14 Signs A Girl Is Leading You On And Toying With Your Heart

Dating experience | | , Copywriter
Updated On: May 6, 2024
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So you have this girl in your life who is always looking for your attention, shows interest in you, might even go on a few dates, and yet does not think of you as a partner. When you ask her if she wants to make the relationship official, she always finds excuses to say no. She hangs out with you, gets all touchy-feely, behaves like your girlfriend, and suddenly when you least expect it, she withdraws. You wonder why she is suddenly losing interest and start chasing her even more. Be careful, these could be signs she is leading you on.

Do you keep thinking about how complicated the situation is and wish your love was more simple and brought you happiness and joy? Then let us try to understand why she is leading you on and why the relationship is going nowhere despite your efforts. And no, you are probably not misreading the signals she is giving you; she is simply toying with your heart.

One minute she shows signs she is interested in you, and the next, she is distant and will avoid you for days on end. And you keep asking yourself, “Is she leading me on?” Well, your confused state of mind is hardly a surprise and definitely not your fault. Leading someone on in a relationship unintentionally or intentionally does have repercussions. And if you are at the receiving end of this behavior, we’re here to help you identify the clear signs she’s leading you on so that you can take measures to protect yourself.

14 Signs She Is Leading You On To Nowhere

Leading someone on in a relationship is not uncommon and it is sometimes done unintentionally. When a woman is unsure, is looking for attention, is always looking for better options but keeping you as a standby, she could be leading you on. You may feel like she is playing with your emotions and this breaks your heart little by little every day. But there will also be times when she is so loving and perfect that you can’t believe your luck that you found her.

Some of the best moments of your life would have been with her and you might slowly fall head over heels in love with her. She behaves like your girlfriend, and yet refuses to acknowledge it. If that sounds relatable, the leading you on meaning must be amply clear to you by now. 

Possibly, this clarity has brought in its wake a host of other questions. Why would a girl lead you on? How to know if a girl is playing you? What are the signs a girl is messing with your mind and heart, using you to get attention, and treating you as a backup plan? Here’s how to tell if a girl is leading you on:

Related Reading: Are You A Standby Lover? 15 Signs You Are A Backup Boyfriend

1. The relationship is a secret

How to tell if a girl is leading you on, you wonder? One of the most telling indicators that you’re being led on by a girl is that even if she is dating you and you share an intimate relationship, to others, you are still just friends who may be on the verge of dating. The real equation between the two of you remains hidden and she prefers it that way. When she introduces you to her friends, she always refers to you as a ‘good friend’ and brushes off any suggestions about a romantic connection between you two.

You’re in a secret relationship — she doesn’t acknowledge your relationship on social media, go on dates with you, or tell her closest friends about you. If things get intense from your end, she might even tell you, “I don’t want to lead you on.” What’s the leading you on meaning when you’re already kind of, sort of dating, you may wonder. Well, she is having fun but may not be ready for commitment.

2. Her plans don’t include you

Leading someone on in a relationship means that there are no clear conversations about the future. You may be making plans about how to take things to the next level but she will dodge any discussions about where this is going. Even if she does talk to you about her future plans — be it a vacation or her career goals — you will see that you don’t feature in any of them. Count it as one of the signs you’re being led on by a girl.

When she plans her future, you are not even an afterthought. She may sleep with you but will turn away when it comes to laying your true feelings for each other on the table. She probably does not see you in her life for the long term, nor does she think you will play any role in her future. This is an absolute tell-tale sign she is leading you on.

why do girls lead you on
She could be leading you on if you don’t feature in her life plans

3. She acts moody and distant

Hot and cold is one of the most telling signs she is leading you on. When you pursue her and give her attention, she becomes detached and distant and may even avoid you. She will keep playing hard to get. She may stop calling you, replying to your texts, and meeting you altogether. Whenever you feel like the relationship is taking two steps forward, she will take four steps back. As a result, you’re never sure about how she feels about you. “Maybe she likes me, maybe shes toying with me,” is a constant dilemma you wrestle with.

