Love is a wonderful thing. It makes you feel many heady emotions.
But the journey to falling in love is not always smooth-sailing. It can also be confusing, especially when you’ve just met someone.
If you’re lucky, someone will catch your eye and it’s an instant attraction. In times like this, there’s absolutely no doubt in your mind that you like them.
However, that’s not always the case. Sometimes you’re torn over your feelings.
Do you really like him? Or are you just lonely? Do you like him only as a friend?
There are different reasons why you feel the way you do.
Luckily, there are some telltale signs to help you understand what’s really happening.
Here are 22 important signs to help you recognize how you really feel about him.
But first, here’s a piece of advice
When it comes to dating, it’s very important to get to know yourself first.
By doing this, you might save yourself a lot of heartache and confusion later. Specifically, this will help you better recognize your feelings with someone.
Because how could you know exactly what you want if you don’t even know it in the first place? Ask yourself, why are you really questioning this? Are your feelings not strong enough? Why?
Find out the answers to these questions and you’ll see if your feelings are real.
Do I like him? Or the idea of him? Here are 21 ways to know
1. There’s a difference between truly liking someone and finding him attractive.
This is where it gets tricky.
A lot of people find it difficult to determine if they really like someone or if they just find them attractive. Most of the time this has to do with looks.
If you find a guy really cute, you might be inclined to ignore his flaws.
It’s when you like him despite his appearance that really means something.
2. Ask yourself why you are wondering about your feelings in the first place.
If you don’t trust yourself and your feelings, you need to spend some time hanging out with them.
Start with asking yourself why you are questioning those feelings in the first place and where they might be coming from.
Have you had a bad experience in the past?
Have you told yourself that it will just turn out the way it always has?
Are you selling yourself the wrong story?
Are you questioning yourself because you are worried about what it might look like if it turned out great?
3. You trigger his hero instinct
Is your welfare his top priority? Does he keep you safe when you’re crossing a busy road? Does he put his arm around you when you feel vulnerable?
If yes, protective instincts such as these are all surefire signs that he likes you.
However, you actually have to let him do these things for you. Because allowing him to step up to the plate and protect you is an equally strong sign that you like him just as much in return.
The simple truth is that men have a thirst for your admiration. They want to step up for the woman in their lives and make sure they’re okay at all times. This is deeply rooted in male biology.
There’s actually a psychological term for what I’m talking about here. It’s called the hero instinct. And it’s generating a lot of buzz at the moment as a way to explain why men fall in love and who they fall in love with.
You can read our comprehensive guide to the hero instinct here.
I think the hero instinct provides an excellent insight into how a woman feels about a guy.
If a woman really likes a guy, she’ll bring this deeply rooted instinct to the fore. She’ll put in the effort to make him feel like a hero.
Does he feel that you genuinely want and need to have him around? Or does he feel like a mere accessory, ‘best friend’, or ‘partner in crime’?
Because how you’re treating him now makes a big difference to whether you just like him as a friend or whether you’ll eventually fall in love with him.
If you want to learn more about the hero instinct, check out this free online video. James Bauer, the relationship psychologist who coined the term, gives a terrific introduction to his concept.
Some ideas really are life-changing. And for romantic relationships, I think this is one of them.
4. Write it down.
Taking the time to write down what you are thinking. Make a list of all the reasons you think you like him.
What’s so special about him?
What makes your heart skip a beat?
What do you think about when you think about him?
Write it all down and get it out of your head so you can make sense of it. There’s no need to keep all those feelings bottled up.
5. It should feel natural when you’re around him.
Sure, it’s normal to feel giddy during the first few times you hang out with him. That’s the attraction talking.
But once that wears off, does it feel natural?
Do you feel at home with him? If it ever feels forced, then perhaps you don’t really like him. Does it feel more meaningful outside of that extreme physical attraction you’re feeling?
You should feel a calm connection with the right person.
At the end of the day, it’s about being with someone you can be yourself with.
6. How much do you really know about him?
In thinking about why you like him, think about how much you really know about him.
What do you know of his life? His work? How much do you know about the people he hangs around with?
What are people saying around town about him? Does he have a reputation? Is he a bit of a bad boy?
7. Do you really like him? Or are you just lonely?
These days, many people “settle” into relationships that are not really good for them because they’re scared of being lonely.
Make sure you don’t fall into the same trap.
Do you only think of him when you’re alone? Or does he fill your thoughts even when you’re surrounded by a crowd? If it’s the latter, then you’re definitely smitten.
