How to Tell a Guy You Like Him Without Pushing Him Away

how to tell a guy you like him

This isn’t junior high. Your strategies for how to tell a guy you like him have evolved. While back then you might have pushed him or teased him to show your interest (counterintuitive, I know), now you need a more sophisticated way to let a man know you’re attracted to him.

The Frustrations of Having a Crush Later in Life


These days, the likelihood that a man is a) straight and b) single, as well as c) interested is a lot lower than it was 20 years ago.

Because of that, you’re reluctant to let a guy know you like him, out of fear of rejection.

Did you realize that men and women handle rejection differently? According to Suzanne Degges-White, PhD, while men take rejection as a challenge to their masculinity, women process it differently:

Women are likely to feel emotionally hurt by the rejection and to assume that there is something lacking in them that warranted the rejection or else blame the person who did the rejecting, but use self-soothing to get over the insult, rather than lashing out as males might do. Women are encouraged to “get over it,” but men often feel the need to “get even.”

It’s completely understandable that you might be hesitant to put yourself out there by learning how to let a guy know you like him, only to risk him turning you down (in your head, you worry he’ll laugh at you, but in reality, he’d probably just tell you he’s married or that he’s flattered but not interested.).

Here’s something you need to know, especially if you’re starting to date again later in life: you can’t avoid rejection. It’s part and parcel of dating — of life, in fact. But you can change your attitude toward it. If you were to approach a man you were interested in and he didn’t reciprocate that feeling, you can tell yourself, “that meant he wasn’t right for me. Better to know that now than waste my time dating him!”

For every man that isn’t a good fit for you, think that you’re one step closer to finding the man who is. See? Rather than looking at it as rejection, you look at it as an opportunity. Much better.

The Benefit of Learning How to Tell a Guy You Like Him

woman has a crush

Telling a guy you like him can give you a confidence boost!

Best case scenario? He’s into you too! But there are other benefits to learning how to tell a guy you like him.

You gain confidence as you learn to read men and their interest in you. Confidence is a skill that will take you far in life and love.  Do you realize how much men find a confident woman attractive? It’s true. Just think about how you’re drawn to a man who’s super confident. He seems to have his sh#% together. He’s not afraid of rejection. He could sweet talk you into anything.

Am I right?

The same goes for the way men see you if you’re a Sexy Confident woman!

The more you put yourself out there and learn how to tell a guy you like him, the better you’ll be able to read the signals that he is, indeed, interested in you in return. Also, you’ll be able to tell when a man isn’t necessarily interested but just being friendly.

You learn what works and what doesn’t, and can improve your game. Maybe the whole hair-twirling thing doesn’t come naturally to you, but you’re good at telling jokes and getting a guy to laugh. Work with what you’ve got and what feels the most natural when it comes to the tips below.

You increase your chance of finding The One.  Just like you can’t win the lottery if you don’t buy a ticket, you can’t find The One if you’re not being proactive about finding him. With every man you let know how you feel, you increase the odds of finding the guy that’s right for you.

19 Ways to Let a Man Know You’re Interested

flirty couple

Learning how to tell a guy you like him has major perks!

Now that you’re convinced that there is value in you learning how to tell a guy you like him, let’s look at some effective strategies. Now, you won’t find any cheesy advice other sites give to 20somethings (like the hair-twirling I joked about above). These are tips that are effective at any age and are guaranteed to get his attention.

1. Flirt a Little

Flirting is a very clear indicator of interest, but realize that men and women have different preferences when it comes to flirting.

In a study published in the journal Sex Roles, researchers asked people to rate the effectiveness of three types of flirty lines.

  • “Pick-up” lines: “Are you tired? Because you’ve been running through my mind all night long!” 
  • Open-ended questions: “What do you recommend on the menu?”
  • Direct approaches: “You’re hot! Can I sit next to you?”

Interestingly, men liked the direct approaches, while women liked the open-ended questions. Nobody really liked the pick-up lines, to no one’s surprise.

So use this information to your advantage. Know that men like it when you’re direct, so asking him the score of the game might not indicate that you’re into him. Be brave! Be more forward than maybe you normally are and get your flirt on!

