(Lack of) actions speak louder than words.
I believe that a lot of people spend a lot of time in the wrong relationships because they overlook the subtle signs that someone is just not giving their full emotional investment. Sometimes, these signs can be more glaring than others, and it’s easy to overlook the smaller ones when we are caught up in the emotional excitement of a new partner.
If you’ve ever let your heart outrun your brain and miss the red flags — big or small — then let the forthcoming points be your guide along your next journey into love.
1: You haven’t met his friends or family.
Speaking from personal experience, the excitement of meeting someone new (that you’re truly interested in) is one that you want to share with your friends and family. Of course, you want to make sure that it’s real first, but when it is, the invitations begin.
“I can’t wait for you to meet my (insert special person here).”
And conversely, they’ll be telling their special people all about you, as well.
Building a relationship with someone means intertwining your lives together. It means going to family get-togethers, work parties, going out with friends…
An important caveat: Some people, of course, take longer than others to get comfortable with this concept. They want to let the two of you develop as a couple before they bring other people into the mix, and make sure that you are on a solid path together.
I once knew someone that had a rule about dating someone for a certain amount of time before they introduced them to any of their friends or family. This, of course, is because they jumped the gun too fast in the past and didn’t want to face the same disappointment again.
Let me be clear — this is about someone who is clearly and deliberately keeping you away from the people he cares about. There is always an excuse or a “convenient reason” why you (or they) can’t come along.
Maybe he’s even met some of your friends or family, too — but, his just never seem to be around.
If too much time is going by and you’re starting to get suspicious…then there’s probably a good reason for it.
2: He’s always staying at your place…you’re never staying at his.
Inviting someone into your personal space is a big deal. I once had a coaching client who hadn’t been invited over a guy’s house for literally months of dating him, let alone invited to stay over.
The same caveat as point #1 applies — different people are ready for different things at different times…
If he’s cool staying over at your place and being able to make a quick escape in the morning (or even the same night), then that’s probably all he’s really trying to do.
Having you come over, stay over, begin leaving things there (like a toothbrush, hair brush…) starts to lay the foundation of a real relationship.
And, if he’s avoiding a real relationship, he’s going to avoid all of the smaller steps that could lead to it.
3: You only have surface level conversations.
Think about the level of knowledge you need to have about someone to really consider building a life with them…their past, their childhood, their family life, what their hopes, dreams, desires are…
These are all things that help us determine our level of compatibility with someone. And, quite frankly, they’re things that we should be curious about if we actually want to discover who this person really is.
If he doesn’t really care, though, he’s just not going to go there.
He won’t ask the difficult questions.
He won’t sit and listen to the intimate details.
He’ll stop responding when the texts get too serious.
A man who is really interested in you is going to want to learn everything he can about you. If he can recite every player’s statistics on his fantasy football team, but he doesn’t know the town you were born in — that’s a giant red flag.
4: He doesn’t do special things for special occasions.
When Rachel and I first started dating, I literally celebrated our “month-aversaries.”
Yes, each month on the 19th, I’d do a little something (or at least say something to her) about another month together.
A little excessive? Eh, maybe — but it was my way of celebrating each milestone, no matter how small.
Now that we are married, the anniversaries have a deeper meaning, and will be celebrated with an even larger sense of occasion.
The point is this: Guys pay attention to things that matter to them.
They put in effort to make you feel special. Your birthday, Valentine’s day, the marking of special events together…
My dad literally celebrates the day he met my mother every year, over 40 years ago.
If a guy can’t be bothered to show you love on a special occasion, what makes you think he’ll do it on a random Tuesday without a good reason?
5: He doesn’t prioritize you.
Men make the time for what (and who) are truly important to them.
It’s perfectly reasonable that he has a busy life, we all do. But, plenty of incredibly busy and important people make time for the people they love.
He’ll come see you after work, he’ll run out to meet you for lunch or a coffee, he’ll make sure he calls you at the end of the day if he was slammed, or at least send you a goodnight text letting you know you’ll talk tomorrow.
He’ll make the time to see you in person.
Simply put: Priorities are choices.
