8 Signs The Guy You’re Dating Is Playing You

We recently discussed 8 signs of a toxic relationship, where some often-overlooked abusive tendencies came into light for many people. Tendencies that we brush off in modern society as “normal” or “just the way things are.” In reality – we need to help our peers recognize signs of positive and negative relationships so we can improve the health and happiness of those around us.

There is another layer to this problem, though – a layer that is not as blatantly toxic, but still harmful to our psyche and self-confidence; if our partner is playing us.

If you are being played, it will feel like you are being emotionally toyed with or led on without any real intention of building a relationship. Everyone who does this will have their own reasons, but let’s explore what it might look like from the receiving end.



Nothing ever moves forward.

Anyone who wants a long term relationship with someone they love (or, say they love) will want to see some sort of progression sooner rather than later. First you become exclusive, eventually the L bomb is dropped, things get more serious, and so on and so forth.

Someone who is playing you will tell you they want these things, but never actually follow through. These people are like the employees who only work hard enough so they don’t get fired, and the only time they ever put any real effort in is when they’re afraid they might get canned. Move on.


You never get to decide. Anything.

Relationships are about compromise. They are about two people who want to see each other happy and put in effort to make it happen. If one partner in the relationship is constantly taking control without considering the other’s feelings – it’s a clear sign that you’re just along for the ride and they are simply inserting you into their pre-existing life, not looking to build a new one with you.


They’re always making you feel guilty.

When you do finally decide to do something, whether it involves them or not, they will always have something negative to say about it. Why? Because this is how they get to control you by playing with your emotions, increasing your insecurity and therefore decreasing the likelihood that you branch out away from them.

They are being overly possessive and toying with your emotions, this will not get better, break the chains now.



They take jabs at your insecurities.

Nobody – nobody who really cares about you will ever purposely make you feel bad about yourself, no matter how small or “harmless” their comment might be. Someone who is playing you will continue to manipulate your emotions by learning the things that you are sensitive about, and keeping them in an arsenal of snide remarks to use to keep you under their finger.


Double standards.

Oh, it’s totally cool if they do that thing but it’s a big no-no if you do it? Uh, yeah, peace out.


Their level of closeness is always wavering.

Someone who loves and cares for you will be consistent in the way they act towards you. Consistency is a big part of a healthy relationship, because without it you never know what you are going to get from someone, and how are you supposed to build a solid foundation with a person like that?

If you find that your partner becomes closer to you, especially if they want something from you, but then distances themselves either physically or emotionally when there is no “purpose” for being around you, this is a big problem and you need to address it.



They never make real commitments.

Revert back to point #1 for this one, but add more onto it. Instead of just making a commitment to you and the relationship, this is more so about commitments they make in terms of plans, dates, events, decisions together, whatever.

The lack of willingness to commit to, say, a weekend away is more than just a scheduling conflict. After enough last minute cancellations, it becomes evident that this person is trying to keep their options open – which is not something you do in a committed relationship.


They only do nice things to get what they want.

I have said it before and I’ll say it again. Any act of kindness for the sake of a reward, is not really an act of kindness.

In a happy, healthy relationship, both partners should give without obligation and receive without expectation. Selfless giving (emotionally, not material items) from both teammates helps to build a great foundation between two people. Doing something for him/her so you can get something back, is playing games and being manipulative.


Life is too short for playing mind games with someone we are pretending to care about, or trying to figure out the games someone we care about is playing with us. Have the dignity and respect for yourself to walk away from anyone who hasn’t grown up enough to treat you as you deserve.

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32 thoughts on “8 Signs The Guy You’re Dating Is Playing You

  1. “We recently discussed…”
    I haven’t seen much discussion, other than people telling you that you’re sophmoric in your analysis and OPINIONS.

    1. Hi Fred! Thanks for your comment – I was unaware that you’ve seen every discussion on all of my social media pages on every article.

      That being said, do you disagree with the points in this article? I’d like to hear your constructive feedback if you think these signs are invalid.

      Thanks so much for taking the time to visit the site!

      – James

      1. Hello again James,

        I don’t need to read every book in psychology or sociology to know you’re way underprepared to tackle many of the difficult subjects you address. Likewise, I need only read a sampling of your writings and the comments by professionals that are advising you to keep quiet and stop damaging people with your opinions. But, you blindly go ahead, discussion or not.

        — Fred

        P.S. I haven’t seen a biography, but let me take a guess: You were raised by a feminist mother figure (possibly homosexual) without a significant male presence in your youth? This would explain you misandry and obvious pandering for female approval.

