25 subtle signs he is jealous but is hiding it

We sometimes include products we think are useful for our readers. If you buy through links on this page, we may earn a small commission. Read our affiliate disclosure.

He’s trying hard to play it cool, but those telltale signs he is jealous are giving him away.

The little green-eyed monster often gets a bad rap, but experts say that actually a bit of mild jealousy can be healthy because it shows we care.

Maybe you suspect your boyfriend is feeling jealous or you’re wondering if a potential love interest is jealous because he secretly has a crush on you.

Here are the signs to watch out for that he is jealous, but he’s trying to hide it.

1) He’s pleased when things don’t work out with other guys

If you’re wondering whether your friend has a crush on you, him seeming pretty pleased when your love life’s in shambles is a strong sign he does.

Of course, he’s unlikely to be dumb enough to grin like a Cheshire cat when you tell him about your troubles. But if his sympathy seems a little over the top or forced, then chances are he could be secretly happy about it.

He may offer you a shoulder to cry on or become far more attentive than usual. Sure, he could just be trying to be a good friend — but then again, he may also have ulterior motives.

Because he wants you for himself, he’ll be jealous of other men who are on the scene and so will be fairly pleased when one disappears.

2) He jumps to conclusions

Does your guy put two and two together and come up with five?

When we’re jealous we tend to act a little paranoid. Seemingly innocent interactions may feel suspicious to him.

He’s reading into everything you say and do and drawing his own wildly wrong conclusions from it.

Because in his mind everything is a perceived “threat” to him, that may mean he also overreacts about very unimportant or trivial things.

3) He’s annoyed if you don’t message back straight away

Getting moody if you don’t message him back straight away is one of those clear signs a guy is jealous through texting.

A lot of our daily lives play out over message these days — whether that’s text, social media, or email. So his messaging habits give plenty of clues as to how a guy is feeling towards you.

If he’s chilled out and relaxed, he will understand that you can’t always reply instantly. If he’s feeling insecure, he may be more clingy.

That means if you don’t reply within a timeframe that he finds acceptable, he could be angry or annoyed with you.

If he’s jealous, you might also notice he sends you countless messages throughout the day asking what you’re up to and checking up on you.

4) He acts like he doesn’t believe you

When we feel trusting towards someone, we usually accept what they tell us and take it at face value.

He may not explicitly say that he thinks you’re lying, but he could subtly imply it by the way he behaves.

When he asks if any guys hit on you on your girls night out, rather than dropping it as soon as you tell him no, he may ask follow-up questions that seem to suggest you’re holding something back.

Whether he does it in a playful way or not, he’s questioning what you tell him rather than accepting it.

It can feel very frustrating for you, as though you constantly have to justify yourself. His jealousy may feel as though he is questioning your integrity or truthfulness.

5) He asks lots of questions

There’s taking an interest in someone and their life, and then there’s taking a bit too much of an interest.

Incessant questions that dig around into your personal life are a sign of jealousy. He may ask so many questions that you feel more like you’re being interviewed rather than having a conversation.

He may start fishing for information by asking about other men in your life, or nights out you’ve had recently.

If you’re not together, he could ask way too many “causal” questions about your love life. If you are in a relationship, suddenly he wants to know the tiniest details about your day.

His behavior suggests that he is playing detective and trying to work out if there are other guys on the scene.

6) He checks up on you

Whether you’re out with a friend having lunch, on a night out without him, or even at work knee-deep in spreadsheets — he’s always checking in when you’re not together.

Having an attentive partner can be cute, to a point. But excessively checking in on you actually becomes checking up on you.

Rather than a sign of affection, it becomes a sign of mistrust. He wants to know exactly what you are up to when he isn’t there.

His mind may be playing out worst-case scenarios which make him feel the need to check up on you.

If he always wants to know where you are and who you are with, it’s a subtle form of control that suggests he is feeling jealous.

7) He’s a bit needy

When we feel vulnerable, we all react in different ways. Whilst some of us get angry others will fall on the other side of the spectrum and act clingy.

Neediness and clinginess are signs of insecurity.

