7 Signs of a Desperate Dater

by eHarmony Staff

7 Signs of a Desperate Dater

We’ve all seen it before. The crazy, overeager smile. That “please love me” tone. Desperation isn’t pretty, and if you’re the one feeling slightly under pressure it can be hard to know the difference between reasonable pro-activity and sad, demeaning behavior. We’ve cooked up this short guide to help you keep yourself in check.

Desperate Daters are ALWAYS available.

You really liked him. The first date was terrific and he hasn’t called in four days, so you’re a little bit worried that he isn’t as enthusiastic as you are. Holy smokes! The phone rings, it’s him and he says, “What are you doing right now? Wanna grab some dinner?” 

“YES. YES. YES. COME PICK ME UP!”

That’s what you’re thinking, but what does it say about you that a 6:20 pm phone call is plenty of notice for a 6:30 pm dinner date. “Well,” you might say, “I’m an adult, and not into games, so why should I pretend to be busy?” And you’re right, dating isn’t a game – it’s a dance. You’re teaching this new person how you like to dance by the treatment you accept. If you want to be completely honest with the caller you could say, “I don’t accept dinner dates 10 minutes before dinner,” but the kinder, less aggressive way to teach this person that you have too much of a life to be available at the drop of a hat is to say, “I’m busy tonight, but let’s set something up for this weekend.”

If you choose to answer this call and say, “Sure, I’m free. Let’s go to dinner,” it isn’t the end of the world. For the caller, however, it is impossible not to take note of your availability. You’re starting to establish the pattern of desperation.

Desperate Daters are clingy.

It’s a basic human behavior. The things that we believe to be abundant get less attention. The things we believe to be scarce and valuable get lots of attention. It makes lots of sense in the jungle, but focusing your attention like a laser beam on a potential relationship partner can spell doom.

Desperate daters are scared that they are going to be dumped. They believe there are few good candidates out there, and if they lose this person…they will be crushed!

So they hold on tightly. They ask a lot of prying questions, “What did you do last night? Who was there?” They stay as close as possible under the assumption that being nearby can prevent their prize from escaping. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth.

Southern Rockers 38 Special had it just right, “Hold on loosely, but don’t let go. If you cling too tightly, you’re gonna lose control.”

Desperate Daters need constant relationship status updates.

It’s not uncommon for a 5-year-old to climb into the car for a long trip and ask the driver 15 minutes later, “Are we there yet? How many more miles?” There are many grown men and women who act the same way with their romantic relationships. These relationship conversations (we like the term “State of the Union” conversations) can come over and over as the desperate partner seeks for some handle they can use to sooth their fear of being abandoned. “What are we? What are we doing? Are we insert next life hurdle here?”

Not sure of what’s going on, some will play along, trying to give the fearful partner a sense of comfort and ease. It sometimes works – for awhile. More often the desperate party’s constant need for reassurance leaves the exhausted partner heading for the door. 

Desperate Daters fish for compliments.

Desperate daters need outside encouragement at every turn. They are so desperate to feel good about themselves that they become masters of creating compliments out of thin air. Self-deprecation is the most common tool.

DD: “Wow. I feel so fat.”
You: “What are you talking about? You look great.”
DD: “Oh REALLY! Thanks so much.

For the less subtle set there’s the direct question, “What do you think of my jeans?”… “Do you like my hair?”… “Am I as pretty as Angelina Jolie?”

Or the move where he/she walks in the room strikes a pose and says, “Well?” — confident that you’re not going to say, “You look ridiculous,” and waiting for you to shower praise and affection all over them.

This brand of desperation is simply exhausting. Lest you think you can say enough kind things to eventually create a self-assured person, beware. True desperation is a tough hole to patch.

Desperate Daters Drop Their Friends.

If you NEED a relationship, then nothing is going to stand in the way, right? Certainly not the friends who love you and will probably forgive you for dumping them. So goes the logic of the desperate mind.

The problem is that dating a person who puts their entire life on hold for you…is creepy. “I know I usually go to Las Vegas with my friends for March Madness but I just want to be with you.” It can be a lot of pressure being the center of someone’s universe, and you start to wonder about key traits – like loyalty and dependability – that can have a big impact on whether you choose to pursue a long term relationship someone.

Desperate Daters Drop Their Standards.

Books have been written on the topic of “settling.” What is settling? When to settle? And a quick perusal of the eHarmony Advice community shows volumes of thought and debate on the topic.

Clearly, it is possible to want too much from a date or a mate. Downshifting from some overblown list of traits and accomplishments is a wise decision. But we all have an internal sense of what we can attract in the marketplace of life. Dry spells come and go, but life has taught us the kinds of people we can successfully date. Water seeks its own level.

In addition, most people have spent some time thinking about the traits that are important to them — honesty, stability, curiosity, good work ethic, respectful, etc. These traits become the short list of what you MUST HAVE from a partner to be with them.

The desperate dater is too driven by fear to pay attention to this inner voice. They start to toss these requirements overboard one by one. They believe that their best years are behind them, and that the only way to be in a relationship is to settle for less. Much less.


Desperate Daters Rationalize Bad Treatment.

Continuing with our theme of song lyrics, here’s one from Nashville songstress Pam Tillis called, Cleopatra, The Queen of Denial.

“I knew he didn’t have any money
Yeah that’s why he couldn’t buy me a ring
Oh and just because he bought himself a brand new pickup truck
Really didn’t prove anything
And he never had to say he loved me
I could see it every time he smiled
Just call me Cleopatra everybody, ’cause I’m the Queen of Denial”

When you are desperate for love you’ll take a lot of gruff. In fact, you often don’t even notice the poor treatment because acknowledging that you’re being treated badly is the first step down the road to walking away.

If you’ve ever made excuses to your friends for the way your significant other treats you, it’s time to take a long hard look at your relationship and priorities. Are you so desperate to be with a person that you’ll allow them to treat you like an old shoe?

So in conclusion, if we imagine a person who is the opposite of the one described above we have someone who is:

  • Not always available — has a busy life and can make time with a little notice.
  • Not Clingy — comfortable with some space in the relationship.
  • Comfortable without constant relationship updates – likes to let things progress naturally.
  • Secure without artificial compliments.
  • Going to continue to make their friends an important priority.
  • Continuing to maintain reasonable standards for their dates.
  • Not going to tolerate poor treatment in a relationship.

The irony is that while the person we’ve just described seems like a harder person to date – higher standards, more rules, less available – they are infinitely more likely to end up in a great relationship than the poor desperate soul who is willing to do double-backflips just to be with someone.

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