While there used to be a lot of clear-cut rules about meeting people, apps like Grindr, Scruff and Tinder have created a whole new wilderness to explore. It’s not always easy to tell what’s going on — is he stringing you along, or just distracted, or shy, or not in the mood, or nervous, or too polite to say no? Or are you just another victim of endless chat? Wouldn’t he just tell you — or block you — if he wasn’t interested?
You and your blue balls deserve some answers. Luckily for you, we’ve identified some warning signs (which we learned the hard way) that he’s actually never going to “get you to cum over when housemates r gone”, so you can move on and find someone who doesn’t just want you for your banter.
Read on for six time-waster red flags in the world of online dating.
1. He stops replying
Hello? Is this thing on?
So far, so not cool. It might only be for a few days at a time, or it might be a permanent ghosting, but if he suddenly stops replying to your messages, he’s definitely wasting your time.
There are a few legitimate reasons why he might have stopped responding. Maybe he doesn’t like Scruff notifications popping up on his phone. Maybe Grindr is, in fact, losing his messages. Maybe he’s been hacked by Russia. But as you may have learned in first-year philosophy, the simplest explanation is usually the correct one: he’s probably ignoring you.
2. He handshakes you
How’s everything at work?
If he replies to your eggplant/peach emoji with “Great weather we’re having!”, prepare for disappointment. This is the online equivalent of answering the door naked and getting a handshake. He’s actually saying two things:
- I did see your eggplant/peach but I am not interested in it right now; and
- I am too nice to turn you down directly, so here is some polite small-talk instead.
By all means engage in some meaningful back-and-forth about the weather/the stock market/the Royal Wedding. But don’t expect it to go anywhere — if he wanted to hook up, he’d already be asking for your address.
3. He’s so, so busy
Got a lot on at the moment man, sorry.
This isn’t actually about being busy — life is complicated, and a lot of the best complications (work, family, pets, exercise, friends) take up a lot of time. Sometimes he will genuinely be too busy to catch up.
But busy people also prioritise, or they get nothing done. If you find that he’s always got plans that don’t involve hooking up with you, or he can never get away from his friends/housemates/colleagues, you already know what he’s prioritising (hint: it’s not you). And really, is anyone too busy to make time for the D?
4. He’s so, so tired
Really tired. Been a huge week.
See previous point. If he says “I’m tired”, he usually means “I can’t be bothered”. If he says it more than a couple of times, you should let him get some rest and move on.
5. He fails to initiate
Oh hey! Long time no chat.
Whether he’s a potential fuckbuddy or a potential husband, he should be lighting up your phone without being prompted, about 50 per cent of the time. If he’s never the one who initiates contact, he’s either not keen and just hoping you’ll stop messaging (in which case you should take the opportunity to bow out with some dignity) or he’s keeping it very, very casual (in which case you can maybe expect an occasional coming-home-drunk-at-4am booty call). Either way, he’s not that interested in catching up with you, or he’d be asking to catch up with you.
6. He’s hypothetical AF
Sure, tomorrow night could work, I’ll see how I go.
Consider the difference: “I’ll be in touch if I’m free on Monday” vs “I’ll be in touch when I’m free on Monday”.
If he’s super keen and then suddenly you start seeing a lot of ‘if/maybe/could/should/potentially’ when it comes to organising anything, he’s building in easy ways to cancel ahead of time. While none of us can see what the future holds, it is in fact possible to make a solid plan a couple of hours (or even days) in advance. He just doesn’t want to.
So where to from here? Should you call him out? Or just take the hint and leave him be? That’s your decision to make, but the end result will usually be the same.
The great news is that there are a whole bunch of guys out there who are a very worthwhile investment of your time! So if you’re not getting anything back after a couple of weeks, it’s time to move on and find someone who wants to get off the phone and actually get off, just as much as you do.