He is checked out.
Guys today have absolutely no problem stepping on boundaries if they think it’ll get them laid. This is the sad, brutal, honest truth. And if you’re like me, you’ve been around guys who continue to push boundaries, little by little, until they’re basically expecting sex or nude photos for being “just friends.” Then, when you balk, they act like you’re the one being unreasonable.
In the dating world, this is called “tuning” because they’re literally tweaking your mannerisms to suit their needs, much like a person might tune a piano. Tuning is a sign of boundary-pushing and can even be used to “groom” a girl into being abused — and therefore, it’s a glaring red flag.
If you notice any of these signs, he’s definitely tuning you and is not listening to what you really want.
1. He makes you feel ashamed or strange when you try to establish normal boundaries.
Do you feel guilty for just telling him you’re not interested or that you don’t feel comfortable doing something? Does he seem to play up on that? Tuning often relies on guilt to work. This is a form of gaslighting that uses shaming to fool you into thinking you’re unreasonable when you’re really not.
2. He backpedals, a lot.
“Oh no, I wasn’t asking you out-out, I just wanted to hang out as friends!” is a classic example of a guy who realizes that he’s overstepping boundaries but still wants to toe the line as much as possible. He knows an outright rejection means less opportunity for manipulation, so he’ll backpedal as a way to try to chip away at rejection.
3. You’re pretty sure he just negged you.
A lot of guys who tune girls love to use negging as a way to lower a girl’s self-esteem since they assume that girls with lower self-esteems will be more willing to settle with them. Any guy who has to neg a girl in order to date her probably deserves to die alone. In other words, you have my permission to ghost him if he does this.
4. He basically expects you to answer and react a certain way, and then gets irate if you don’t.
Most manipulators know that a good tantrum or harsh look will keep most conflict-averse people in line. If he looks at you expectantly when he drops you off at home, or starts to withdraw friendship if you shirk his advances, he’s tuning you and trying to “train” you to react a certain way.
5. He was acting single, but then claims he had a girlfriend.
A lot of guys who do this are tuning you to get a side piece, or trying to get you to drop your guard around them. Either way, it’s not a good sign.
6. No matter how many times you tell him it’s never going to happen, he doesn’t seem to believe you.
This alone is grounds to completely cut him out of your life. He's not listening and clearly doesn’t respect your wants and needs enough to be a good friend, let alone a lover.
7. He’s attempted to bandwagon you.
This is a tactic that guys use when a girl’s already rejected them. Rather than just accept rejection, they will rope other people to try to talk the girl into giving them a “fair chance,” oftentimes adding a little guilt trip to it to try to make the girl feel bad for just not being interested.
8. He gets very touchy-feely, even though you’ve made it clear with your body language that you’re not cool with it.
This is the thing that most guys start with when they’re tuning a girl. Since most girls aren’t always cool with saying “no,” they will point out that the lack of “no” therefore means a yes to them. This isn’t cool and it’s sexual assault.
9. Though you can’t really put your finger on why, everything about the way he talks to you feels slimy.
Sometimes, it’s really hard to explain what’s making you feel a certain way about a person. Is it the way he looks at you? Is it the fact that you can’t figure out if you’re in the wrong for feeling weird? That gross, ooky gut feeling is often trying to tell you that he’s purposefully overstepping boundaries that he shouldn’t... or that he’s just bad news bears.
10. When it’s clear you’re not comfortable with his behavior, he calls you “sensitive” and tells you he’s “just joking.”
Guys who tune tend to do this when they realize you’re about to put your foot down. This is also a tactic that is used by abusers to get their targets to accept the abuse. Don’t accept it, just ghost him.
11. You feel like you have to explain yourself if you reject him.
No one needs a reason to say no to a guy, and that includes you. The fact that he makes it seem like you need to explain yourself definitely suggests that he might be trying to tune you.
12. He literally begs for a pity date or a pity lay.
This is very manipulative behavior on a multitude of levels. Why would you go on a date with a guy out of pity, knowing it’s not something you want to do? Because he’s hoping that he can maybe convince you to stay with him if you do.
13. You’ve done things you’re really not cool with around him because you felt you had no other choice.
This is the end goal of a man who tunes. It’s never about what you want or whether you’re okay with it. The end goal is for you to feel obligated or unreasonable when you don’t bend to his demands. Don’t allow him to have this power over you; just leave the guy.