Also, make sure you aren’t just bored. Sometimes when we feel unexcited, we create emotions that aren’t really there.
Occupy yourself with things you enjoy and surround yourself with friends.
If you still think about him after all of that, then you like him.
(Men love strong women. And strong women aren’t afraid of being alone. To learn more about why men love strong women, and how to become one yourself, check out our latest eBook here).
8. How often you think of him counts.
If you find yourself only thinking of him in passing, then it’s mostly just a crush.
But if he’s on your mind 24/7 and you just can’t stop thinking about him, that’s another thing.
Is he the first thing you think about when you wake up? Do you constantly compare your other dates to him? Is no one else measuring up? Do you find yourself glued to your phone waiting for his reply?
If he’s the person you think about when you’re upset or when you need someone to make you feel better, then you like him alright.
9. It’s real if you can’t imagine your life without him.
In the short amount of time you’ve met him, he has managed to take over your world.
Has he made such a great impact on you that you can’t imagine your life without him? Does he make you so happy? Is your day so much different when he’s around?
On the other hand, if you think you can go by without him, or if you think you’re much better off alone, then he is probably not the one for you.
Think about what difference it will make in your life if he’s suddenly gone.
10. If you’ve felt this way for a while, then you’re a goner.
Give it time.
Time creates the difference between a crush and an infatuation. A crush fizzles out while Infatuation can turn into love.
If you’ve had a crush on him for a long time, then you most likely have real feelings for him.
11. How long have you been unsure?
On the other hand, if you’ve been mulling over your feelings for him for some time, it’s likley that you aren’t really as into him as you thought you might be.
You are at a standstill and you haven’t let yourself make a decision about it.
Maybe a part of you thinks that the longer you take to decide that you don’t have to take any action. It’s just a mind game you are playing with yourself.
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12. Listen to what your friends have to say.
Your friends are more observant than you think.
And they’re also the people who know you the best. They will notice if you’ve been behaving strangely lately. They also know when you are into a guy and when you’re just having a simple crush.
Can they see if you two have amazing chemistry together? Ask them what they think. Take their opinions into consideration but never let them influence your feelings.
At the end of the day, you’re still the best person to decide whether you like this guy or not.
13. Make sure you’re not still thinking about your ex.
You might just be getting over a breakup.
If so, are you still thinking about your ex?
It’s really hard to get over someone you once loved. This alone should make you cautious. Sometimes we think we’ve moved on when haven’t really moved on at all.
If you find yourself thinking about your ex more than you think of him, then it’s best to stay away.
Now if you can’t seem to get over someone you loved, and you want to move on with your life, check out Hack Spirit’s eBook The Art of Breaking: A Practical Guide to Letting Go of Someone You Loved.
By implementing our practical tips and insights, you’ll not just free yourself from the mental chains of a distressing breakup, but you’ll most likely become a stronger, healthier, and happier person than ever before.
14. Do you ask for his help?
Men thrive on solving women’s problems.
So, if you need something fixed, or if your computer is acting up, or if you have a problem in life and you simply need some advice, do you ask him for help? This is actually a telltale sign that you value and care about him.
Because a man wants to feel essential. He wants to be the first person you turn to when you genuinely need help.
Although asking for your man’s help may seem fairly innocuous, it actually helps to trigger something deep within him. Something that is crucial to a loving, long term relationship.
For a man, feeling essential to a woman is often what separates “like” from “love”.
Don’t get me wrong, no doubt your guy loves your strength and abilities to be independent. But he still wants to feel wanted and useful — not dispensable!
Simply put, men have a biological drive to feel needed, to feel important, and to provide for the woman he cares about.
Relationship psychologist James Bauer calls it the hero instinct. I talked briefly about this concept above.
As James argues, male desires are not complicated, just misunderstood. Instincts are powerful drivers of human behavior and this is especially true for how men approach their relationships.
How do you trigger this instinct in him? How do you give him this sense of meaning and purpose?
In an authentic way, you simply have to show your man what you need and allow him to step up to fulfill it.
In his new video, James Bauer outlines several things you can do. He reveals phrases, texts and little requests that you can use right now to make him feel more essential to you.
By triggering this very natural male instinct, you’ll not only give him greater satisfaction but it will also help to rocket your relationship to the next level.
15. You can picture a future with him.
This is a big deal. And it doesn’t always happen.
There are some guys you meet that you know right off isn’t relationship material.
If you can picture yourself having a deeper relationship with this person, then your feelings are very real. Wanting to create future plans with him is a telltale sign that this isn’t a simple case of attraction.
