10 subtle things people do when they don’t really want to be in a relationship

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They say love is blind.

Perhaps they are correct. Because all too often we don’t see the signs in front of us.

We try to force romance with people who aren’t right for us or who aren’t invested in us in the way they should be.

But it’s time to see the light!

Here are some subtle things people do when they don’t really want to be in a relationship.

1) Become unresponsive

Unresponsiveness towards a relationship can show up in all sorts of ways.

From failing to call you back (we’ll talk more about poor communication later) to putting very little effort into the practicalities of your romance.

Here are a few signs someone has checked out around you:

  • Lack of enthusiasm about spending time together
  • Wanting to confirm plans at a later date
  • Being selfish about their decisions and not considering you
  • Leaving all the plans to you
  • Only seeing you when it suits them
  • No longer putting in the effort they once did

You may also notice that excuses become a frequent occurrence when trying to justify their unresponsiveness.

2) Make excuses

“I’ve decided not to come tonight, I’m going to stay home and meditate”.

This is a genuine excuse that was once given to me.

Imagine me trying to offer up that reason to my friends who had been expecting to meet the guy I’d been dating.

Although it was just a pizza party and no big deal, I was obviously pretty disappointed that he had canceled last minute.

Even more so that he had canceled to sit home alone in silence.

Don’t get me wrong, I value mediation. But it seemed like a poor excuse to let me down — and that’s because it was!

Rubbish excuses from someone signal something really significant to you.

You are not a priority to them.

Whether it’s excuses for their behavior or words, if they have to make them it says that something they’re doing isn’t up to scratch.

3) Undersell themselves

If someone starts to give you a bad reference of themselves, run for the hills.

Because it’s either true, or they’re trying to intentionally put you off them. Neither of which suggests they are in a place to have a relationship with you.

Unfortunately, we can find it strangely charming when someone tries to warn us off. But we’re not reading between the lines.

“You don’t want to be with me, I’m a total mess.”

I don’t really know what I want in life.”

“I’m not relationship material.”

Whilst we may interpret this as someone underselling themselves and putting themselves down, that’s not always the case.

But what they are saying is that they don’t really want to be in a relationship, and certainly not with you.

4) Stop texting as much

It’s not just how much they text you, it’s about their overall communication in general with you.

I’m not someone who likes to be glued to her phone. Neither do I feel the need to make chit-chat non-stop when you start dating someone.

But there’s also no denying that how much we contact someone is a direct reflection of how interested we are and how much of our energy we want to invest in them.

That’s why if someone doesn’t reach out anymore, they’re signaling to you that they don’t want to take things further.

Maybe they drop you a line once every few days or even every couple of weeks. And not even to make plans, just to say “hey”.

This screams that they’re keeping things casual.

The message they are trying to send is that they may like you, but not enough.

Although they may not have disappeared off the scene entirely, we shouldn’t expect a relationship from these types.

5) Become much busier with other things and people

Here’s the bottom line:

We make time for the things that matter.

If you are one of those things, they will make the time for you.

That’s not to say we can (or should) spend 24 hours a day glued to each other’s side.

Neither is it to suggest that other things such as work, interests, friends, and family can’t take precedence. It’s always healthy to have a life of your own.

But if someone ever tells you they are “too busy” to see you or to have a relationship, it’s another way of saying they don’t want that.

Because if it was something they valued, they would place it above other things.

If they are choosing to spend most of their time on other people and things, they’re showing you how high in the pecking order you really come.

6) Discuss the future with no signs of you in it

I once had a boyfriend who would often talk about all his goals and plans in life.

Yet quite pointedly, none of them included me.

It highlighted the reality that I was just a stopgap in his mind. Our relationship was nice for now, but not for keeps.

That’s okay if you also feel the same. But if you don’t, you’re investing your time and energy into someone who doesn’t really want to be in the relationship with you.

Even if it’s early days, they may still talk about a future that clearly doesn’t have room for you.

For example, solo adventuring around the world or moving far away to jump-start their career.

If their life plans don’t have space for a relationship, chances are they just don’t want one right now. 

7) Project their feelings onto you

“I didn’t think you were that interested”, he said.

I had challenged a guy I was dating about why he failed to get in contact to confirm our date, like he had told me he would.

But his reasoning made absolutely zero sense. Nothing in my words or behavior had suggested I wasn’t interested.

Despite implying that it was me who wasn’t that bothered, the truth is that it was him.

Projection happens quite a lot in our relationships with others.

It’s when someone can’t honestly express how they really feel, so they try to twist things around and put it on to you.

That way, it lets them off the hook.

They may start to openly question the way you feel about them and try to shift blame back onto you.

Yet sometimes, testing your affection is actually just a projection of their own doubt and not yours.

8) Pick fights

In the early stages of any romance, we’re usually on our best foot-forward behavior.

It’s natural. We want to impress the other person, so we put ours.

When we want it to work out we’re often extra weary of rocking the boat.

But if someone isn’t that bothered about turning your fling into a long-term thing, they’re far less likely to walk on eggshells around you.

They may even seem pretty irritable at times and show very little patience. Perhaps it feels like when they’re in a bad mood, they’re spoiling for a fight.

Compromise and consideration are essential to any healthy relationship. But when you don’t want to be in one, you may feel like it’s okay to act like an asshole.

After all, what have you got to lose?

9) Always keep things light and never open up on deeper topics

People who aren’t looking for a relationship much prefer to keep things light.

That’s why on dating apps I would always avoid the guys who say things like:

“Good vibes only” or “No drama please, just want to have a good time”.

Reading between the lines, I suspect that non-stop fun is actually code for nothing serious.

And relationships are serious.

That’s not to say they’re not fun too. But they have depth. And depth is always going to be a mixture of heavy and light.

If someone only wants to chat about superficial things with you, they’re not really getting to know you.

If they avoid the important topics, they’re not letting you get to know them either.

Relationships require vulnerability, which involves opening up. We have to be prepared to spill the beans on our thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and values.

If the other person isn’t doing this, then they’re effectively keeping you at arm’s length.

10) Run hot and cold

Consistency is a biggie when it comes to creating relationships.

Without it, it’s impossible to feel safe and secure in your connection.

That’s why one of the greatest signs that someone isn’t truly “in” is the fickleness of their feelings.

One day they do seem like they are putting in the work, but the next they don’t.

We don’t always spot hot and cold behavior straight away. Wishful thinking can keep us blinded to it.

Final thoughts

But the best test is asking yourself:

Does their behavior leave me doubting how they feel about me?

Because when someone really likes you and wants to be in a relationship with you, the truth is you don’t have to wonder about it.

You already know how they feel because it’s clear. They put in just as much effort as you do.

If it feels one-sided or that you are doing the bulk of the work, then they don’t want to be in a relationship.

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Tina Fey

I'm Tina Fey, the founder of the blog Love Connection. I've extremely passionate about sharing relationship advice. I've studied psychology and have my Masters in marital, family, and relationship counseling. I hope with all my heart to help you improve your relationships, and I hope that even if one thing I write helps you, it means more to me than just about anything else in the world. Check out my blog Love Connection, and if you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Twitter

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