Tuesday October 6th 2015

5 Common Signs A Man Or Woman Is Playing You

Love-Doctor-53Question: Everything was amazing for four months. We talked about future plans and what we want from the relationship. But then two weeks ago, he kind of started to pull away. I asked him why he all of a sudden seemed distant and he said he felt things were moving too fast. I’m totally confused. I don’t know if he’s playing me or if he’s taking his time and just doesn’t want to rush anything. I just want to be sure he still wants to be with me and i’m not just wasting my time on a relationship that is going nowhere.

The Love Doctor’s Answer: Just as each person is different, each relationship is different and the time frames that apply in one relationship may not apply in another.

But with all the head game-playing on both sides (and by even supposedly grown ups who should know better), it’s sometimes hard to tell who is just following some stupid rules, who is playing you and who is taking things slowly because they want to be sure they are making the right decisions.

I’ve tried to compile my own “signs” that help me when dealing with clients situations, and these are just 5 of some of the most obvious ones.

1. If you’re in the dark about what’s going on and he (or she) isn’t doing anything to explain or can’t come up with a plausible explanation of what is happening with the future of the relationship — you’re being played.

2. If the person suddenly pulls back from being fully involved (initiating contact, responding to your texts, emails, calls etc) to zero involvement (ignoring you or in a rush to get away) and he (or she) doesn’t care that his (or her) actions are hurting you — you’re being played.

3. If he (or she) is always saying he (or she) doesn’t have “enough” time for you but he (or she) seems to have enough time to do everything else including go out on other dates — you’re being played.

4. If he (or she) comes across as too good to be true or his (or her) words don’t always match his (or her) actions — you’re being played.

5. If he (or she) spends more time telling you that the relationship is neither right nor going anywhere, it is always the case that he (or she) is living down to his/her expectations – you are being played and you’re wasting your time.

Bottom line:  If there is positive energy and clear signs of “good-will” or loving intentions from the other person, then it’s most likely he (or she) just feels that things are moving too fast for him (or her) and just stepping back to reset the pace at which things are moving. He (or she) is not playing you.

Stepping back and resetting the pace of a relationship that was moving too fast should feel “right” for both of you. You may not always agree on just how much to pull back or even if things were going too fast, but there has to be a kind of comfort that things are still “moving forward”; a little slower but progressively moving forward.

Readers' Questions and The Love Doctor's Answers...

37 Responses to “5 Common Signs A Man Or Woman Is Playing You”

  1. AshleyUSA says:

    Good points. No.6 should be, if he still talks fondly of his ex girlfriend and hangs around attractive women, you’re being played.

  2. I see what you mean. I wouldn’t necessary put that down as an obvious sign. Yes, he may still talk fondly of his ex girlfriend but if it’s in past tense, then that’s over. You’re the one he wants to be with now.

  3. AshleyUSA says:

    That’s my point. If he wants to be with you then his ex should be something of the past. I’d be bothered if my bf still talked fondly of his ex or was friends with his ex. I would never feel like I was priority in his life.

  4. So for you to feel like priority in his life, you feel that you should have a say in who your bf should and should not talk to or hang out with. Wouldn’t that make you appear seriously insecure? How do you think your bf would take it you telling him who he can be friends with or hang out with? How would you feel if your bf told you who you can hang out with or be friends with? Just curious…

  5. AshleyUSA says:

    Not all friends, just his ex and attractive women who he might be tempted to have sex with. I’d not just tell him, I’d ask him politely to stop talking to his ex or hanging out with certain women. As for my ex bfs, I’m not friends with any of my ex bfs. The past is a past for a reason.

    Wouldn’t it bother you if the person you’re with talks to his ex or hangs around attractive women? I find that very strange!

  6. As a matter of fact, I’m NOT bothered by my guy talking to his exes or hanging out with attractive woman. I’m even good friends with all his exes and they’re very attractive women. It is one reason I was and still very attracted to him. He can be around stunningly attractive women, carry his own with confidence and won’t jump into bed just because he can.

    If you really cared about somebody – and they’re simply cool people who were good to you – it’s not like you appreciate them one day and you stop the next. It all depends on individual characters and how you remember them and how they remember you.

  7. AshleyUSA says:

    There’s plenty of people in the world to be friends with, why an ex? Many people have ended up cheating with an ex because of the history they have together. What if he has second thoughts about getting back together with them?

    I guess we should also throw trust and commitment out of the window and let people sleep with whoever they want.

  8. 1. “There’s plenty of people in the world to be friends with, why an ex?”

