At some point or another in your dating life, you may experience that grey area between hooking up with someone and full-fledged dating. It's a period of time, which we've all seen in the movies, in which your relationship status with your consistent sexual partner or friends with benefits is undefined and ambiguous. You *think* they like you, but you aren't sure if it's just for sex or perhaps leading to something more serious. To ask them outright feels out of the question, so instead you search for signs.
"The only reason to have a no-strings attached sexual relationship is because you truly desire no-strings attached sex," relationship therapist Aimee Hartstein, LCSW tells Bustle. "Not because you are hoping it will evolve into something else."
But sometimes you start off wanting something casual and then develop feelings. So what do you do to gauge whether they're on the same page?The truth is: if someone wants to transition from hooking up into a relationship, they will show you with acute behavioral changes. Depending on their personality, everyone may express these changes differently, but they tend to follow a certain pattern.
I asked heterosexual men to get their take on how they show they're interested in more than just hooking up with a woman, and found that they tended to use external sources of validation, and quality time together, to signal their feelings. Take a look below:
1. *Kyle, 25:
"If I really like a girl I'll take her to meet my friends. I want to see how they get along and get their stamp of approval."
2. *Garret, 22:
"I will cook for her. Like, if we hook up and she spends the night, I will make her pancakes and a nice breakfast in the morning."
3. *Justin, 21:
"If we can hang out and not have sex, that means I'm actually into you."
4. *Derek, 28:
"If I'm interested in seriously dating a woman, I will make a conscious effort to learn more about her and ask about her life and her interests. I want to get to know more than what's on the surface."
5. *Ben, 24:
"Our text messages will be going on all day, not just after midnight."
6. *Jordan, 25:
"I tend to get pretty mushy with the girls I actually like. I'll write them poetry, make them mix-tapes.. I'm a romantic."
7. *Logan, 22:
"If I call you other than to arrange a hookup, I'm into you.
8. *Drew, 21:
"If I invite you to be my date to parties consistently, I'm into more than just hooking up. It's because Im trying to see how you fit in with my friends."
9. *Thayne, 24:
"I'll tell you you're beautiful rather than hot."
10. *Stephen, 23:
"If I'm trying to move the relationship into something more serious than just FWB's, I'll make subtle hints about being monogamous to see how she reacts."
Truly, the best way to find out they want something more than a hookup: ask! Sure, it can be nerve-wracking, but you'll save yourself time in the long-run.
*Names have been changed