“Choose people who choose you.” It’s a simple yet powerful statement, but what does it mean in practice? How do we know if someone is choosing us properly, and what do we do if they don’t?
In a perfect world, we’d all be self-confident humans who know themselves and make decisions that reflect a high sense of self-worth and personal value.
But this is not a perfect world, and we are all works in progress in our own little way.
So let’s talk about what it means to choose people who choose us and how to make this the cornerstone of our relationships with others.
The Signs of Choosing and Not Choosing
The concept sounds simple enough, but how do we know if someone is truly choosing us? And for those who aren’t, how can we be sure?
Let’s break this down into two sections, starting with the positive.
Signs that someone is choosing you:
- They make time for you.
- They communicate with you regularly.
- They show interest in your life.
- They support you.
- They make you feel valued (and vice versa).
This is not an exhaustive list, but it’s a good starting point for evaluating the quality of your relationships. If you can check ‘yes’ to all or most of these, chances are you have a healthy relationship with this person.
Signs that someone isn’t choosing you:
On the flip side, the indicators that someone is not choosing you are pretty much the exact inverse of all the signs that they are.
When someone isn’t choosing you, it’s the absence of behaviors and actions that give it away.
So that’s how I’ve framed it:
- They don’t make time for you: If someone consistently cancels plans or doesn’t follow through on commitments, it’s a sign that they’re not prioritizing time with you. There’s a popular Maya Angelou quote, “Never make someone a priority when all you are to them is an option.” This is exactly the spirit of that quote.
- They don’t communicate with you regularly: If someone doesn’t initiate contact or takes a long time to respond to your messages, it suggests that connecting with you is not a priority. They might even ghost you for extended periods of time and pop in and out of your life. In either case, it’s a red flag.
- They don’t show interest in your life: If someone doesn’t ask about your day, your hobbies, or your interests, it indicates that they’re not invested in getting to know you better. What are your conversations about? Mostly them? You might have a one-sided relationship on your hands.
- They don’t support you: If someone isn’t there for you when you need them, it could mean that they’re not prioritizing your relationship. Do they show up when it counts? Or do you have to chase after them for the smallest indicators of support? If they can’t be bothered to show up for the most basic things, that’s a sign. Even if they make excuses, you shouldn’t take the behavior lightly. At best, they might be breadcrumbing you to keep you on a short leash in case they get bored and want to show up again.
- They make you feel unimportant or undervalued: If someone consistently makes you feel like you’re not important, it’s a sign that they’re not prioritizing your relationship or your feelings. You don’t need that.
These indicators are not always clear-cut. Some people may show their affection differently or lead busy, complicated lives. But if someone consistently exhibits these behaviors towards you, don’t just brush off your worries.
They may not be choosing you, and it’s worth evaluating the relationship further.
This is especially true in relationships where you actually do show up in significant ways for them but get little in return.
I used to catch myself on the giving and receiving end of this dynamic. Instead of confronting the reality of my relationships, I hid from all of it by drinking and sticking my proverbial head in the sand.
That’s a horrible way to live a life, and I want better for you. So let’s talk about what “better” can look like and why it’s important.
Why do we attract people who don’t choose us?
You may be reading this and thinking, “Yes, that’s all good and well, but you just described all my past relationships. How did I get on this merry-go-round, and where do I get off?”
The potential reasons are numerous. Let’s just note that upfront.
But one reason could be that we’re repeating negative relationship patterns that we observed and learned growing up.
Maybe we had emotionally unavailable parents and ended up gravitating towards those familiar relationship dynamics, harmful though they may be.
We hear that relationships are hard and think that this is what people must’ve meant, not realizing that we’re actually opting into a level of difficulty that isn’t inherent in all relationships.
And if you never had an example of a healthy relationship dynamic growing up, how would you even know that?
It can also be a reflection of how we see ourselves.
If we struggle with low feelings of self-worth, we are more likely to attract people who will take advantage of that or not see our true value either. We wrestle with shame and feel unworthy, which makes us negotiate our value in relationships.
