Does he want a serious relationship or is he using you? It can be a tricky question to answer.
By overthinking it, you might end up chasing away the good guys. Ignore too many red flags however, and you risk getting emotionally invested in the bad ones.
The best way to tell what a guy wants is to see what he does, not what he says. Sometimes it can take a while to figure out, so patience is key.
And finally, it’s impossible to have a 100% success rate figuring out his intentions. You have to make peace with yourself that you might make a few wrong choices along the way – and that’s ok.
Signs he wants a serious relationship with you
- He’ll redecorate his home a little for you. He might buy a small coffee machine, or a yoga mat you can exercise on. All so you’ll feel more welcome and at home when you visit.
- He invites you to formal occasions such as corporate dinners or semi-formal ones like baby showers. It’s a clear sign he sees you as his girlfriend, and wants others to know this too.
- He is concerned about your health and/or any unhealthy habits.
- He helps in difficult or tiring situations. Guys who only want something casual will evaporate at the first sign of having to put in real effort.
- He’ll help you destress if he can’t directly help (such as your work issues). Think cooking you a nice meal, picking you up from work, bring breakfast in bed, or taking initiative to do some fun things together.
- He trusts you to stay at his place alone. Be sure to steal his valuables and then run away to another country.
- He makes an effort to engage with your friends and family. He genuinely tries to get to know them, and even sprinkles a symbolic gift here and there.
- He takes ownership of his mistakes. When there is conflict, he doesn’t dodge or avoid it. He can admit when he’s wrong.
- You don’t feel the relationship is one bad argument away from breakup. You’re not afraid he might run away if you voice some concerns or relationship issues.
- He’s willing to talk about difficult topics, even if they make you upset. This includes physical intimacy or money (even if a bit later in the relationship).
- They are grateful for the small things you do for them, and will try to return the favor. They want you to know they care about you too.
- Your goals become his goals. He’s invested in you, and loves seeing you fulfilled and satisfied with life.
- He shows interest in your hobbies, and encourages you to pursue them. He may not find them as fun as you do, but he’ll learn the basics of the hobbies to connect when you talk about them.
- He asks about the routine, day-to-day stuff going on in your life because he finds you interesting and cool. Because of this, your day-to-day life is also interesting and cool to him.
- He’s comfortable doing boring things with you, not just the fun and thrilling activities.
- He treats you well even when you don’t do favors for him. He does appreciate the favors, but they’re not the reason he likes or loves you.
- If he’s running errands, he’ll usually ask if you need anything. Think groceries, personal items etc.
- He often remembers your little problems and tries to fix them. If you’re allergic, he’ll get some of your allergy medications for his home or car. Or he’ll get a new pair of your favorite socks, if the previous ones broke.
- He takes time to talk about serious topics, and does so on in person, not on the phone or through texts.
- He actively listens to you. He is present during conversations and processes everything you say.
- He does nice things for you even if upset or not in the mood.
- He does nice things for you without asking him to do so.
- He sometimes brings up the small, kind gestures you’ve done for him. Not often, but every once in a while.
- He is mindful of your needs. He’ll ask if you had a chance to eat today (or relax, or other similars), and other small favors. If you want to see a certain movie, he will try to arrange a date so the two of you can see it.
- He reads the books you recommend or watches the movies you suggest. He trusts your tastes. More importantly, your insight matters to him.
- He’s open about his personal concerns, fears or anxieties. This is a sign that he’s past the “impress the girl” stage and is willing to talk things on a deeper level, even if means he’ll expose his vulnerabilities.
- You’re comfortable being together in silence.
- He is transparent and honest with you. You generally have a good idea of his whereabouts and daily routines. The stories he says and explanations he gives always turn out to be true. If something bothers him, you have a good idea what it is.
- He’s not playing games to keep you interested. His attitude towards you is stable, and never goes into random, unpredictable hot-and-cold streaks. If he does become distant, he clearly communicates the reasons why (busy work days, visiting family or friends, etc.)
- He deletes his dating app profiles. It sucks to find out the guy you like is on Tinder, but he won’t put you through this because you’re enough for him.
- His friends are generally married or settled down. People in general tend to make friends with others of similar temperament and approach to life. This could be an indicator that he too is now ready to have a steady relationship. Not always accurate, but a good indicator nonetheless.
Signs he’s using you
These can be considered as red flags. But red flags are not stop signs for a relationship. If your gut feeling tells you his intentions are serious, bring up your issues and clear the air.
It is a win-win whichever way it goes. You either figure out he’s not there for the long run, or the two of you learn how to communicate and problem solve to make the budding relationship work.
- He goes cold if he doesn’t get what he wants. He does this partly as punishment to you, partly because he doesn’t care about people who don’t give him everything he wants, every time he wants it.
- He guilt trips you into doing things. Could be physical intimacy, going out on a date or making you forgive for a past mistake of his.
