8 Differences Between Being Attentive and Being Obsessive in Dating


If you have difficulty being attentive, you’re in good company. Men have had a problem with paying attention since the beginning of time; at least that’s what ancient scripture says.

“Since ancient times no man has heard, no man has paid attention…” Isaiah 64:4

When it comes to dating, the right amount of attention is a good thing.

The best way to get her attention is to pay attention. Paying for dates might be a current debatable topic, but no girl would argue with a guy paying attention.

“A man who can listen well is a big turn-on for many women,” says dating coach Neely Steinberg

However, a big difference exists between being attentive and being obsessive. And since the nice guy can go overboard on attentiveness at times, I thought we’d distinguish between the attentive guy and the obsessed guy.

An attentive guy notices body language, but an obsessive guy notices body parts.

The attentive guy knows that body language makes up 55% of communication in many situations. Are her arms crossed? Does she make eye contact? Does she lean in? But, the obsessive guy doesn’t notice these things because his eyes are transfixed on her chest. He misses cues and fails to create conversation.

An attentive guy is curious, but an obsessive guy daydreams.

An attentive guy has an innate curiosity and asks questions because he wants to meet and make new friends. But, an obsessive guy puts a girl on a pedestal. She ends up feeling uncomfortable. Because he’s unable to truly see her, he’s unable to get to know her. He believes a lie and daydreams that she’s the key to his happiness.

An attentive guy is caring, but an obsessive guy is smothering.

The attentive guy cares enough to listen. He might ask a good question or two to get conversation started. The obsessive guy, on the other hand, asks too many questions. He’s overbearing and desperate.

An attentive guy might notice a need, but an obsessive guy is a butler.

Most girls want a servant leader, a guy who is others-focused. Simple gestures like opening doors or picking up something she’s dropped are appreciated. But, an obsessed guy goes overboard because he’s hoping to get something in return. On a first meeting, he might seriously throw his coat over a puddle. She wants a man, not a butler.

An attentive guy makes eye contact, but an obsessive guy stares.

Eye contact is important, but too much can be worse than none at all. A good rule of thumb for eye contact “is to look at…eyes long enough to register what color they are before looking away.”

Staring deep into someone’s eye upon first meeting them is awkward. Measured eye contact ensures you won’t come on too strong.

An attentive guy creates a safe environment, but an obsessive guy makes a girl feel really uncomfortable

In 10 Ways to Win a Girl’s Heart, I discuss how “physical contact such as hugging and holding hands can create trust.” However, too much touch and invading personal space, especially when meeting someone, can create an uncomfortable environment. Where you live and your upbringing can impact what defines appropriate personal space. In Los Angeles, CA, it’s common to greet someone with a hug. Making brief points of contact (like a handshake or hug) can be beneficial, but don’t spend too much time in her personal space.

An attentive guy is sympathetic, but an obsessive guy brags about himself

Recent research “found that women were more likely to be impressed with a good listener who was sympathetic to their problems. But they switched off if their prospective partner started to talk about work and if they appeared socially awkward.”

In any situation, it’s better to be the one listening than the one talking. Discussing work or bragging signifies you’re only concerned with yourself.

“We found that in successful dates women talked most about themselves and men talked about women more and were more supportive and sympathetic about a woman’s problems.”

An attentive guy picks up on red flags, but an obsessive guy is blinded.

Don’t be blinded by attraction. No one’s perfect. If you’re attentive, you might catch red flags. But, an obsessive guy isn’t concerned with the future as much as the here and now.

I read a good analogy. Attention is like gasoline. Measured amounts are a good thing, but too much at once can be destructive.

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