2. Smile a Lot

Smiling never got anyone into trouble. Studies show that people who smile come off as more likable, which comes in handy if you’re trying to learn how to tell a guy you like him. Smile at him from across the room. Smile while he’s talking. Smile when you meet him. Smile, smile, smile!

3. Just Tell Him

I know I’m being wild suggesting this: just tell him that you’re interested! I know it might seem crazy, but there’s no room for him to misunderstand and you won’t waste time if he’s not interested.

Let’s say you’re having romantic feelings for a guy that’s in your friend group. How can you let him know without messing up your friendship?

First of all, wait until you’re not hanging out with the larger group. When it’s just the two of you, slowly approach the subject.

“We have so much in common. We’d make a great couple!”

“Have you ever thought about us dating?”

“Honestly, you’re everything I’m looking for in a partner. How do you feel about that?”

He may have never considered you as a possible romantic partner, so don’t be hurt if he isn’t sure how to respond. He may just need time to process. If, however, he doesn’t feel the same about you, take some time to get over it and then get back to your friendship. Things may be awkward at first, but once your heart heals, things should be more normal.

4. Ask Him Out

I know women of every age who will wait and wait for a man to ask them out, but my question to that is: why? We live in modern times, where women are just as empowered to ask out men, so why wait for the man to do the hard work?

A woman who will ask a man out is seen as confident and fearless. Trust me: any man you ask out will be so blown away by your assertiveness that he will say yes!

Just make it clear that you’re asking him out on a date, not a friend hang, particularly if you’re already friends. Coffee is a fairly innocent theme for a date, but will he understand that you’re into him if you invite him to coffee? Go for an evening plan, like going out for drinks, dinner, or a concert, and don’t invite anyone else!

5. Invite Him to Go Out With You and Your Friends

On the other hand, if you’re too shy to outright ask him out on a date just the two of you, you might be more comfortable asking him to hang with you and your crew (this assumes he’s not already part of it). Let’s say you’re going on a bar crawl with 10 friends, and you want a guy you occasionally talk to at the gym to go. It may be less intimidating for you both to spend time together in a larger crowd, and it takes the pressure off of it being a date.

You could even have a friend talk to him when you’re not around to gauge his interest in you or let him know that you invited him along because you like him.

6. Listen When He Talks

coffee couple

Talking over coffee…or listening over coffee?

Think about how you feel in the two following scenarios:

Scenario 1: You’re talking to someone, and he keeps interrupting and interjecting. You don’t feel like he’s really listening.

Scenario 2: You’re talking and he’s hanging on every word. Occasionally he’ll ask a question about what you’re saying.

I bet you prefer the second scenario, right? We all do. When someone really listens to us, we feel validated and valued. So turn that around and use it as a way to tell a guy you like him. You should be interested in what he’s saying because you’re into him, so it should be easy to express interest in what he’s talking about.

7. Ask Him Questions

Whether you ask questions about what he’s talking about or other things, this is a great way to show that you’re interested in him.

If you already know the guy, think back to what he’s told you in the past (bonus points for going way back in time!). Maybe last week he told you he had a root canal scheduled this week. Ask how it went. Maybe years ago, he told you he secretly wanted to learn to play the bagpipes. Ask if he ever took lessons. He’ll be blown away that you remembered!

8. Do Something Thoughtful

Show that you’re thinking of him by doing something sweet. Here are a few ideas:

  • Bring him his favorite coffee drink order while he’s working
  • Bake him cookies
  • Book tickets to see his favorite band
  • Buy him a book that made you think of him
  • Send him a text: “thinking of you!”

The gesture doesn’t have to be grand or expensive; your goal here is to show him that you’re thinking of him (as more than a friend) so that maybe he’ll start thinking of you that way too.

9. Ask for His Help

man helping

Sure, you could stand on a chair, but why not let him help?

Men like to feel needed. Yes, I know you’re an independent woman who doesn’t need a man to open jars and kills spiders, but what’s the harm in letting him help? I hear from women who are 40 or older that they’ve learned to be so independent from being single that sometimes it’s hard to ask for help or rely on someone else, so this exercise will be helpful to you. Helping one another is part of a healthy relationship, so why not start now?

