When you really like a guy and you’re trying to get your flirt on, it’s natural to overanalyze and decode every word that comes out of his mouth. Of course, the danger we run into in doing so is that we often assign significance to things that he’s not even thinking about. For instance, maybe he recently told you that you’re “sweet” — not hot or sexy, unfortunately, but something way more ambiguous. What does it mean when a guy calls you “sweet”? We’ll help you figure it out.
The definition of “sweet”
Oxford Languages defines the word sweet as being “pleasing in general; delightful.” In other words, this should be a compliment. If you like a guy, you want nothing more than to seem charming and attractive to him, so sweetness is a pretty good quality to have.
Of course, it all depends on the context in which it was used. If you tell him you have feelings for him and want to go on a date and he tells you that you’re sweet, that can seem dismissive or a form of rejection. If, however, you grab him a coffee on the way to work and leave it for him on his desk and he shoots you a Slack message telling you how sweet he thought the gesture was, that’s a good thing. It’s all about the circumstances.
What does it mean when a guy calls you sweet?
- He genuinely thinks you’re a nice person. While you might want to hear that he finds you so attractive that he wants to rip your clothes off, the fact that he thinks you’re sweet is endearing in its own way. It means he recognizes the goodness of who you are as a person rather than just your physical appearance. If he’s into both, you’re onto a winner.
- He’s putting distance between you. If he’s emotionally unavailable or simply not in a place right now to get deep even on a platonic level, he might use this as a way to keep you at arm’s length. Referring to someone as “sweet” has no intimacy to it, so there’s no way you could take it as a sign to pursue him further. It’s not necessarily that he doesn’t like you, he just doesn’t want to go there right now.
- He appreciates something you’ve said to him or done for him. When a guy calls you sweet after you’ve clearly done something kind and/or thoughtful for him, this is his way of expressing his thanks. Women are usually the ones on the receiving end of caring gestures, so maybe he doesn’t experience them very often. In that case, you’re going to stand out from the crowd.
- He’s trying to flatter you for ulterior motives. Sometimes guys aren’t straightforward with their agendas. If he knows he likes you and stands to gain something from a relationship with you, he might use flattery to get it. By buttering you up with terms of endearment, you’ll be more likely to bend to his will. It’s pretty shady.
- He’s shutting down the possibility of romance. It’s possible that he’s using this so-called compliment as a way to send you the message that he’s not interested. If he doesn’t want to be rude or it would be awkward to reject you outright, labeling you as sweet is his way of saying that you’re adorable but not in a way he finds attractive.
- He’s trying to flirt with you. If he’s a bit shy, it could be that he’s calling you sweet as a subtle way to show his interest. He doesn’t want to come right out and tell you how into you he is, so instead, he’s being a little more subtle. You’ll know this is the case if he’s also showing other signs of romantic interest like maintaining eye contact and standing close to you when talking.
What to say back
- Say thanks, obviously. This is just good manners. Of course, you’re not obliged to thank him if he’s saying it to be a jerk, so use your best judgment here. If you think he’s being genuine, say thanks and give him a little smile to let him know you appreciate the compliment.
- Give him a compliment in return. Don’t go for calling him sweet back — think of another quality he has that you like and compliment him on that. Guys love receiving compliments and don’t get them enough, so he’ll be extremely happy.
- Ask him why he thinks you’re sweet. This is a riskier move as it might seem like you’re fishing for further compliments, but really, you just want an explanation. Ask this question if he’s showing other signs of being into you, as it might encourage him to open up more about his feelings. You never know, a romance could be brewing.
Is he definitely not interested in you if he calls you sweet?
While there’s no guarantee that he wants to date you, you shouldn’t automatically assume that it’s bad news when a guy calls you sweet. While the word itself may seem infantilizing or dismissive, many people use it genuinely and he could be trying to pay you a legitimate compliment.
The best way to grasp his deeper meaning is to pay attention to other parts of your interactions. Is he generally flirty or has he otherwise expressed romantic interest in you? That’s a pretty good sign. However, if he often compares you to a sibling, for instance, or talks about other women he likes around you, chances are you’re probably not going to start dating anytime soon.