Single Life
How to tell if a guy is looking for a fling, casual sex, or a relationship.

Here's How To Tell If Someone Is Looking For Romance Or Sex

Your foolproof guide is right this way.

by Candice Jalili and Genevieve Wheeler
Originally Published: 
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I get the whole “they’re just not that into you” thing. Nine times out of 10, if a person’s into you, they’ll make the move. They’ll give you attention. They’ll make you feel wanted in some way, shape, or form. Right? But let’s say someone is actively making moves, they’re just all in the direction of the bedroom. If you know someone’s interested, but you’re wondering how to tell if a guy wants to date you or just sleep with you, the lines become a bit more blurred.

The other night, I was on the phone with my cousin when she asked me how to tell if he likes you or just wants a fling, and I was low-key stumped. I had some opinions on the matter, sure. If a person takes you on dates or exclusively texts you at two in the morning, it’s pretty indicative of whether or not they would like a relationship with you. But what if someone’s only taking you on dates for the sake of getting into your pants? Again, it’s easy for the lines to get blurred.

Enter relationship expert and therapist Emmalee Bierly, LMFT, of The West Chester Therapy Group and dating expert Mark Stefanishyn. Elite Daily asked them both, point blank, how to find out if a person is really, genuinely into you (e.g. how to answer the age-old question, “does he like me or just want sex?”). Here’s what they had to say.

If Someone Doesn’t Want To Date You, You’ll Know

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My grandma always taught me to trust my gut — if you feel like something’s off, you’re probably right. Bierly seconds that emotion. “Keep your eyes open for the red flags,” she says. “These are the things that give you that gut feeling of, ‘Eh, maybe [they’re] not looking for a deeper commitment.’”If someone only texts you when they’re heading home from the bar, for instance, or blatantly tells you they’re not looking for something serious, Bierly and Stefanishyn agree those are pretty clear-cut signs they’re not looking for a real relationship.

"This seems obvious, but it's an extremely common mistake,” says Stefanishyn. “When [someone] says 'I don't want a relationship’... take that statement seriously.”

If Someone Makes An Effort, Take It As A “Green Light”

The opposite of red flags, “green lights” will give you that gut feeling that someone is, indeed, looking for a deeper commitment. “Some common green lights are that [they show] an interest in your life, [they want] to know more about you as an individual, [they’re] bringing you around [their] friends and family, and she or he wants to do more than just have sex,” says Bierly.

“If a [person] wants a relationship, [they] naturally want to know who you are and what you are up to,” Stefanishyn adds.Simple enough. Now, let’s pour one out for the many times we stuck around for folks who did, um, none of those things. It’s OK — we’re learning.

Learn From Past Relationships

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In the theme of reflecting on lessons learned, Bierly recommends you “look at your past relationships and think about some of the ‘red flags’ you missed and ‘green lights’ you saw.” It can be difficult to stay objective when you’re judging the actions of a person you really (really, really) like. We want that person to like us back, so obviously we’re more likely to interpret their actions favorably. As Bierly explains it, though, “we tend to repeat patterns in our relationships, so being aware of our relationship patterns in the past helps us manifest and choose a healthier relationship future.”

Further, if you are looking for something longer term, keep an eye out for cues that your potential partner has also learned from their past relationships and is actively working to better themselves.

“If there's no evidence he's working on his relationship with himself — through a combination of his health, his career, his passions, or internal dragon slaying — it's unlikely he's going to be able to shoulder the responsibility of a serious relationship," Stefanishyn says.

Ask Your Partner What’s Going On

Let’s say you’re getting a blend of red flags, green lights, and no clear indication of what’s really running through someone’s head. The good news? You’re totally allowed to ask what they’re looking for in a partner.

“You can ask about what’s happening in your relationship, and you’re not ‘crazy’ or ‘clingy’ for asking,” Bierly says. “If [someone] makes you feel that way for asking, kick [them] to the curb, because your voice and needs are significant and important.”To recap, remember that your feelings are valid and your instincts are probably right. If you’re getting non-committal vibes from your S.O., ask them how they’re feeling and what they’re after. And if you’re still getting a hodge-podge of mixed signals, Bierly says to ask yourself, “Do I really want to be in a relationship with someone whose behavior I constantly have to decode?”

As she puts it, “The movie Harriet the Spy is cool, but playing her in real life is exhausting and a self-esteem killer.”


Emmalee Bierly, LMFT, relationship expert and therapist at The West Chester Therapy Group

Mark Stefanishyn, dating expert and host of The Millennial Man Relationship Podcast

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