If you see him posting on Instagram stories about being out with his friends, but he never seems to have time for you, he’s showing you where his priorities lie.
Life is about a balance, I’m not saying he should give up everything that’s important to him to spend time with you constantly, but he’ll want to see you instead of doing some of those other things if he’s genuinely interested in building a life with you.
“James, how do I really know if I’m being prioritized or not?”
Your heart will speak to you on this one. If you have to question it…you probably already have your answer.
6: ALL of his compliments are about your appearance.
Love reaches far beneath the surface, whereas lust does not.
Of course I believe that beauty should be appreciated and that any man worth his salt will make it clear how beautiful he thinks you are — but if that’s all he’s telling you, then that’s all he’s focusing on.
He should be complimenting your work ethic, your values, the way you treat others, the dedication you show to your work, the way you treat your children…
These are all of the things that make you, well, you.
They’re the things that make you unique, set you apart, and the things that you choose.
You didn’t choose the way your genetics arranged your appearance at birth. Complimenting that is lazy and boring. Anyone can do that…and, they do.
If he really wants to show you that he appreciates you, he should be showing you that he notices all of the things that most people overlook.
Plus, if all he does is regurgitate the same compliments you get every day from random people on Instagram, then he’s not that special either — is he?
7: He avoids eye contact.
This goes for any type of interaction with you — especially the intimate kind.
Real connection with another person is about being fully present with them (I’ll get to that in a minute), and arguably the most important time to be fully present is when you’re being physically intimate.
Emotional connection and intimacy is what drives the true passion of physical intimacy — and if you’re sharing physical experiences together, but he always seems to be elsewhere mentally, this is a clear sign that it’s strictly physical for him.
He should want to connect with you, to be fully in the moment, to absorb every single piece of the experience.
This isn’t just about sex, though — eye contact when you’re having serious conversations, or are out on a date, or are just chatting over coffee…it all signals that he’s actually there with you, and not off thinking about something (or someone) else, when you should be his only focus.
8: He escalates TOO quickly.
Intimacy takes time to build. Real connection doesn’t happen overnight. If right off the bat he starts making physical advances or bringing sex right into your conversations, he’s showing you blatantly where his intentions are.
Now, if you’re looking for a fling and have no interest in anything further — by all means, have at it!
But, if you want something with substance, with meaning, that has a real chance at lasting in the long run — look at what he’s leading with, as that is often the trend he will follow for as long as you allow him to.
If you slow him down and he’s willing to pump the brakes and change directions, that’s great! But, if he keeps reverting back to “dirty talk” every time you try to change the subject, then the brutal truth is that it’s all he’s looking for.
9: He makes ALL of the decisions.
Relationships are about compromise. They’re about two people coming together and merging their lives into one, creating harmony together. Finding and acting on things that they both love, both enjoy, and can both feel passionate about.
If you feel as though he’s simply accelerating forward and taking you along for the ride, you have to start asking just how much your thoughts and opinions are being considered.
Some women enjoy it when men take the lead, and I get that! A lot of guys like taking initiative on making the plans, planning out dates, and showing you that they’re willing to put in the effort for you…
But, that’s the key — for you.
If he’s planning and doing things that you don’t really enjoy, but he does, then it’s not really for you, is it? He’s just doing what he wants and taking you with him. That’s a much different message than making sure you are enjoying the experiences equally.
10: He’s always “hot and cold.”
I’ve heard it time and time again from female clients — guys disappearing for days at a time. Texts or messages go unanswered. They’re suddenly super busy, but then come back around to come over and “watch a movie.”
It never feels consistent — and consistency is required to build a real connection with someone.
What’s more — you won’t have to ask him to be consistent if he’s truly interested. In fact, he will be the one suggesting that you see each other again. He’ll be the one asking about your schedule. He’ll be the one proposing a 4th date before the 3rd date is even over.
If he’s really into you, you won’t be questioning his feelings, he’ll be making them clear.
11: You don’t feel the relationship progressing.
We’ve already established that everyone progresses at different paces, but the progress itself is the key, no matter how fast or slow.
He may not have malicious intentions if things aren’t moving forward or getting more serious, but the fact is that you might not be ready for the same thing at the same time.
It might be easier to keep going than to break it off.
He might not know how to tell you he isn’t ready.
Maybe when you started dating, he thought he was ready, but was wrong.
Maybe his feelings have faded.
Regardless of the reason, relationships have to show signs of moving forward and getting more serious over time.
If you feel that things have been stuck for far too long, it’s time to have a conversation with him and make sure you both want the same things.
12: He never talks about (or plans for) the future.
This is a dual-tiered red flag, because it’s possible he’s not planning for a future together, or that he’s not even planning for his own future in the first place.
You cannot plan a future with someone who hasn’t planned a future for themselves.
They’re still living in the moment.
They’re taking things as they come.
And, while that’s all well and good if you’re single and planning to stay that way, building a relationship with someone requires a vision of where you want to go, both as individuals and as a couple.
If he changes the subject every time you bring up something “down the road,” or never commits to something more than a week in advance, it’s a clear sign that he’s not thinking that far ahead with you by his side, and you deserve someone who sees you with them every step of the way. Otherwise, what’s the point of giving them your emotional investment?
13: He’s only nice to you, not the people around you.
I’ve made this point time and time again because it’s so important — a genuinely good person is good to people because of who he is, not who the other people are.
This means his actions are consistent.
He’s kind to you, the waiter, the bartender, the valet, your friends and family…why? Because he’s a kind person.
If he’s playing you, though — if he’s putting on an act…you’ll be the star of the show.
He’ll always say the right things, be endlessly charming, and will seem almost too good to be true…but, when it comes to how he treats other people, his persona seems to change.
Look for consistency in kindness. If it’s always there, it’s a piece of his identity. If it comes and goes when you do, he’s just playing a role for you.
14: He makes “jokes” about your insecurities.
Let me be as clear as possible about this: Nobody who truly cares about you will ever weaponize your insecurities against you.
The only thing that true love should be interested in, is building you up. Never tearing you down. Never making you question yourself. Never taking shots at you about things it knows you’re insecure about.
The contrary is a classic manipulation tactic designed to do one thing: Make you lose confidence so that you won’t believe you can do any better than you’re doing right now.
You’ll start to question your worth and your value, so you’ll start to think: “Boy, at least I already have someone…I better not screw it up.”
You deserve better than this. You’re capable of better than this. Don’t let anyone make you forget that.
15: He flat out tells you.
Here’s the thing: Some guys just come out and tell you they’re not looking for anything serious.
For some women, this feels like a challenge. A challenge to be the one to “change him.”
“If I just love him the right way…he’ll come around. He’ll want something serious. He’ll be different.”
I hate to be a naysayer here, but…if a guy is telling you he doesn’t want a commitment, he doesn’t want a commitment.
If he starts to change his mind and see all of your magic, he will tell you that as well.
But, if he’s telling you one thing, it doesn’t mean that he’s secretly feeling another thing.
This can be hard to accept, because it’s not what you want to hear. For some, it makes you feel undesired or unwanted.
“How could he not want to build a life with me?”
The truth is that it’s not about you. There’s nothing wrong with you. You’re not undesirable. You’re not “broken.”
He simply is not ready to receive you. He’s not ready to match your investment. He’s not ready to be your equal teammate in life.
Instead of fighting it, see it as a gift. He is giving you a chance to save yourself the heartache and walk away before you go too far down this road.
It’s your choice which direction to turn, and it’s your choice what to tolerate in your relationships.
If you’re feeling like you’re being strung along or that your emotions are being played with, you have the power to walk away and find someone who truly deserves you.
Remember — the more time that you spend with the wrong person, the less time you’ll have to find the right one.
James Michael Sama is an internationally recognized speaker, author of Unlocking Love, and personal development coach.
Finding success in creating hundreds of viral articles and videos on building limitless confidence and healthier relationships, James has accumulated over 38 million visitors to his website and a collective social media following of over 400,000.
James speaks at live events and in the media across the U.S. and has become a go-to expert with outlets such as CNN, Bravo, The New York Post, The Huffington Post, The Daily Beast, CNBC, The Boston Globe, CBS, and more.