So you’re seeing someone. Getting yourself a little on the side. I see you. And this guy is pretty cool, right? He’s cute, he’s not too shabby in bed, he’s easy to hang out with. Checks off a lot of boxes. A few weeks pass happily enough, then a month or two goes by. Suddenly you’re wondering when this guy became your boyfriend without being your boyfriend. You’re not totally exclusive, but sleeping together semi-regularly, and in frequent contact. It’s hookup quicksand—and you find yourself considering the possibility of taking things to a more serious horizon. This is a good time to ask yourself some hard questions, if there is such a thing as a good time to emotionally torture yourself. But before you start your pro-con list, Rory Gilmore style, keep an eye out for some red flags that what you’re getting from this guy might be all he’s prepared to give.
There’s a good chance that part of what intrigued you about this guy in the first place is his unpredictability. He’s just available enough to make you feel safe, and just unavailable enough to keep you wanting more. But now, his inability to be nailed down or tell you what tf he’s doing a week from now is less exciting than it used to be. It’s hard to move forward with someone if he makes it so you can’t let go, but you also can’t get any closer. Here are some more signs that this is going to be a guy who’s always the hookup, never the boyfriend.
He Never Makes Plans That Don’t Involve Sex
He brings food over to your place, but is noncommittal when you suggest grabbing dinner out sometime. A simple question about what he has planned for the weekend can send him into a tailspin since he tends to prefer making last-minute plans. Maybe he acts like he’d be down to see a movie or grab drinks at a normal time instead of around 1am, but he never follows through. The sex in general really seems to be enough for him. He’s content with the physical connection you’re sharing and isn’t acting like an emotional one is missing.
He’s Making You Work Way Too Hard
Dating guys in their 20s is an unpaid internship
— cecilia (@waple_cyrup) November 28, 2018
This is the kind of guy who keeps you in a perpetual attention tug-of-war. For every bit of effort you put in, he puts in half as much, so it takes more of your energy and time to coordinate with him than it should. When he does respond, he’s great, but the rest of the time you’re forced to debate a dreaded triple text just to get a simple answer. Plain and simple, this just makes your pseudo-relationship easier on him. The more effort you put in, the less he has to do, and he wants to keep the balance of power in his favor.
He Gives You Just Enough To Keep You Interested, But Never Enough To Actually Rely On Him
Just when you’re ready to write him off, he’ll call you or send a sweet text, and you’re reeled right back in. It’s hard not to respond to him when he’s being charming or asking if he can stop by later, and you always seem to give him another chance to prove himself. But then you wake up and he’s gone again, even though last night he swore you guys would grab breakfast, and you’re back to square one. He never fully ghosts you, but he’s not the first person you’d call if you got a flat tire on the freeway, either. He’s not interested in being the first one you call with your problems, because then you seem less like the girl he’s just sleeping with and more like a girlfriend.
He Doesn’t Ask You About Yourself
He doesn’t text back.
He breaks promises.
He doesn’t instigate conversation or check on you.
He only messages when he needs something.
— Tolly (@tolly_t) September 24, 2017
You know his siblings’ names, where he was born, and the sport he played growing up. Meanwhile, he still acts surprised when he brings over takeout and you have to remind him you’re allergic to onions. Again. He doesn’t seem to have any issue answering questions about himself, but he doesn’t really reciprocate—and if he does, he’s likely to forget what you told him the next day. The fewer personal things he knows about you, the easier it is for him to stay detached and keep things casual.
He Wants To See Zero Emotions From You
sex is cool but have you ever had someone give you so much emotional safety that you were able to break down & process trauma right in front of them without fear of being judged or ridiculed?
— Bruna, CPC & ELI-MP (@brunanessif) August 22, 2018
This is no Victoria F. on The Bachelor situation; if you cry on a date with this guy, he’ll send you home
in a limo stat. He wants you to be the cool, chill girl he hooks up with, and the rest is just “drama”. When you do get emotional, even if it’s as simple as you tearing up in the scene where Warner breaks up with Elle, he’s likely to bail or put up walls without seeming to be affected by the way you’re feeling. Your emotions are really seen as complications to him that get in the way of you two having a good time together, which at the end of the day, is a bigger priority to him.
All of these characteristics don’t necessarily add up to this guy being a bad person—for the most part, you probably enjoy yourself around him, and he’s not hard to be around. And as long as the two of you are on the same page with that, it’s all good. But the key thing to remember about his actions is that they don’t indicate he’s feeling any of the necessary things that normally work to move a relationship forward. And this is a situation where actions really do speak louder than words. Especially if he’s a sweet talker, ignore what he’s saying and look at what he’s doing. If he wanted more with you, it would be pretty clear and straightforward. He’d make it easy for you to reach him; he’d make plans further in advance than one night; he’d remember the little things you tell him about yourself. (Granted, he’d still probably get freaked out by how easily you cry at commercials with dogs in them, but chances are he’d think it was endearing or at least handle it with a reaction other than panic.)
Bottom line is there’s nothing wrong with wanting more, Anastasia Steele, and there are guys out there who genuinely want to get to know all of you, even the version of you who consistently blacks out on bottomless mimosas. This particular person, on the other hand, is keeping a certain amount of emotional distance between you two. It could have nothing to do with you at all. He could have hangups from an old relationship, or just be skittish about the commitment game. That doesn’t make him a bad guy, necessarily. It just makes him a bad guy to try to turn into a boyfriend. So, be honest with yourself, and make the decision to do to him the same thing he does to you: take him as he is, at face value, or not at all.
Images: Brooke Cagle / Unsplash, Giphy; @brunanessif, @tolly_t, @waple_cyrup / Twitter