Love, Sex

3 Ways You're Mistaking Sex For Love (& How To Stop Getting Stuck In 'Almost' Relationships)

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 How To Tell If A Guy Likes You Enough For A Relationship Or Just Wants To Have Sex

If you're constantly falling into the rut of having sex but not having a relationship, then you may be caught in an "almost relationship" loop.

Almost relationships are what happens when you meet a guy, have great sexual chemistry, and even though you're sure he likes you, he never seems to want more out of his time with you than just sex — no love.

RELATED: The 5 Most Painful Types Of 'Almost' Relationships

Let’s take a look at a common scenario. You meet a guy, you've got a lot in common, and maybe even an expressed desire for a relationship. After a handful of dates, things still seem to be going quite well.

Hallelujah,” you think. You've finally caught a real one! Within a short time in what seems like a natural progression, you start having sex. But soon after that, things seem to shift.

His passion, interest, calls, texts, and asking for dates tend to trail off. Yet he always makes time for sex.

You finally gather the courage to discuss what’s happening. Where do you stand? Are the feelings still mutual? Can he come as a date to your best friend’s wedding?

You don’t get the response you’re hoping for. You hear something like, “Let’s just see what happens” or “I’m not looking for anything serious right now…” or similar. What a letdown. Not only that, but no sign or signal told you that things weren’t headed in the right direction.

Here are 3 ways you might mistake sex for a relationship (and how to recognize the difference):

1. Sex doesn't cement your status as a couple.

Why do these circumstances play out so frequently? Many women will have sex with men they are interested in having a relationship with, and they believe the feelings are reciprocated.

Yet men who are not genuinely interested in having a relationship will continue the physical part of the relationship. Sometimes conflicted about their feelings, but more often unabashedly.

When you find this information out, you're not just physically invested in this person, you're emotionally invested as well. Frequently, you'll proceed to justify your reasons to stick it out even after you get the lukewarm response to clarify your relationship status.

You think maybe he’ll change his mind, or perhaps you can look at this more casually, too. You essentially squash down your own desires to maintain whatever semblance of a relationship you do have with this person.

Ideally, if everything is going well, then sex should cement your status as a couple, shouldn’t it? Yet it doesn’t.

In fact, having sex is more likely to be a precursor to hurt feelings if it doesn’t lead to what you imagine it to in your head.

Furthermore, the mixed message you're getting: Someone who's willing to exchange bodily fluids with you — not to mention the chance of creating another human being with you — doesn't want an actual relationship with you can be frustrating and confusing.

RELATED: You Deserve So Much Better Than Your Almost Relationship

2. You're jumping into sex before you understand where he's at emotionally.

The antidote to this scenario is direct communication before you have sex. This dialogue is risky and scary, but will save you from repeating this painful pattern over and over.

Once you have sex, there’s no going back. There’s no shifting into reverse … no rewinding the tape … no “do-over.” Think long and carefully if you are ready to take the relationship to the next level.

But this is only half the equation, too. You must make sure he is emotionally available before you become intimate if that's what you're looking for.

You both must be in agreement about where you both stand and where you’re heading. If you can’t talk about it, you certainly aren’t ready to increase the intimacy with sex.

His actions and words must align. His behavior should be thoughtful, transparent, reliable, consistent, honest, and emotionally engaged. It takes time to learn whether your potential boyfriend has these qualities.

When considering his actions, don't equate sex as an action indicative of love or desire for a relationship. Anyone can easily make sexual advances or have sex. Having sex is the lowest bar you can set for him.

Enjoy the exciting phase of a budding relationship without rushing it. If he really cares and wants to be with you, the sex will be viewed as the icing on the cake, and he’ll be willing to wait until you feel comfortable.

3. You mistake his desire for sex as a sign that he wants a relationship.

The most straightforward reason guys are willing to have sex with you (but not a full-blown relationship) is that you let them. You're also accountable for what's happening in these situations.

If you didn’t ask where you stand, allow ample time to see if his words and actions line up, or choose to have sex anyway even when you find out he doesn’t have the same relationship goals as you, then you're complicit, even if it’s unintentional.

Some men will also verbalize that they only want something casual, but you refuse to believe it. Other men come on super strong, pushing for sex very early. These are red flags that you shouldn’t ignore.

Sex does not equal mutual feelings or shared relationship goals. Sex equals sex. Clarify what you want and who you want it from. Listen and believe men who say (or show) that they do not reciprocate your feelings. Set yourself free from these “almost relationships” that leave you feeling used and heartbroken.

RELATED: 7 Reasons You Should Be Friends Before Lovers In A Relationship

Dr. Marni Feuerman is a licensed psychotherapist in private practice, relationship expert, and the author of Ghosted and Breadcrumbed: Stop Falling for Unavailable Men and Get Smart about Healthy Relationships. Learn more about Dr. Marni by visiting her website where you can sign up for her expert content delivered right to your email.

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