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Signs He Likes You But Is Playing It Cool

Are you looking for signs that he likes you but is playing it cool? It might sound like a school-yard game of tag. Or when the two of you were playing a game, and he pushed you down to show you that he likes you. And guess what? It’s true. This still happens to adults!

Whether we like to admit it or not, a study by Anita K. McDaniel shows the link between women sometimes liking and not liking the “nice guy.” Most frequently, a guy is trying to “play it cool” to make sure that you don’t know he’s the “nice one.”

Confusing, isn’t it? Let’s break it down, so you understand why this is happening.

signs that he's into you but for some reason doesn't want to tell you
Some signs that he likes you (the very basic signs to look for)

Why is he trying to play it cool if he likes me?

It’s pretty simple. A guy may try to withhold his feelings to sound and feel more masculine. I would suggest that there are links between more alpha female women arising in our society (if you’re in the United States) and how this behavior has increased.

A study by the Psychology of Men and Masculinity shows that many men withhold their emotional behaviors as a way of increasing their masculinity. What they fail to see is that this actually makes them less masculine. But that’s another story for another day.

What are the signs that he likes me but is playing it cool?

—Signs he likes you but is playing it cool

There are a few major signs to look for.

1. He treats you differently than everyone else

A key sign is that he’s treating you in a unique way. For example, if he’s more “mean” to you than any of your other friends or his other friends—this is a strong sign that he could be into you but is trying to withhold his feelings.

2. He’s intentionally texting you but then not texting back—a very good sign he likes you but is trying to play it cool

Texting can be a complicated situation when it comes to your crush. Most often, a guy is going to try and use this area to complicate things a little bit. He might text you frequently, but then once you respond, leave you hanging for a while. This could be really annoying for you.

This is his way of trying to have a “powerful” position over you. Don’t get angry about it. Instead, know that this could be a weakness of his and that he’s potentially more beta male than you think.

3. He actually tries to ignore you in public

Let’s say you’re hanging out with a group of friends. And you go to try and talk to him. If he intentionally avoids you and is trying to stay outside of your physical vicinity, this could be a very strong signal that he has an emotional attraction to you.

Typically, a man and a woman are going to feel a stronger sense of connection when they are closer to each other physically. If he doesn’t want you to know how much he likes you, he may try to stay outside of this zone.

4. He’s putting you in the friend zone, but you know its fake

The friend zone is very real. If he’s trying to put you in it, but doesn’t entirely put you in it—then it could be a sign that he’s into you but doesn’t know what to do. How could this manifest itself? If for example, he says he wants to be friends with you—but then texts you often and in the morning or at night.

Typically, “just friends” don’t text each other late at night or in the morning. This could be a sign that he’s into you but is just trying to have some sense of superiority.

5. He remembers things that are happening in your life

Not all friends remember details about each other. This is going to be a very strong sign that he’s into you. Let’s say that you have a sports event that’s coming up. And you told a few of your friends. If he texts you saying that he wishes you good luck—this would be a great example of how he’s thinking about you.

When he knows details about your life, that means that he’s listening more about you than he is to other people. This is another very strong sign that he wants to move forward with you.

6. He’s intrigued by you and asks questions—a strong sign he likes you but is playing it cool

It’s funny, but asking questions can be a key way to get to know someone, right? Well, when he asks you more questions than you might typically expect—this would be a really strong sign that he’s interested in moving forward.

Think about it, if he is really intrigued by who you are and what you’re all about—then it would indicate that you’re on his mind a lot. If you would classify him as your “crush,” then try a few questions that may allow him to open up and tell you how he really feels.

What should I do if he’s doing this to me? Signs he likes you, is playing it cool, and what to do when he is!

—Signs he likes you but is playing it cool and what to do

Here’s one key thing to remember: if he’s playing games with you—this could indicate that he’s less mature than other men.

Typically, more mature men or boys will be more upfront and honest with you about what they want and why that is. If that has a negative effect on you, then it might be time to rethink why you’re not interested in this type of guy.

When you want to cut to the chase, try a few of these:

1. Ask him about his feelings toward you—when he likes you, is playing it cool, but you’re going to solve the problem

It’s okay to make the first move. This doesn’t mean that you’re an alpha female (unless you want to be). All you have to say is something like the following, “Hey James, I’m really feeling something different here, and I can’t tell if maybe you feel the same way about me. Is there a chance that you might be into me?”

This sounds like it could be a very vulnerable thing to do. And it is! But it’s very mature and shows strong communication skills.

2. Decide if this is someone that you want to be with—if he’s playing it cool

As I mentioned above—it’s really important to determine if you want to spend your time with someone who is afraid to express themselves. This could lead to further problems down the road. You might be better off setting boundaries with this relationship until you decide that you’re comfortable putting them down.

Men who are more afraid to express themselves have a greater chance of playing games once they’re in a relationship.

3. Give him some signals that you’re into him

All you have to do is reciprocate. If he’s texting you in the mornings, give him a text the next morning—this reciprocation could send a strong signal to him that you’re into him too. By doing this, it might inform him (through your actions rather than words) that he should stop trying to “play it cool,” and rather focus on moving forward with you.

There’s no risk to giving this method a try. In fact, you’re going to need to do this if you want to move forward in any type of relationship, anyway!

My own experience with this situation—when I liked her but was playing it cool

I was one of those guys early in my life. I liked a few girls, and rather than telling them how I felt, I would hide it. And play games. All it got me was pain. The women I was interested in wouldn’t be interested in me in return. And those more mature women could spot my bad behaviors from a mile away.

If you’re a guy and reading this—I highly recommend that you stop trying to play games with people and work on having good communication.

Fact checked:
Board reviewed by Marianne Tomlinson, LCSW (Couples and Family Therapy). Content is rigorously reviewed by a team of qualified and experienced fact checkers. Learn more.

About the author

Ryan Sanderson (LCSW) Ryan is a game and relationship enthusiast who enjoys all things quizzes, games, fun, love, relationships, and family. He's a licensed social worker and helps families, couples, and children in need. He's spoken about love and relationships on Salon.com, Forbes, and Mirror, to name a few.

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