How To Tell If Someone Actually Has Feelings For You

"Anybody can say they love you, but behavior doesn’t lie.”

by Kristine Fellizar
Originally Published: 
What are my partner's honest feelings about me?

One of the toughest parts about dating is investing your time and energy into a building a relationship with someone who’s not as committed as you. Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to tell if your feelings for someone are being reciprocated. But experts say there are a few key things you can watch out for to see if your partner is being honest about how they feel.

“Pay twice as much attention to how someone treats you than what they say,” Christine Scott-Hudson, psychotherapist and owner of Create Your Life Studio, tells Bustle. "Anybody can say they love you, but behavior doesn’t lie. If someone says they value you, but their actions indicate otherwise, trust their behavior."

For instance, someone who is serious about you will always make time for you no matter what. As Kate O'Connor, professional matchmaker and dating expert at It's Just Lunch D.C., tells Bustle, having a packed schedule and being busy is not really an excuse.

"They could be stringing you along while dating other people, or they're simply not interested in making room for you in their life," O'Connor says. "And don't be fooled by someone who takes the time to send you a quick text or DM throughout the day. Those two seconds of flirting may seem sweet on the surface, but it doesn't make up for the lack of real time spent together."

It's one thing to be with someone who's into you, and it's another to be with someone who actually has feelings for you. Here's how to tell if they’re genuinely into you — and how to tell someone how you feel about them.


They Do Thoughtful Things For You Just Because

When someone has serious feelings for you, they'll display a level of selflessness that you won't always get with a partner who's into you for more shallow reasons. For instance, they'll do nice things for you because they know it'll make you happy, not because they want something in return.

"You might've said something about your dog being sick, and the next thing you know, they’ve bought chew toys, medication or even consulted their veterinarian pal for you," Cherlyn Chong, breakup recovery and dating specialist, tells Bustle. "This is a person who doesn’t want credit or validation from you, they just want to make things better and see you smile again."


They Care About What's Going On In Your Life

A person who has real feelings for you will want to stay up-to-date on what's happening in your life. If you're not in contact throughout the day, they'll make it a point to check in just to see how you're doing. They're also there for you if you need to vent, and they're more than happy to give advice if you ask. They'll also find a way to turn simple small talk into a full-blown conversation.

As Celia Schweyer, dating expert at Dating Scout, tells Bustle, "Being friendly is one thing, but consistently having tons of conversations is another.” When someone puts a lot of effort into getting to know you and being a part of your life, there’s a good chance they’re genuinely into you.


They Make You Feel Like What You Say Really Matters To Them

When someone truly cares about you, your thoughts, feelings, and opinions will matter to them. Most importantly, you’ll see it through their body language and actions. For instance, when you're having a conversation face-to-face, they'll try to make eye contact as much as possible. They'll put any distractions away and keep their focus on you. When you talk about something, they'll ask thoughtful follow-up questions or offer up comments that let you know they're paying attention. "It might feel like they're clinging on to every word you say," Schweyer says. They just have a way of making you feel like everything you say is important.


They Remember The Details

Sometimes the signs of someone having real feelings for you can be subtle. According to Schweyer, someone who's serious about you will remember the details. They won’t forget basic things like your birthday or your favorite food. They'll also make note of the small things you say in passing — like when you want to check out the newest restaurant in town. And you'll know they're really into you if they take it a step further and actually do something about the knowledge they have, like taking you to that restaurant your next date night.


They're Open & Honest With You

When someone is sincere about how they feel for you, they'll have no problem sharing their life with you. They'll open up about their insecurities, fears, and dreams for the future. "When someone opens up to you and you know it wasn’t easy for them to speak out, that's a sign they have real feelings for you," Schweyer says. "They want you to know that they trust you, and that you can trust them in return."


They Respect Your Boundaries

In order to have a healthy relationship, it's important to know that your partner respects you. As life and dating coach, Treva Brandon Scharf, tells Bustle, someone who truly has feelings for you will always take "no" for an answer without question. They'll never try to push, force, manipulate, or pressure you in any way. "They'll respect your decisions and your boundaries," Scharf says. "If you say 'no' to something you’re not comfortable with, they honor it."


