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    How to tell if he’s ‘just not that into you’ in 2020: Tracey Cox reveals why not meeting his friends is no longer a red flag in the time of Covid-19 – but watch out if he’s selfish in the bedroom

    • Tracey Cox says battling Covid-19 has completely rewritten the rules of dating
    • She shares how to tell the difference between ‘not into you’ and ‘virus conscious’
    • British sex expert explains a lack of contact can be a sign they’re not into you

    Finding a partner for life – or even for Christmas – is never easy.

    Doing it in the time of Covid can seem damn near impossible.

    Not only are our opportunities to meet new people more limited, the rules of dating have to be completely rewritten.

    No kiss at the end of a date used to mean he likes you but might not fancy you; now it means he just doesn’t fancy catching Covid.

    Battling a virus can make people seem cold or uninterested when really, they’re just being careful.

    So, how do you tell the difference between ‘not into you’ and ‘virus conscious’ in 2020?

    Here’s my take.


    Tracey Cox reveals the differences between someone who is ‘not into you’ and someone who is being ‘virus conscious’ when dating in 2020 (file image) 

    They didn’t consider you during lockdown

    If you lived alone and had been dating someone for a month or so before lockdown, it wasn’t uncommon to say, ‘Hey, let’s lockdown together’ so you’d be guaranteed both sex and company.

    This – predictably – was make or break for lots of fledgling relationships (more often break, given living with someone you know and love is difficult when it’s 24/7, let alone a stranger).

    But if there wasn’t even a hint of ‘How are we doing to cope without seeing each other?’ or ‘Will you be OK?’ when the news broke, the outlook isn’t great.

    If you were ignored during lockdown – except when they fancied Zoom sex – they really aren’t that into you.

    You initiate most of the contact and make most of the effort

    This one’s obvious, right?

    You have no idea how many excuses women make to pretend it isn’t.

    ‘They’re busier than me’. ‘It’s just a bloke thing’. ‘He’s stressed right now’.

    Let’s get this straight. If it’s always you that sends a text or tries to call. And it’s always you that makes the effort with pretty much everything else as well (thinking about what you can do to make your dates fun, putting effort into your appearance, doing little things to show you care), they aren’t into you.

    Cancelling dates at the last minute, arriving empty-handed, zero effort made to find interesting venues or places to meet…your relationship isn’t important to them.

    Stop kidding yourself.

    They’re vague when you ask them about their life – and aren’t interested in yours

    As relationships move forward, you both offer up details about your lives. We do this to test the waters, find out how compatible you are and what common interests and backgrounds you share.

    Tracey (pictured) says they might not be 'into you' if their contact is hot and cold

    Tracey (pictured) says they might not be ‘into you’ if their contact is hot and cold 

    It’s not just the ‘big’ conversations that make people close, the everyday things matter as well.

    Sending a text to say ‘My boss is an idiot’ or ‘Massive row on the tube over masks, remind me to tell you about it later’ is what builds intimacy and connection. In fact, it’s impossible to get to know someone if they don’t share any details of life’s minutiae or show interest when you do.

    Keeping an arm’s length from you can also mean they’re already attached or still sorting through unfinished business with an ex.

    Still a BIG red flag.

    Only one orgasm matters – theirs

    If they’re in it for sex and only sex, it’s usually selfish sex. They do what interests them and makes them orgasm, with little regard to what you need and want.

    Your partner should be asking for feedback, want to please you, check you’re enjoying what they’re doing and having satisfying orgasms. All are signs someone’s interested in keeping you happy, not just themselves sexually satisfied.

    Contact is erratic

    One day, he’s texting every five minutes and can’t wait to meet up. One week later, he doesn’t respond for three days.

    Mysteriously going off radar and blowing hot and cold generally means one of three things.

    They’re unreliable (one of the least desired personality traits of all), they’re seeing someone else (you get attention when their number one isn’t free) or they pay you attention only when they feel like sex.

    If, when you do meet, it’s usually where and when they feel like, with little notice or regard for your plans, so you’re scrambling to fit in, move on.

    Tracey says someone who seems anxious while video calling, could be telling lies and worrying that they'll get caught out (file image)

    Tracey says someone who seems anxious while video calling, could be telling lies and worrying that they’ll get caught out (file image)

    They pay you lots of sexual compliments but that’s about it

    “He’d say I was ‘hot’ and ‘sexy’ and ‘Look at those legs’ but there were never any compliments about my personality,” one 38-year-old woman told me.