This can be big or small: you could ask him to reach something on a high shelf…or ask him to help you change your tire. Whatever it is, be sure to express your gratitude afterward. If it was a bigger favor, you could leverage that by telling him that you now owe him dinner!

10. Show Him a Different Side of You

If you’re crushing on a male friend, he’s probably seen one side of you: hair messy, wearing pjs and bingeing on ice cream. You might be so comfortable around your guy friend that you burp and fart around him.

Let’s pull back from that level of comfort (you might get back to it as a couple!) and show him a different side of you. Make an effort to look nice when you see him. Put on some manners. Flirt a little. He might be confused (“who’s this sexy, flirty woman who has replaced my friend?”) but in the long run, he’ll be glad to see you in a new light.

11. Open Up to Him

Sharing vulnerable moments is another lesson in how to tell a guy you like him. Maybe you’re friends, but not super close, and now you’re interested in getting even closer. You could share something personal, like a story from your past, or just talk to him about your hopes and dreams.

No man is going to take you opening up to him lightly. He’ll feel honored for the opportunity and hopefully reciprocate with his own vulnerability.

12. Compliment Him

woman smiling at man

If you’re thinking something nice, say it aloud!

Everyone loves being complimented, don’t they? Men, in particular, like being complimented in one or more of the following ways. You can compliment the man you like about:

  • His appearance
  • His effort (fixing that leaky pipe)
  • His personality
  • His intelligence
  • His decision-making
  • His personality
  • How you feel around him

Don’t go overboard with the compliments, or it will come off as insincere. Instead, if you catch yourself thinking something like, “He looks really good in that blue shirt,” make a point of saying it out loud.

13. Don’t Try to Be His Friend

You may be confused about this tip on how to tell a guy you like him. Wouldn’t becoming his friend be a good way to get closer to him? Yes and no. The problem with becoming closer as a friend is that puts you at risk of ending up in the Friend Zone. He may become so used to you being there for him as a friend that he is unable to see you in a romantic light.

So, yes, spend more time around him, but don’t start talking about dating other people or giving him advice about other women. It’s a pattern you don’t want to start.

14. Have a Friend Tell Him

So maybe you’re too shy to outright tell a man that you’re interested in him. Go back to junior high to a strategy that I’m pretty sure everyone did back then: have a friend deliver the message.

Obviously, your friend will be more subtle than she would have been as a teenager. Assuming she’s also friends with the guy, she can broach the subject by asking if he’s dating anyone, and, if not, ask what he thinks about you. He may still be clueless as to what she’s getting at, so she could say something like, “I think you two would make a great couple. Have you ever considered asking her out?”

If he’s absolutely not interested, he doesn’t have to tell you directly, and your friend can relay the message. You go on pretending you have no idea they talked and move on with your life.

15. Touch Him in the Right Places


The right touch can say a lot about how you feel.

A flirty touch is another way to communicate that you’re interested. I’m not suggesting you touch him sexually, but there are certain ways to touch a man that will show that you’re attracted to him. When you’re talking to him, lean forward and lightly touch his arm (forearm or bicep). If you can find an excuse to touch his hand, go for it! Maybe you reach for the same piece of cheese, “accidentally” resulting in you brushing his hand with your fingers. If you’re standing up, touch his shoulder or back.

16. Buy Him a Drink

Here’s another tip on how to tell a guy you like him if you’re drawn to a man in a bar who you haven’t yet met: buy him a drink.

How this works: tell your server that the next drink the man orders is on you. The server will know what he’s drinking, so it should be easy. When the server tells the guy that you just bought him a drink, he’ll look over at you. Smile and wave. If he smiles back, you can either wait for him to come over and introduce himself, or you can be brave and walk over to him. It’s a rare move that’s sure to get his attention!

17. Show Interest in His Hobbies

For a man you know at least a little, find out what his hobbies are and show interest. Ask questions about them.