According to couples therapist Julie Nowland, neediness is a range of behaviors that centers around the belief: “I am unable to see my worth, and I need you to make me feel better about myself and my world.”

The fear of losing you causes him to be over the top in trying to keep you close.

He may make excuses to see you and to stop by or perhaps he starts blowing up your phone all day long. Perhaps he wants to hang out all the time and doesn’t give you your space.

These are signs he might be jealous and wants to have you near.

8) He asks your friends about you

If he’s trying to play it cool and doesn’t want to ask you direct questions that might give away his jealousy, he may resort to asking other people instead.

Perhaps he casually asks your friend what is happening between you and a certain guy, or some other question to find out more about you.

It’s a way of checking up on you without alerting your suspicions. If you’re not in a couple and you’re wondering if he is into you, then asking other people about you is one of those signs a guy is jealous and likes you.

Even if he asks in a relaxed and easy-going way, making any kind of inquiries about your love life, or what you’ve been getting up to when he isn’t around, is a clear sign of his interest in you.

9) He pretends he doesn’t care

To save face, if a guy is jealous but too proud to want to show it, he may try to over-correct what he is feeling and act aloof.

But pretending not to be bothered, especially when it’s not particularly convincing, is a clear sign of the opposite.

He may say he doesn’t care or try to shrug it off, but his discomfort and irritation shines through in his body language.

When we’re truly relaxed we act our normal selves. If he is only pretending that everything is fine when really he’s jealous his words and his behavior may not match up.

For example, he closes off his body language or acts uncomfortable and shifty.

10) He’s passive-aggressive

Passive-aggressive behavior is defined by the NYU Medical Center as someone who “may appear to comply or act appropriately, but actually behaves negatively and passively resists.”

That’s why being passive-aggressive can be one of those subtle ways that jealousy is expressed.

If a guy is being passive-aggressive towards you he may:

  • Be unreasonable about things
  • Feel uncomfortable to be around
  • Avoid expressing his hostility directly
  • Repeat this type of behavior on many occasions

Often when a guy is passively-aggressively reacting to jealousy he will want to disguise it somehow. So he may make snide remarks or cutting “jokes”.

It can show up through things like negative gossip, sarcasm, or trying to find other reasons to justify being annoyed at you so he can project his anger.

In this way, even if he is pretending he’s not bothered, he’s still trying to find other ways to punish you, or to sulk.

11) He checks your social media or phone

We’ve all been guilty of a little bit of social media stalking at some time or another.

These platforms can be a breeding ground for paranoia. According to PsychAlive:

“A number of psychologists recently reported that, over the past 10 years, there has been an unprecedented rise in trust issues among couples who seek counseling.  According to Joe Bavonese, of the Relationship Institute in Royal Oak, Michigan, part of this increase is due to recent technological advances that make it easier for partners to be deceptive, for example, to hide text messages, cell phone call lists, Facebook friends’ messages and emails.”

We recognize that technology can be a place for hiding things. We may also spot things online that make us jealous or give us cause for some concern.

If he’s watching you like a hawk on social media or even worse, wants to check your phone then it’s a definite sign of his jealousy and mistrust.

12) He doesn’t like you speaking to other guys

Statistically speaking as half the world’s population are male, you’re going to encounter plenty of men everywhere you go.

If he gives off signs that he doesn’t like it, then the reason is most likely his jealousy.

Perhaps if you are out together he keeps an eye on you whenever you are in the company of other men. Maybe he’s uneasy about you having guy friends. He could be asking a lot of questions about a new male co-worker. You might even notice that he turns icy as soon as you even mention another guy.

If he seems annoyed when men approach you, or gets uncomfortable with you being alone with other dudes, jealousy will most likely be the root cause.

What does it mean when a guy gets jealous when you talk to another guy? It ultimately means he feels threatened.

He is worried about losing you to someone else and so feels safer when other men are kept at bay.

13) He’s moody or angry with you for no apparent reason

Unexplained mood changes can be a classic sign of jealousy. If he struggles to keep his emotions in check, he might not like it if he feels like you are paying other men any attention.