    True, but why not an ex? They are “people” too… :)

    2. What if he has second thoughts about getting back together with them?

    Those are his decisions and choices to make. The way I see it is, if a man (or woman) wants to cheat with an ex or someone else, he (or she) will cheat. Even if you try to prevent it, they’ll find ways to do it. That’s just a fact of life.

    Trust is given and trust is earned experientially – you cannot demand, coax, charm or wheedle it. But this is just me and I’m not saying I’m a “better” person for my outlook on life. I just have far more important and interesting things to do with my life than worry my little heart over who my guy might (or might not) cheat with.

  9. brazilian girl says:

    “(…) it’s not like you appreciate them one day and you stop the next.” I couldn’t agree more with that! :-)

  10. Modwana says:

    I had an experience with one of my ex-boyfriends. He couldn’t let go about a relationship that happened 3 months before I even met him. It drove me nuts! Did I say he is now my ex? Insecure men are such a turn off.

    I do however think that if he keeps bringing up his ex, he’s not over her yet.

  11. I totally agree… if he/she keeps bringing up an ex, then there are some “unresolved” issues there. But does it necessarily mean you’re being “played?” Some people get “stuck in the past” even when they have no second thoughts of getting back with an ex… anger, pain of rejection/abandonment, etc.

    ***Keeps bringing up an ex — tale-tell sign with a question mark. There is a possibility he/she could be on the rebound and using you (but not intentionally) to get over an ex (and you may even know it but choose to believe what you want to believe).

    But there are also some men and women who don’t want the person they’re dating to say anything positive about an ex… they ask questions and when the person answers honestly, they automatically conclude “he/she’s not over an ex yet!” They assume all exes are exes because they were “bad” people, and all break-ups are nasty/painful – which is not true for everyone.

    ***Says positive (fond) things about an ex — not necessarily a red flag unless they’re saying it in ways that suggest they still have hopes of someday getting back together.

  12. Terri says:

    I am very much still a part of y ex’s life because we have children. I have met his current girlfriend and she seems like a pretty decent woman. My ex still tries to come on to me and I often told him that to give in to his desires would mean that I am a lonely, desperate woman. I told him that he should not do things like that because it would have his gf feeling insecure about what she has with him. Guess what??? She no longer speak to me anymore when I drop my kids off at my ex’s house. I am fine with that but I feel like me coming around caused her to have ill feelings towards me. So I can see that staying in touch with your ex or always talking about an ex could be a problem. Just my thoughts. :)

  13. This is a good example of “it depends on an individual character”. I personally don’t think you going there was the problem nor do I fault his gf for feeling the way she feels. There are many men in very similar situations to your ex who have more integrity and respect for their gfs and would not come on an ex just because she’s still in his life. This is why I’m hesitant to put it there along with the other signs that you’re being played. Just because someone is friends with an ex or talks fondly of an ex should not stop someone from pursuing a relationship with great potential.

    From personal experience and from working in this field long enough, I’d put a red flag tag on anyone whose EVERY SINGLE relationship ended with them having nothing good to say about an ex or “hating” an ex (and vice versa). These kind of people are just changing “faces” of exes but haven’t done anything to change/improve the only common denominator/constant factor in all those relationships — themselves! They’re looking for something in others that they themselves don’t have and blaming everyone else but themelves for their relationship problems.

    People with someone who has only bad memories of, or is always talking badly about all his/her exes have to remember that there is a very, very high possibility that they’ll one day be that ex.

  14. Viena says:

    Dear Christine.

    My name is Viena. I met a guy I really liked a few month ago and everything was just fantastic. I knew he was fascinated and very attracted by me…
    I wouldn`t mind to slow down before to get to the next level, but I afraid I became the “Next” for the “Quality Time” in his “favorit`s list”…

    Can be man (never married, no children), who keeps close friendship with all his ex-girlfriends and other femail friends, and still planning to go for holidays with his First Love, trusted? Can it be kind of symptom of commitment problem in relation?

    Kind regards

  15. A man who keeps close friendship with all his ex-girlfriends and other female friends, can absolutely be trusted. Personally, I trust such men more than those who hate all their ex-girlfriends and are uncomfortable around other females. Something just isn’t right with people who hate all their exes…

    But not all men are the same. The trust thing depends on the individual man and the type of relationship the two of you have. If you have reason to think he is upto something “untrustworthy” or if he has in the past done things that prove that he can’t be trusted, then you have good reason not to trust him.

    It may or may not be a commitment issue. There are so many factors at play before one can conclude the other person has commitment issues. One of them being that one person is moving too fast in terms of feelings. It does not mean the slower person is afraid of commitment, just that they do not feel for you the way you feel for them. I suspect this may be your situation because you say “I wouldn’t mind to slow down” and he seems to be spending more time with other females. It could be he’s just not ready to be ‘exclusive” with you, even though you are ready for that next step.