Then if you back off, she will suddenly start missing you madly. She may not give you any reason for her strange behavior and will resume conversations on WhatsApp as if it’s business as usual. You will be left befuddled by her mood swings. You cannot overlook the possibility that she may be taking advantage of your feelings for her and has turned manipulative. You need to look at the situation objectively so that you’re not left grappling with “she led me on” regret.

Related Reading: 5 Ways In Which Women Play Hard To Get Every Time

4. Then, suddenly she wants you

The mixed signals she sends you are one of the clearest signs a girl is messing with your head. The moment you take a step backward and think you should give her space and not cling to her, she starts to vie for your attention and is all lovey-dovey with you. She will go to any length to win back your love for her and spend time together.

This may lead you to think that she realized she needs you in her life but in all probability, you are making a mistake here. It is more likely that she only needs the attention you give her. She is leading you on in the relationship and this pattern won’t change unless you address the issue head-on and figure out how you want to deal with her hot and cold behavior. And you will be left wondering why a girl keeps leading you on.

5. You meet her only when she wants to

If you’re wondering how to know if a girl is playing you, pay attention to how often you spend time together and at whose behest. Since she does not want a serious relationship with you, a girl who is leading you on will hang out with you on her own schedule. She will call you up when she is free, without being considerate of your time, work, and social commitments. You may hear from her often when she is alone and needs someone to hang out with.

However, if you want to meet her when she is not feeling lonely, she will use excuses like a hectic work schedule or plans with friends to wriggle out of it. If she sounds like a selfish girlfriend, then chances are that she is one. But here’s the gray area. Is she your girlfriend at all? Has she ever committed to exclusivity? Or is she really in it to lead you on? Ask yourself that. And you may realize this girl is just keeping you around until someone better comes along.

6. The nameless relationship

You’re not the only one asking, “Is she leading me on?” Your friends are just as confused about what is going on between you two. She goes out on dates with you, sleeps with you, practically takes you everywhere with her, but refuses to acknowledge you as her partner. You will have a hard time looking for an answer to why a girl keeps leading you on but doesn’t want to define the relationship.

Your friends often raise eyebrows at this nameless relationship, leaving you feeling like just another option for her. This is for sure one of the signs she is leading you on. You may be spending a lot of time wondering, “Why do girls lead you on?”, but the only way to get answers is to have an honest conversation with her.

7. She says she needs you

If you ever raise questions about your equation with her, she gets all sweet and needy and claims she needs you. She makes you feel like you are the most important person in her life and she would not be able to survive without your help, support, and advice. Among the signs you’re being led on by a girl, this is a big one that will make you feel all the more confused and conflicted.

If you give her an ultimatum, she begs you to stay but refuses to accept that this is shaping into a serious relationship. And after everything, she may even tell you with a straight face, “I am not leading you on”. Then, what is she doing? Ask her that, please. Because from where we’re looking, it seems like this girl is just keeping you around while she’s waiting for someone better to come along.

8. She hasn’t had many long-term relationships

Perhaps because she leads them on, she hasn’t really been in a long-term relationship. When you ask her about her past relationships, she will tell you that there has never been a serious one. By all accounts, it seems like you’re dating a girl who hooks up with lots of guys but is wary of venturing into committed relationship territory.

Well, her past dating patterns can provide answers to a lot of questions you may have on your mind: Why do girls lead guys on and stop or withdraw completely? What does it mean when a girl leads you on? What to do when someone tries to mess with my head? If she hasn’t been in a serious romantic relationship all her adult life, it means there are underlying issues at play. She’s displaying all the classic signs she is a big player because she struggles with commitment issues, gamophobia, or an anxious-avoidant attachment style.

Related Reading: 21 Toxic Girlfriend Signs Not Easy To Spot – It’s Her, Not You

9. She doesn’t appreciate you eyeing any other girl

Figuring out how to know if a girl is playing you or really likes you can get tricky because of all the mixed signals she sends. For instance, she may get furious if you find another girl attractive or compliment someone. If she picks up on even the most subtle hints that you’re interested in someone else, she will go out of her way to seduce you with flirty conversations and naughty texts.

She gets jealous very easily and you end up believing that’s because she is madly in love with you. She wants you all to herself and sees every other person you find attractive as a threat. But when you take a cue from her behavior and show her how emotionally invested you’re in her, the hot and cold dance will begin all over again. If that’s what you’re dealing with, know that her jealousy and possessiveness could be just because she wants 100% of your attention on her. This is one of the tell-tale signs you are being played by a woman.

