We all remember that episode of Sex and the City in which Miranda struggles with the mixed messages of a new boyfriend, to be bluntly told by Carrie’s new boyfriend Jack Berger that ‘he’s just not that into you’. It can be a liberating, albeit slightly harsh, revelation that kind-hearted friends sometimes shy away from.
But what are the early warning signs when you start dating someone? How do you differentiate shyness from a lack of interest and spontaneity from a reluctance to commit? Here’s 10 signs that might just help…
You initiate all communication
Think back over the last couple of weeks of all the phone calls and email threads you’ve had with your man. Has he made the effort to initiate any of these? If not, you might be telling yourself that he’s just not a phone kind of a guy or that he’s too busy at work to email. Try testing the water for a few days and hold back from getting in touch. See what happens, if the result is diddly-squat then you can be pretty certain that he’s been following your lead but is not interested in taking things any further.
You haven’t met his friends
OK, so you don’t need to have met his best mate from school by the second date, but you should start to question his feelings if he hasn’t invited you out to anything involving his friends after a few weeks. Introducing partners to friends is a symbolic welcoming into fold and he should want to show you off if he’s serious about you. Try gently suggesting you pop along for one of his after work drinks, or getting a gang together for a gig. If he keeps coming up with excuses for these to not happen without suggesting alternatives, then it might be crunch time.
You only ever see him with his friends
The opposite problem to not meeting his friends is only ever hanging out with his friends. Depending on how you met your man, friends play a bigger or smaller role early in your relationship. If you already have lots of mutual friends then you’ll naturally socialise a lot with them as a couple, and that’s great. But it can become problematic if you don’t get to spend time together just the two of you. If he isn’t willing to have some one-to-one time then this could mean that he’s only with you because it’s socially convenient. If he isn’t willing to take your relationship outside of the group then you may be better off staying as friends.
He doesn’t ask you much about yourself
It seems pretty obvious that if he isn’t interested in you then he’s not into you, but it’s unnerving how much we can make excuses for a nonchalant man when we really want it to work out. Think about the dates you’ve had with him so far – what have you talked about? How much do you know about him compared with how much you think he knows about you? If you find yourself adopting an interviewer’s role with him to keep the conversation flowing then the danger is that he simply enjoys talking about himself rather than talking to you and frankly, no man is that interesting! If you feel like you need to shout to be heard then it’s time to go find someone who’ll listen.
You always have to come up date ideas
Dating isn’t always about being taken out by a man, but neither should the responsibility always fall on your shoulders. You may like to be the driving force in a relationship, and he may consider you ‘better at these things’, but that doesn’t excuse him from showing he cares by putting a little time and effort into coming up with ideas of places to go or things to do. Try setting him the challenge of finding a nice restaurant for you to go to or film to see – this should be able to show you whether he’s just a little lack lustre or whether he simply doesn’t really care enough to plan ahead.
You find yourself defending him to your friends
A new man on the scene is exciting news for your friends, and he’ll inevitably fall under the scrutiny of your closest chums who think you deserve the best, but one thing’s for sure: if you are constantly making excuses for his apparent bad behaviour to your friends then this spells trouble. You are friends with your friends for a reason: you value their opinion, and if you feel you need to bend the truth to get their approval, it’s time to start questioning why.
He’s hot and cold
Probably one of the most difficult behaviours to decode – one minute he’s the definition of Mr Keen, initiating dates, physically tactile and emotionally open, the next he’s impossible to get hold of and when you do eventually, he’s distant with you. You end one date on a high and the next down in the dumps, and just when you think it’s all over he’s all over you again. Talk about mixed messages. You could drive yourself crazy speculating about why he’s into you one minute and not the next, but the harsh truth is that if it’s so confusing this early in the proceedings, it’s unlikely to improve over time.
You feel the pressure to always be on top form
You’ve been out a few times now but you still have pre-date anxieties about whether you’re looking good enough, whether your jokes will be sufficiently funny and if you have enough chat to see you through the evening. Your job is to figure out if this is pressure you’re putting on yourself or if it’s to do with the way he reacts to you. The bottom line is you should be able to have a good time with him whether you’re on top form or a little below par, and if he shows little tolerance for anything less than perfection from you, he needs a reality check and you need to move on.
He’s future phobic
He doesn’t ‘do’ plans and prefers spontaneous get-togethers. He makes you feel clingy if you suggest doing anything more than a week ahead of the time, and yet he could tell you the exact dates and times at which he’ll be watching his football team play at home in the next two months. We think this one’s fairly self-explanatory.
He won’t put himself out for you
We’re not asking for blood at the early stages but a couple of months into dating and you have earned the right to ask small things of him – whether it’s asking for a lift or getting him to book some tickets on his credit card. Little favours and compromises are a sign that you mean something to him, but if his good deeds are always on his terms it’s possible he doesn’t mean business.