on Tinder several years ago who showed me exactly what I don’t want. We added each other on Whatsapp. She would send me messages at the most random moments and then go radio silence when I responded. She was aloof and laconic in her messages, as though she were waiting to be entertained.

We somehow ended up arranging a date (I had convinced myself she might be better in person). She proceeded to flake. I text to confirm on the morning of the date to check we were still on, and her reply simply said “But it’s cold out today!”. No explanation. No apology. Apparently that was her idea of cancelling. I deleted her number.

A 21-year-old more insecure version of me would have seen this as some sign: I’m not attractive enoughI should have had a better technique to keep her interestedIf only I knew the right thing to say. Maybe I should try again

The real question I should have asked: Why the hell would you stoop to the level of giving more energy from your precious life to someone that flakey and indifferent?

The answer: you shouldn’t.

What about the final part of your question? Should guys always initiate?

There’s a piece of advice gets thrown around as if it’s some evolutionary law: men only want to pursue.

That isn’t my experience. Nor that of many of the great guys I know. Like most men, I am happy to pursue and accept this role when the situation calls for it. After all, men who never pursue tend to have a very poor success rate in dating. But if there isn’t mutual excitement thrown back my way, I get bored. If I never receive a spontaneous text, a cute message, a phone call, a suggestion for a date, a compliment, I feel I’m in a one-sided situation. And again, I apply my filter: I don’t want the kind of person who doesn’t show excitement for me. Neither should you.

To put it simply: indifference is vastly overrated.

Again, this depends what you want. I know what I want. I want enthusiasm. I want someone who tells me they’re excited to see me this weekend if we’ve been on a couple of dates and things are going well. I want to be top of their list of “people I really love spending time with”.

Of course, once we have our filter, then we have to do our part i.e. we have to be great ourselves. Which I’ve written about many times before. Having high standards without being a catch yourself is just entitlement.

But when you know you’re playing at the level you want to play at: filter, filter filter.

Once you have that in place, it makes sure that you only end up with great people who are crazy about you. Then things get so much easier.

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4 Replies to “Is It Desperate to Show I Like Him?”

  • Thank you for this. I have this same fear. I think for me it’s about whether I’m “too much” for someone because I can be intense and emotional but you have to be vulnerable sometimes for someone to know that you care. I don’t have to be the “cool chick” at all times because it isn’t me.

    I agree that it can lead to the wrong choices and explains why avoidant people can end up in bad relationships through a self-fulfilling prophecy.

    It’s like when a good guy comes along and you question it and freak out because you’re used to more toxic patterns – maybe deep down you don’t believe you deserve it? Maybe some men react to women that way too?

  • I so agree about not giving energy to someone who doesn’t know how to give energy back…after a while, I’m just like “ok he’s not interested..moving on”. I once dated this guy who would send me songs he’d play on his guitar, it was really sweet. So I started reciprocating and sending him songs of me singing (I used to sing for my church) and he loved it. But then after a while he just send me songs and the communication stopped, and no more dates happened. It was like I just became a sound board. Eventually, I stopped responding. I don’t want to be a sound board. It would have been a waste of energy.

  • I just got ghosted after what seemed like a great virtual online date after which he seemed keen to keep chatting to me. I think it’s because I sent him a message to say “Thank you for the lovely virtual date. It made my night x”. He replied after 1.5 days and I responded again after a day and now he’s totally gone. Maybe he didn’t like me enough in the first place but I’m convinced it was that message somehow…

  • Been talking to a guy online for a year… we’ve met 3 times in person (3days together each time- he’s in California, I’m in Washington). Most recent trip was meeting in Vegas. I broke at the end and finally told him I like him and want more, what did he want out of seeing me? He said he liked me, im easy to be around and talk to. He even took my advice on a job decision while in Vegas.
    But 6-9 months ago, he said he wasn’t a good texter and that made women upset….. I haven’t heard from him in 4wks and zero response to 2 texts from me in that time. I’m assuming he doesn’t feel the same way so I’m moving on.

    crying, AGAIN!

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