Being led on feels like a punch to the gut, but how do you really spot the signs someone is leading you on and handle it if they are?
Being led on can be hard to spot. You feel like someone is interested in you or at least isn’t rejecting you so you’re excited. That excitement can quickly turn to disappointment when you realize you’re being led on. But, how do you know the true signs someone is leading you on?
How do you know the difference between someone being friendly or leading you on? Sometimes you can feel like you’re being led on when the signs they weren’t interested in were there all along. But, it can be hard to figure that out without just coming straight out and asking. And when you’re still in the flirtation stage, you may not want to flat out ask someone’s intentions.
I get it, I’ve been there. My first middle school relationship was like this. I had a major crush on a boy who knew about it and he asked me out “to make me happy” *his words*. Then a few days later he broke up with me. He knew all along he didn’t want to date me, but I was clueless to that fact. He led me on. I know this was tween drama at its finest, but it is a good example.
Being led on is intentional. It usually isn’t something people do by accident. It can happen but it isn’t as common. But, even so, it can still be hard to know the signs of being led on.
What does leading someone on mean?
Being led on by someone is no fun. It is sort of like playing a game. It is selfish and hurtful. In modern dating, it can be most often seen in online dating. Maybe you hit it off with someone. You start talking and look forward to finally meeting, but the person you’re chatting with has no intention of meeting up.
Even if they do, it may be purely physical for them; whereas, you’re catching feelings and want something more. If they know this and continue to flirt without letting you know their intentions, that is being led on. And it sucks. Often this ends with ghosting but can be a shock either way.
Before I met my boyfriend I was talking to someone online. We started texting and FaceTiming, and we spoke every day for weeks. He knew I was looking for a relationship. We talked about our families and very personal things. But, before meeting up, he told me he had been leading me on. He said he didn’t want anything other than sex.
He didn’t change his mind, he knew all along that he was doing this intentionally. I had feelings but decided to continue the ruse. That is a prime example of being led on in 2021.
Signs someone is leading you on
The problem with being led on is that you usually don’t know it’s happening until it already happened, and you’re hurt and picking up the pieces. Being led on means you are somewhat invested and they aren’t. And because of this, the signs someone is leading you on can be subtle. But, with my experience, I can tell you I sure wish I had this article to read when I was single.
Thankfully, all my dealings with being led on can help you prevent it happening to you. These signs will offer you some clarity if you’re looking for the signs someone is leading you on.
#1 You never get a straight answer. Someone who is leading you on is amazing at being vague. They make you feel confident without actually saying anything you can hold against them.
If you ask if they’re free on Friday, they’ll say they aren’t sure yet, but if they are, they’ll reach out. If you ask what they’re looking for, they’ll say they’re open to anything or just going with the flow. This lets you draw your own conclusions, and if you think they want more, it isn’t because of what they said but how you took it.
#2 They disappear for a long time with no communication. They may not ghost, but they do go a long time without responding to you. Never do they talk to you nonstop. They will ignore you for days then right when you’re about to give up on them, they reach out as if nothing happened. Because you don’t want to seem needy, you don’t ask about it and just let it go.
#3 They like you too much. It is great to flirt with someone, but before knowing them, if they seem to be too into you, they are probably overcompensating and this is probably a good sign someone is leading you on. They want you to like them as much as it seems they like you so they can get what they want.
#4 Small things don’t line up. They say one thing and then slightly change it later. Or they tell you Monday they’re free Thursday, but then Thursday is here and they’re busy. These things are small enough, you don’t want to make a big deal about them, but part of you questions it. You ignore it because they aren’t making a big deal about it either.
#5 Their words and their social media don’t match. They say they’re at home just hanging out, but they posted a photo on their story that they’re out. They say they are at work or too busy to talk but are super active online. You again feel like you can’t say anything because you don’t want to ask seeming like a stalker. But, deep down, you know something isn’t right.
