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Does he like me or is he using me for sex?

Ask Roe: ‘Should I believe what he says or is he just using me as a second option?’

‘When you ask should you believe him, you’re asking whether you should believe his words.’ Photograph: Getty Images

Dear Roe,

I’ve been seeing this guy casually for the last three years. It was only about sex at the start but ever since last year we’ve been talking a lot more and we’re getting to know each other more. After the first time we met up he told me he wanted to ask me out but three years down the line he never has.

He got with another girl over a year ago but they broke up a few months later and shortly after he began talking to me again. Even when they were still together he would still reach out to me. Currently he still says he wants to ask me out (he thinks I don’t know about him and his ex) and is still interested. Should I believe him or is he just using me as a second option?  

When you ask should you believe him, you’re asking whether you should believe his words.What I’d like you to do is to start believing his actions.


He has known you for three years. He has dated other people, and so is able to ask a person out on dates, to be in a relationship. He conceals his relationship status from you. He now says he wants to ask you out – but has not asked you out.

This man is saying the words that you want to hear to distract you from the fact that he is not doing what you want him to do. He is not committing to you, investing in you, being completely honest with you. But because his words as are telling you the story that you want to hear, you’re listening to them, despite all the evidence. Start listening to his actions. Start listening to your own emotions. Do you feel safe, secure, appreciated, respected, communicated with honestly? Do you feel empowered by this dynamic, that you are equal to him? Or do you feel insecure, anxious, confused, tricked, taken for granted? Do you feel like he has all the power in this dynamic, that your needs and wants are constantly being pushed aside with the promise of a “one day, I’ll ask you out”?

Respectful, caring casual sex partners are fantastic. Respectful, caring relationships are beautiful. This man is offering you neither. Whether consciously or not, he is playing on your emotions and toying with your desire for him in order to get everything he wants: sex and an ego boost on demand.

Liking someone is never the most important part of a relationship or dynamic; how you treat each other is. You can like someone, and they can still be bad for you. This isn’t the man for you. End this dynamic, and move forward knowing that you have learned a hard but invaluable lesson: words can be wonderful. But you can listen to someone’s actions, too. And never stop listening to yourself.

Roe McDermott is a writer and Fulbright scholar with an MA in sexuality studies from San Francisco State University. She is researching a PhD in gendered and sexual citizenship at the Open University and Oxford

If you have a problem or query you would like her to answer, you can submit it anonymously at