      2. Hi there Fred!

        Nice guess, but, unfortunately you are off base. My parents are still happily married after 35 years and were/are both very much involved in my life, so perhaps your cynicism is a bit misplaced.

        If you visit the “Speaking/Media” tab of my website, there are multiple testimonials from people who have been helped by my opinions – perhaps that’s because they understand that that’s all they are…one guy’s opinions.

        However, if you could provide one single example of someone being “damaged” by my opinions, I would very much like to be made aware of it. So far, though, never heard of anything like that.

        Thanks again for spending so much time on my website, it does wonders for my rankings!

        All the best,

        – James

      3. Another thing, Fred – I’ve yet to hear any criticism of the actual material in this article. What, specifically, do you disagree with? Do you not think these are signs that a guy is playing someone? Your off-base personal insults are entertaining but hold no real value in this conversation.

      4. So James, you are just the archetype Prince out to save the damsels from all the horrible men out there? Your “sorry” in response to the question of a reader asking if you are single was so telling—so sad for her that you’re already taken. She must have been devastated.

        Without knowing who reads your blog, how would I know how many you’ve damaged with false information? As to an idea of yours that is false, let’s start with this one.
        Women today are so focused on avoiding the “player”. I don’t know if you’ve used the term in other articles, but that would be someone who is playing with women, rather than getting serious. The topic of this misguided article.

        In my occupation as a professor, I’ve met thousands of young men. My consulting work brings me in contact with hundreds more that are in the workforce. Out of ten thousand men, there might be one genuine player, of skill and cunning as to be able to deceive a normally perceptive woman. I’ll bet that given the odds, the average woman has a one in one-thousand chance of meeting said player, and she better be darn gorgeous and desirable to do so, because that’s where these types head.

        So, who are all these men (players) the women are complaining about? Men who are still searching for themselves and their direction. A small percentage of men, that aren’t already committed, are ready and available at any time for serious relationship, about the same percentage as women. Actually, I’ll insert my opinion here, at any given time I believe fewer women are ready for the sacrifices and maturity that a serious relationship demands. They live in what I’ve termed the Disney Bubble.
        For more examples, I suggest you read the comments from others in your articles. I think one such comment came from a Sophia (sorry, don’t remember where) and her credentials appeared impeccable and her logic clear.

        Finally, your obsession over “ratings” is telling too, if not vexing. Oh great helper, do you dream of someday seeing the big-white-letters “HOLLYWOOD” outside your grand office window?

      5. Hi James, I generally try to avoid making someone bad as I find most people do this in an effort to dehumanize as a justification towards mistreatment of another. However, I must say I find Fred to be a troll and he therefore removes himself from warranting a thoughtful reply from yourself or others. Keep fighting the good fight! Love your work and words! – Cindi

  2. Thank you for posting this. But I wonder, do they act that way on purpose or they are not aware they are playing, because this is just the way they are. Thanks, S.

  3. Hello James, Thank you for your very accurate analysis. This would also apply to any toxic relationship, As I have seen this type for behavior with my ex-husband and the way is treats his own children. Unfortunately they just can’t walk away but your post puts words into possible unexplained feelings that children can’t articulate. I have seen many friends in toxic relationships that are EXACTLY the way you describe this “player” mentality. Regardless of the relationship, dating, parenting, this type of manipulation in any relationship is hurtful, emotional abuse and can cause long term insecurities.

    I do agree with Sasha that some of these personalities types may not even realize or care what their actions are doing to other people, since its always about them anyway. Its just who they are and they aren’t capable of changing. All relationships should be based on unconditional love, mutual respect, and an genuine acceptance of who we are as individuals.

    1. Here is an example of how Jame’s kind of “humanist” thinking hurts people. “All relationships should be based on unconditional love…”. Pure poppycock! Only one relationship type should involve unconditional love—parent to child. Respect is earned. Acceptance has broad limitations.

      To elaborate with an example, if I had a brother (I don’t) that was a pedophile priest, my relationship with him wouldn’t include any of the three.

      Finally, the term emotional abuse has been usurped by the popular press to include any behavior that someone simply doesn’t like. In reality, there is very little real, unidirectional-emotional abuse in advanced American and European societies. Again, a little study on the topic would reduce the wailing I’m sure to hear on this.

      1. Hi Fred!

        Yes, I’m in complete agreement with you, which I hope isn’t surprising since the “All relationships should be based on unconditional love” quote is not something I actually said, but an arbitrary statement you made up assuming it would be something I’d preach.

        Many of my articles are about holding one’s self to standards both in how they act, and in what they accept within a relationship. I would think that this, perhaps, would be in alignment with your view.