- He pushes you to cancel plans for him, gets upset if you don’t. Your wants or needs are trivial to him, because it doesn’t solve a want or need of his.
- Frequent mentions of the ex. Sometimes you feel you’re there simply to hear him complain. Other times, you’re compared to the ex – and not positively.
- All his exes “were crazy”. Statistically difficult to happen. He might be using the victim card to draw sympathy, or he simply doesn’t have the skillset or emotional maturity to sustain a healthy relationship. His exes likely weren’t crazy, just mad at him for all the mistakes he made.
- Ignores your boundaries, especially physical ones.
- You never feel like a priority. He often makes plans without you. Frequently cancels dates to go out with friends, says he’s not available because he wants to have fun doing X or Y, etc.
- He makes date plans on very short notice – think the same day, or the day after. Could be that previous plans of his got cancelled, or he doesn’t want to bother planning around your time.
- Dates are structured so you somehow spend the night together. It’s never just hanging out for the sake of hanging out.
- He dodges date plans that don’t involve “Netflix and chill” (or variations of it).
- Doesn’t want to label it. Avoids questions regarding the status of your relationship.
- Doesn’t introduce you to friends or family. Conversely, doesn’t want to meet your friends or family.
- He shows (almost) no physical affection outside of the bedroom. Truth be told, some men are the cold, unaffectionate type so it’s not a clear-cut sign of disinterest.
- He always showers you with compliments. Not always a bad sign, but he could be “love bombing” to lower your guard.
- All his friends tell you he isn’t the “dating” kind, either jokingly or seriously. Believe them.
- He agrees with everything you say. Could be lack of personality, or just wants to get in your pants as quickly as possible.
- Your friends and family dislike him. Not always a disqualification, but seeing the man you’re dating from their point of view could at least help you form a more complete opinion of him.
- He’s glued to the phone, but often replies to messages hours or days later. To be fair, he might view messages the same way as email: respond when necessary, ignore otherwise.
- Gives cringy excuses for why he didn’t contact you sooner. Once or twice (or even a few times) is understandable. If it happens all the time it’s obvious he’s not taking you seriously enough to even come up with believable excuses.
- Never make any future plans with you. Planning for an event that is 2 or more weeks away will be met with “maybe’s” or “let’s talk about it some other time”.
- He wants to keep the relationship a secret.
- He doesn’t want to use protection when you are physically intimate.
- Conversations are kept at a superficial level. He doesn’t confide in you about life difficulties, friends, family or ambitions. Depending on the guy, he may want you to talk about these to further string you along, or outright ignore them altogether.
How to tell what a guy wants from you
Some guys can throw a lot of mixed signals, making it hard to tell if he wants a future with you or not.
Others can be very reserved and introverted. They’ll give so little information to work with, you can’t get an accurate read on their intentions.
In cases where the signs of interest alone aren’t clear, learning more about a guy’s background can help you figure out what he wants from you.
Is he a serial monogamist?
Some guys (and girls) have an approach to love that’s called serial monogamy.
In general, serial monogamists focus only on long-term, committed relationships. They’re almost never single, generally dislike the dating phase and have a tendency to transform their flings or friends-with-benefits into serious relationships.
A good way to know if you’re dating a serial monogamist is to piece together a guy’s relationship history timeline.
If he’s only had long term relationships, with very short periods of singledom in between, then he’s almost certainly a serial monogamist.
If this is the case, then chances are he’s serious about you and willing to put in the effort to make a relationship work.
Is he concerned a relationship might change his life?
Many guys are single or casually dating for long periods (2-3 years or more). During that time, they’ll create a lifestyle that is enjoyable and comfortable for them.
Because of this, they tend to be protective of this bachelor lifestyle when dating someone new. They can come across as non-committal, secretive or even stubborn in their way of doing things.
If the right person comes along, he’ll adapt and eventually commit himself fully to a relationship. The process is usually gradual, and involves trust building and learning how to set boundaries around their “guy” time.
Does he have trust issues?
Getting cheated on can create deep-seated trust issues, regardless of gender. People with trust issues are reluctant to commit and can turn to self-destructive coping mechanisms while in a relationship:
- Believing that everybody will betray them at some point.
- Misinterpreting honest mistakes as breaches of trust.
- They might vent their frustrations on you.
Finding out if a guy was cheated on in the past could give you some context for his current behavior. Perhaps he is serious about you, but too afraid to really expose himself.
Is he over his ex?
Habits from the old relationship, risk of getting back with the ex, comparing you to his previous flame etc. are an extra layer of issues that will make it very difficult to build a healthy relationship.
Is a relationship a low priority for him?
Some guys are deeply involved in their personal projects (education, business, sports etc.), and will always prioritize them over any relationship they may have.
In this case, he could be committed to have a relationship, but will come across as disinterested since he doesn’t want to invest too much time and effort into one.