10. She may hook up with someone else, though

A coquettish woman leading someone on would go ahead and guiltlessly flirt with multiple people and then ask, “Did I lead you on?”, with such innocence that you can hardly blame her for anything. Since she claims you are just a friend and shows clear signs she is not ready to be exclusive, she doesn’t think there’s anything wrong in hooking up with others. And she will expect you to make peace with the fact that you’re dating a girl who hooks up with lots of guys.

At the same time, she will still give you her attention and act all flirty, leaving you confused and wondering what your relationship with her means. You will be so drawn to her that you feel happy when she smiles at you and spends time with you, even though she treats you like you are dispensable and easily replaceable. You need to take a long hard look at the superficiality of the situation because this girl is using you as a backup. You can’t even look at another girl and she goes ahead and hooks up. If that’s not leading someone on, then what is?

11. She is always in a push-pull mode

For days and weeks, she will have eyes only for you and will flirt with you. She will try to be closer and hang out pretty often. She may even have sex with you. But the moment you start behaving like a partner and ask for a little commitment, you can expect her to clam up immediately.

This is the classic sign of a push-pull relationship. There will be three stages in this kind of relationship where you pursue, feel the bliss of togetherness, and then suffer the phase of withdrawal. She would suddenly become busy and you will end up craving togetherness and intimacy. But she will keep denying the fact that withdrew. If you ask her what’s wrong, she will say, “Nothing!” with finality. And you’re left grappling with the uncertainty “maybe she likes me, maybe she’s toying with me”.

12. She cuddles and gets cozy

If you find yourself thinking, “I think this girl is leading me on, she acts different when we are alone versus when we’re in public”, you may be on to something. She tells everyone you are just a friend, but when she is alone with you, she gets all cozy and warm and wants to cuddle and hold hands. In your private moments, she will not shy away from letting you stroke her hair or kiss her, and may even become slightly adventurous to take things a step further. She wants you to be romantic too.

It all depends on her mood for the day. So, if you want to figure out how to know if a girl is playing you or really likes you, observe how she reacts to public displays of affection. If she flinches at even the most basic displays of affection like holding hands or a peck on the cheek when you’re in public or hanging out with other friends, it’s among the plausible signs you’re being led on by a girl. Women leading someone on may enjoy physical intimacy with that person in private but will freak out at the prospect of the nature of the relationship becoming public.

13. She behaves like your girlfriend when she feels like it

One of the unmistakable signs she’s leading you on is that she will behave like your girlfriend when she feels comfortable doing it. For instance, if you’re visiting your parents or meeting them for dinner, she may go all out to behave if she is your girl. But when it comes to her own parents, she categorically tells you, “They don’t know about us yet, so let’s just keep it like that.”

how to tell if a girl is leading you on
She steers the dynamic as per whims and fancy

If you’re wondering how to tell if a girl is leading you on, this inconsistency in her behavior is definitely a warning sign to pay attention to. And if you confront her about it, her response could be something as careless as, “Did I lead you on? It was never my intention”. The signs a girl is messing with your head are all there, you just need to acknowledge them for what they are.

14. She tells you not to get emotionally attached

“Is she leading me on?” If this question is giving you sleepless nights, pay attention to this tendency. She wants everything from the relationship she has with you, minus the emotional attachment. She will assure you repeatedly that it’s not a casual hookup and she is totally into you. But she doesn’t want an emotional mess in case it happens to lead ‘nowhere’. This is one of the signs a girl is messing with your head. She wants a no-strings-attached relationship but doesn’t want to come out and say it in as many words.

Perhaps, this girl is using you as a backup, and she wants to string you along until someone better comes along. She wants you to follow her like a lost puppy that is why she leaves just enough bread crumbs of affection and attention to keep you hooked but doesn’t invest in building a real connection with you. It’s about time you say something about the way her actions make you feel.

Why Do Some Girls Lead Guys On?