It could be something in particular that triggers a shift in his mood, or he might just be generally snapper at you as his hostility pours out of him in uncontrolled ways.

You might notice that his bad moods seem to start when you do something he doesn’t like.

You might arrange a night out without him which triggers him to give you the silent treatment for the rest of the evening. Or perhaps you mention that you had lunch with a male co-worker and he starts snapping at you or making digs.

14) He’s cold or even rude to your guy friends

In this day and age, friendship groups tend to be mixed. That means the chances are you have both guy and girl friends.

The way he handles you being in the company of other men is always the biggest indicator of whether he’s the jealous type.

If he doesn’t like you having male friends, it shows his insecurities (and potentially his immaturity too).

If he is off-hand or cold to your male friends then he sees them as competition and is potentially trying to stake his claim and warn them off.

It’s not always a romantic threat that other men pose. In his eyes, he simply may not like other men getting your time and energy as he wants it all for himself.

Either way, rude behavior can be embarrassing to be around at best, and downright threatening at its worst.

15) He puts pressure on you

Manipulative behavior isn’t always overt, it can be very subtle.

Trying to control someone doesn’t always mean you will explicitly tell them what you think they should or should not do. You might find he tries to sway you or emotionally manipulate you with guilt trips.

Putting pressure on you could show up as trying to make you feel bad for choosing to see someone else over him.

He may also give you little ultimatums like, “fine, go out tonight but don’t expect me to be waiting for you when you get home”.

In this instance, his jealousy causes him to try and subtly control the situation and you. Even if he protests that’s not what’s going on and he just “wants to spend more time with you”.

16) He suddenly can’t do enough for you

Sometimes a bit of jealousy in a guy can be advantageous to us.

If your boyfriend has been a bit lazy and unattentive or your crush hasn’t pulled his finger out and made a move yet, then the threat of someone else on the scene can be a good antidote.

If all of a sudden he is on his best behavior and becomes a regular prince charming, other competition on the scene may be the explanation.

When a guy feels like another man is sniffing around his turf, and he’s worried about losing you, you might notice that he steps things up in a bid to get your attention.

Similarly, your boyfriend might all of a sudden become very much into public displays of affection, even though he’s always hated PDA. In reality, he is jealous and wants to send a message to the world that you are his.

17) He gives you the cold shoulder but won’t say why

Jealousy often brings up a lot of anger and frustration. The problem is that it can be difficult to find an outlet for these emotions, as they don’t feel justifiable.

If he’s jealous but hiding it, it’s not like he can get mad at you without an excuse, or get cross at another guy for simply talking to you.

So you might notice that instead, he seems to go AWOL, or you don’t hear from him without explanation.

An ex boyfriend of mine once spent the night away from home, without even telling me, because he thought I’d be flirting with a mutual friend of ours. I hadn’t been flirting in the slightest, I was simply talking to him.

Rather than say anything to me, he pretended everything was absolutely fine, said he was going home but then disappeared.

If you don’t hear from him, he acts distant but says everything is ok or he gives you the cold shoulder for no reason — he could be punishing you because he feels jealous.

18) He gets matcho when other men are around

Particularly if the guy in question doesn’t normally go in for alpha male behavior, him starting to puff his chest out in the presence of other guys is a way of marking his turf.

To a certain extent, there’s scientific evidence to suggest that getting territorial may be a primal instinct that exists more in men than women.

But toxic masculinity can mean that some men adhere to stereotypical images of manliness like warning off other guys.

19) He shows off

Animals have all kinds of mating rituals, from the cute to the cannibalistic.

Yet in the animal kingdom, it’s largely the males of the species that have to do the work of impressing the females.

Whether it is their bright colors, an elaborate dance, or an impressive mane of hair — Mother Nature has largely dictated that the males are the ones who put on a display.

Guys showing off and trying to impress you are often the human equivalent of these types of mating rituals.

If you notice him showing off more when other men are around, then it’s likely that he’s feeling jealous and so feels the need for one-upmanship.

20) He tries to make you jealous

If he’s feeling jealous he may want to get revenge by trying to make you jealous too.

