I can’t even count how many times I have heard the question: “How can I catch him and keep him?” And I can’t count how many times I have given different answers to that question because no relationship is the same. But men are not some alien creatures and certainly, we don’t need to crack codes to understand them. Yes, they tend to hide emotions. Yes, they tend to play tough guys. But still, they’re humans just like us. They need to feel loved, appreciated and respected just like we do. There’s no secret code to catch them (they’re not Pokémons, sadly), but there are certain ways that could ease this struggle for you.

1. Show interest

Show interest in him, in his hobbies and his emotions. Let’s be honest—if you’re trying to build something more than a hookup with the guy, then playing an ice queen will do you no good. Show him that you’re interested in him. Show him that you want to share something more, that you want to do things with him. But keep in mind, if he shows no interest in you, your dreams and life, move on. Don’t ever settle for someone who put himself first right at the beginning—he will not change. It’s better to leave before it’s too late.

2. Don’t run after him

Don’t drown him in phone calls and messages, surprise visits and other stuff that we tend to do when we fall in love. If you’re sure that he’s enjoying it, go for it! But unfortunately, all those things boost his ego and men tend to make fun of those things. Don’t give him the opportunity to do that to you, and well, try not to scare him off. Take it easy, give it time. If it’s the right thing, you won’t have to push it.

3. Keep an open mind

Don’t say ‘no’ to things just because they might look scary or nasty to you. Give them a chance, if you still don’t like it—quit. But keep an open mind to his date night ideas, to the activities he enjoys or the past he suffered. It’s important that he doesn’t feel judged by your side because we don’t choose our destiny and we can’t choose our family. It’s easy to catch him, but to keep him requires a little bit more understanding and an open mind.

4. Show appreciation

If he worked hard to make you dinner, thank him. If he came to you right after work, help him relax. Let’s be honest—we all love when we feel appreciated, when someone sees our effort and hard work. Do the same for him. Show him that you respect his work, that you see his effort. But, once again, if he’s not doing the same for you—leave. You deserve to be respected and appreciated just as him. You deserve to be his first priority, just like you made him yours. Demand respect as much as you give it to him. It’s all about being equal. If he’s not ready to do that, he doesn’t deserve you anyway.

5. Be straightforward

You know what you want and need, but are you afraid to tell him? Don’t be. Men are so lost sometimes in the desire to please us that they do everything wrong. Or maybe he’s not experienced so much, so he simply doesn’t know. Tell him what you want. You want to be with him? You need a massage? You want to go out with him? You want respect? Earn it, ask for it. Don’t be ashamed of your needs and emotions, because sooner or later, you will end up unhappy and he won’t know what to do about it when it becomes too late.

6. Don’t bring him down

This one really goes both ways. Don’t undermine his success, his efforts and confidence. Don’t shut down his dreams just because you think they’re stupid. He risked so much by telling you them in the first place because not every man is ready to share his dreams with someone he still hasn’t completely met. Don’t make fun of his flaws and for heaven’s sake, don’t laugh at his willy doo (that’s something they hardly recover from, and yes, it happens). BUT, if he isn’t following these same rules, cut it. If at any point you feel like you’re not enough because of something he did or said, cut it. If there is even a slightest possibility that he made you doubt yourself and your awesomeness, cut it.

7. Take the initiative

It’s the 21st century. Is there any particular reason why men should still be making the first move? Why should it always be them who should initiate dates and love-making? You really want to see some movie? Ask him to keep you company. You really feel like rocking the bedroom? Well, that’s an offer he can’t refuse. It’s important that he sees you want to spend time with him, that you want him. We all want to feel wanted, why not do the same for him? But remember that you’re not supposed to be the only one taking the initiative. Don’t trap yourself in a one-sided relationship—no man is worth it.

8. Stay true to yourself

While some men really enjoy when a woman follows their lead, when a woman makes them the priority and changes herself for them, trust me—those are not men you want to date. Those are men who will suck you dry and simply move on to the next victim. Always, and I mean always, remember that you should be your own priority. That no matter what, you should stay true to yourself. Yes, there are compromises and certain sacrifices for a relationship, but parts of you should never be. Your friends, your dreams, emotions, needs and beliefs should never be compromised. Once he sees that you’re strong, he will either move on from you (because he can’t manipulate you) or he will be left in awe of you. It’s a win, either way.

9. Respect yourself

Every single one of these bits of advice I ended with a message that you should do for yourself. That no man is worth your tears and pain, of you losing yourself. Don’t let him keep you around as a safety net or booty call if you want more than that. Darling, you deserve someone to make you their world. You deserve to feel like the only woman alive, like you’re the only thing he sees when you enter the room. Don’t ever settle to be someone’s almost girlfriend because is there any sadder word than ‘almost’ to describe love? Don’t ever settle to be half loved because you’re too fierce for that. Respect yourself, know your worth and know when to walk away.

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