5 signs a man genuinely just wants to be friends, according to psychology

A clip of actress Nicole Kidman on The Jimmy Fallon Show from 2015 has been circulating on social media lately. 

In the clip, Kidman reveals that she and Fallon were once set up on a date but Fallon said he had no clue it was actually a date!

The incident had been some years before the admission with Kidman talking Fallon: 

“You wouldn’t talk. You wouldn’t say anything,” she said laughing. “And then you put a video game on or something…and so after about an hour and a half, I thought, ‘He had no interest. This is so embarrassing.’”

While Fallon had no idea that Kidman was interested in him, other men usually know when a woman wants to be more than friends. But, for their part, they just genuinely want a friendship and not a relationship. 

Here are five signs that a man genuinely just wants to be friends, psychologically speaking. 

1) He’s not making it obvious that he likes you like that 

If your crush isn’t making any moves—he isn’t flirting with you or asking you out—it could very well be a sign that he only sees you as a friend and isn’t romantically interested.

The thing is, if a guy likes you, he’ll do almost anything to be with you, says relationship writer, Preeti Serai. 

“If he’s just kind of there…but not making any moves, then he’s not into you. In other words, he actually isn’t interested in anything more than friendship. Guys are physical beings. If he has feelings beyond friendship, even a nervous guy will make that known.”

Like that book, and movie of the same name starring Jennifer Aniston: he’s just not that into you. 

2) Sure, he texts you…but only in response to texts from you 

One obvious sign that he only sees you as a friend is if he texts you mostly only in response to texts from you.

The odd time he does initiate a text, it comes from the group chat where he’s incredulous about how his favorite sports team lost so spectacularly.

Otherwise, unless you’re the one texts first, he’s basically incognito. 

“One of the signs he only sees you as a friend through text is if you hardly ever hear from him,”

says the staff at Love Strategies. “You’re the one hitting up his phone most of the time, asking how his skiing weekend in Switzerland was.”

“Sometimes he texts you back; other times he leaves you hanging, and you won’t hear from him for days…He rarely reaches out to you first.”

It’s not that he doesn’t like you: he genuinely might be fond of you…but only as a friend. 

3) You see him regularly…but only when he’s part of a group

Similar to the above, even though there’s no shortage of seeing your crush on a regular basis, the catch is that “the gang” is invited to come along for the ride as well. 

It could be at your local pub, the football match—but routinely with “the team” in tow. 

“If he’s only inviting you out on group outings, it’s probably because he sees you as one of the guys,”

says relationship writer Steph Auteri.

“This can be flattering, but he doesn’t generally cuddle with his guy friends after spending the day together.”

Relationship expert Claudia Cox echoes the sentiment. 

“When guys are into a girl, they want her all to themselves,” she says. 

“If he is constantly making group plans, then he probably [genuinely] enjoys hanging out with you, but just doesn’t see you as girlfriend material.”

4) He doesn’t exactly give you a whole lot of eye contact, either 

In a 2017 study from Wellesley College and the University of Kansas called The Archives of Sexual Behavior, the college reported that body language had a lot to do with gauging if men were romantically and sexually interested in an article called People Observe the Body Differently When Assessing Friends vs. Mates

The study tracked the eye movements of over 100 heterosexual graduates as they looked over the photos of men and women. Researchers asked the men if they were interested in either being friends with or dating the person in each picture.

“When the participants had a date in mind, they frequently looked at the head or chest of the individual in the photo,” explains Cox. “However when [they] desired friendship, they frequently looked at the legs and feet of the individual.”

Angela Bahns, an assistant professor of psychology, and who co-authored the study, says the study shows that what people look for in a prospective relationship partner depends on their relational goals. 

“The same person who makes a highly desirable friend may not make a good mate,” she says. “It sounds strange, but, if a guy is fixated on your feet, he probably has friendship in mind.”

5) You’ve become close…but more so as his confidant 

Picture this: the guy you can’t get out of your mind invites you to the quaint little coffee house downtown. 

You get excited and spruce yourself up a bit. You purposely arrive five minutes late so that he is there first waiting for you as you walk in. 

His eyes light up when he sees you (or maybe it was the lighting that made his eyes extra sparkly?).

You order your coffees and he gets right to it. He’s going to say something about his feelings, you think. 

But no.

He wants a female perspective on his women troubles and wants your input. He confides his feelings for a mutual friend’s girlfriend and asks you how he should handle it and if you know how their relationship is really going. 

Your heart feels as empty as your coffee cup. 

One of the biggest signs that a man prefers having you as a friend as opposed to a flame is that he confides in you about his life, says Giulia Simolo from Bolde

“You might think the fact that he’s opening up to you is a good thing, but there is such a thing as too much information, especially in the early stages of getting to know someone.”

Simolo says that if he has no shame about telling you how he’s hit it and split it with some other women, for instance, he’s not trying to make a good first impression

“He’s letting all his secrets hang out because he can’t threaten your relationship, which is totally platonic.”

Ask yourself: At the end of the day, do you really want to be with someone who doesn’t want to be with you?

You deserve to be with someone who sees what a magnificent catch you are. 

Don’t waste time hoping he’ll come around and develop feelings for you, says love coach Jane Garapick from Getting To True Love

Don’t be afraid of “losing” him because you don’t think anyone better will come along.

That’s called fear. 

“It’s the fear that keeps all of us right where we are, whether we’re talking about a relationship, about a job, about a state of being, or about anything else where we’re being nudged out of our comfort zones,” says Garapick. 

“We’ve all been there; you’re not alone in this. [And] there’s a way to fix it. It’s called trust. In you.”

Trust us: someone who’s a better match for you will come along. And you’ll be happy you didn’t pin all your hopes on what’s his name. 

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Picture of Tina Fey

Tina Fey

I've ridden the rails, gone off track and lost my train of thought. I'm writing for Ideapod to try and find it again. Hope you enjoy the journey with me.

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