What Is “Tuning” & Why Is The Latest Dating Trend So Toxic?

Remember “benching”, when the guy who seemed interested in you only wanted to text and tweet but never actually dated you officially? Yeah, that asshole. Well, now there’s “tuning,” which is said to be better than benching because the guy’s definitely keen on you. The problem? He might be wasting your time. Are you being “tuned”? Here’s what you need to know.

  1. Come on—he’s so into you, even you can see it. Guys who tune really come across in a way that shows you (and all your friends) that they really do like you. You can even see it in the way they look at you. They’re making it clear that there’s something in the air between you… but there’s a catch. (Ugh, isn’t there always one?)
  2. He’s not actually saying that he likes you. Sure, actions are important and you can read loads about a guy in his body language, but the tuner doesn’t actually say that he has feelings for you. He’s flying under the radar even though you’re 99% sure he wants to date you.
  3. He’s firing up your phone. One of the things that make you think the guy really likes you is how he’s always firing up your phone with texts, Instagram comments, and likes on every single one of your Facebook selfies. It’s clear that he wants to get your attention because he’s trying to tune into your frequency, hence the term tuning.
  4. He’s got your attention, now what? When the guy likes your Facebook posts from a year ago, you make contact and try to engage in conversation. The good thing is that he doesn’t blow you off. Clearly he does have good intentions, but tuning doesn’t guarantee that you’re going to date him.
  5. Do you hear cricket noise? Tuning becomes a problem if the guy never actually makes a real move. For instance, if he’s too busy getting your attention and making you feel like he’s interested, but he doesn’t ask you out on an actual date. Then, instead of being tuned into your frequency, the guy’s just giving you radio silence. That’s so messed up.
  6. Tuning is a grey area. He enjoys your company, you can see he has a good time with you, and he looks at you like you’re magical. The problem is that he’s still denying that he’s got feelings. When a friend asks him if he’s into you, he doesn’t say much. If people ask if the two of you are together, he says “no.” Which makes you realize that no matter how much fun you’re having, the guy’s still not making you his GF. It’s scary to think that his tuning could turn into benching.
  7. Grab the steering wheel. If dealing with a tuner is frustrating, it’s time to take the lead. Maybe that’s what this shy guy needs so that he knows you’re interested in him and he can be sure that if he asks you out, you’re not going to reject him. A good way to put yourself out there is to flirt with him. Tuners love to flirt, so reciprocate his efforts but don’t do too much. He still needs to step up, here instead of being lazy about asking you out. What, are you supposed to do everything? Hell no.
  8. You might start to feel crazy. Why’s this guy giving you attention or trying to get yours? What’s his deal? Friends say that he’s clearly into you because he wants to be noticed by you, like when he posts on your social media accounts every day, but you can’t help analyzing all his behavior for something more concrete. You end up feeling like you work for the FBI when you’re out with the guy because you’re so busy trying to gauge his feelings. It’s not fun.
  9. Set a limit. It’s easy to get blinded by the “tuner” and think that you just have to wait it out and let him do his thing. Then, before you know it, it’s been three months and you’re still only flirting on Facebook. WTF? Although you want things to progress naturally, you definitely don’t want to waste your time on this guy who seemed to have so much potential. It’s therefore good to set a limit. Tell yourself that if he hasn’t made things clear in X amount of weeks, you’re going to GTFO!
  10. It should only be a stepping stone. Tuning shouldn’t stop with flirting and chatting—it has to be a stepping stone to real dating otherwise it’s not worth sticking around, even if the guy tells you he’s got feelings for you. He has to go for what he wants, instead of just relying on things to happen. He needs to make things happen, otherwise, he’s not even the kind of boyfriend you’d want.
  11. Fact: if he likes you, you’ll know. Don’t get caught up in tuning—this trend is really just a fancy way of saying that the guy’s showing you he likes you but he hasn’t made an official move yet. Some guys might even be pretending to tune you when they’ve got no intention to date you. So keep a clear head and remember: a guy who wants you isn’t going to waste too much time tuning you. He’ll be too busy asking you out to be tracking you down on Facebook.
Giulia Simolo is a writer from Johannesburg, South Africa with a degree in English Language and Literature. She has been working as a journalist for more than a decade, writing for sites including AskMen, Native Interiors, and Live Eco. You can find out more about her on Facebook and LinkedIn, or follow her on Twitter @GiuliaSimolo.