For the intent and purpose of this article, I would like to introduce & define the following:
The Dating Prey - a single person feeling a bit low, unloved and lonely in the dating game. In order to make themselves feel better and fill this void, they seek out a Dating Buffer to massage their ego, fill up lonely weekends and be a convenient plus one to participate in social activities. However, the Dating Prey is not romantically interested in the Dating Buffer but keeps his/her attention by sending out mixed signals.
The Dating Buffer - a single person, who is attracted and romantically interested in The Dating Prey. Despite getting mixed messages, the Dating Buffer hangs on and hopes that a relationship will ensue but sadly, that day is unlikely to materialise. The Dating Buffer will be made redundant as soon as the Dating Prey temporarily fills his/her void, or they find a romantic interest.
When it comes to the dating game, unfortunately sometimes it can be a dog eat, dog world out there. Here are 10 signs that you could be someone's Dating Buffer:
1. The Dating Prey insists on taking things exceptionally slow - Whilst it's sensible to take things slow rather than jump in feet first, there has to be gradual progress, either in the direction of interest or disinterest. As a general guideline, most people have a fair idea by date 3, whether they wish to explore a romantic connection (or not).
2. You're stuck in the 'friends zone' - The reason you date someone is because you want more than just friendship. If you feel like you're just hanging out with one of your buddies 'doing stuff' you've got to question what's going on. If you're serious about meeting someone, this 'friendship' is just taking up your time, attention and energy, which could be better invested in your search for someone who wants love.
3. You show more interest in their life, than they show you in yours - You're constantly making an effort to find out about their likes, dislikes, planning outings and making sweet gestures accordingly. However, you feel that this is not being reciprocated, it suggests that they are not really into you and therefore do not feel the need to invest that level of interest.
4. You're constantly getting mixed messages and not sure where you stand - On the one-hand the Dating Prey tells you that they want to take things slow as friends. In the next moment they contradict this by being flirty either face-to-face, or via text/instant messaging.
5. He/she cancels dates frequently, or regularly knocks on your door at the last minute - Someone who is genuinely interested and wants to date you, would not behave like this. They would be respectful of you and your time. Furthermore, if you find yourself not making firm plans with others, just in case this person gets in touch and wants to meet, the alarm bells need to be ringing loudly, you're under valuing yourself!
6. Physical contact: one extreme or the other - You could find yourself in a situation where despite a lot of flirting and banter, you still remain firmly in the friends zone of physical contact. Conversely, you could end up having a physical relationship with this person but you feel the void of an emotional relationship and remain uncertain as to the status of your so-called 'relationship'.
7. Sporadic communication - There is never consistent contact, as one would expect in a normal healthy relationship. One day you're texting back and forth all evening, then the next few day there's radio silence like the person has disappeared of the face of the world. Was it something you said? Not likely. The Dating Prey is occupied and you're simply not a priority.
8. You never meet their friends, or accompany them to social occasions - You've been hanging out/dating for some time but you've never met any of their friends. The only social activities that you partake in, only include the two of you.
9. Avoid being in your life - The Dating Prey will not commit to anything more than one week in advance but there's still no guarantee that the said date will take place. He/she will avoid any commitments with you that include meeting people in your life, or being your plus one at any social occasions like a wedding, or birthday party.
10. Denial - Deep down inside you know that this 'relationship' is not going anywhere but choose to remain in denial. When you mention the Dating Prey to your friends, you're mindful and selective about the information that you share, and frequently defend and make excuses for their behaviour.
The truth is that dating gets most people down at some point, in particularly when it feels like you've been looking for an eternity and still not had much luck. However, just because you feel low, it's unfair to make yourself feel better at the expense of another's feelings. Leading someone on, whom you have no romantic interest in, is unkind. Just imagine if the circumstances were reversed... Conversely, when you're keen to meet a partner, or it's been ages since you found someone attractive, it's easy to latch on and ignore the writing on the wall. However, if someone is not giving you clear signals, or demonstrating that they want a relationship, the reality is that they don't. It's better to walk away from the outset, despite how much you may like that person than wind up wasting your time and getting caught up in an emotional turmoil.
When you think about it, it's ironic really because whether you're the Dating Prey, or the Dating Buffer, ultimately neither of you are really getting your heart's desire - a healthy mutually loving relationship. It almost begs the question, why would you want to put yourself in this situation in the first place?