They're Consistent & Follow Through On Their Word

It’s hard to develop a relationship when the only thing consistent about your partner is their hot and cold behavior. Therefore, Elizabeth Stone, love coach and founder of Attract the One, a resource for dating and relationship advice, tells Bustle that consistency and follow-through are key things to look out for. When someone wants you in their life, they'll make you a priority. They'll be consistent with their communication, and make plans with you that they follow through. If they can't make it for whatever reason, they'll apologize and set a new date.

"When people are truly interested, your time and communication with them begins to cut through the other noise in their life," Stone says. "They want more of you — to know more, experience more and spend more of their resources (time, energy, etc.) on you."


You’re Not Seeing The Typical Red Flags

It’s normal to feel a little anxious about someone’s feelings for you, especially if you have yet to get any solid confirmation. But a partner who has genuinely into you will make you feel like you’re special to them, even if they haven’t said it out loud. According to Grant Brenner, psychiatrist and co-author of the upcoming book, Making Your “Crazy” Work for You, “Behavior is a better indicator than anything people say or profess regarding their feelings.” When you’re with someone who’s really cares about you, their behavior won’t raise any red flags.

And if you are questioning their actions? “If you are asking if there is a problem, then trust that,” Brenner says. “If you try to have a conversation and the other person is defensive or otherwise unsupportive, lacking understanding or unreceptive, pay attention and don't ignore it.”


They Keep Their Feelings About You Private

There’s nothing wrong with being with someone who likes to brag about you. It’s not only flattering, but it can also indicate how proud they are of being with you. But experts say there’s a limit to how much someone should brag. If your partner’s constant bragging makes you feel uncomfortable, it’s worth paying attention to. According to psychotherapist Nicholas Hardy, people talk about what is most important to them. “What dominates their conversation with others?” he says. “If their discussions with others about you is dominated by what you do professionally, how you look, or any other external factor, this may determine the basis of their feelings.”

If you feel like your partner only likes you because you’re attractive or you have status, there’s a chance that might be true. Someone who genuinely likes you for you won’t ever make you feel that way.


They’re There For You Through The Ups & Downs

When someone truly cares about you, life’s everyday challenges won’t change the way they feel about you. “If their interactions with you are consistent, regardless, of what you are experiencing, this may be a sign their feelings are genuine,” Hardy says. “The same is true for difficult periods in a relationship, if they do not change how they treat you during arguments, fights, etc. then their feelings are probably genuine.” This is one you’ll want to pay close attention to early on in the relationship.

How To Tell Someone How You Feel About Them

If you’re having a tough time trying to figure out how someone really feels about you, consider sharing your feelings first. Yes, rejection is scary. But as relationship counselor, Brittany Lashua, PhD, tells Bustle, there’s no need to overcomplicate it.

“Try something simple like, ‘I’m enjoying the time we spend together. I’d like to do this more,’” Lashua says. “You can focus on your attraction to the person by saying things like affirming how good they look. You can even be more direct if those feelings have grown and say something like, ‘Our time together has made me excited when I think about the future.’”

When and how you do it is also totally up to you. But if you need some general guidance, Susan Trombetti, matchmaker and CEO of Exclusive Matchmaking, tells Bustle, consider expressing your feelings if you’ve been on a few dates or have been talking for a while. If you’re clear about how you feel and where you want the relationship to go, bring it up. If anything, you’ll get a good idea of your partner is at.

“Keep the conversation casual, but still special,” Trombetti says. “Don't say it over text or after a few drinks. Be open, honest, and remember this isn't telling someone you love them but instead telling them you like them and want to see where this goes. Approach it while hanging out and when the moment feels right.”


Christine Scott-Hudson, psychotherapist and owner of Create Your Life Studio

Kate O'Connor, professional matchmaker and dating expert at It's Just Lunch D.C.

Cherlyn Chong, breakup recovery and dating specialist

Treva Brandon Scharf, life and dating coach

Celia Schweyer, dating expert at Dating Scout

Elizabeth Stone, love coach and founder of Attract the One

Susan Trombetti, matchmaker and CEO of Exclusive Matchmaking

Grant Brenner, psychiatrist and co-author of the upcoming book, Making Your “Crazy” Work for You

Nicholas Hardy, psychotherapist

Brittany Lashua, PhD, relationship counselor

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