We put up with more than we should.
Sometimes we even believe we can fix our partners. So we “tough it out” in hopes that something will change.
How To Start Attracting People Who Choose You
So once you realize that you’re stuck in this kind of dynamic, how do you break free? What’s the secret to attracting people who will actively choose you?
It starts with you.
Start Choosing Yourself:
I know that sounds utterly generic (and cheesy?), but stay with me here. You know that expression, “If you don’t love yourself, how can you love somebody else?”
I hated that saying for the longest time. It felt contrite and over-simplified. It actually used to make me borderline enraged when someone offered it up as a solution to my dating problems.
But there’s wisdom in it, infuriating as it is.
Before you start attracting healthier, mutually beneficial relationships in your life, it’s important to work on building up your confidence.
You have to know your self-worth and genuinely believe in it to set the kind of healthy boundaries that are necessary to weed out the bad relationships in your life.
So step one is to work on cultivating these qualities. It’s like training for a competition. You’re going to work on new emotional muscles and build them up so you can rise to the occasion.
But how do you do that?
1. Practice self-care:
Taking care of yourself is an essential aspect of building self-confidence. I’m not talking about spa days or spending sprees. I mean treating your body well and prioritizing your mental and physical health. This includes:
- Getting enough sleep
- Prioritizing healthy food
- Moving your body and exercising
- Engaging in activities that bring you joy
And if you’re not sure about that last one, it means putting yourself out there and trying new things. I think people call this “dating yourself.”
Start with yourself. Choose to make yourself a priority.
2. Challenge negative self-talk:
Negative self-talk is a huge barrier to building self-confidence. We’re all guilty of it. There are a couple of ways to tackle this problem.
You can learn about the different types of negative self-talk (also called cognitive distortions) and identity your unhealthy patterns. Then, practice refuting them.
For example, if you catastrophize a lot, try catching yourself in the act and then actively prove yourself wrong.
It goes like this.
Let’s say you have an awkward first date with someone. Catastrophizing looks like coming home and saying to yourself, “Well, that was terrible, and I’m going to be alone forever.”
“Plenty of people have awkward first dates. It’s a normal part of dating. I’ll be fine.”
If you really struggle with negative self-talk, I highly recommend working with a counselor who is trained in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. This is an excellent therapeutic modality for dealing with cognitive distortions.
Here are a couple of resources if you’re interested in working through some exercises on your own:
- Retrain Your Brain: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy in 7 Weeks: A Workbook for Managing Depression and Anxiety
- Stop Overthinking: 23 Techniques to Relieve Stress, Stop Negative Spirals, Declutter Your Mind, and Focus on the Present (The Path to Calm)
- Don’t Believe Everything You Feel: A CBT Workbook to Identify Your Emotional Schemas and Find Freedom from Anxiety and Depression
You don’t have to figure this out on your own.
3. Step out of your comfort zone:
Building confidence requires stepping out of your comfort zone and trying new things.
Depending on who you are, that might sound extremely terrible.
But nothing changes if nothing changes. If you are lonely or feel like your life is missing a spark, that discomfort is pushing you towards something.
Get out there and find out what it is!
I hid from this problem by drinking a lot for several years. When I finally quit drinking, I had no idea what to do with myself or my time. What did I even like doing?
So I tried to find out.
I went to museums, aquariums, and mommy-and-me workshops with a bunch of strangers, joined groups on Facebook, and attended in-person meet-ups. I do not like awkward social settings at all, and some of them were total flops.
But you know what?
I’m glad I did it because I eventually did find my spark, and it changed everything.
4. Work on being authentic and self-aware:
I cringe a little whenever someone talks about authenticity because I think it’s been so overplayed and misused by the influencer space, but hear me out.
Being authentic in everyday life involves being true to yourself and your values and expressing yourself in a way that feels honest and genuine.
Which all sounds great in theory, but what does it look like?
It’s about taking time to understand who you are. Spend some time reflecting on your values and what’s important to you, and let that guide your decisions and how you move through life.
And then the next (hard) part is sticking to your guns.