Why would a girl lead you on? For fun, for the drama, or to bide the time until she makes up her mind: there could be various reasons why a girl leads a guy on. It may seem like a complicated deal, and may even hurt at times, but a girl giving you mixed signals could be confused herself as well. If you could relate to the signs she is leading you on, you may be curious about the motivation behind her actions. Here are some of the possible reasons why a girl may lead you on:

  • Fun and drama: She feels good to have all your attention and time. Plus, she gets to toy with your heart
  • She’s confused: She may be confused and needs some time to figure things out. But at the same time, she is not willing to let you go in case she decides to commit to you later
  • You’re just a friend: She may just think of you as a friend and you are misreading her signals thinking your friendship means something more to her than it actually does
  • She doesn’t think highly of you: She feels you are just an ‘average’ person and does not want her friends to know about her relationship with you for fear of judgment and embarrassment
  • She likes someone else: She is interested in someone else but likes you as well and is keeping you as her backup plan
  • She’s unaware: She doesn’t realize she is leading you on. She is just being nice and friendly because she does not want to reject you outright

Related Reading: 20 Signs He Wants To Be More Than Friends

What To Do When Someone Leads You On?

Now that you have ticked almost all the signs you are being played by a woman, you need to think about what you want for yourself. Are you happy with the scraps she is throwing at you? If not, you need to find a way to walk away from her and move on. Yes, it might not be easy considering you’re emotionally invested in her. Her inconsistent behavior may make it harder to snap the cord and walk away.

After all, if a part of you holds on to hope because “she acts different when we are alone” or “she acts like she cares about me”, you may just sit around waiting for things to change. In moments like these, you need to remind yourself how she makes you feel when gives you the cold shoulder, and you spend agonizing over thoughts like, “I love her with all my heart. I can’t believe this girl is leading me on.” To escape the clutches of a girl leading you on, you will need to,

  • Distance yourself from her immediately
  • Follow the no-contact rule to allow yourself time and space to heal
  • Given the signs she is a big player, she would do everything to woo you back. You need to be firm about your boundaries and let her know that you’re not interested in being strung along
  • If she makes promises, remember that words that are not backed by action are nothing more than a tool of manipulation
  • Make sure she knows that unless she is ready to commit, you’re no longer interested in keeping the dynamic alive
  • Focus on healing from this setback and open your heart and mind to someone who wants to be with you as much as you want them. You deserve a healthy, wholesome relationship, not a love life that feels like a gut-wrenching roller coaster

Key Pointers

  • A sense of uncertainty about the nature of your relationship, mind games, on-and-off dynamics are among the top signs a girl is leading you on
  • Such a relationship will leave you feeling insecure, on edge, and always questioning what you mean to her
  • From a need for attention to not being sure about her feelings and underlying issues like a fear of commitment or an avoidant attachment style, there could be many reasons why a girl would lead you on and toy with your heart
  • The best way to deal with this situation is to distance yourself from her and find a way to move on unless she is ready to mend her ways and commit to you unequivocally

Now, it’s up to you to decide whether you want to rue, “She led me on and broke my heart in the end”, or gather your willpower and self-respect to resist her enchanting tricks and say “no” once and for all. It’s not going to be easy to let someone you love go, but is there a point in pursuing a relationship that has no future and will eventually hurt you more? Think about it.


1. Why do girls lead guys on?

Perhaps the girl enjoys the attention and love she gets from you. But the situation turns toxic when she knows absolutely well that she would never feel something real for you and her heart is with someone else. On the contrary, she is probably a very friendly, spontaneous person by nature and she is oblivious to the fact that you are picking up wrong hints from her way of talking to you.

2. What are the signs you are being played by a woman?

When you two are alone, she would behave like the most caring and touchy-feely girlfriend there ever was. But she would deny introducing you as her partner to her acquaintances or define the relationship. She might act just as presumptuous and brazen with other romantic candidates too, but you mingling with another woman is strictly unacceptable.

3. What to do when a girl is messing with your head?

At the end of the day, it depends entirely on you if you would let her keep playing with your emotions or discard this unnecessary drama from your life. Once you have comprehended her true intentions, have an open conversation with her about how her insensitivity makes you feel small. Calculate your next move depending on her response. If she can’t make up her mind, it’s always better to walk out.

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