This article originally appears on SHAPE and was reprinted here with permission.
You text him all day, you hit happy hour once a week, and occasionally, you guys hook up. But regardless of how much you hang, it’s still unclear whether or not you two are heading toward a relationship—or are just having fun as friends.
This maddening situation is all too familiar: Sixty-nine percent of people have been confused at least once about whether or not a hangout with a potential romantic partner was actually a date, according to a USA Today survey. Here, three ways to get to the bottom of where things are going—without losing a potentially awesome platonic friendship.
Figure Out What You Want
When you spend a ton of time with one person, it’s easy for your brain to get on the “what if” track, says Melody Wilding, a New York-based therapist. “Do you want to be in a relationship with him or just in a relationship? If it’s the latter, then make sure you’re putting yourself out there to make it happen,” she explains. Since it’s easy to fall into a routine, making sure you have a few proper dates in between happy hour sessions with your guy friend is key. Better yet, since he knows you well, get him to invite a few of his single guy friends over the next time you hang out—you may find a love connection with one of them.
Search for Context Clues
“If he’s inviting you to do things in advance, or if he’s making the effort to get tickets or reservations, it could be a sign that he sees your relationship as something more, since those actions make it clear he’s thinking of you outside your hangouts,” says Wilding. If you suspect he likes you, but you don’t feel the same way, letting him know that you really enjoy his friendship, or actively discussing the guy you’re crushing on at the office can clue him into how you feel, says Stephanie D. McKenzie, a dating coach and creator of The Relationship Firm, a Houston, TX, relationship coaching agency. But if you do like him, dropping some clues yourself—telling him how handsome he looks, brushing your hand against his, or inviting him to participate in a more date-like activity with you—can make your intentions clear and can help facilitate a conversation about how you feel about each other.
Forget About Benefits
In ideal circumstances, you won’t get physical with him unless you both know you’re dating each other. But if you do end up hooking up as pals, be honest about what you want. Don’t say you’re happy in a friends with benefits situation if you want it to be something more, reminds Wilding. And remember: “If he doesn’t see a relationship happening between you two, putting an immediate stop to physical contact will make it easier to go back to truly being friends,” says Wilding.