5. Know your non-negotiables.
Once you start feeling secure in your identity, you can articulate what will and will not work for you in your relationships with others.
So choosing yourself involves setting clear, healthy boundaries (more on that in a minute) and communicating those to the people in your life.
And then, it’s the ability to end relationships that cross your lines, even when it’s hard to do.
Once you start taking care of yourself, you feel better and can think more clearly. You become more averse to things (and people) that make you feel bad.
And as you start to feel more comfortable in your skin, discover what makes you tick, and put yourself out there, you begin to form a clear picture of who you are, what you value, and what you want from life.
How To Connect With The Right People
Once you start choosing yourself, you’ll naturally start attracting people who will also choose you.
But who are these magical people?
Here’s the big secret.
Once you know who you are and what you want out of life, the people who are aligned with you start showing up. Is it energy? Vibes? Fate? I don’t know, but it’s how this happens.
But let’s say you want to be a bit more proactive. Here are something you can do:
1. Seek connections with others who share your interests and values:
Building relationships with people who share your interests and values is a great way to attract people who actively choose you.
Join clubs or organizations, attend events, and put yourself in situations where you’ll likely meet like-minded people.
If you start getting really into fitness, sign up for some local races or competitions. Find a training group.
Maybe you have discovered a talent for refurbishing old furniture. Sign up for a community class or join a group for crafty people in your area.
You get the idea, right?
2. Focus on quality over quantity:
It’s not about having a lot of friends or connections; it’s about having strong, healthy relationships with people who actively choose you.
Focus on building meaningful connections with a few people who share your interests and values. You don’t have to be everything to everyone. Cultivating a small, tight-knit inner circle is a perfectly good move.
Because here’s the thing – you won’t choose everyone, and everyone will not choose you.
And the extra great thing is, when you’re secure in yourself, you won’t even take it personally.
So find the people who complement your life and nurture those relationships. It’ll be much more fulfilling.
3. Practice active listening:
Active listening is a key skill for building strong relationships. Practice listening without judgment, asking open-ended questions, and showing genuine interest in what the other person has to say.
Don’t be like me – someone who used to half-listen but only so I could formulate what I wanted to say next. I’m still kind of bad at this but trying.
Do you like to chime in and pounce on a conversation?
I’m talking especially to you.
To attract healthy relationships, you also have to bring value to the table.
One way to do that is by actively listening to people and taking a genuine interest in what they have to say without an agenda or steering the conversation into a direction you’re more excited about.
This is how you can show up for people.
But honestly, most of us are terrible at this, so practice!
4. Set healthy boundaries:
Setting healthy boundaries is essential for attracting and maintaining mutually beneficial relationships. By communicating your needs and expectations clearly and respectfully, you’re creating a foundation of mutual respect and trust.
But setting boundaries can be difficult, especially if you’re not used to advocating for yourself. (Also guilty!)
Or maybe, like so many of us, you grew up in a family where it wasn’t common to talk about feelings, and there was a culture of avoidance.
That makes it harder to set boundaries, but no less important.
Tell people upfront what you need from them and what doesn’t work for you. If you’re someone who takes it personally when a text goes unanswered for a few days, say that.
Don’t like being late for things? Let your loved ones know.
Do you like to work on your personal projects at certain hours? Communicate that you’re unavailable during these times.
5. Respect other people’s boundaries:
You have to give what you get, so it’s equally important to respect other people’s boundaries in relationships, too.
If someone asks you for space to think through some things, give it to them, even if it really bothers you not to speak to them.
Does your bestie want to do a solo trip without you? That’s cool!
Choosing people who choose you involves a lot of trust and mutual respect. When your value and feelings of self-worth are intrinsic, it’s easier to give people space and independence without feeling overwhelmed by worries of rejection.
The Importance of Choosing People Who Choose You
Choosing people who choose you is not just a matter of preference; it’s essential for your well-being. Here’s why:
You’ll feel happier and more fulfilled.
When you’re in a relationship where both parties are actively choosing each other, it can lead to greater happiness and fulfillment.