It’s cute that you’re imagining your kids with him (in a non-creepy way).
But you truly know when you have real feelings with someone when you want to move to the next level with them.
16. You’re exerting effort for this person.
You can really tell you’re into someone when you go out of your way for them.
Do you do things for him you don’t normally do for other people? Are you deliberately shifting your schedule to make time for him? And maybe you’ve even told your family about him. Better yet, you’ve already introduced him.
These sort of things give more permanence to your relationship, which is a big deal. If you are exerting more effort towards making him happy, then you probably want him for the long haul.
As they say, actions speak louder than words.
17. You get jealous at the thought of him being with someone else.
If you feel a little jealousy thinking about him with other people, then you do indeed like him. A lot, actually.
When you start feeling territorial about someone, that’s how you know it’s not just a simple infatuation.
In fact, you’ll be more than a little sad if he’ll suddenly tell you he found someone else.
You see him as “yours” even if that might sound illogical. And you just want to be the only special person in his life.
18. You’re interested in getting to know him.
Do you want to know more about him? Are you interested in his past, passions, and goals?
If you feel like you’ve been talking for a while but that find you don’t really know him well, there might be a reason why.
Maybe you are only attracted to his looks.
When you like someone, you want to know even the smallest details about them. You’re also eager to let them know you more, too.
It counts if you really want to let him into your life.
19. You’re really putting yourself out there for him.
You’ve been hurt before.
You know the risks of getting into this again. The possibility of your heart being broken is getting all too real.
In fact, you’ve tried to be indifferent. But that feels wrong to you.
Instead, you are unafraid to make yourself vulnerable to this guy. You suddenly realize that your past doesn’t necessarily define your future and he is worth taking the shot for. You’re ready to bravely take that leap, no matter the outcome.
Falling in love is easy. It’s choosing to love another person that is a different matter entirely.
20. Is there anyone pressuring you to like him?
Are your friends telling you to like him? Are they putting ideas in your head about this guy? Are these even your own thoughts? Is your mom suggesting you like this guy? Is someone putting him in front of you and telling you that you should like him?
We are pretty susceptible to suggestion and when others tend to think something is a good idea, we often adopt that idea as our own.
That’s why it’s important to think about these things from our own perspective and constantly question what it is we want for ourselves.
21. Have you let go of the past?
Are you hanging on to the thought of liking this guy because he reminds you of someone from your past?
Are you just trying to replace someone who you haven’t fully gotten over yet?
When you think about whether or not you like this guy, make sure it is this guy that you like.
You’ll need to take some time to think about whether you are just trying to chase down an old flame.
22. How much interaction have you had with him?
Are you even seeing this guy on a regular basis or are you just swooning over him from afar?
It’s important that you spend some actual time around this guy so that you can tell for sure if you like him.
Don’t make decisions without all of the information you need. Talk to him. See if you like who is he as a person, or if you just like the idea of who he is in your mind.
23. You search for signs
Do you spend time thinking about his body language or hints that he’s dropped that he likes you?
If you really like him, you might find yourself thinking back to all your interactions and conversations, searching for small clues that he’s into you.
Sometimes this can be tiny, like a lingering look or touch, or it could be something he mentions, like the fact that he’s told his best friend about you.
Whilst you’re busy playing over these details in your mind, what you’re really doing is looking for confirmation that your feelings are mutual.
If you don’t really like him, you probably wouldn’t care about these small signs.
24. Do you really like him or are you just comfortable?
There’s a difference here between being comfortable around him and choosing the ‘comfortable option’. The first shows that you can be yourself, be authentic, and feel natural when you’re with him.
The second is about choosing a safe, comfortable option because you don’t want to take risks or you fear being hurt. You settle for someone who doesn’t really excite you or challenge you.
If you want to take the comfortable route, the chances are you just like the idea of him.
Maybe he fits the mold of what type of partner you want on paper, and he doesn’t force you out of your comfort zone.
Humans are creatures of habit, and it’s natural to want to choose someone who fits into your world easily, but ask yourself, is he really what you want, or is he just an easy option?
It’s important to know the difference between these two types of ‘comfortable’, as you’ll be able to work out whether you’re only interested in him for convenience and a feeling of ‘safety’, or if you actually like him for who he is.
25. Are you still on the lookout for other partners?
Do you still have dating apps on your phone? Do you still agree to meet new guys through friends? If so, this could be a sign that you’re not really interested in him.
If you find that you want to keep your options open, it’s a good idea to ask yourself whether you like him enough to spend your energy and time on him, or if you just like the attention he gives you.
