Love can be scary.
Everyone who’s felt it has also felt what it’s like to get burned when love is taken away, betrayed or ruined.
That’s why some guys will hold back even when they really like you.
Here’s how to tell if that’s the case.
15 signs he is afraid to get close to you (even though he really likes you)
1) He’s a nervous wreck around you
When a man is interested in you it’s going to show in one way or another.
No matter how he tries to hide it, his body language and attitude are going to reveal how he really feels.
One of the top signs he is afraid to get close to you (even though he really likes you) is that he’s a nervous wreck around you.
He blushes, stutters, shakes and shuffles awkwardly, trying to act casual but acting anything but casual.
He wants to repress how he feels for you, but he can’t.
“This guy probably won’t do much about his feelings but he won’t be able to hide them and one of the first things that will tell on him is the way he behaves around you,” writes Selma June.
“It means that he will be nervous every time he sees you. This man might bite his nails, his legs might be shaking or he may simply play with his hands.”
2) He cares about you a lot but tries to hide it
Sooner or later in dating a guy, you’re going to be able to tell how much he cares about you.
Does he care much about what you say? Does he react when you get upset?
Does he care about you talking to other men or flirting with them?
You’ll be able to observe all these behaviors in the guy you’re interested in, even if he tries to hide them.
The only thing is that if he’s become a real pro at pushing down feelings then they may be somewhat subtle.
He may sulk after you flirt, or withdraw when you get angry.
But if you pay careful attention you’ll notice that he’s not just ghosting you out of indifference, he’s doing it because he likes you and he’s hurt.
3) He notices when you don’t text or call for a few days
Another one of the clearest signs he is afraid to get close to you (even though he really likes you) is that he notices when you don’t text or call for a few days.
Even though he’s clearly hesitating to reach out, you’ll be able to tell that he’s not liking the radio silence.
He may casually ask you if you were OK or what was up, but it will be clear under the surface that he was missing you.
That’s the thing about a guy who’s been badly hurt or is afraid of his feelings:
He will tend to be a kind of sad guy. You’ll be able to see all this love he has in himself to give, but how he feels like admitting it will make him weak or vulnerable.
4) He feels misunderstood and alone in life and love
One of the saddest signs he is afraid to get close to you (even though he really likes you) is that he’s a lonely guy and he tells you about it.
In one way or another, he will express a feeling of being misunderstood and alone.
Even if he has plenty of friends, he will usually feel that they don’t truly get him.
By the same token, he’ll feel that you also don’t truly get him and wouldn’t understand – or accept – who he really is deep down.
This fear of being found out as inadequate or bad can be really deeply-set, as I’ll discuss later.
The best way to deal with it is to admit to him that you’re insecure, too.
“Admit your fear. If you are as scared of falling deeply and irrevocably in love as your man is, tell him.
“If you admit that love makes you more than a bit nervous as well, you may be able to show him that the emotions he feels are not his alone.”
5) He remembers things you tell him and loves your jokes
When a man is interested in you, he remembers what you tell him and enjoys being around you.
One of the most important factors is a shared sense of humor, or at least him appreciating your jokes and sense of humor.
Even though he may shy away when talk of commitment comes up or getting “serious,” he will make it obvious from his behavior that he really appreciates who you are and what you offer.
A guy who’s afraid to get attached will often downplay this and act like he just happened to recall a joke you told or a fun memory.
But when you compare this to the average guy who can’t remember what you told him 30 seconds ago, you have to admit there’s a good chance he’s seriously into you.
6) His schedule is either wide open for you or shut tight
Dating a guy who is afraid to get close can be like walking a tightrope.
One moment he’s on fire for you, the next he acts like a distant stranger.
Planning dates is a minefield, because at some points it feels like he’s really into it and his schedule is wide open…
And then at other times, everything blows up in your face and he’s barely available and throws one-word answers your way as if you’re some nobody he bumped into randomly…
It can be very hurtful and hard not to take personally.
“See if you recognize this pattern: he’s acting interested and initiates a few dates in a row.
“Everything goes well, and you feel good about the relationship,” notes Abigail Boyd.
“Suddenly, his level of communication plummets, and he’s busier than normal.”
7) He loves spending time with you, but often cuts dates short awkwardly
Another one of the top signs he is afraid to get close to you (even though he really likes you) is that he will be “all in” on dates but then suddenly cut and run…
You could be having the best conversation ever with a nice glass of wine and a jazz band playing when he suddenly glances at his phone and says something has “come up…”
What’s “come up” isn’t that he no longer likes you, it’s that the deep pit of insecurity, angst and fear inside him has overflowed and he has an irresistible urge to run for the hills.
The thing is, he wouldn’t be going out on dates with you if he had no feelings for you.
But he also wouldn’t be cutting them short and high-tailing it if he didn’t have some serious fears of getting more serious with you.
8) He sends really mixed signals
Mixed signals are like the soundtrack of a guy who’s afraid to commit or get close to you but still is into you.
He’s sending you sweet texts one day and then ghosting you the next.
He’s complimenting your outfit on the weekend and then not even making eye contact on Monday.
He’s all about deep conversations over a romantic dinner one week and the next he’s all about complaining about work or talking about why he can’t date anyone right now.
It’s a real rollercoaster ride.
“You’ll go crazy trying to interpret his messages. You see, he himself doesn’t know how to act and that’s why he is being so weird.
