I recently began applying the theory that “actions speak louder than words” to all of my dating scenarios and I seriously feel like I have been born again. It has made a world of difference in my romantic mental health. If someone says one thing but does another? Byeeeeeeeeee! This piece of advice is so simple and so obvious and so smart, yet I’ve been routinely trapped by the empty, artificial words of my dishonest suitors. I have often heard, “I do like you. Of course I like you. I tell you that constantly,” by individuals who choose doing laundry over seeing me and who always opt out of breakfast in the morning and who I am 100% sure couldn’t care less about my existence. They proclaim their “like” in an attempt to convince a skeptical me that yes indeed they do have feelings for me and yes indeed they do want to hangout and yes indeed something real special is transpiring between our bodies.

And for a good long while I believed them; a human being is truthful until proven a liar. Therefore, they like me until they say they don’t. They want to keep having sex with me until they stop having sex with me and even then that doesn’t mean they don’t want to. They just can’t because they’re super busy and their phone really sucks and their emotional instability physically prevents them from getting a drink with me more than once a season. Looking back, these excuses are all clearly a hunk of bullshit. Nobody is that busy. Phones work fine. Emotional instability is what defines our generation. If I meet someone who isn’t emotionally unstable I assume they must be a robot or a Vulcan or their tear ducts have been removed.

But even though a rational person could likely spot this falsehood from a mile away, a hopeful me would typically take these gentleman at their word. I mean, if they say it, it must be true because they’re… saying… it. Nobody has ever said anything they don’t genuinely mean in the history of the world. A sentient creature would never blatantly deceive another out of cowardice or laziness or self-involvement or a want to not be in jail.

Again, these excuses are clearly bullshit and through trial and error I have discovered a surefire technique to smell said bullshit. I compare a person’s actions with their words. So simple/obvious/smart, isn’t it? And if those actions do not match up in my opinion with the Shakespearean-level declarations they are making, well, odds are they’re full of it. (“It” being shit.)

Let me give you an example. I was sleeping with this guy for a couple of months. At one point he basically stopped messaging me. I would text him and he would either not reply, be extremely curt, or decline my invitation because he had to work, cry, etc. Weeks went by and I heard nothing, thus I assumed we were kaput and I moved on with my life. Then I bumped into him at a bar and, within minutes of our interaction, he looked deep into my eyes and made this grand confession that he missed me. I was incredulous to say the least. “Really? You’ve missed me?” I dubiously replied. “Interesting. Usually when you miss someone you, oh I don’t know, put in the smallest amount of effort to SEE THEM,” to which he replied in an emotionally unstable tone, “I wouldn’t say it if I didn’t mean it.” Ah yes, the classic “I say what I mean” line typically used by a person who very much does not mean what they say.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: “That guy was just trying to let you down easy,” or “he was stringing you along,” or “he has commitment issues,” or “maybe his phone does actually suck,” to which I say: his intentions are irrelevant. I don’t know what game he was playing or even if he was playing a game and I’ll never know. I’m not interested in solving that riddle. I don’t want to have sex with someone whose words are on one end of the spectrum and whose actions are on the other. I don’t want to feel out of my mind on the regular and be constantly asking myself, “Did they actually say that? Or did I imagine it?” His talk said, “I think about you every single day,” while his walk said, “I can’t this week or this month or this year, sorrrrryyyy.”

Each time I brought up us no longer making intercourse he would exclaim, “Why? I like you so much.” I would try to explain his own emotions to him but he insisted that he wouldn’t say it if he didn’t mean it. To which I say again: his intentions are irrelevant. This dude could think I was his goddamn soulmate but if someone doesn’t make you feel that way it doesn’t matter if they themselves believe it to be true. What matters is how you feel in relation to their words and especially their actions. Words are cute and fun and all but they’re not enough to sustain a romantic union, and definitely not enough if the only good parts of that union are the words. Words should be the appetizer to the main course of actions. They should be a mirror image of each other. And the same goes for when someone holds you all night long and messages you daily and spills their heart to you but they can’t admit that they maybe sorta kinda like you. If that happens, well, odds are they’re full of it. (“It” being shit.)

If they say they want to see you, then they should ask to see you. If they say they want to meet your friends, then they should go with you to that party to meet your friends. If they like going down on you, then they should fucking GO DOWN ON YOU. Simple as that. If words aren’t put into action in relationships, they’re meaningless. It’s incredibly easy to make words at someone. It’s much harder to follow through with whatever you’re saying.

You need to see that mirror image. You need to see their words reflected in their actions. And if you’re not sure if you can see the reflection, then you don’t see it and if you don’t see it, it’s not really there. It’s just a fictional vampire that exists to scare you and mess with your head and keep you up at night and make you question everything and kill you (metaphorically).