    “He’d text to say, ‘I can’t stop thinking about what we did the other night’ but never ‘I love being with you’. All our ‘dates’ revolved around sex. I kept waiting for it to move past the at-it-like-rabbits stage to something else but it never did.”

    It’s great to be lusted after but there’s a brain and heart above those breasts. If they’re not getting acknowledged, the relationship is casual with a cap C.

    They’re nervous when you video call them unannounced

    This is often a giveaway they’re telling lies and worried they’ll get caught out. Easy to cover up things when it’s just a voice call, not so easy if someone unexpected suddenly pops into view or you see a pair of high heels on the floor (and he lives alone).

    The flatmate they might sleep with now and then, a brother who shouts out ‘Is that the girl who was here the other night?’. If he seems anxious that he can’t control his environment, it’s a sign he has something to hide.

    They aren’t jealous – ever

    An ex who’s trying to restart something with you. A workmate who’s just asked you out. Someone very blatantly checking you out when you’re out and about together.

    If someone’s keen on you, they will get prickly when things like this happen. True, some people don’t mind sharing and open relationships are more common. But most people who are into open relationships usually make this clear, very early on in the piece.

    The rest of us tend to want exclusivity from someone we’re really keen on (even if we aren’t prepared to offer it ourselves!).

    Not batting an eyelid if you hook up with or date other people generally means one thing: if you’re around, you’re around, if you run off with someone else, they’ll barely notice.


    Pre-Covid, these were definite ‘they’re not that into you’ signs. Post-virus, it’s a different story.

    You haven’t met their friends

    It’s normal to hide away from the world when you first meet someone you’re besotted with: how else can you fit in all the hot sex you’re having? But – usually about two or three months in – you both emerge, blinking in the sunlight, to meet the important people in each other’s lives.

    Not being introduced to friends was nearly always a bad sign: you can’t pick your family, but you do choose your friends.

    If friends were particularly judgemental or had other less desirable attributes that might put someone new off, they might be avoided.

    More often than not, though, not meeting them meant your lover was there for a good time, not a long time.

    Cut to 2020.

    The rule of six has put paid to that big, boozy Sunday lunch when you were introduced to their key players. After work drinks, birthday parties, Christmas do’s, hell, any sort of party where you’d naturally be invited to first meet friends, pretty much doesn’t happen these days.

    But, if someone is into you, you will still meet their closest friends – somehow. It might be via a video call – depending on your ages, approach to dealing with the virus and/or whether you or anyone in your lives are shielding – but it will happen.

    If they think you’re going to be special in their life, they’ll want to show you off to significant friends (and get their opinion on their choice!).

    You haven’t met their family

    Friends was the first test you passed, meeting their family was the second.

    But what if their family now includes 87-year-old Nanna, who’s been staying in the spare room since the pandemic began? You’re suddenly a threat, not a welcome addition, to the family.

    Lots of people haven’t seen vulnerable parents or grandparents for months. Not meeting parents is no longer the red flag it was.

    They’re taking their time before making any moves

    Pre-Covid, not pouncing on you anywhere between the first date to two weeks in, meant they liked you but didn’t fancy you.

    Now it can mean they’re just anxious about catching the virus or passing it onto someone vulnerable that they see. Or not sure what the ‘done’ thing is anymore: is keeping a mask on during sex for real? What if they suggest it and you think they’re weird?

    They won’t plan anything

    Not making plans for the future – whether that’s next weekend or what you’ll both do at Christmas – was another clanging alarm bell that marked the difference between a relationship that’s casual and one that had legs.

    Now, not so much.

    With new restrictions happening all the time and local lockdowns, the best laid plans end up cancelled. No surprise that lots of people don’t bother making them anymore.

    Again, though, there’s a proviso.

    If you’ve been dating a little while, they should at least attempt to make plans that extend beyond turning up at your place, on a whim, at 9pm ‘to hang out’.

    If any attempts on your part to plan anything more than a few nights or a week ahead are brushed off with a vague ‘I don’t know what I’ll be doing then’, still sit up and pay attention.


    Find Tracey’s sex toy ranges at lovehoney.co.uk and her new book, Great Sex Starts at 50, wherever good books are sold.


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