Although it’s natural to not want to put all your eggs into one basket at first, if you do really like him, your attention should naturally be focussed on him and not on meeting other guys.
There’s always the possibility that things won’t work out, but until you’re ready to take that risk and be vulnerable with him, you aren’t giving him or the relationship a real chance.
26. You want to make a good impression on his friends
As important as your family and friends’ opinions are, if you’re into him, you’ll be interested in knowing his circle of friends and family too.
Meeting the people he loves, spends time with and whose opinions he values is a big step. It can be a make or break situation in some cases, as people in close friendships and families often listen and act upon the advice given by their loved ones.
You’re aware that their opinion of you can influence him, positively or negatively. Even if his friends aren’t really your cup of tea, you are still keen to be polite and friendly, and you put effort into getting to know them.
All of this is a big indicator that you want to build something significant with this guy. If you were only in it because you like the idea of him or you’re just looking for attention, his friends and family probably won’t be very high on your priority list.
Making a good first impression can be nerve-wracking, and if you’re worried about what his friends and family think of you, it’s probably because you really like him.
27. You’ve had in-depth conversations
First dates and late-night texts are great. They’re fun and exciting, but have you delved deeper to find out who he really is?
Have you spoken about sensitive issues, emotional memories or found out his views on big life decisions like marriage, kids and careers?
Before you decide whether you really like him or just the idea of him, you need to know whether you get along on more levels than just flirting.
The fact that you are interested in knowing the raw, real and vulnerable parts of him is a clear sign that you genuinely like him.
Not only do you get to know him better, but you’re also opening yourself up to sharing your personal thoughts and experiences.
28. You aren’t interested in playing games
People play games for fun, out of insecurity, or just because it’s the only way they know how to date.
Unfortunately, game playing in dating happens a lot. It can be simple like not returning texts until a day or two have passed or leading someone on when you aren’t really that interested in them.
A sure way to know if you really like him is when you don’t want to waste time faffing around, you just want to be with him.
29. You’ve considered making the first move
There’s often a cliche that men should always make the first move. Luckily, humans are constantly evolving, and what was considered ‘acceptable’ 50 years ago might not be the case in today’s world.
Take the example of female-led relationships, something which has increased as women have become more empowered over the years.
A confident woman who takes the lead can be very attractive to some men. Men like to receive compliments just as much as women do, so making the first move is quite a big step in letting him know that you’re interested in him.
If you’ve been feeling the urge to ask a guy out, or take things to the next level with someone you’ve already met, it’s a pretty clear sign that you really like him.
Whether you actually do it or not is a different story, but the fact that you’ve felt that way shows that you want to take things further with him and you have a real interest in him being part of your life.
30. You ignore red flags
Here’s the situation:
You’ve met someone who you think you like, but there are a couple of things about his personality that you’re not very keen on.
Realistically, no one is perfect and no one is going to have all the qualities you want in a partner.
The question is, have you taken the time to think about their imperfections and work out whether you can live with them?
Or have you brushed them under the rug and decided that ignorance is bliss?
If you don’t want to admit that they have some qualities that you don’t like, you may be more interested in the idea of him, rather than actually liking him and accepting him for who he is.
If you like him, what now?
I hope these 30 signs will help you understand whether you really like him or not.
If you do, then you need to make sure that your relationship with him is a passionate and long lasting one.
However, there’s one crucial ingredient to relationship success I think many women overlook:
Understanding what their guy is thinking at a deep level.
Let’s face it: Men see the world differently to you and we want different things from a relationship.
And this can make a passionate and long lasting relationship — something that men actually want deep down as well — really difficult to achieve.
While getting your guy to open up and tell you what he’s thinking can feel like an impossible task… there’s a new way to understand what’s driving him.
Men want this one thing
James Bauer is one of the world’s leading relationship experts.
And in his new video, he reveals a new concept which brilliantly explains what really drives men. He calls it the hero instinct. I talked about this concept above.
Simply put, men want to be your hero. Not necessarily an action hero like Thor, but he does want to step up to the plate for the woman in his life and be appreciated for his efforts.
The hero instinct is probably the best kept secret in relationship psychology. I think it holds the key to a man’s love and devotion for life.
My friend and Hack Spirit writer Pearl Nash was the person who first mentioned the hero instinct to me. Since then I’ve written extensively about the concept on Hack Spirit.
For many women, learning about the hero instinct was their “aha moment”. It was for Pearl Nash. You can read her personal story here about how triggering the hero instinct helped her turn around a lifetime of relationship failure.