By: Jenny Foughner, 

Women are talented creatures. I know, because I’m one of them. (Pause; curtsy.) But really: even the most awkward ladies have some part of the coquette act down; we know how to bat our eyelashes to get free stuff at bars, we know how to dress ourselves to get at least a small segment of the dude population to take notice of us, and we know how to keep a guy sweating us whether we’re into him or not. (Yes, it’s a crap move. But, y’know, you guys occasionally take a trip to shadesville where we’re concerned, so let’s all take this opportunity to think about being a little bit nicer to each other. End sermon.)

You know the girl I’m talking about. She might be a friend, or just someone you’ve hung out with a few times (or possibly gone on one or two dates with), but you hang out regularly enough to think that she might be interested in something more. She laughs at your jokes, she calls or texts late at night on the weekends, and she might even let you cuddle with her on the couch when you’re watching a movie, but when you try to get physical, she thwarts your advances. She might even giggle a little and continue to bat her eyelashes at you seductively. Clever, wiley creatures, girls.

As you might have figured out from the title, sometimes girls play hard to get, but sometimes they just play you. Ask yourself the following questions to discern which brand of non-physical relationship you’re dealing with, and if it’s the latter, do yourself a favor and move on. This one won’t be coming round the mountain any time soon.

Does she only call you when she’s drunk?

Fact: women metabolize alcohol at a different rate than men do. Fact the second: women metabolize alcohol in a way that often makes them drunk, which often makes them lonely. Sometimes this loneliness manifests itself as horniness, but usually it just makes the woman in question doubt herself to the extent that she’ll take any male attention she can get. If you’ve been cuddle-called, then you’ve experienced the confusion of thinking you’re the object of a loose woman’s affections, only to discover that you’re actually just serving as a warmer, more human version of the boyfriend pillow she used to have when she was 13. If she’s sober, then it’s possible that she is actually interested in taking things slow, but if she’s drunk, then she’s probably just using the fact that you’re single and willing to leave your house in the middle of the night. Don’t freak out if it happens once, but if it’s a recurring theme, then be assured that you won’t be starring in any rollicking sex comedies any time soon.

Does she complain about other guys to you?

Maybe, in the world of your delusion, listening to a girl complain about her romantic woes is a sign of her interest in you. In the world of actual things, however, this just means that she sees you as a pair of ears that will listen to anything she has to say and not try to interject with your own stupid stories, which is probably what all of her girlfriends do when she tries to talk to them about it. Yes, sometimes women fall for the sensitive guy who listens to their sob stories, but that really only happens about 5% of the time. The other 95% of these stories end with, “and then we stopped talking because she started dating so-and-so.”

Does she let you pay for things without returning the favor?

If you’re dating someone, then you can expect to pay for things some of the time. If you’re friends with someone, then you can expect to split things most of the time. If you’re with a girl who’s leading you on, however, then you can expect to pay for things almost all of the time, because you’re being used. By letting you pay, she ensures that the power dynamic remains such that you feel as though you’re properly dating, until you figure out that none of the other dating stuff, like post-date smooching, is actually happening. It’s nice that you’re willing to pay, but if you’re just a boyfriend place-holder for her, then you shouldn’t have to continually foot the bill.

Does she refuse to go out with you in public?

In this case, ‘public’ refers more to ‘with her friends’ than ‘outside of her apartment.’ Even if a girl is willing to hang with you at a restaurant or a bar, if you’ve been spending time with her for more than a month but have yet to even see one of her friends, then she’s probably not really interested in you. She probably enjoys your company – otherwise she wouldn’t hang out with you at all – but she doesn’t enjoy it enough to trot you out in front of her girls, which is what she’d do with someone who was on the normal dating trajectory. Call her out if you feel so bold, but know that actions really do speak louder than words in this case. Girls want to show off their men, so if she isn’t loud and proud about hanging out with you, she’s probably waiting for something better to come along.