Few things are as challenging to navigate than the transition period just before the start of a romance. When you meet a guy, how do you know if he’s interested in you? And it can be even more difficult when you’ve known a guy for a while, and his feelings about you begin to change.
Being vulnerable and communicating one’s feelings can be very difficult for a lot of guys, and often it can be a long time between when he develops his feelings for you and when he expresses them out loud. But that doesn’t mean you’ll be in the dark. There are several different hints and signs you can look for that will tell you if he’s falling for you.
Even more subtle can be the distinction between him developing genuine feelings for you as opposed to him being fascinated with you, or worse, trying to manipulate you. Luckily, these all come with distinct hints of their own.
Clearly, you’re sensing something, or you wouldn’t be reading this article. But how do you know what exactly to look for? How do you know if his feelings are real? And what should you do in response? Reading on, and we’ll have answers to all these questions and more.
The Different Ways He Could Fall for You
A guy “falling for you” could you mean several different things. It could mean he’s attracted to you physically, or that he’s attracted to some fictional, idealized version of you. It could mean he’s interested in manipulating and controlling you. Or, it could mean he’s genuinely attracted to the person you truly are, in a real, tangible way.
These all might start out looking very similar—but they’ll end very differently. What do all these signs mean, and how can you tell them apart before it’s too late?
When someone has genuine feelings for you—feelings that could lead to a healthy, long-term relationship—they are founded primarily on respect. Not just in terms of respectful behavior, but rather, about respecting the person that you are.
That sounds like a cliché, and it is. But that doesn’t mean it’s meaningless. What does it mean to respect the person that you are? It means taking an interest in your interests. It means empowering you to pursue the things you want in life, even if it isn’t in direct alignment with the things he wants. It means wanting to get to know you on a deep, fundamental level.
Further, genuine relationships aren’t founded on grand, dramatic gestures. Instead, they’re about everything underneath the gestures, and the time in between them. It’s all about consistency: delivering that same type of respect every single day. Grand gestures are great, but without a sturdy, consistent foundation in between, they’re ultimately meaningless (and we’ll have more on this later).
Indeed, the healthiest relationships are all about the day-to-day. It’s not as exciting as the big moments, but the vast majority of your relationship isn’t going to be exciting. When partners can still be there for each other, and be healthy and positive during the more boring, mundane moments, that’s when a relationship is going to be successful. If a guy you think might be falling for you treats you well consistently, that’s an excellent sign
The type of relationships that you typically see in romantic movies are often examples of people who are infatuated with one another. But there’s a reason romantic movies tend to have their positive endings so early on in the relationship. They burn hot—but they also burn fast.
These relationships are founded on three interrelated things: physical attraction, passion, and idealization. Physical attraction is typically the driver of the relationship and causes the initial spark. That’s why they notice you (and it might be why you notice them!), and it’s why they pursue the relationship in the first place.
To clarify, it’s not that he doesn’t care about the person that you are. It’s that he doesn’t honestly know who you are in the first place. He’s interested in an idea of you—one that he invents, based on his ideals. When I say he doesn’t respect you, it’s not that I mean he’s disrespectful. It’s that he’s not interested in the type of respect based on getting to know the real you.
Because of this fact, these relationships tend to burn out when the partners turn out to be different from these fictionalized ideals. Until then, though, these relationships are defined by passion. There’s nothing inherently wrong with this; if you start to notice signs that the guy falling for you is pursuing this type of relationship, it’s up to you to decide if that’s something you’re interested in.
Guys interested in manipulating you may express their interest in mostly the same way initially (with a few key tells that we’ll get into momentarily). But they’ll go sideways quickly. Manipulative relationships are often based on guilt and obligation. Manipulators will seek to control you, and they’ll do so by making you feel like you “owe” them something.
A common type of manipulator is the “nice guy.” Nice guys will often do you favors… but they often make a big show of doing them. And the further into the relationship you get, the more these favors will come with strings attached. They’re not doing these nice things because it’s the right thing to do, they’re doing them as a means of subtly establishing the upper hand and gaining control.
Not all of these types of manipulators are the nefarious, scheming type. Some may genuinely believe they’re a nice guy. But real good guys do things for you because they want to. They do it because seeing you happy genuinely makes them happy. If you want to reciprocate these favors, that’s great. But you don’t ever “owe” a guy a relationship. And if they act like you do, that’s a massive red flag.
