Am I leading him on? 9 signs you’re leading him on without realizing 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.

You never want to lead anyone on.

Playing with someone’s feelings is the last thing you want to do, especially when you care about that person as a friend.

But there are times when you might be accidentally leading someone on without even intending to do it, and you might not realize it before it’s too late.

After all, how can you expect to read someone’s mind and how they interpret the way you treat them?

If you’re worried that you may be leading a guy on, here are 9 clear signs that you’re doing it without even realizing it:

1) You Always Reply Back (Because You Don’t Want To Be Rude)

When a man likes a woman, the only thing he’s looking out for is your attention.

Rather than straight-up asking you, “Do you like me, my presence, or interacting with me?”, he’ll just judge your interest in him based on how much attention you give back.

Because the truth is that men rarely get genuine attention from women who aren’t interested in them.

So when a woman starts reciprocating any kind of interaction, their flags start to go off.

And what’s the easiest way you can show him attention and thus lead him on? Always replying back to his messages.

If you always answer his messages no matter what they’re about or what time they’re sent, he’ll think that you’re just as engaged in the conversation as he is.

On your end, you might just think you’re simply being polite and friendly, but on the other end, your potential romantic relationship has already begun.

2) You Have Jokes With Him

There are few indicators showing that two people spend a lot of time together more apparent than inside jokes.

When you start to have inside jokes with a guy, you definitely have to stop yourself and really realize that you might be leading him on.

There’s an unspoken intimacy about inside jokes that people don’t often acknowledge.

In a way it’s like a secret language or code; it’s something only you two understand, a trigger that makes both of you laugh while the rest of the room stands around confused.

Having inside jokes with a man makes him feel special; not just special in general, but special to you.

After all, you don’t have inside jokes with all your other friends, right? So there must be something more than just friendship if you have an inside joke with him.

3) You Would Rather Lie Than Say No

You like the guy as a friend, but you know that when you start saying yes every time he asks you to “hang out” (a date in everything but the label), that might be crossing a line you can’t uncross.

But you also find it difficult to say no to him.

You don’t want to hurt his feelings, or potentially disrupt this bond you two have.

In a way, you love having him around and you love that he’s so attentive to you, but you don’t want to go past the point of no return and go on a clear and obvious date night with him.

So instead of saying no and breaking his heart, you’d rather lie to him again and again, every time he asks.

You can’t go out tonight because your cat is sick and you need to take care of it.

You can’t go out next week because you have a huge project at work.

You can’t meet his parents because you’re on a strict diet and you don’t want to mess up.

You lie and lie and lie, but you can’t get yourself to say no.

4) Your Friends Have Asked You About Him

Even if you won’t acknowledge the reality that you’re probably leading him on, your friends can’t help but notice it and wonder.

They see this guy who seems to be your boyfriend in several ways – the way you touch each other casually, the way you speak with each other, the way you look at each other – and they have to wonder: what the heck is going on here?

So they ask you about him. “Are you guys dating?” “Is something going on between you two?” “When are you two just going to get a room and get it over with?”

But even though you like having him around, you don’t like the idea of telling your friends that you’re seriously interested in a real relationship with him.

If your relationship with the guy is at the point where your friends can clearly see how enamored he is with you, then you are absolutely leading him on.

5) You Feel Jealous When He Gives Someone Else Attention

As we’ve said several times already, you like having the guy around, but you don’t like the idea of being together with him.

He’s like a close guy friend you can’t live without, and you’re happy that he doesn’t have the courage to try to push for anything more with you (at least not right now).

But at the same time, you can’t stand it when his attention to you starts to wane and he starts talking or hanging out with another woman.

You don’t understand exactly why you feel jealous; you know in your heart that you don’t own him and he has no obligation to stay chaste.

And yet, it bothers you the way it would bother you if you saw your boyfriend flirting with another girl.

Why exactly do you feel this way? Maybe in all your “leading on”, you ended up leading yourself onto him as well.

6) You Treat Him the Same Way You Treat a Girlfriend

Think about the way you normally treat your guy friends and your girlfriends.

You might know to keep a light platonic wall between guy friends and yourself; you catch yourself when you start being too playful or loose around them because you don’t want them to get the wrong idea.

But with this guy, you don’t keep that same light barrier up.

Instead of treating him like your other guy friends, you treat him like your girlfriends.

You don’t watch what you say when you’re with him, you don’t think twice before touching him playfully, and you never even really see him as a “guy” you have to be careful not to lead on.

You just like being with him, and it shows in the way you interact together.

7) You Compliment Him Quite Often

Men don’t often receive compliments from other people.

Guys don’t have the same culture of friendship that women do; they don’t openly pump each other up, talking about how sexy or good-looking they are.

So when a guy receives a rare compliment, particularly from a woman, it’s not just something he’s going to forget about the next day; it sticks with him.

So if you compliment a guy friend quite often, you might be leading him on without realizing it.

Every time you say he looks good, you like his shirt, he lost some weight, you love his cologne – all of these are giant boosts to his ego, and he’ll interpret it as your way of telling him that you’re interested in him.

8) He Knows You A Lot More Than Other Friends Do

It’s not always easy to assess yourself and your situations objectively.

You’re in the middle of it, and trying to look at your own situations with unbiased eyes can be impossible at times.

But one way you can clearly identify whether or not you’re leading a guy on is by asking yourself the question:

Does he know me more than most of my other friends do?

Why exactly is this question important?

Because it shows just how much you’ve opened up to him compared to how much you usually open up to people.

It shows you how much you’ve trusted him and how comfortable you’ve become with him.

Trust and comfort in another person are generally reciprocated; the more he sees that you trust him and you’re close with him, the more he’ll feel the same way about you.

This is one of the most common ways we lead people on without realizing it because we all have our own understandings of intimate connections.

If his ceiling for intimacy is lower than yours, then he might think you two are just a step or two away from being in a relationship, while you’re just thinking about him as a friend.

9) You Stopped Dating Other Guys

You’re not together with him, and you’re not stopping him from dating women (even though it annoys you to think about it).

So why exactly haven’t you dated anyone else in a while?

Or if you have, maybe those dates were just superficial meet-ups that didn’t go anywhere, because you couldn’t find the “connection” that you’re looking for.

When you lead someone on without realizing it, you also inevitably end up leading yourself onto them.

And one way you can see this is whether you’ve stopped putting yourself out there; whether you’ve stopped trying to find a potential boyfriend.

In the back of your mind, you’re already being fulfilled emotionally and mentally, all by this one guy you don’t really want to be with.

You’ve led him on to the point that he fills you with the same satisfaction that a boyfriend would, which is why you don’t feel the strong urge to date someone new.

Did you like my article? Like me on Facebook to see more articles like this in your feed.

Lachlan Brown

I’m Lachlan Brown, the founder, and editor of Hack Spirit. I love writing practical articles that help others live a mindful and better life. I have a graduate degree in Psychology and I’ve spent the last 15 years reading and studying all I can about human psychology and practical ways to hack our mindsets. Check out my latest book on the Hidden Secrets of Buddhism and How it Saved My Life. If you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Facebook or Twitter.

How to get someone to talk to you again: 14 practical tips

How to be an alpha male when deep down you’re a nice guy: a 13-step guide