  16. Adam696 says:

    If your partner is playing mind games tell him or her that you do not have time for this nonsense. If he or she is not returning your calls, then immediately stop calling them. Never act like a puppet and do not allow them to do whatever they like because the more you do the more of a loser you will become.

  17. Interesting comment, Adam… I like!

    I think you’ll find my post: What To Do When Someone Is Playing Mind Games interesting. Check it out… (:

  18. Phil says:

    Damn.I got played.Trying to get over this beautiful women recently and was unable to process it. She did ALL of the 5 things you listed. I actually feel better in light of these observations. Thanks Lovedoctor.

  19. Sorry, Phil! Bling… bling does that to the eyes, sometimes.
    You learn and move on… wiser for it.

  20. Lani says:

    The best and honest advice that had literally saved my life from an ex as well as helping me find myself and learn from my own mistakes. Thank yu

  21. EzBreezy says:

    My ex is giving out mixed signals. When we broke up she said she wanted to be friends, but I told her it was too difficult for me. I told her no contact for at least 2 months. After 3 weeks I contacted her and told her, I could be her friend. We kept contact for a week, but she stopped responding. I asked her why she wasn’t replying to my texts and she said she didn’t feel right for us being in contact. I left her alone for 2 weeks, then she contacted me, but I didn’t respond. She sent me about 7 texts, and I felt bad not responding, so I responded. It’s been over a week and I haven’t heard from her. I think I’m just not going to contact her for a while and see what happens. My question is, how much time do you think I should give her before I contact her again?

  22. She’s sending mixed signals, but so are you. Both of you are playing mind games with each other. One of you has to “grow up”, step up and give this relationship a chance, or move on with your lives.

  23. Daph says:

    I’m going through #5 with my ex. We were together 3 years and broke up in January due to me becoming needy and us getting into fights about him spending too much time at work. After 2 weeks of no contact I reached out to him. We text every day and hangout 3-2 times a week but he says he does not think we’re right for each other. I feel like cutting off all contact, but I also feel that he loves me and cares about me, he just does not know what he wants.

  24. I don’t think you honestly believe that “he just doesn’t know what he wants” because if you did, you’d not be commenting on an article about someone playing you.

    I can’t tell you whether to cut off all contact or stay in contact, that’s entirely up to you. I however suggest that you ask yourself: Is he playing mind games or is he being honest when he says he does not think you are right for each other.

    Sometimes even when someone is being honest, we do not want to believe or accept it because the truth is uncomfortable. We instead try to look for explanations that we can accept. By doing this, we miss the opportunity to directly address the issue and get more insight into why the other person thinks the way he/she does… and what we can do about it.

    The fact that you believe he loves you and cares for you, and you are hanging out regularly means that things may not be as hopeless as you think they are. Try looking at it with a different set of eyes…

  25. Harpie says:

    What about when your ex texts you when she’s with the other guy, is she thinking of me or just playing mind games? It has happened on more than 3 occasions. Usually it’s just hi, followed by a few texts asking me what I’m doing and that’s it.

  26. Could be either, but my bet is on playing games.

    Why don’t you ask her straight up why she texts you when she’s with the other guy. If it’s because she’s thinking of you, her response may be coy, but it’ll be something sweet. If she’s just playing games, she’ll get defensive and/or act up (they always do when backed into a corner).

  27. Harpie says:

    I also think she’s playing a mind game. It’s second nature to her, I don’t think she even really knows what she is doing. But I’ll take your advice and ask her upfront.

  28. Harpie says:

    One more question. What about if I find out that she’s thinking of me when she’s with him, what next?

  29. Then you decide whether you want to pursue her knowing she’s with someone else and will probably be with him for a while, or you want to cut your loses now and go graze elsewhere.

    Let me guess… your next question will be “is it possible to get your ex when she’s with someone else?”

    I’ll save us both the time and effort…(:

    YES! Very possible. More complicated and sometimes takes much longer than situations where there is no one else in the picture. But yes, it happens a lot more than you know.

    If 1) the relationship with the other person is not serious, 2) your ex is okay with you pursing her when she’s with someone else (e.g. he/she responds positively)and 3) you have the patience and mental focus to do it. Playing second fiddle is not for everyone.

  30. Erin says:

    Yangki, I have a gut feeling that my ex is playing me and seeing someone else. I have no proof of this and have been tempted several times to look into his phone. I haven’t done it because that’s why we broke up before. He found out I had checked his texts and emails. Without proof, I can’t confront him and win. But I also don’t want to be his backup plan.