What to Look For
So, now you know the different ways he could be falling for you. But how do you know if it’s happening at all? There is a multitude of different signs to look for. Many are very subtle, so you have to pay close attention. Let’s start with some of the basics, so you know if a guy is falling for you generally. Then, we’ll branch into more of the specifics; signs of the specific type of relationship he’s interested in.
Signs He’s Falling For You
No matter the type of interest a person has in you, there are two universal signs that indicate a person is falling for you. Start by looking for these:
His Body Language Changes
One of the most clear-cut signs of romantic attraction is eye contact. If a guy starts making a lot of eye contact, there’s a good chance he’s interested in you. But that’s not the only body language to look for.
Pay attention to whether he’s opening his body up to you or closing it off. Open body language is another sign of attraction. That is just what it sounds like: shoulders back, arms uncrossed, and so on.
Further, take note of if he consistently turns his entire body to face you. Someone who just wants to be friends might only turn their head to look at you when they’re talking to you. But someone who is falling for you is more likely to turn their entire body. A quick trick is to check to see if both his feet are pointing at you.
He Starts Paying More Attention To You
This seems obvious, but it might not be readily apparent if you’re not actively looking for it. There are several different ways a guy could start paying more attention to you. The first thing to look for is if he’s finding excuses to spend more time with you. Going out of his way to walk with you or leaving his stuff behind, so he has a reason to come back and see you again.
Another thing to pay attention to is how he pays attention to you in group settings. Is he paying equal attention to all your friends, or is he paying more attention to you? Is he consistently sitting or standing next to you? If he’s giving you extra attention in group settings, there’s a good chance he might be falling for you.
But as we said earlier, “falling for you” could mean a lot of different things. So once you’ve noticed the above signs, here are some more subtle, specific signs you can look for to gauge the particular type of interest he has.
Signs He’s Interested in Manipulating You
Manipulative people are often very charming, especially early on. And one of the biggest problems with manipulative relationships is that once it becomes clear that your partner is a manipulator, it’s often too late. If they’re any good at what they do, they’ll be able to make you feel guilt, obligation, and fear without you even realizing they’re the ones making you feel that way.
So it’s essential to be on the lookout for these critical signs early on, to avoid a manipulative relationship before it starts.
He’s a Little Too Charming
There’s nothing wrong with charm. Confidence, self-assurance, and always knowing the right thing to say can be some of the most attractive qualities a guy can possess. But this is most true when it’s natural—when the charm comes from him just being himself around you.
On the other hand, when a guy is trying to be charming, this can be a big red flag. That’s indicative of someone who is wearing a mask, concealing who they truly are. And worse, it’s a sign that he’s trying to gain “the upper hand” in his interactions.
So pay close attention. If it feels like a guy is laying on the charm a little too thick, that’s not a sign of a healthy start to a relationship. Instead, it’s a red flag that he’s going to be controlling and manipulative.
He Always Wants to Know Where You Are
It’s nice to know that a guy worries about you. It means he’s thinking about you, and that he cares if you’re okay. But there’s a fine line between concern and control.
If he wants to know where you are at all times, this might be on the wrong side of that line. And it’s even more of a red flag if he gets upset if you choose not to tell him. Part of having a healthy relationship, even in the early stages, is having healthy, independent lives. If he’s not willing to accept that, that’s a clear sign of someone who wants to control you.
He’s Always Playing the Victim
Guilt is one of the primary tools that people use to control and manipulate their partners. If you reach a point where you’re in a relationship with him, he’ll continuously act as if you’ve let him down, and make you feel bad about yourself in order to control you.
He likely won’t act this way towards you until you’re in a relationship. Before you reach this point, pay attention to how he acts around others. Is he always acting as if the world has wronged him? Does he refuse to take responsibility for his actions and instead shifting the blame onto other people?
That is an indication that he’s well-versed in playing the victim card, and will almost certainly do the same to you if you do pursue a relationship.
He Downplays Your Feelings
Another thing manipulative people will do is say hurtful things, and if you react negatively, they’ll say they were joking, or downplay the comment, shifting blame onto you for responding the way that you did. We’ve all heard it: “it’s just a joke, why do you have to make such a big deal out of it?”
That serves several purposes. It allows them to push boundaries and determine what they can and cannot get away with saying before you react. It also allows them to delegitimize your feelings, and paint you as the unreasonable one. If they’re particularly manipulative, they may even be able to get their partner to apologize, and want to do something to “make up for” their reaction.
