People who like you will act like they like you.

I’m liking this SexyTypewriter post. They’re talking about heterosexual relationships, but the principle applies to him, her, hir, they, and ou.

People who like you will act like they like you.

And it will be easy to hang out with people you like who also like you. Even if someone gets busy, they will say “I am busy right now, can I call you in a few weeks” and when the busy time ends they will call you or respond enthusiastically to your invitation. And you won’t have to interpret and analyze the signals that much – when it’s working, the signals look like “Hey, that was great, can we do that again?” “I was hoping you’d say that! Want to go to this thing with me next week?” “Yes, yes I do.” “You’re neat!”

Friendship is a relationship between two people who feel a mutual spark and connection.  It’s not a “zone” where you banish people you don’t want to have sex with but don’t feel comfortable ditching because they have no obvious dealbreakers. Meeting someone and figuring out that they are One of Your People is magical and awesome whether you meet as friends or as potential romantic partners.  That click in the universe is the same. That’s why here at Captain Awkward Dot Com Enterprises we don’t date people who aren’t as cool as our friends.

I like Sofi’s closing thought:  “Just do your best and don’t worry” and am stealing it forever.

23 thoughts on “People who like you will act like they like you.

  1. I think a lot of stress people have about this sort of thing comes from a view of relationships as binary, or multi-staged: are you friend or foe? Do you like me, or like-like me? Are we “together” (romantically and sexually exclusive and if you ever cheat on me you’re DEAD), or are we nothing from Adam?

    I am the kind of person who really obsesses over things like long pauses or breaks in correspondence and contact. I always wonder if I said something wrong or wonder if a slight change in behavior is an early indication that person in question has become exhausted with me and just doesn’t want the headache of telling me. It sometimes became so stressful that I would cut off all contact with a person, in an effort to avoid their imagined judgement.

    But I’ve come to learn that relationships are not static–there’s an ebb and flow to them, even lifelong ones like marriages and best-friendships. Now, when I reach out to make a friend, and they don’t reciprocate, I just let them ebb away until our relationship is where it’s supposed to be. If they flow back towards me, and I’m ready for them, I flow right back. I don’t try and define where I stand in a relationship–that definition is obvious. All I need to worry about is if I’m enjoying the relationship as it is, and thus should spend time and energy on it. Otherwise, I either ask for a change, or just stop worrying about it.

    1. Wise words.

      It’s good to remember that people do get caught up in their own lives – as my friends have kids, or move across the country we don’t talk or run into each other the way we used to – so it’s important to remember that after a period of little or no contact, if you really do want to get in touch, it’s much better to email or call and say “Hey, how are you? Can we make a plan to get together soon?” than “Why haven’t you called me in so long, is it because you don’t like me?”

  2. I always felt bad about the fact that I didn’t have a large circle of “my people” because I either click with people or I don’t, and when I don’t, I don’t try really hard to make it happen. (I will, however, beat a dying friendship or relationship to death trying to figure it out or make it work). And then I realized, in a much less verbal way, what you say here. It is easy to hang out with people who like you and who you like. Brilliant.

  3. YES, that is exactly right! For sure works in romantic relationships too.

    If this maxim is ignored, it can all too easily lead to the high school model of interaction, where you desperately keep trying (to hang with the cool crowd, or whatever), despite no reciprocity whatsoever…

  4. “Anyone who will become an important person in your life will a) like you right away and b) like you a LOT.”

    This may well be a useful principle to live by, and there are a lot of people who may benefit from hearing it and applying it.

    Its main drawback is that it’s false. Forces nominally opposed may be working together. The Rom-Com “We Hate and Disrespect Each Other, OMG Crisis Let’s Soul-Kiss” trope is obviously stupid, but just because you don’t like someone right at first doesn’t mean they won’t become an important person in your life (or vice-versa.)

    Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler. Sometimes life is a bit complicated.

    1. See, I really don’t agree with that. I’ve never had an important relationship in my life that developed despite my not liking the person immediately or them not liking me immediately. In fact, on the occasions that I’ve “given someone a chance” when I didn’t really dig them at first, I ended up in a dissatisfying relationship (romantic or otherwise) that I really didn’t belong in.

        1. Okay. So perhaps the line can be rewritten as: “Anyone who SHOULD become an important person in your life will a) like you right away and b) like you a LOT.”

          I hate to should all over people, but ApeMan1976 has a point on the earlier phrasing. Certainly I’ve had lots of “important people” in my past I gave way too much time and energy to, thinking that if I care enough, love enough, try hard enough, do enough, give enough… it’ll be worth it.

