7 Signs He's Shelving You (And Looking For Something Better)

You should be his priority, not an option.

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The first time I heard the term "being shelved," it was from one of my college roommates. Let’s call her Nicole. 

Nicole was the guru for all things love and relationship-related in our apartment. Out of the four of us young women, we had all had our romances, but she was uniquely skilled at reading and interacting with the male creature. Whenever we had a problem or a guy was driving us nuts, we would go to her for an explanation.


That’s how, one day, I learned I was being shelved.

If you’re being shelved, it means your guy is saving you for later. He considers you a good fallback option, but he doesn’t want to actively pursue you. He’s putting you on the back burner or, as Nicole put it, he’s storing you on his shelf to pull back out on a rainy day.

He doesn’t have anyone else to cuddle with one night two months from now? Time to take you off the shelf.

But you certainly don’t want to be anyone’s option. You want to be someone’s priority.



Here are 7 signs he's shelving you and looking for something better:

1. He reaches back out every once in a while

He’ll pop his head in every now and then to check up on you and make sure you haven’t forgotten about him. He has to keep himself freshly in your mind so you keep the interest alive on your end.


He knows the key to keeping you on the shelf is taking you out and playing with you every once in a while

RELATED: 4 Types Of Men That Will Never Make You A Priority

2. He gets close and then pulls away

For all intents and purposes, it seems to you like you’re dating. However, you realize it’s never steady.

Sometimes he gets close and you go out on several dates in a row, and then all of a sudden he’s nowhere to be found. His calendar is booked solid for the next week or two, but then he returns with incredible gestures of affection that are hard to turn away. 

3. He recently broke up with an ex

Even if it wasn’t super-recent, if he’s still carrying baggage from his last relationship, you’re a shelf candidate.


He clearly has not moved on and dating or messing around with you is him trying to move on. He might like you, but he’s still thinking about her and that is taking priority for him. He’s keeping you on the shelf for times when he feels especially frustrated or insecure.

RELATED: If He Says These 10 Things, He's Just Stringing You Along Until He Finds Someone 'Better'

4. He’s always flirtatious but he selectively acts on it

If you’ve hooked up with this guy before but you’re currently in a “just friends” period and he’s still flirting with you, you may be tricked into thinking that he actually caught feelings. Not so fast. 

He’s flirting with you because he wants to keep the option open and to remind you that there is tension there, but he wants to be in control. It’s not when you want it, it’s when he wants it, and you have to fit into his schedule.


5. His actions and his words don’t match up

You’ve been flirting for a while and you’ve even hooked up a few times. He’s even said he wants to take you out on a nice date. But you can’t help but notice that he has yet to make good on that offer. 

Next thing you know, you’re the one bringing it up and badgering him about it. At this point, his intentions have become clear. He was sweet-talking you to keep you nice and cozy on the shelf. 

RELATED: Why He Keeps You Around Even If He Doesn't Want A Relationship

6. He limits you

He may want to keep his options open, but he doesn’t necessarily want those same rules to apply to you. He wants to make sure that your primary focus is on him, even if he’s out there sowing his wild oats. 


If he were to find out that you were keeping your options open, too, for example, he would probably be hurt. Don’t you just love hypocrisy? 

7. He gives you false hope

He’ll purposefully pique your interest with big statements or lofty promises. He knows he can’t and doesn’t intend on keeping them, but it’s enough to keep you dangling for a while. 

All he’s really looking for is the ability to buy himself some more time. Eventually, he knows you’ll catch on to him, but until then, he’s going to keep you shelved for as long as he can or wants. 

RELATED: What To Do When He Says He Doesn't Want A Relationship

Taylor Markarian is a freelance writer and editor with a special interest in music, lifestyle, culture, the arts, entertainment, and literature. Her work has been featured in Reader's Digest, Fox News, Insider, BRIDES, Alternative Press, Loudwire, Kerrang!, and MSN, among many other publications.