If he rock climbs, how did he get started? Does he do it indoors or outdoors? Is it hard? What does it take to get started? PS: asking about his hobbies with interest is a good way to possibly be asked to try them out with him!

18. Let Him Teach You Something

I’m not sure why, but when a man teaches a woman how to do something, it makes him feel more manly somehow. You could follow up on the hobbies conversation by asking if he’ll teach you how to do his hobby. If he’s into cars, you could ask him to help you change your oil or a tire. If he speaks another language, you could ask for language lessons.

Just be genuinely interested in learning whatever it is so that you come off as genuine…plus you learn something useful, regardless of whether things work out with this man or not!

19. Get Him Away from Your Friend Crowd

Just like becoming friends with a guy can lessen your chance of dating him, so can hanging out with a larger group of friends. If you’re constantly surrounded by eight other people, it will be hard to direct the conversation toward romantic interest (plus it would be embarrassing if any of them overheard you!).

If you’re out with friends, try to separate yourself and the guy from the pack. Walk slower or faster than the rest of the herd and start a conversation using one of these tips on how to tell a guy you like him.

You could also ask him (when you’re one-on-one) to do something without everyone else, like grab tacos after going to the bar, or getting coffee the next day. Just make sure no one else overhears and invites themselves!

If You Were Friends Before You Had the Crush…

couple dancing

Your friendship is the most important thing, so act accordingly.

Be aware that dating a male friend could end the friendship as you know it. Whether you end up dating and then breaking up a few months down the road, or whether he’s not interested in you from the start, trying to add in a romantic element to this friendship could very likely destroy it, so be cognizant of that.

Be sure that your crush is serious before you act on it. Ask yourself: would I be okay if our friendship ended because of this? You might wait it out a few weeks and see if you still have feelings for him, or if they’ve faded. It’s normal to get crushes on the guys you spend a lot of time with, so sit on your feelings a while to make sure they’re genuine before acting on them.

If He’s a Stranger…

If you meet this guy through a dating app or in a bar, find out what you can about him before you get in too deep.

Google him to see what you can dig up. I don’t want to make you paranoid, but there are married men on dating apps. There are also a lot of creeps. If you could find out, for example, that a guy has a criminal record by finding out something online, you’ll save yourself the hassle of investing time and emotions in him.

Reverse search his photo to make sure he is who he says he is, and that he isn’t catfishing you.  In a Google search, click the camera icon and upload your photo of the guy from a dating app. If that image has been used anywhere online, like social media, it will appear in the results. Just check to make sure the social profile matches who the guy says he is!

Also look for any negative information (like a police record) in search results for his name, if you have his last name.

BUT don’t go deeper! You don’t want to find out things that you have to pretend you don’t know on a date!


Figuring out how to tell a guy you like him may take time if you haven’t dated in years. You’ve got to build up the confidence to know that, regardless of whether he’s also interested in you, you will be okay with the outcome. Once you realize that, it’s much easier to express your feelings.


Adam LoDolce

Love Strategist

My true passion in life is transforming your love life by giving you specific tools and techniques that you can use to attract long lasting love. I got started when...Read Adam's Story

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1 year ago

love all these good suggestions! Thank you

1 year ago

No they won’t …. be blown away after being asked out by a woman and automatically say yes.
I asked a man recently (twice actually in case I wasn’t clear the first time). He didn’t even reply

1 year ago

Well, I finally decided to put myself out there. And just tell that coworker – so much younger than me – that I liked him. A lot. Too much under the circumstances. He was shocked. But not too much. He admitted that, looking back, signs were there but he never realized. He didn’t turned me down, but didn’t told me he wasn’t interested either. What he DID say though was that it takes a lot of courage to say something like that. “I can’t lie to you, you know that.” But this afternoon, we were all out at lunch break,… Read more »

11 months ago

Yeah I told a guy I like him and he hasnt said whether he feels the same or not and this was 3 months ago. Now past week ove been seeing possible signs of interest so

7 months ago

i had my friend tell my love interest i like them. i found out he liked me back but never made a move or anything. i really dont know what to do. he shows all the signs. just wont make the move. i really dislike making the first move what do i do? please help.

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