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If you have ever been led on, you know how confusing and hurtful the situation was. When you happen to be the one leading someone on, their feelings are just as vulnerable.
Sometimes, people lead others on, and it doesn't always have to involve a romantic situation, on purpose. Other times, we are unaware of what we are doing.
Today, let's take time to explore this subject and find out if you may be leading someone on and how you can change that situation.
What Does Leading Someone On Mean?
Leading someone on means that you are allowing them to believe something that is absolutely not true. This could be a boss allowing an employee to think there is a raise or promotion in the future when there isn't.
In most cases, it is leading a romantic partner into believing you want more of a relationship than you do. Very often, the person doing the leading isn't aware of the signals they are sending, but many other people lead someone on because they are seeking a benefit from doing so.
Let's take a closer look at why one person might lead another one on.
Why Would Someone Lead Someone On?
Reason 1. It's Unintentional
It is possible that one person may not know the depth of another's feelings. This can happen when two friends become close and one partner falls for the other.
In other cases, you may just simply be an outgoing person who tries to treat everyone as special and this causes someone to read more into your actions than intended.
You may also be a bit socially uninformed and not realize how others may interpret a touch or gift.
Reason 2. Liking the Attention
Some people, especially narcissists, love the attention that comes with someone being interested in them, even if they don't feel the same way.
They like having someone around that will drop everything to keep them company or do things for or with them. This kind of undivided attention makes them feel important and in control.
Reason 3. Insecurity
If you are insecure, having someone you know you can count on may make you feel a strong need to make sure they don't leave you. It may not occur to you that you are playing with their heart and head.
You are only focused on the thought of being alone and even if you aren't really interested in them in particular, you feel someone is better than no one.
Reason 4. You Have a Habit of Self-Sabotaging
It could be that you tend to show interest but, deep down, don't really believe you deserve a relationship. This often causes a person to self-sabotage on a regular basis.
Reason 5. You Don't Want to Hurt Them
You know you don't share their feelings, but you don't want to hurt their feelings. You are afraid that they won't be able to handle rejection, so you play along.
Reason 6. You are Scared or Unsure
Maybe you started out wanting a relationship but the idea scares you and you start to feel like you want to run. You don't want them to leave if you can overcome this uncertainty, so you don't let them know.
Reason 7. They Mis-understood Your Intentions
In some cases, a person who is kind and open can find their actions misunderstood by the other person. This is especially true when the person who misunderstands is not very experienced in relationships.
Signs You Are Leading Someone On
Now, let's take a closer look at some ways you could be leading someone on.
Sign 1. You always answer messages.
When someone takes the time to talk to you every time you call or immediately answer text messages, you start believing they are excited to hear from you. It feels like they drop everything just for communication.
Sign 2. You share private jokes.
Private jokes that are shared between two people are really special.
It's something that only you two have and is rarely done with casual acquaintances.
Sign 3. Your friends keep asking you where things stand.
Your friends see how much time you spend together and how your attention is often directed toward the other person. They begin to see it as a deeper relationship.
Sign 4. You feel jealous when they pay attention to someone else.
You may not want to admit it, but you worry that your hold on them is failing. You may begin to panic.
Sign 5. You treat them like your platonic besties.
You don't put up the same boundaries you would with a person you weren't interested in getting to know on a deeper level.
Sign 6. You shower them with compliments.
It's nice to want to make someone feel good, but you tend to always find something to compliment this person each time you are together. Even doing so in front of others.
Sign 7. You share everything with them.
They know your deepest secrets and fears. You don't place any limits on what you discuss, even deeply personal issues.
We don't speak of many things with those we want to keep at a distance.
Sign 8. You've stopped dating others.
You can't remember when you last went out with someone else. You see this person as your go-to person for entertainment.
Sign 9. You flirt a lot and are touchy-feely.
Some people naturally flirt and they are touchers. When a person isn't used to this, they can take such actions as signs that you are more interested than you are.
Sign 10. Sign 7You let them buy you presents and pay when you go out.
You allow them to buy you things all the time, not just on birthdays. When you go out, you let them do all the paying and never grab the tab yourself or offer to split the bill.
Sign 11. You talk about future events you will share.
This lets them believe you plan on having them around for the long haul. You see them as part of your future and this gives them hope.
How to Stop Leading Someone On
Whether you are leading a person on intentionally, or have just realized that you are sending the wrong signals, it is important that this stop. Playing with a person's feelings can cause a lot of lasting damage. Here are some ways you can start to change the dynamics of your relationship.
Be Completely Honest
Sit down with the person in question and tell them exactly how you feel. Let them know if you are confused or if you don't think of them in the same way they think of you. This may hurt for the moment, but it will do a lot less psychological damage in the long run.
If you have been doing this intentionally, it might be helpful to seek out counseling to find out why you act this way. Taking care of the underlying reasons will help you avoid such behavior in the future.
Apologize if Necessary
If you have been sending mixed signals, don't hesitate to apologize. Explain what has happened and let them know you did not mean to hurt them and that you value their friendship. Make an effort to avoid behaviors that they misunderstand in the future.
Having a talk about what you did to send the message that you want more will help you both understand each other better and prevent you from continuing this harmful behavior.
Give Them Some Space
It may be best if you take some time away from each other so you can both process what has occurred. Let them know you aren't ending your friendship completely but believe some time apart might make the situation more clear.
It is possible that they may walk away entirely, being too hurt and confused to stick with mere friendship, but it is better than allowing things to continue getting worse. False hope destroys people.
Final Thoughts on Leading Someone On
Everyone cherishes a good friendship and we should all strive to create and foster those in our lives. In order to do this, it is essential that both people understand what the other is expecting from the relationship.
Evaluate the way you treat people and ask yourself if there is any way your actions might be misinterpreted. When you become aware of these actions, you can be upfront with people from the start. This could prevent future broken hearts and trust issues… for both you and the other person.