#6 They don’t want you to follow them on social media. Yes, some people don’t have social media and that’s fine, but someone you know has it and won’t let you follow them is hiding something. They claim they just aren’t on social media often or say they will accept your follow request but just don’t. They also have no interest in following your social media either because they don’t really care. I know, nice.
#7 Making plans is a nightmare. They can never nail down plans. They pencil you in, but it’s always up in the air. “Maybe we’ll do something this weekend,” or, “If I’m free, we’ll get together.”
When the day you’re supposed to maybe hang out arrives, they don’t reach out. If you ask them about it, they act like it is no big deal because you didn’t actually have set-in-stone plans. They may seem like someone’s who is just way too relaxed, but in reality this is them leading you on and one of the big signs you should never ignore.
#8 You spend a lot of time waiting. You always feel like you’re waiting for them to reach out and wait for them to make plans or agree to what you suggested. You are waiting for a response all the time. And it makes you feel awful like your time is worthless, but once they do respond you forget those feelings.
#9 Sex is the #1 topic of conversation. They always turn the topic to sex. If you say something remotely erotic, they turn it into that. That is what they have on their mind. Most likely, this is what they want if they’re leading you on, so they want to test the waters.
#10 Nothing is happening. You are excited to talk to them and look forward to what might happen but nothing does. You don’t meet up. And if you do you don’t progress. you just feel like you waiting for something that will never come. If you ever feel this way, chances are, it’s a subtle sign they’re leading you on even if you choose not to see it.
#11 It seems too good to be true. You keep waiting for the other shoe to drop. You question things because there is nothing wrong. This sounds like you’re paranoid but I can tell you, you’re not. If someone really is that good, there is a level of trust there, so you aren’t thinking they’re too good to be true. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
#12 They overreact when you question them. If you decide to ask them why they aren’t consistent, they overreact and get defensive. They claim you’re being crazy. Or act like they did nothing wrong and you’re overreacting. Essentially, they slight you.
#13 You don’t hear about things until the last minute. If they are going on vacation out of the country, you don’t hear about it until they’re at the airport. Obviously, they had this planned but never told you. They have no intention of keeping you up to date with their comings and goings, which shows that they aren’t on the same page as you.
#14 You don’t do regular things together. You don’t get coffee, go grocery shopping, or cook together. Maybe you may never even eat together. Possibly, you watch movies, but you never go out and do things couples do. Keep an eye on this, and start getting wary because all these are very good signs someone is leading you on.
#15 They repeat themselves. They tell you the same thing multiple times. This could mean it’s a lie or they are also telling other people the same thing and don’t remember who they told what.
#16 They never ask about you. They may ask how your day was but don’t really want to hear it. Never do they ask about any details of your life. You may feel like you’re boring them with things you want to share. You offer up things and hope they want to have a conversation or share something about themselves, but they don’t and you’re left feeling rejected.
#17 Something feels off. You just know. Trust your gut. For years, I had trust issues and ignored my gut because I thought I was letting my past make me picky or neurotic, but my gut was always right. When you meet someone who isn’t leading you on, you’ll know.
What to do when someone leads you on
If you’ve picked up on these signs that someone is leading you on, you’re probably a bit bummed or even angry. How should you handle it?
Do you lash out? Do you ghost?
First things first, trust yourself. Know you deserve better. Letting them off the hook or confronting them probably won’t change anything. Sure, it may help you feel like you were able to speak your piece, but it won’t make the person leading you on change their ways.
Acknowledge that you were duped. You liked someone who fooled you. And that is okay. We’ve all been there. Now you can learn from this and move forward. I would also recommend not letting them come back. They may reach out in a few days or weeks. I had this happen and it was so disrespectful.
Even if they apologize, they probably don’t mean it. They are surprised you actually had the guts to say something and pull away. Now they like the chase. Don’t fall for it.
You deserve someone who is open and honest from day one.
If you see these signs someone is leading you on, know your worth and move forward to someone better. You are 100% worth it.