You’ll feel valued and appreciated, and you’ll have a support system that helps you navigate the ups and downs of this world.
Plus, mutually beneficial relationships are great because you share each other’s wins in truly meaningful ways.
Think about just how much richer your life will be when exciting news and achievements are multiplied because you’re so mutually invested in each other’s happiness.
Your mental and physical health will improve:
Studies have shown that people who have strong, healthy relationships tend to be happier, less stressed, and more resilient in the face of challenges. They also have better physical health, including lower rates of heart disease and better immune system function.
Research has also shown that people in healthy relationships tend to live longer than those who are socially isolated or in unhealthy relationships. This may be because having a support system and social connections can improve overall health and well-being.
It’s worth noting that we aren’t just talking about romantic relationships. This is true of healthy friendships, familial ties, and community bonds as well.
You’ll have better conflict-resolution skills.
When both parties are actively choosing each other, they are more likely to work together to resolve conflicts in a healthy and productive way. This can lead to a stronger and more resilient relationship over time.
And even if one or both of you is terrible at this, never learned it growing up, or are positively allergic to confrontation, you’ll make an effort to try.
Honestly, this is a muscle we could all stand to flex a little more. We seem to be getting increasingly worse and conflict resolution. Instead, we just run and block people. It’s one of the reasons ghosting is becoming much more prevalent.
We’re all afraid of conflict and adult conversations which is harmful not just for romantic relationships but your professional prospects as well.
You’ll experience increased personal growth.
When you surround yourself with people who choose you, you’re more likely to feel supported and encouraged to pursue your goals and interests.
This can lead to personal growth and a greater sense of fulfillment in your life.
How many risks do we avoid because we’re afraid or feel alone? When you don’t have that support system, potential failure can feel bigger and scarier than it is.
On the other hand, when the people in our lives actively support us, it can help us develop the confidence to take on bigger challenges, which leads to greater rewards over time.
Yes, there are people in this world who have made it and built great things without any help or support from anyone, but it doesn’t have to be that way.
There’s a saying, “A rising tide lifts all boats.” This was referring to macro-economic theory, but it holds true in our relationships as well.
What To Do If Someone Is No Longer Choosing You
So let’s say you’ve gotten this far in the article (thank you), and you realize you’re in one of these lopsided relationships.
The TL;DR of this section is “Let the relationship go and move on.”
But it’s not exactly that simple, is it? We’re only human, after all. So here are some ways you can tackle the inevitable breakup or parting of ways:
- Allow yourself to feel your emotions: Feeling hurt, angry, sad, like you wasted a lot of time you can’t back? All fair. All normal. Let yourself feel these things and process them in a healthy way.
- Let go of the relationship: Once you’ve let yourself feel all the things, it’s time for action. Break things off. Explain why and then cut communication for a while so you can focus on yourself.
- Prioritize self-care: I know I sound like a broken record, but you really do have to take care of yourself in times like these. It’s so easy to slide into bad habits to nurse all those emotional wounds, but any temporary relief you get from them will inevitably be met with feeling worse. Get enough sleep. Eat well. Hang out with uncomplicated friends. Meditate. Do what you have to do to get your mind and emotions right.
- Seek support: A bullet point list is all fine and well, but anyone who has gone through this process knows it’s not easy. If you need to talk to someone, do that. Lean on supportive family members and friends. Join an online support group if you’re really struggling, or consider signing up for counseling. For a lot of people, this is a sea-change moment. A major shift in how you interact with yourself and others. It’s more than fine if you want some professional guidance along the way. I’ve done it, and it helped tremendously.
Final Thoughts: Choosing People Who Choose You
So the big takeaway here? This is the exact right moment for you to step back and evaluate your relationship with yourself and others.
Are you actively choosing yourself? Or are you settling for less than what you’re worth?
There’s no magic switch we can flip to become perfectly self-aware, confident beings, but it’s a nice end goal. What we can control is who we allow into our orbit and how we treat ourselves.
So let’s start there and see where it goes!