        In addition, many of my articles do discuss toxic relationships and less common signs of emotional abuse. I would never, ever suggest someone stay in a relationship like this and am a frequent advocate against abuse in the first place.

        I hope this helps to clarify my position! Thanks so much for putting so much effort into this.

        All the best,

        – James

  4. I would say these are sign of a player as well as any guy that doesn’t understand how to treat a woman with respect and love. Sometimes it’s not always intentional as well. Though, that doesn’t make it any more excusable.

    1. Good advice Tina, my surgeon wife (of twenty-six years) could be wicked with a scalpel. Although I’m sure her wit would leave you speechless with less effort.

      1. Well if you’ve been married for 26 years (happily, I hope) why are you trolling articles such as these? Case in point, maybe your wife should use that scalpel on things that lie in bed with her. 😉

      2. Happy to answer your question Tina. It seems that Mr. Sama’s blog has become an example to the academic community of how the rigors of scientific publishing (research, peer-review, editing, etc.) have been thwarted by internet blogging novices who spew unverified facts, theories and ideas with zero vetting and just a few minutes of qualification (which involves simply filling out a web form). A colleague brought into discussion, in the faculty club one lunch-time, several such sites that have gained “awards” of dubious prestige.

      3. AGREED – You need some type of disclaimer on your site so people don’t mistake it for professional advice.

    1. Yep Tricia, they hand out Ph.D.s to idiots. Now, to paraphrase James, could you please share with me why you disagree with my logic?

      1. Hi Fred, just wondering what PHD major u have received. I believe everybody has their own opinions and we are never ask u to 100% agree with what Mr.Sama’s writing. If u don’t agree u should stop following his articles, really…make ur own articles. Counter his arguments with ur blog. I don’t care if u have PHD or whatever in psychology, it doesn’t make u know more. Nobody can understand human’s heart completely. U should learnt to accept that sometimes ur opinions is not correct for some but correct for the rest.

  5. Let’s vote: Fred is 1) emasculated at home by his “wife the surgeon” 2) Fred is a ticking time bomb of anger management issues 3) Fred is an abuser 4) Fred desperately needs counseling and/or medication or 5) all of the above.
    I vote for 5 + Fred needs a life.

    Fred, good job making James’
    points. Well done.

  6. I don’t really give a shit about Fred. However, JMS I do enjoy your book, and I learn something from everyone of your articles, blogs or 10 reasons to know whatever. Its all good stuff. I know from reading this article above that it was “I” that was played by the woman not the other way around. Point by point you nailed it without me having to say a word. Thank you for helping me formulate in my mind what actually transpired over the brief 4 months I was with this woman. I was blind to all the red flags, smitten by her beauty, and she played me like a fiddle! It can be smothering to be so controlled by someone who really doesn’t want to commit to relationship yet stated right up front she did…

  7. I love James’ articles. They confirm what I’ve always believed what a healthy relationship is supposed to look like, and how men and women should behave in a relationship. Smart, genuine, sincere, positive, and insightful; Quite refreshing, actually. Thank you, James! And… Go scratch Fred!

  8. People go to the bible “the word of god” for truth and love ..humans wisdom is futile God knows what best for us all, jesus is the way the truth and the life every man should be looking for a proverbs 31 women and every women should be looking for a man thats first love and role model is jesus christ, pray this message blesses someone.

  9. i came here to see is the guy im dating is a player, but i only found out that my bff is a fake bitch.

  10. I am a divorced mother, just re-entering the dating scene and have discovered it is filled with “players,” (yes, Fred, I did say FILLED, meaning, saturated with “players.” I found Fred’s comment amusing, “Out of ten thousand men, there might be one genuine player, of skill and cunning as to be able to deceive a normally perceptive woman.” How would you possibly know this, Fred? Are you the object of their desire? Do they exercise their seductive prowess on you? Do you meet them at the night club and watch? Do you really think you have a detailed pulse on 10,000 men’s nocturnal agenda and sex life?

    James, I enjoyed your article and found several pertinent points within it I have already encountered in the dating world. I think Fred either has a man crush on you or he simply has nothing better to do with all his PhD intellect than to spend his time trolling your site and spewing his vitriol. What a peach! To Ms. Firestone: My condolences.

  11. I really liked this article. It’s very helpful with understanding players. I wish I had read this sooner but glad I read it now.

    I was married to a player and it took me a few years to see the signs. But once I saw them, it did not take me long to make my decision to leave him. He did not put up a fight or even try to repair our marriage. I knew then I was making the right decision.

    Thank you again for your blog. I look forward to reading more of them

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