17 Subtle Signs Your Relationship Is Just a Fling


Despite what romantic comedies might tell us, dating isn't always fun or easy. That's especially true when the two people involved aren't on the same page about where their relationship is going: One may be eager to make a commitment while the other is looking for nothing more than a good time. So, how do you tell if your relationship isn't heading anywhere? With the help of therapists, we've rounded up the surefire signs your relationship isn't serious.

They avoid eye contact.

While it may seem like they're just playing coy at first, if the person you're seeing seems to avert their gaze whenever you're talking to them, that's a good sign they might not be too serious about you.

"This is a basic indicator that easily differentiates whether someone is emotionally engaged with us or not," says marriage and family therapist Lauren Cook, MMFT, author of The Sunny Side Up: Celebrating Happiness.

"Looking one another in the eye is a primal way that we connect with one another and when we avoid this gesture, it indicates a lack of openness in the relationship," she says.

You're never alone with each other.

It may initially seem like a good thing that the person you're seeing is comfortable having you around at social gatherings. However, if your time together always includes other people, that's a serious red flag.

"Emotional availability requires a vulnerability that often occurs in a private space," Cook says. "When someone is closed off to the relationship, there always seems to be someone else around—whether it's a friend, neighbor, or children." This helps people who aren't invested in the relationship avoid real intimacy.

Their phone is always out.

Sure, plenty of people can hardly get through a meal without looking at their phone, but if the person you're seeing never gives you their undivided attention, it might be an indication that things aren't as serious as you think.

Cook explains that when someone isn't fully invested in a relationship, "they often will keep their phone handy so that they can mindlessly scroll while you're talking in the background," which is a physical manifestation of their unwillingness to completely devote their attention to the relationship—or to you.

Their contact with you is inconsistent.

In the age of smartphones, there's virtually no excuse for someone to be incommunicado for days, even hours, at a time.

"People who want to be exclusive are consistent in their behaviors in the relationship," including regular phone calls or texts, explains Charese L. Josie, a licensed clinical social worker and owner of CJ Counseling and Consulting Services. If they're only getting in touch sporadically, they're not taking your relationship seriously.

You never go out on actual dates.

There's nothing wrong with a last-minute invite for a night in from time to time, but if it's the only kind of "date"  your partner knows how to plan, chances are you're dealing with a fling.

"If someone only wants to meet up when it's convenient for them and it's usually at your place or theirs," that's a sure sign that things aren't serious, explains Stefanie Juliano, LPCC, a clinical counselor in Rio Rancho, New Mexico.

You have a hard time getting them to make plans.

Juliano says that people who exhibit hesitance about setting dates or frequently cancel are likely not thinking of the relationship as a serious one. They don't need to drop everything—friends and preexisting plans included—to be with you all the time, but you do need to be made a priority in their social schedule, and one they are going to commit to making time for, she says.

The dates they plan lack creativity.

Sure, not every date is going to be a whirlwind adventure, but they should probably be a bit more exciting than just ordering in and watching The Bachelor.

If "your dates don't include things that create memories, like travel [and] road trips," you're probably in a fling, not a relationship, says licensed marriage and family therapist Margena Carter of Carter Care Therapeutic Services.

They still have active online dating profiles.
Shutterstock/Kaspars Grinvalds

According to licensed clinical marriage and family therapist Risa Ganel of Together Couples Counseling, if someone you're seeing can't be bothered to take 10 minutes to remove themselves from the online dating pool, that's a sure sign you're just a fling to them. "If you get the distinct impression that they are 'here for a good time, not a long time,' trust your gut," she says.

Most of the time you spend together is in bed.

It's fine to "enjoy the excitement of a new relationship and encourage it to mature into a longer lasting bond," Ganel says. But if the hot and heavy passion never seems to develop into anything else, "the best thing to do for your own emotional development may be to let it go."

Your interactions end after sex.

If your time together ends the second you've finished up in bed, don't count on your relationship evolving into something more serious. Having "no emotional investment in the aftermath of sex" means you're in a fling, not a relationship, says licensed clinical professional counselor Karla Ivankovich, PsyD.

They refer to you as their friend.

"If you've been told that this is just a fling, believe the person!" Carter says. She notes that someone who claims they're only interested in your friendship likely isn't thinking of you as a long-term partner.

They don't include you in their social media posts.

While you don't have to click the "in a relationship" box on Facebook to know that you're actually in a relationship with someone, "telling the social media world that you two are together shows that the person is not ashamed to tell anyone who may be watching," says Josie. However, if the only photos he or she posts of your time together don't have you in them—or you're never tagged—chances are things aren't serious for them.

They haven't told their friends and family about you.

"People who want exclusivity are very clear about their intentions and feelings about you," including telling their friends and family about you, says Josie. If you bump into someone they're close to when you're out together and it's clear they've never heard of you, odds are your relationship isn't long for this world.

They don't remember important details about you.

Does the person you're seeing routinely forget your mom's name or where you went to college, even though it feels like you've told them a million times?

If they don't seem interested in "finding out about your wants, wishes, and desires outside of the bedroom, then it is unlikely [they are] considering building a relationship," says Ivankovich, who notes that people who are serious about relationships will go out of their way to make it clear they're listening to these details.

They're reluctant to have signs of you at their place.

If the person you're dating insists that you never leave any of your personal belongings and other items items at their place, your relationship isn't serious to them, according to Juliano. In other words, if it doesn't look like they're in a relationship, in their mind, they probably aren't in one.

Your plans are always made at the last minute.

If the person you're seeing "almost never makes plans in advance," odds are you're just a fling to them, says Juliano.

You haven't had "the talk."

Defining the status of your relationship can be uncomfortable. However, if it's a subject the person you're seeing refuses to discuss, even after you've been dating for some time, it's likely that your relationship won't be moving out of "casual" territory.

"If you have not had the conversation surrounding exclusivity, the two of you are not committed to a monogamous relationship," Carter says.