Dating Assertively Vs. Seeming Desperate: How To Straddle The Line More Effectively

Dating is a lot of work, so when you meet someone you feel a real connection, it's exciting! The two of you had a great first date, and you really want to see them again. Now, you could sit around and wait for them to make the next move, or you could take the reins. Assertiveness is an admirable trait, especially in the dating world, but the last thing you want to do is come off as desperate. If you're too aggressive, it can easily turn the person off and might actually get you ghosted.


There's a fine line between dating assertively and seeming desperate, and you have to straddle it carefully, or things can quickly turn from cute to creepy. So how do you navigate dating without crossing that line? There are certain behaviors to keep an eye out for, which can be applied to the person you're seeing as well. Maybe they're the one who's moving into desperation territory, so it's good to know the signs before things take a turn for the worse.

Putting in effort versus chasing them

When you first start seeing someone, it's normal to want to spend time with them; however, there's a difference between putting in effort and chasing them down. When you're putting in the work, you might be the first one to reach out, but there's an assumption the two of you will alternate who initiates making plans. If you notice you're the only one asking to get together, they're likely going to notice ... and not in a good way. In the event that they do reach out to make plans, be careful not to seem too eager (even if you are).


Say they text you asking you to see a movie that's playing in 20 minutes. You might not be busy, but it's worth saying you already have plans. Being too readily available gives off the impression you've been waiting by the phone, hoping they would call, which can come across as extremely desperate. Yes, lying about your schedule may seem like you're playing games, but remember, you're the one who wants to be chased, not the one doing the chasing.

Asking for clarification versus demanding a relationship title

If the two of you have been seeing each other for a while and you aren't really sure where you stand, there's a way to get your answer that shows you're assertive but doesn't make you look desperate. Coming to them with questions about your current relationship status and being open to the conversation is asserting yourself. This indicates you're mature enough to talk things through without jumping to conclusions or flying off the handle. They may not give you the answer you want, but by going about it in this manner, you aren't burning any bridges.


On the other hand, if you back them into a corner, demanding the two of you be in a committed relationship, don't be surprised if they turn around and end things right then and there. Be sure to steer clear of ultimatums, as they can make the situation much worse, especially when you're in the casual dating phase. "The ultimatum is a way for [people] to exert control over something they feel they have no control over — namely, another's behavior or traits," therapist Josiah Teng told PsychCentral. In this case, the chances of the person accepting your ultimatum are slim, so it's best to avoid them altogether — that behavior screams "desperate."