How To Tell If A Guy Is Actually Listening To You, According To A Guy

I’m not going to claim to know everything about women, but I have learned that most of them prefer a guy who actually listens when they talk. It’s not an unreasonable relationship expectation to have. I also know that most of us guys tend to have problems listening and paying attention, at least occasionally. Short of giving him a quiz afterward, it can be tough to know for certain if a guy is actually taking in what you’re saying. Fortunately, here are some ways you can tell.

  1. He asks relevant questions. Anybody can ask questions, that’s easy. However, a guy who’s actually listening will ask relevant questions that might make you think a little. Odds are, these aren’t going to be yes or no questions. Instead, he’ll ask you questions that require complicated answers or relate to how you feel about something you shared.
  2. He maintains eye contact. This seems obvious but I’m going to mention it anyway. After all, there are some people who are capable of listening to someone while looking off in a different direction. Then again, most people don’t have this skill even if they claim to do. If a guy isn’t looking at you while smiling and nodding when you talk, he probably isn’t listening to you that closely. Even worse, he probably doesn’t care all that much about what you have to say.
  3. He doesn’t respond right away. This might sound a little weird, but a guy who’s listening won’t respond the second you finish talking. A lot of people spend their time thinking about what to say next, which means they aren’t completely focused on what you’re saying. If he’s paying attention, he’ll need a few seconds once you stop talking to absorb things and think of a proper response.
  4. He repeats what you say. It might not be word for word, but if you’re telling a long story, a good listener will have to repeat a few of your phrases along the way to help him absorb everything you’re saying. It’s a little weird because it almost makes it seem like he’s not paying attention but in reality, he’s super engaged. If he wasn’t, he wouldn’t be able to repeat it.
  5. He wants you to keep talking. Much like eye contact, this can be tricky if you’re talking on the phone. A guy can just say “keep going” and then tune you out. But if you’re face to face with him and he tells you to keep talking, it probably means he’s listening and genuinely interested in what you’re saying.
  6. His phone is away. This seems obvious but it never hurts to repeat it anyway. A phone is just one of many things that can distract a guy when you’re talking to him. If he seems distracted, he probably isn’t listening to you that closely. Naturally, one of the best ways for a guy to avoid being distracted is to put his phone out of reach. If he puts his phone away, it’s a good sign that he’s interested in talking and focusing solely on what you have to say. Even great multi-taskers struggle to look at their phone and listen at the same time. In short, if his phone is out, he’s not listening as closely as he should.
  7. He doesn’t change the subject. A lot of times, trying to change the subject is just a subtle admission that a guy wasn’t listening to you. At best, he was listening but doesn’t care about what you were saying. If a guy is quick to change the subject, it could mean he wasn’t listening and doesn’t know how to respond properly. If he wants to change the subject because he was bored, he probably wasn’t listening that well either. For what it’s worth, this isn’t a 100% guarantee that a guy isn’t listening. That being said, it’s usually a good indicator.
  8. He empathizes with you. In relationships and in life, when you truly listen to another person, you start to understand things from their perspective. Even if you disagree with them, you can start to see where they’re coming from or why they feel a certain way — but only if you actually listen and focus on what they’re saying rather than what you want to say. By the end of the conversation, if you get the sense that a guy is empathizing with you, it’s a safe bet he was actually listening. If he just says, “if you say so,” there’s a decent chance he wasn’t.
Bryan Zarpentine graduated from Syracuse University and lives in upstate New York, where he writes largely about the world of sports. His work has appeared on Franchise Sports and WSN, among others. You can find him on Twitter @BZarp.