Is he using you or just cautious and slow to come around?
He returns your text messages. He calls you back. He takes you up on invitations to spend time together. He eats your cooking and humbly accepts your gifts. Maybe he even admits that he deeply cares for you. But he gets an "F" for effort.
If you don't reach out, he's M.I.A. He won't initiate contact. He doesn't buy you gifts or do thoughtful things for you. Not to mention, he's been clear since the beginning about not wanting a real relationship with you.
So could he still, one day, love you? Or is your heart destined to be broken? Here are five ways to know he's serious about you.
1. You both make an effort to keep your relationship working.
If it feels like you're singlehandedly holding the dating relationship together, then you probably are. If you feel like he'd float away if you loosened your white-knuckled clinch on him, then he probably would.
2. He doesn't act guilty.
Most opportunistic jerks don't enjoy hurting women. It's just a nasty byproduct. And chances are, if this guy is using you, he is no exception.
He feels guilty about toying with your feelings and it's going to show on his face. He will seem emotionally heavy at times and may display misdirected self-hatred at you, acting sniping and mean.
He may also, and this can be very confusing, show deep levels of empathy at times — listening to your problems with a concerned expression or touching you with loving affection. This could be more related to his guilty feelings than to any real compassion for your person. Because, let's face it, if he had compassion for you, he'd release you to find real love.
3. He treats women with respect, including you and his exes.
Listen to the way he talks about women and previous relationships. Does he play the victim? For example, "She was so controlling” or "I'm complicated and women don't understand me." If he has a history of not being accountable and blaming women for being "crazy," then your relationship is probably never going to go anywhere.
You'll end up enraged by his lack of accountability and empathy in the non-relationship you share, and you'll become his perpetrator, too. He won't be able to see how his actions push you to attack; he will only see your "angry, controlling ways."
4. He's mindful of how you feel.
You could be his steppingstone, a source of temporary intimacy while he searches for "the one." Some people can't be alone; they would rather string along a partner for companionship and sex than be mindful to her feelings and hold out for the right relationship.
The good news is that if this is the case, he's helping you dodge a bullet. I doubt you want to love a man who plays with women's feelings, time and energy for his own selfish kicks.
He could also be emotionally immature and have intimacy issues, which would make him feel uncomfortable in a real relationship. Some people can only be in a relationship when it doesn't feel solid. They need to know they can always leave.
Only a noncommittal relationship, where the attachment is insecure, feels safe for them. Everything else feels trapping. They need to know that they can split (physically and emotionally) at any moment and nothing will be lost.
5. He sees himself with you long-term.
Even if he's secretly crazy about you, you don't feel safe. You don't feel good about the relationship. You want more. And you should. You deserve the kind of man who can see himself with you long-term or is working up to that. You don't deserve a man who takes but never gives.
I know how hard it can be to not control the situation and risk losing him. I've experienced full-blown panic attacks trying to let go of a toxic man. But I didn't die from them. Emotion won't kill you, but the wrong man can ruin your life.
Let me also share some psychology with you. This guy is not who you worry about losing. Your panic and anxiety actually has nothing to do with him; it has to do with a person from your past, probably from your childhood, who abandoned you in some way.
Those old feelings have been triggered and are wreaking havoc on your bodily chemistry. It's time to get grounded, breathe and walk away. It's time to acknowledge that you don't necessarily love him but are stuck in a chemical pain-cycle from your past. It's time to address your issues instead of chase a dead end.
You can't control his feelings for you or his behavior, but you can set your personal boundaries. After all, a goddess doesn't cling, chase or clinch; she rolls with life like a chiffon ribbon tumbling in a turbulent wave — gracefully and without resistance.
Learn my 5 Goddess Tips and transform your vibe with men. Attract the kind of man who deserves you and sign up for my Love Advice Newsletter. It's time to go from stepping stone to queen on her throne.