You’re seriously into her—but is she keeping her options open? Here are nine surefire signs that she is.
Women say it to feel better about lousy boyfriends, tragic breakups, and guys who never reply to their text messages: “There are plenty of fish in the sea.”
Unfortunately, some women recite that mantra even when they’re in a great relationship. “Traditionally, women have felt that guys were the ones not willing to commit. But now, more and more women are trying to keep their options open. They are hedging their bets,” says relationship therapist Megan Fleming, Ph.D., clinical instructor of psychology at Weill Cornell Medical College of Cornell University.
Is your girlfriend (or, wait, is she not up for making it official yet?) stringing you along? It’s hard to tell. “In the initial phases of love and lust, it’s easy to get blinded by surging hormones and ignore critical signs that indicate—well, she’s just not into you,” says Paul Hokemeyer, Ph.D., a Manhattan-based marriage therapists.
1. She won’t agree to plans
When you pitched the idea of going on a vacation together, how did she respond? To be your plus-one at your brother’s wedding? To go to that concert with you next month? If she responds consistently with “we’ll see” or anything equally wishy washy, she might not be sure she wants to be with you that far into the future, Fleming says. Meanwhile, if she always wants to schedule stuff with you at the last minute, you might be her backup plan. If she’s not into planning things in advance, ask her about it. Maybe her job makes it so that she doesn’t have much control over her schedule and she can’t really ask for time off. Or, maybe, she just doesn’t want to see you that much.
2. She’s playing too hard to get
“Sure the hunt can be exhilarating, but it’s only worth your while if you can enjoy its spoils,” Hokemeyer says. “If you find yourself consistently having to prove yourself, jumping through hoops and overcoming obstacles to be with her, then chances are she’s not your gal.” Ask yourself: are you always the one calling and texting her? Asking to see her? When she is really invested in a relationship and wants to be with you, she will reach out, too, Fleming says. Let her know it makes you feel good when she asks to see you, and you would like her to do so more often. If she doesn’t, well there you go.
3. Your conversations are superficial
If she feels connected to you emotionally, she’s going to want to talk about more than what each of you did that day, says Donald L. Cole, a licensed marriage and family therapist and a certified master trainer for the Gottman Institute. “Does she share her inner world with you? Does she tell stories about her childhood? Her friends? What about negative things in her life—the things that really make her more vulnerable or maybe even not look her best? If she’s not sharing that—or trying to get that sort of stuff out of you, it’s a strong indication that she doesn’t want the relationship to get serious.
4. She’s expensive to date
It’s time for the requisite “gold digger” warning: Does she demand to be taken to the finest restaurants, drop endless ‘hints’ about that new designer handbag she wants, or have problems paying her rent? “Courtship is about emotional and physical connection, not financial support,” Hokemeyer says. If you notice your relationship is becoming more financial than anything else, tell her you have to tighten the financial reigns a bit.
5. You don’t feel secure with her
For all of the talk out there about womanly intuition, men still know when something feels right—and when it doesn’t. So ask yourself, how do you feel in the relationship? “If someone makes you feel safe and cared for, it may not matter what labels or official commitments you have made to each other,” Fleming says. Do you feel secure? If you’re reading this article, you probably don’t. Just make sure to do a mental run-down. Are your own insecurities or her actions making you feel that way?
6. It takes her a long time to get back to you
“If she doesn’t text you back almost immediately when you text her, she is either a teacher or a doctor and doesn’t have perpetual access to her phone, or she is ambivalent. Most people today are so respondent to their texts that they check every buzz and click that comes in, regardless of whether they answer it,” says Tammy Nelson, Ph.D., a sex and relationship therapist and the author of The New Monogamy. Sure, she may be trying to play coy by waiting 30 or 40 minutes to respond. But a day or more? Then she’s probably just keeping you around out of convenience, Nelson says.
7. She doesn’t check in
“How did your meeting go?” “I heard a song that made me think of you.” These are the kind of check-in texts women typically send when they are really interested in a guy, Nelson says. You may even get an end-of-day phone call so that she can give you the rundown of all of the highs and lows of her day. If you get one of these, you should actually consider yourself lucky. But if she can wait to check in with you until your weekly date, sorry, she’s not that invested in what happens in your life or about letting you know what’s going on in hers.
8. She doesn’t say ‘I love you’ back
Most of the time, it’s actually men who say, “I love you” first, per research in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. But, here’s the thing, most of the time, the lady comes back with “I love you too” at least relatively soon thereafter. So if you’ve been dating for more than a few months, you’ve slept together, you’ve said “I love you,” and she still opts for “I love spending time with you,” she’s probably not going to fall in love with you, Hokemeyer says. “Love is intense and instinctual. It’s a potent cocktail of hormones, dopamine, and fiery lust. There’s very little if anything rational about it. She may have an emotional history that holds her back from immediately jumping in, like a traumatic childhood or a string of bad relationships, but love is rarely something that grows slowly over time.”