It’s no secret that dating in the digital age can feel downright impossible. That’s why when you find someone who might actually be a decent option, you keep him around even if it doesn’t feel like it’s actually going anywhere. After all, saying, “I’m kind of seeing someone” is better than, “Nothing is more important to me than Netflix right now.” But should you actually keep a guy around just for the attention? Here’s how to know if you like a guy and it could actually turn into something real.
Do you have that much in common? While you don’t want to be a carbon copy of the person you’re dating, there’s a difference between having your own interests and being on such different planes of existence that you literally never intersect. There’s no way you can legitimately like him when you don’t relate to him or his life in any way.
Are you actually excited when he texts? You’ve gotten to the point in the almost-relationship where you no longer need a ton of friends to help you figure out what to text back. You don’t need to screenshot what he says to have all your girls decode it. But still, you hesitate before texting him back. Figure out if it’s because you’re used to playing games or if it’s just because you don’t actually feel like talking to him.
Is it turning into a hookup? Sometimes even the best potential relationships devolve into hook-ups, despite the fact that you’re nowhere near college-aged. At first you were going on actual dates, but then you started to just see each other on the weekend. If you’re only meeting up late at night and never actually grab dinner/do normal couple activities, there’s a reason that you’re not taking the next step forward. One of you obviously isn’t that into it.
Can you see yourself eventually being in a real relationship? Admit it — you’ve visualized your kids with certain guys while with others, you know you’re not headed towards the Pinterest-perfect wedding of your dreams. If you’ve never even considered what your life with this guy would look like, there’s probably a real reason.
Do you feel like you’re not actually getting to know him? If you keep texting or hanging out but feel like it’s not exactly advancing anything, figure out if you want to keep getting to know him. After all, you can’t make a decision on whether or not you want to date him based on knowing next to nothing.
Are you just seeing him because you don’t want to date someone else? Getting ready for first dates is entirely too stressful. You have to pick an outfit that’s not trying too hard but is still perfect, you don’t know if you’ll actually have anything in common, and at the end of the day (or night), it might be a bust. Maybe you’ll hit it off and never hear from him again, or maybe he’ll lecture you for 35 minutes on the wonders of Dave Matthews Band’s discography. You never know how it will go, which can be exciting, but it can also be awful. So, are you just dating this dude so you don’t have to keep going on Tinder?
Do you still have dating apps downloaded? If you’re swiping away in preparation for your date, it shows that you’re not close to committing. Sure, it’s fun if you’re bored, but if you still have tons of apps on your phone draining your battery, you’re probably not feeling a real relationship. How can you know if you like a guy (or say that you do) if you’re busy swiping through endless profiles?
Have you given him a real chance? Maybe he’s a great guy, but you’ve been hurt before — haven’t we all? If he’s nice and normal, give him a chance instead of pulling away. Make sure that you’re not letting past bad boyfriends influence your life now.
Are you afraid of ghosting? Ghosting is the worst and everyone knows it. Still, there’s a reason it keeps happening. If you’re not in a Facebook official relationship and are nowhere near defining it, it’s much easier to just fade away. So, the slow fadeaway begins, where you sometimes talk but don’t actually see each other.
Do you generally consider yourself a needy person? The way you answer this question is one of the easiest ways to know if you like a guy genuinely or not. There’s nothing wrong with admitting that you’re someone who needs a lot of attention in general. However, if that is the case, it’s very possible that you could just be hanging out with this guy because he fulfills your neediness rather than because you legitimately like him.
Is your life pretty boring in general? If you don’t have a lot going on in your life at the moment, it makes sense that you’d gravitate towards a guy who’s paying you attention because it’s better than twiddling your thumbs and doing nothing. If everything is pretty calm and boring in your day to day life, having a guy court you actually feels kinda nice. However, it’s not fair to him to go along with it if you’re not feeling it deep down.
Do you care when he talks to other women? One of the easiest ways to know that you don’t like him at all is that you really don’t care if he talks to other women. If you were into him, the idea that someone else could take him away from you would literally destroy you inside. If knowing that he’s still active on dating apps or that other women are flirting with him makes you feel nothing at all, it’s pretty clear where your head is at.
Does it feel like he’s more into you than you are into him? It’s rare that two people like each other an equal amount, and a minor imbalance isn’t the biggest deal ever since that dynamic tends to ebb and flow over time. However, if it regularly feels like he’s crazy for you and falling hard and fast while you’re kinda feeling “meh” about the whole situation, it’s clear you like the attention rather than him and you’re better off letting him know now.
Does it kinda gross you out/make you feel weird whenever he touches you? It should feel like fireworks and set off butterflies in your stomach when a guy you like touches you. At the very least, it should get you excited about your relationship and exploring the physicality of it more deeply. If, however, you recoil a bit (even internally) whenever he touches you or initiates intimacy, it’s obviously not meant to be.
Do you only reach out to him when you don’t have any other plans? If he’s not the first person you think to text or call when you’re making weekend plans, there has to be a reason for that. If he only gets an invite when everyone else is busy/wants to stay in, you’re obviously only with him for the attention and not because of genuine interest.
Do you ever mention him to your friends? Think about an ex that you were head over heels for. Chances are, you couldn’t shut up about him to your friends and wanted to talk about him 24/7 to the point that they were sick of hearing about him (even though they were happy for you, of course). If they haven’t heard much about this guy and don’t even know his name, you don’t like him, end of story.
If you’ve asked yourself these questions and realized that this isn’t the guy for you, there’s no shame in letting him know that. In fact, you’d be doing him and yourself a favor. By setting him free, you can move on to someone who’s better for you and he can do the same.
How to let a guy down gently when you know you don’t really like him
Just because he’s not right for you doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with him. You need to be honest and straightforward with him while still being kind and as gentle as possible when you know you don’t like a guy.
Start from a place of positivity. The best way to start a tough conversation is by highlighting the good. As licensed marriage and family therapist Dr. Carolina Pataky, of the Love Discovery Institute, told HelloGiggles: “Always start your decline with a [statement that expresses gratitude]. You don’t want to be rude or disrespectful and these statements can help ease the blow. This shows that you are still appreciating the person while being authentic to your feelings.”
Be honest about where you stand. It’s important that you’re straightforward with the guy about the fact that you don’t like him. While you don’t have to put it in those exact words, you do need to find a way to be clear about the fact that you’re not interested and that it’s not going to change. Don’t try to soften the blow by leaving the door open or hinting that you might come around in the future. You’re doing yourself both a disservice if you do.
Don’t put yourself down to lift them up. It might be tempting to make it out like you’re some big bad wolf when letting him down, but don’t do it. You’re not rude, there’s nothing wrong with you, and you’re not in the wrong just because you don’t feel the same about him. You can totally empathize with him and be kind, but not at your own expense.
Don’t drag it out. Once you’ve been honest about your feelings and heard him out as well, it’s time to end the conversation. This shouldn’t be some multi-hour chat in which you both over-process and make things way more dramatic than they need to be. Do what needs to be done and then give him space. If you think you might like to be friends, you can suggest as much, but even if he’s into the idea, it’s likely to be a while before he’s in the right place for that.
If you want to know some more signs that you actually like him rather than just feeling wanted, check out the video below: