What are some hints that they’re not interested?

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jnzq asks:

If you’re pursuing someone, how do you know when they’re really not interested in you and are just entertaining you, hoping you’ll stop? I mean, aside from the obvious ones like them telling you straight up, giving one-word answers, or not replying at all?

If they’re still responding to whatever you say but aren’t taking any other initiative? Does that count?


Demetrius says:

This is a great question! Mainly because it’s one of those things that no matter what I say, someone will disagree. I’m pretty sensible, so it’s always good when someone disagrees and gives me their insight. That said, I have AN OPINION. Take it with a grain of salt.

With that said, here’s where I stand on things. A response to a text does not equal interest. It CAN, but it doesn’t inherently mean that someone is interested in you romantically. Some people will disagree and they’re welcome to that opinion. I personally think that responses to a text are 9 times out of 10 just social conditioning, and the 10% of the times it’s because someone is interested. I think that people set the bar so low, whether it’s because they get inundated with terrible texts so frequently that they think a polite text deserves a response out of common courtesy or that they simply don’t want to seem rude, that they’ll respond to a text even if they aren’t interested. I also think that some people will inadvertently send mixed messages because they’re too polite to tell someone “I already said I’m not interested and your continued persistence is annoying me. The answer is and will remain No, ad infinitum”. I think that anything that could be interpreted as polite, or in falling with social norms, should not be considered a good sign. It would be sort of like a stranger thinking you’re attracted to them because you held the door for them. It’s all about context and content. Let’s say you sent a text to someone you’re pursuing that says “Happy Holidays”. If they reply in kind, that’s neither a good or a bad sign. Now, if you texted them “Happy New Year” and they replied “Happy New Year to you. I’d love to see you sometime soon” that’s an actual good sign. A little less obvious would be how frequently and with how much attention they are texting you. If you send them a pretty lengthy text and they reply with indifference, odds are good they aren’t interested. If you’re texting and it feels like an engaged conversation, that’s a good sign. If they feel disengaged at all through texting, chances are good that they aren’t interested. It’s true that some people are bad at texting, or don’t enjoy it, but for the most part, they’ll match your effort or be open to alternate communication methods.

I led with texting as an example but the same principles apply across the board. It’s all about whether or not reciprocity exists relative to your pursuit. Do you feel like this person is putting in the same effort to communicate with you, or hang out with you, or initiate anything between you two? Are you finding that you’re chasing and chasing and getting nothing back on your end? I know that this sounds tough to interpret, but trust me, it’s not. Really, it’s as simple as asking yourself those questions. Yes I’m aware that traditionally in dating one person pursues and the other person is pursued so you might be thinking that a lack of interest isn’t a bad sign, just playing hard to get on their part. Yeah…that’s just not the case. No matter your gender identity, or sexual orientation, you can tell if someone is interested by their level of interest, not by the frequency of their responses. If they seem to want to talk to you in an active way, that’s a good sign. If they respond to you in a grudging manner, they’re probably not interested.

One thing to look out for is false positives, in the form of engagement that seems positive, but only because you’re friends or connected in some way. Your friends will text you at the same rate of engagement as a romantic interest, so you have to check the context here more than ever. Friends are likely to respond as quickly, with a matched level of content and interest, but that could just be because they are good friends. In that case, and in pretty much all cases where you’re unclear about someone’s level of attraction, here’s what you should do: just ask them if they’re interested in seeing you. Save yourself a ton of time and mental energy and just be direct. A Yes is a Yes, a No is a No and if you get a Maybe, treat it like a No. I might be wrong some of the time and that Maybe can occasionally turn into a yes in some rare cases, but I would never advise someone to try to pursue someone who Maybe likes them. Most of the time, and I mean 99.999999% of the time, it’s not worth it and you’re just reading the signs completely wrong.

Remember, if you’re unsure, just ask. It’s the safest bet.

Good Luck Out There.

Demetrius Figueroa

Demetrius is a sex, dating, and relationship writer based in Brooklyn.

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