Dear Dr. Brian:
I’m new to dating men and this is the first relationship I’ve been in with a man. I’m not sure if the guy I’m involved with really loves me the way I do him. He’s not really blessed financially and I tend to support him with a lot of his needs. I can’t help but wonder if he’s clinging on to me for that reason. I love him, but I don’t want to continue the relationship if he’s only with me for that purpose.
It is very important in dating to pace a new relationship slowly so that you can get to know your dating partner well enough to determine if he meets your needs for a relationship and life partner. By going slow, this allows the relationship to evolve naturally and gives you time to observe his attitudes and behavior over time before becoming too emotionally involved and invested. Tempering your infatuation, attraction, and excitement about the budding romance is critical at this stage so as not to become blinded to important clues that speak to whether this new guy you’re seeing is actually a good fit for you. It’s important to have fun and enjoy the process of the dating relationship, but it’s vital to balance this with appropriate boundaries to allow time to assess his potential for true “boyfriend material.”
I’m sorry to hear that you have some suspicions about your guy’s true feelings for you. Obviously we want to be loved for who we are, not what we can provide for someone in terms of money, sex, status, security, etc. Those may be bonus features when getting involved with someone secondarily, but the primary bonding foundation that we ultimately seek is to be loved for ourselves as the men we are. You deserve that and should demand no less.
So how can you tell if someone you’re dating likes you back as much as you do him? While it can be difficult to spot an opportunist, there are some signs you can keep a look out for that can reassure you that your new guy reciprocates your feelings of positive anticipation about what “could be”. And that is actually the #1 key to determining if a guy is into you—reciprocation.
Does he put forth effort in your involvement? Does he take proactive steps to try and meet your needs? Does he show interest and enthusiasm in getting to know who you are and what you stand for? Does he on occasion make sacrifices because he wants to do something that would make you feel good? Does he initiate non-sexual affection and physical touch? Does he offer to pay for things or at the outset make attempts to balance your financial generosity toward him with other gestures of kindness and adoration to equal the scales? Does he initiate time and energy to spend quality time with you? Does he communicate his thoughts and feelings with you and is he willing to make compromises when necessary? Does he light up when he sees you and make regular eye-contact? Does he want to hear about your goals and dreams for the future? When you’re having a bad day, does he put things going on in his life to the side to devote time and attention to providing you with some tender-loving-care and support? Does he smile at you a lot and is he playful with you? Does he seem to care about how you think of him? Does he make conscious efforts to try and please you?
These are just a few questions to ask yourself to get you on the right track. There are no guarantees that a guy is being honest, even with affirmatives to all these questions, so that’s why it’s important to be cautious and to go slow to ensure that his behavior is consistent over time to prove his true feelings for you.
If you’re doing more work in the relationship than he is and it doesn’t feel balanced, this could be a concern. It doesn’t necessarily mean that he’s only in the relationship for your money, but it absolutely would warrant a discussion with him about what your needs would be for a more balanced and equal relationship. If he still doesn’t follow through after such a communication, then the possibility of your suspicions of his being with you for what you can do for him might be a heightened reality.
Good luck with this and protect yourself!