          Nope, but now my Important People all comply with the above statement, and I’ll never go back!

          1. That isn’t what I mean.

            I am probably unusual, but I doubt I’m THAT unusual. I often meet people I don’t like at first, or who don’t like me at first, who wind up being important to me after we get over the initial problems.

            I once met a guy in a bar who was drunk who was very rude to me. He told me I was wasting my time with the project I was working on (and yakking about) at the time and that it was going to fail. It was hurtful and upsetting, not least because I knew by then the prospects for the project weren’t very good.

            Over the next several months I finished that project (which did, in fact, fizzle) and started some new ones. I started picturing the guy, his face as he said those words no one had ever said to me but I imagined everyone saying behind my back constantly: “You’re going to fail.” I began to work more, to finish projects I had once let languish. I did some stuff people liked. The phone started ringing.

            As it happens I was sitting eating pizza at a pool with my daughter’s friend’s dad some months later and the guy walked up and sat down with us – he’s good friends with this guy I was with. It was a bit tense but eventually we broke the ice and discussed our previous meeting. I told him his blunt words had helped motivate me. He apologized and told me that he often has overly intense conversations with strangers when he’s had too much to drink.

            Then he came clean – the reason he had been so angry with me that night was that I had in fact discussed my project with him on a previous night in the same bar. He had given me a phone number for a guy to call, a friend of his who’s a famous director of documentaries, but I kind of thought he was full of shit and never followed up. In fact I forgot we ever talked about it.

            He was hurt that I forgot him and thought, understandably, that I was a jerk. I was hurt that he was drunkenly attacking my project and thought, understandably, that he was a jerk.

            Now that it’s all sorted out, it’s not like we’re best friends. But I wouldn’t be too surprised if we do a film together sometime soon. He may wind up being a very important person in my life indeed.

            Our feelings and intuitions are important guides that can help us greatly in life. But not everything is as it appears right at first. If we ignore that, we certainly will not make progress in all useful directions.

          2. Concerning your reply below:

            I agree that working through problems is important, and I certainly don’t advocate just giving up on people if things aren’t *perfect*. What I’m saying is that, when one filters through the drama, there are core feelings. This guy you described actually DID like you at first! He tried to help you out, and then got offended at how he was treated. You thought he was “full of shit”.

            And the conclusion of your anecdote is that he still isn’t an Important Person in your life, but that he MAY be someday?

            It could just be that we have different definitions of what makes an Important Person, which is the real issue dividing our views here, and in which case I accept your point. I certainly have acquaintances and project partners I am happy to keep in my life. They’re important to me, but they are a chasm away from my handful of Important Persons.

          3. Well, obviously it’s fine for our opinions to differ. All I’m saying is that unlike 95% of the advice I see on hear, I think if you adhere to this principle the gains may be offset, at least partially, by the losses.

  5. Easy People by the Nields has long been a favorite of mine (even if not always lived). The World Cafe live performance I have on cassette tape has this fabulous introduction where they talk about being in their 30s and realizing what is enough and exactly enough for relationships.

  6. While I agree with this and like it a lot, there’s always the trap where people who like you will act like *they* like you, not like how you would act if *you* liked you. I’ve had difficulties in the past reading someone else’s signals — they were acting busy/neutral, I heard a total lack of interest.

    1. Then you take a small step toward them (if you actually like them) and see if they take a tiny step toward you. Reciprocity rules.

  7. Yes, this! Speaking as someone to whom ‘friendzone’ is the place of everyone I like and am liked by (since I’m aromantic/asexual) I hate the fact that friendship is often treated as something inferior. Friendship is a fantastic thing. It should be a fantastic thing for everyone else, too! Whatever your romantic/sexual leanings are. Real friendship is one of the best feelings ever.

  8. ‘And it will be easy to hang out with people you like who also like you. Even if someone gets busy, they will say “I am busy right now, can I call you in a few weeks” and when the busy time ends they will call you or respond enthusiastically to your invitation’

    I don’t know about this. I have a couple of friends who absolutely suck at correspondence and logistics. I have to pester and pester to see them, and they’ll often back out of plans. If I can get them in the same room as me the same snap in the universe is there, but… they’re flakey as fuck. And they’re like that with absolutely everyone. The only people they can keep in super regular contact with are colleagues. It’s just one of those things. They’re genuinely busy with all sorts, not organised, and not local.

    As I get older I tend to have less patience for this and i haven’t bothered to take on the Herculean effort that is involved in staying actively friends with these people. But I really don’t think they dislike me. They’re just not good with friendships when they aren’t local and you have to actively schedule.

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