‘How can I understand I don’t have to sleep with someone for them to like me? I keep forgetting.’
I was recently sent an interesting question by a reader in need of some advice: “How can I understand that I don’t have to sleep with someone for them to like me? I keep forgetting.”
We’ve been told over and over that in order to be liked we must serve a purpose in a relationship or give the other person something they want. Often, but not always, we assume that what the other person wants is s*x. Why? Because society has repeatedly reinforced this assumption.
But this concept of being “useful” or “seducing” our way into a relationship is a harmful perspective that many have accepted and internalized over time. It motivates behaviors like people-pleasing and self-betrayal.
Explore your relationship with yourself. If you’re struggling to shake the thought that you need to sleep with someone in order for them to like you, I would suggest reflecting on where this belief comes from:
- What have you been taught about relationships?
- Has your previous dating history reinforced this belief?
- Do you feel like you have things to offer other than s*x?
- Is it more important for you to be liked by others than to do what feels right for you? (If yes, why?)
Sometimes our need to be liked by others stems from our struggle to like ourselves. Exploring the relationship we have with who we are can help us as we pursue a relationship with someone else. If we do not feel like we have much to contribute aside from s*x, we may continue to feel like we must have s*x in order for people to see our value.
We can get a more empowered view of who we are by exploring and healing our insecurities and identifying our strengths. If the only thing you think you have to offer is s*x, you probably don’t know yourself well enough!
Shift your focus. Another way to challenge our understanding is to shift our focus from the other person to ourselves. This doesn’t mean that the other person is irrelevant or that all focus should be on us, but some of the focus needs to be on ourselves.
So, here is how to shift our focus. Before dwelling or worrying about if the other person likes you and how you can make sure they do, focus on exploring if you like them. We are often so scared of being abandoned that we don’t stop to think if someone is a good fit. Remember, being with someone who is not a good fit, is not better than being alone.
Here are a couple things to ask yourself:
- Do you like spending time with this person?
- Do they understand you and accept you?
- Do you have things in common?
- Do you have the same goal for this dynamic?
- Do they treat you with respect?
- Do they let you be yourself?
- How do you feel when you’re around them?
- Is this someone that can fulfill your needs?
Write a note. Lastly, if you are still struggling to remember that you don’t need to sleep with someone to be liked, write a note and stick it on your front door or set a phone reminder during your date. Don’t let yourself forget!