This form of projection is common. His thinking is that he will give you a taste of your own medicine.

You’ll probably know whether his flirting with someone else is genuine or just for your benefit.

If he’s doing it right in front of you or name-dropping all the time, there’s a far greater chance that he is only doing it to try and get a reaction out of you.

21) He guards you

Perhaps he watches you like a hawk all night long out of the corner of his eye. If you mingle and wander off to talk to someone else, it’s not long before he’s directly by your side again.

You might even notice that wherever you go, whether it’s to the bar or the bathroom — he’s straight away asking other people where you went.

Physical proximity is one of the ways we can show our protectiveness over someone. So if it feels like you have your own personal bodyguard, it’s because he’s keeping an eye on you.

22) He tries to knock your confidence

Sadly, when some people feel insecure they try to undermine others to make themselves feel better.

If he is jealous and wants you all to himself, then this can come out in subtly toxic ways.

For example, he may react by criticizing what you wear — saying a dress is “slutty”, or suggesting it’s somehow inappropriate.

He may make digs that try to undermine your self-esteem and self-worth. As twisted as this is, the unhealthy logic for men who behave like this is to strip your confidence to make you feel like no one else would want you.

Of course, jealousy isn’t just romantic in nature either.

A man might put you down, and question and critique your appearance, intellect, behavior, etc. because he is jealous of other things in your life.

For example, it could also be a sign he is jealous of your success.

23) He engages in self-sabotaging behavior

Self-sabotaging can look like a wide spectrum of things, but pretty much involves pushing you away — even if it’s inadvertent.

He might be drinking too much, going out with friends every night, ignoring your messages, or just distancing himself from you.

He may not necessarily realize he is doing it either. If he’s jealous but trying to hide it he wants to protect himself.

24) He acts different

At the end of the day, everyone is unique and has their own personality and way of handling things.

That’s why him behaving in any way that seems out of character for him can be a sign of jealousy.

If he’s normally really chatty, but he suddenly goes quiet on you or he is normally fairly laid back but is being increasingly moody.

Although his unusual behaviour could be down to any number of things, if you recognize other subtle signs of jealousy from the list then envy may well be the underlying cause of his change in behavior.

25) He doesn’t like you to have a life of your own

Does he subtly discourage you from doing things or going places without him? Maybe he’s a bit like your shadow and you just can’t seem to shake him.

One of the most dangerous things about jealousy is knowing where to draw the line.

As I said in the introduction, a small amount of jealousy can be perfectly normal. But it can also spiral out of control if left unchecked and quickly become unhealthy.

Control is an incredibly toxic and dangerous trait to display within any relationship.

Regardless of whether this guy is your partner, your ex, or just a friend, having your own life away from him is totally normal and natural.

If he seems uncomfortable with that and doesn’t like you having fun unless it’s with him then that is jealousy. What’s worse is that it is jealousy which borders on possessiveness,

To conclude: what does it mean when a guy gets jealous?

When a guy gets jealous, in most cases it is because they have feelings for you.

When we’re not interested in someone else romantically, we’re not particularly bothered about what they’re getting up to. But when we have a vested interest, suddenly we can feel very threatened that someone else may get what we want.

Jealousy can manifest in many ways, from anger to sadness or even indifference (if they are trying too hard to play it cool).

Whilst a little bit of jealousy isn’t a big deal, and can even feel flattering, jealousy can also be a red flag.

Too much jealousy in any relationship can signal insecurity and mistrust and might show up in destructive or unhealthy ways.

That’s why it’s important to set clear boundaries around what is unacceptable behavior in a relationship.

Pearl Nash

Pearl Nash has years of experience writing relationship articles for single females looking for love. After being single for years with no hope of meeting Mr. Right, she finally managed to get married to the love of her life. Now that she’s settled down and happier than she’s ever been in her life, she's passionate about sharing all the wisdom she's learned over the journey. Pearl is also an accredited astrologer and publishes Hack Spirit's daily horoscope.

12 ways to deal with someone who doesn’t respect you

38 things to do with your boyfriend to test whether he is the one