Why Do Guys Flirt When They Are Not Interested? 5 Surprising Answers

woman pulling a man's tie in black and whiteOne of the biggest complaints I hear from women as a dating coach is that a guy seems interested in them, they read the signs, feel a connection, then nothing happens.

Usually, they have a great date, but he never calls them back. In some cases, they meet a man online and have fun, flirty conversations, and then he ghosts them. Or, they meet a great guy somewhere like a club, they flirt, and he won’t make a move.

Many women ask why do guys flirt if they are not interested? Men ask the same question of women, of course.

Flirting is the human “language” of attraction. It evolved as a negotiation process where both partners determine mutual attraction. So, when you flirt with someone else and they flirt back, you’re both determining sexual compatibility–or lack of it. It’s a way of safely testing the waters without being overt, and in a way, it’s the subtle, often non-verbal, mating dance of humans.

This means that not every instance of flirting leads to romance. If it seemed like you had a great connection with a guy but nothing happened, this article will explain why he flirted, but wasn’t interested.

You Felt It; He Didn’t

When I was a junior in high school, I had a huge crush on a freshman girl. I talked to her all the time and even let her share my locker. We flirted a lot, but when I asked her to go to a dance with me, she turned me down.

Looking back, I flirted, but she didn’t really return the favor. Remember, flirting is a negotiation process towards a relationship. I had determined that she would make a great partner. But, she didn’t agree.

Sometimes guys will be friendly, funny, and charming with you and you take it as flirting and flirt with them. But, they don’t feel a romantic connection. You just felt something strong and assumed they did too. If he isn’t interested, then he likely didn’t feel it, or at least not on the level you did.

He Can’t Date You

If you met a guy who seemed great and clearly flirted back, it’s possible that he does like you. But, for whatever reason, he can’t date you.

For example, if you met him online, then he might secretly be in a relationship. So, he might like you and enjoyed the flirting, but he can’t take it any further. A lot of people on dating apps are married or in a relationship. One study confirmed that 42 percent of all people on Tinder aren’t even single!

Or, he might feel attracted to you and be single, but he has trouble coping with actual relationships. This could be due to trust issues or emotional problems. He also might not be ready for a relationship or wants a different type (e.g. casual). He flirts and he’s interested, but can’t or won’t give you the kind of relationship you want.

He Is Clueless

If you’re wondering why do guys flirt when they are not interested, you need to look at a basic male-female difference.

woman in sweater looking at computerStudies have shown that men are simply less skilled than women at reading emotional and social cues. And, flirting occurs in the limbic system, which is the non-logical part of the brain associated with…you guessed it…emotion.

So, a guy might be enjoying your company, showing you his humor, charm, and wit, but not be picking up on your flirting.

He might not only be clueless about your flirting, but he might not even be aware that he is flirting! He could be overthinking the whole situation too.

This means that he is interested in some level, but can’t or won’t take the next logical step of asking you out.

He Likes Attention

You know what is incredibly fun? Flirting! I personally love nothing more than meeting someone new and attractive, making a connection, and then having a fun, friendly, exciting conversation with her.

Flirting releases many feel-good chemicals in the brain. And, like with anything pleasurable, some people get addicted to the feeling.

As a result, many guys will flirt because they enjoy the feeling that comes with it. They enjoy the attention of women that flirting brings. But, rather than actually wanting a connection, they simply want to flirt. So, if you want more, then they will come across as just a tease.

He Is Interested (But May Not Admit It)

Remember earlier what I said about some men being dense and clueless? Well, that could be good news for you!

If a guy flirts with you, and does it consistently, then it represents a very strong sign of attraction. Remember, however, that flirting happens in the emotional part of the brain. This means that he is subconsciously attracted to you, but might not logically know it yet.

So, if you continue to notice him flirting with you, I would bet that he actually does like you. Something, however, is holding him back. This is especially true if you only notice him flirting in certain places or contexts, like if he’s been drinking alcohol.

Asian couple at a restaurantYou might need to make your intentions clear, try to move the relationship to another level, or make him feel more comfortable by letting him know that you want him to make a move.

And, sometimes even if you do try to ask him out, he still may turn you down.

Why? For the same reason women will flirt with a guy heavily, but still turn him down. Maybe he doesn’t see a future. Maybe he knows your personalities are too different, or maybe his friends and family expect him to date a certain type of person, and you’re not it, even if he does feel a lot of attraction. Sadly, many people are highly out of touch with what they really want.

I hope this article helped you better understand the guy in your life who flirts, but also doesn’t seem interested.

Remember, however, that in the end, men, like women, are complicated and you might not figure out the exact reason. If you truly need to know, just ask!

About the Author

Jonathan Bennett

Jonathan Bennett

Jonathan Bennett is a writer, speaker, and dating/relationship expert. He's helped millions through his articles, speaking, consulting, and coaching. He's appeared in over 500 major publications, including Business Insider, The Wall Street Journal, and Psychology Today.

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3 comments on “Why Do Guys Flirt When They Are Not Interested? 5 Surprising Answers

  • December 7, 2020 at 1:51 pm

    Thank you for this it helped some what the only thing I have to ask you is why would a man do this then stare at you for months after he’s not interested and I’m not his type but he looked for months hel

    • December 10, 2020 at 2:41 pm
      David Bennett

      There could be multiple reasons. He might be interested in terms of visual attraction, but maybe he knows it won’t work out for some reason (personality conflict, etc). I also think a lot of the “type” language people use when dating is kind of ridiculous and can be out of touch with true feelings. I don’t think most people really know their type. I know people who have had crushes on people clearly not their type, but then dated their “type,” and ended up miserable. I believe “types” often are based on peer pressure, society’s pressure, and other factors and may not always reflect visceral attraction.

  • February 14, 2021 at 4:08 pm
    Catherine Dattke

    Hi a married man is consistently flirting with me at work and seeking my company even when I try to keep out of his way. The problem is that I find him attractive too and we do get on really well. This situation is making me unhappy as I know that there’s no future in it. How can I protect my emotions??


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