  31. Let me address what jumps at me first. Are you trying to “win” (justify your suspicions) or trying to create a loving sustainable relationship? If you are looking for evidence prove that you were right to look into his phone the first time, then this is not about a gut feeling, but about YOU.

    That said, you obviously don’t trust your ex, and may be you have good reason not to. But instead of doing what didn’t work before (snoop around), why not go to him with your concerns and let him deny or confirm them. Of course he may deny it even when there is something going on, but if you go with an open mind, you can tell a lot from his reaction.

    Make your decision based on whether you want to continue in a relationship where you can’t trust someone and they aren’t doing anything to address your concerns, or accept that you can’t control what your ex does, and try to find how to be at peace with what you can’t control.

  32. Erin says:

    Yangki, I hear what you are saying, but wouldn’t confronting him with it cause him to pull away? Last time when I accused him of hiding things from me, he was so angry.

  33. I wasn’t talking about “confronting” him. In my opinion, “confront” implies an accuser and a defendant, one who’s right and one who’s wrong, a winner and a loser, etc. Most situations when approached with that kind of mindset don’t end well.

    I’m talking about being open with him about how you feel without making it look like he’s done something to wrong. For all you know at this point, it’s probably just your issues… nothing is going on.

    Will he get upset or pull away? May be. But keeping things in actually causes more damage than getting it out in the open.

    When you keep it in, it eats at you and one day it just comes out in ways you had not planned or can handle. An argument or fight begins. Things get out of hand. Often times at this point, it’s too late to do any thing to make things better.

    Planning before hand, how and when you bring it out in the open gives you better control of yourself and of the conversation. But more importantly, you get to address the issue before it gets to the point when it’s too late to do anything.

    Most people appreciate you expressing your concerns in a reasonable rationale way than acting irrationally or sneaking behind their back.

  34. Becky K. says:

    Yangki, in relationships doesn’t everyone play games one way or the other? Isn’t it part of human nature to want what we can’t have? The Law of Scarcity is the oldest trick in the book and used in economics everyday. The more scarce you are, the more they want you. I’ve seen it with many men I’ve dated. When a woman becomes the pursuer, the guy pulls a disappearing act. When she stops pursuing him, he comes back.

  35. I hear you, that happens a lot, unfortunately. It happens when you date “boys” (or “girls”). I’ll explain the difference later. Let me answer the human nature question first.

    Wanting what we can’t have is part of a human nature that comes from a place of emptiness (scarcity mentality). We want this, and even when we get it, we want more/or want something else. It’s like trying to fill a bottomless pit. VERY TIRING!

    Human nature that comes from a place of fullness knows what it wants, goes after it and when we have it, we’re content (WITH WHAT WE HAVE).

    Is playing games normal in relationships?

    In teen and tween relationships, mind games are considered “normal”. That’s why I work with people 24 yo. plus. I can’t fault anyone under 25 for being emotionally immature, they’re expected to be because of their age… and mind games go hand in hand with emotional immaturity.

    But when you are expected to be mature and still think playing mind games is okay… something is NOT right.

    The older we get, the less tolerance (emotionally mature and well-adjusted men and women) have for mind games and all BS. We may be very attracted to you and/or in love with you but get turned off by immature games. We expect you to act your age.

    But like most people who think mind games are a normal part of relationships, you up the stakes and play even more mind games. If we’re really into you and want to be you, we check out emotionally just so we can tolerate your immaturity (for a while longer). Unfortunately when we check out… you start complaining… and we’re like “That’s IT! I can’t take anymore of this BS.”

    But if we want to teach you a lesson… GAME ON! And since we are fully aware of what we are doing versus you who thinks it’s a “normal” part of relationships, we can really mess you up. Most of us however don’t try to mess you up because then we become just like you… immature and dysfunctional.

    Btw, when I use “we” and “you”, it’s not directed at you personally. Just using it to highlight the difference.

    I think you’ll find this interesting: Dating A Girl Vs. Dating A Woman

  36. Roc says:

    Women love a challenge. If there’s no challenge, she’ll have no interest in you.

  37. Women say the same thing about men… “Men love a challenge. If there’s no challenge, he’ll have no interest in you.”

    The reality though is that SOME Women love a challenge, and SOME men love a challenge. MOST women and MOST men don’t. You put too many roadblocks and they lose interest (too much work!)

    And those that love the challenge… well, they love THE CHALLENGE… and always looking for the next one.

    The problem for many men and women is that they’re looking for a relationship, but go for men and women looking for a challenge… go figure!

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