This is exceedingly manipulative behavior. The entire point of this tactic is to make it seem like what they’re doing isn’t a big deal, but it’s even more significant than many of us may realize. So be very wary if you notice a guy making hurtful “jokes” and then downplaying your reaction.
Signs He’s Infatuated with You
Relationships based on infatuation aren’t necessarily as overtly negative as those based on manipulation, but they can often be rather unhealthy themselves. Here are some signs to look out for to determine if he’s infatuated with you.
He Constantly Compliments Your Physical Appearance
Infatuation is a highly physical, often highly romanticized phenomenon. You may notice him showering you with compliments—but they’re always about the way you look.
There’s nothing necessarily wrong with that; it’s great to hear when someone finds you attractive. But if a guy seems overly focused on your appearance, that’s a sign that either he’s shallow, or he’s infatuated with you.
It Happens Very Suddenly
These types of relationships often move very fast. Before you even realize it, you may be spending all your time together, even at the expense of other relationships with friends and family. If a guy is infatuated with you, you’re the only person he’ll want to spend time with.
It can be fun when relationships happen out of the blue, and you’ll probably enjoy spending all this time together, especially early on. But healthy relationships happen gradually and organically. And the best relationships are strengthened, not weakened, by independence and time spent apart.
He Doesn’t Seem to Really Know You
This is the most significant sign. The relationship seems excellent: you’re highly attracted to one another, and suddenly you’re hanging out together a lot, but one thing feels off. Even though you’re enjoying all this time together, it doesn’t feel like you know each other on a real, personal level.
When someone is infatuated with you, they’re not truly falling for you. Instead, they’re falling for the idea of you. They’re attracted to you, and so they project all the traits they want in a partner on to you.
That isn’t fair to someone who wants a real relationship, and it’s not sustainable either. Eventually, they’ll notice that you’re not living up to this idealized standard they set for you. You’re a real, flesh-and-blood human being with your own personality and your own flaws. And you deserve someone who falls for the real you.
Signs He Has Genuine Feelings for You
So, we’ve broken down what it looks like when a guy wants to manipulate you or is infatuated with you. Now it’s time to take a look at the real thing. Here are the key signs that a guy is developing genuine feelings for the real you.
There’s a difference between being present while someone talks, and listening. Listening is an active activity; it means someone is genuinely paying attention, and not just waiting for their “turn to talk.”
One of the best feelings is when you think you’re just babbling on about something, and you assume he’s probably zoned out. Then, some time later, he’ll reference something you said during that conversation. That shows that he cares about everything you have to say—which means he cares about you.
When someone listens, that means they want to get to know you—the real you. And that’s what the healthiest relationships are founded on.
He Takes an Interest In Your Interests
It’s never healthy to actively try to change someone—to actively push them into liking all the same things you like. But if a guy is falling for you, one way he may show it is by choosing, of his own accord, to take an interest in your interests.
And even if he doesn’t like all the things you like right away, he’ll still want to hear about him, because he wants to get to know you.
He Puts You First—With No Strings Attached
Another sign is when a guy goes out of his way to do nice things for you and does you a lot of favors.
But wait! Didn’t I just name that as a potential warning sign of someone who wants to manipulate you? The difference is that someone truly interested in you does nice things with no strings attached. They don’t do these things because they’re expecting something in return. They put you first because it genuinely makes them happy to see you happy.
The Final Word
When you think a guy might be falling for you, it can be an almost overwhelming feeling. You’re worried you might be reading into signs that don’t actually mean anything, or conversely, missing signs that are right under your nose.
While no two people express their feelings in the same way, there are a few key things you can look for. If they change their body language in a way that’s more open to you and more focused on you, that’s a clear sign of interest. Body language isn’t something people even think about—they do it automatically. And if a guy is suddenly paying more attention to you, don’t overthink it. That probably means he likes you.
But even if you’ve determined that a guy is falling for you, what does that mean? What’s the nature of his interest, and how do you know if the feelings are real? There’s a wide-ranging collage of potential answers to this question, but ultimately it boils down to one thing: authentic respect.
It’s great if a guy finds you physically attractive. That’s an integral part of any romantic relationship. But true attraction exists on a much deeper level. If a guy consistently shows interest in who you are as a fully-formed human being, and all your quirks and flaws, that’s when you know his interest is genuine.