“One moment he is into you and the next he is nowhere to be found.”
9) He talks about getting serious one day then downplays it the next
Among the most common mixed signals that the scared guy will send out are over-promising and under-delivering.
Because he has feelings for you, he will sometimes get caught up in them and talk about the future or how much he wants to be with you.
Then, as if he’s ashamed like some kind of hungover drunk, he’ll slowly walk all of it back over the coming days.
“I said what?!” and so on…
He will act like it was all a joke or due to him drinking or being silly or something like that.
Because the core part of him that’s afraid will yell at him to back off and stop putting himself in emotional danger.
10) He rarely or never opens up about how he truly feels
Another one of the biggest signs he is afraid to get close to you (even though he really likes you) is that he rarely or never talks about how he feels deep down.
He may express emotions on the surface or hint at deeper things going on underneath, but he won’t get detailed.
Whether it’s talking about childhood, his parents’ divorce or his own beliefs, he may downplay it and act like it’s not important.
Or he may just clam up and not talk at all.
“Your guy may have a fear of love simply because he doesn’t know how to be vulnerable.
“That may be because he put up his wall after past hurts or because he’s only had casual relationships that didn’t require vulnerability and trust.”
11) He tells you horror stories about his past relationships
On the other hand, a guy sometimes will talk in detail about the bad parts of past relationships as a way to scare you away.
Because he feels scared to get attached, he tells you what led him to that situation.
Is he being accurate or over-exaggerating to build his case in the way that makes him feel safe?
Honestly, both are possible.
What is clear is that he has some traumas buried in his romantic past and it’s holding him back from expressing his love for you.
12) He tries to tell you why he’s not good enough for you
This is another one of the self-sabotage techniques that a man will use when he likes you but is afraid to get close.
He’ll just tell you all the reasons why he’s not good enough for you.
His past, his career, his financial situation, his mental health, whatever it may be…
It all just adds up to you “deserving” someone better.
His inner fear of rejection and heartache is making him push you away because he believes that will keep him safer in the long run.
He’s trying to fight feelings for you by just not diving in at all in the first place.
“This is a man who is afraid a woman will suddenly lose interest and abandon him,” writes Diana Kirschner M.D.
“Because of this, he has a hard time having honest straight talk and is very afraid of conflict.”
13) He’s an open book one day and completely closed the next
I pointed out one of the signs of a guy who likes you but is afraid to get close is that he won’t open up.
Another related sign which sometimes happens is that he opens up a lot one day and then closes down the next.
Basically, he really wants you to know who he truly is and be close to him, but then his reflexes kick in and he kicks himself and shuts down again.
This can be very hard to deal with, since it’s difficult to know what you can say to him when he keeps switching “modes” on you.
If a guy is doing this it takes a lot of patience and understanding to get through it and come out the other side.
14) He believes he’s unworthy of your love
In addition to trying to convince you he’s not good enough for you to feel safe, the scared guy may actually truly believe he’s not good enough.
Sadly, all sorts of experiences can lead to low self-esteem and a deep inner feeling of inadequacy.
It’s very painful to go through life this way and it can be a huge stumbling block on the journey to finding true love and intimacy.
“Because of not being prized and validated growing up, a man may have a core unconscious fear that he is simply not lovable.
“He feels insecure and not-good-enough.”
15) He doesn’t want you to see his dark side
Another one of the biggest things that can hold a man back from acting on his feelings for you is that he believes his dark secrets will make you lose interest in him.
This makes him invalidate any connection you do have.
“If she really knew X, Y and Z she would run,” he reasons to himself, thereby slashing any chance you have in the present.
The sad truth is that sometimes dark secrets including personal struggles, mental health challenges or past addictions do make someone lose interest.
But it’s also true that no relationship is perfect and opening up to your partner is part of the risk of love.
If he won’t do that at all, your options are limited…
Does he suffer from philophobia?
Being scared to fall in love sounds ridiculous but it’s very much real.
There’s even a word for it: philophobia.
“Philophobia is a fear of falling in love. It can also be a fear of getting into a relationship or fear that you will not be able to maintain a relationship.
“Many people experience a minor fear of falling in love at some point in their lives. But in extreme cases, philophobia can make people feel isolated and unloved.”
For a variety of reasons, this guy may be suffering from philophobia and scared to act on his feelings for you.
This can be a pretty tough situation and you’ll need all your wits about you and some serious patience and compassion to deal with it.
How to help him overcome his fear
At the end of the day, it’s up to each person to make his or her own choices.
It is up to this guy to overcome his fear of intimacy and approach you. Finding that bravery inside and taking that risk is his step to take.
At the same time, you can help trigger his hero instinct and show him that you believe in him as a man.
Be open, honest and sincere with him, letting him know that you are willing to take a chance on love if he is.
He just might go for it.
Can a relationship coach help you too?
If you want specific advice on your situation, it can be very helpful to speak to a relationship coach.
I know this from personal experience…
A few months ago, I reached out to Relationship Hero when I was going through a tough patch in my relationship. After being lost in my thoughts for so long, they gave me a unique insight into the dynamics of my relationship and how to get it back on track.
If you haven’t heard of Relationship Hero before, it’s a site where highly trained relationship coaches help people through complicated and difficult love situations.
In just a few minutes you can connect with a certified relationship coach and get tailor-made advice for your situation.
I was blown away by how kind, empathetic, and genuinely helpful my coach was.