Signs He Likes You But Is Afraid of Rejection

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Does he like you but he’s unsure if you feel the same? What are the signs he likes you but is afraid of rejection? And why does this have to stand in his way? Well my friends, in this post, we’ll break it all down, finishing off with what you should do! So let’s start from the top.

Why He’s Scared of Rejection

So first off, if he likes you but is afraid of rejection – why does that have to be a big deal? I mean, we all hate rejection to some degree, right? Right. 

In fact, studies have shown that, “the same areas of our brain become activated when we experience rejection as when we experience physical pain.” Rejection literally hurts. Our brain is wired to make rejection hurt, because it all goes back to survival…

“Evolutionary psychologists believe it all started when we were hunter gatherers who lived in tribes. Since we could not survive alone, being ostracized from our tribe was basically a death sentence. As a result, we developed an early warning mechanism to alert us when we were at danger of being rejected…”

Plus of course, there’s the fact that rejection is also a bit of a confidence-knocker, particularly for guys who typically have more of an ego, and their masculinity to try to keep in tact.

To men, rejection can mean failure. It can mean inadequacy. And so – for some men – it hits even harder than it does, us women.

For this reason, he may like you, but if he’s afraid of rejection and isn’t fully sure of his chances, he’s likely to hold back – not put himself fully out there.

Signs He Likes You But Is Afraid of Rejection

So what are the signs he likes you but is afraid of rejection? How can you tell if that’s what’s going on here? 

Well, the signs he likes you but is afraid of rejection, is actually pretty similar to the signs he likes you but is hiding it. After all, he probably won’t want you to know how he feels… Well, not until he knows how YOU feel and is confident that he stands a good shot anyway!

[ We wrote a complete article on that here – click here to read! ]

See, if he secretly likes you, you’ll notice things like:

  • He wants to be around you – to spend time with you.
  • He asks you lots of questions, genuinely gets to know you, and has a real interest in understanding you… One that crosses the normal line of just friendship.
  • You might find he gets close to you physically. There will be eye contact, the odd hand brush, lingering hugs, less distance between the two of you when you’re sat together.
  • He won’t talk about other women. In fact, he doesn’t want you to know, or think, there’s anyone else on the scene. He wants you to know he’s available – or could be available.
  • You’ll also find, he might flirt, tease, or “test the waters” a little bit to see how you respond.
  • He’ll look at you deeply, intently, try to create “moments” with you – again, to see what happens.
  • He also tries to impress you! He wants you to see how great he is and how great you could be!
  • You might find he gets jealous or protective. But he’ll always be there for you – like your rock.
  • His body language can also be a big giveaway!

For more of the more obvious signs he likes you, you may also like to have a read here. Or here for the signs he’s falling in love with you! There’s also this post on the key giveaways he likes you – based on how he texts (always an interesting one!)

These all tie into it, so are worth weighing up when looking at the signs he likes you but is afraid of rejection.  But what else will you find?

Signs He’s Scared of Rejection

On top of all of this, if he’s scared of rejection, you’ll also probably find:

1) He Sometimes Seems “Off” With You

Wait, hold up, I know what you’re thinking – this is one of the signs he likes you but is afraid of rejection?! But that doesn’t make sense! Only it does, if you really think about it…

See, he’s torn. He’s battling with his head and his heart. His heart wants to go for it, his head is warning him to be careful, to not take the risk. And he doesn’t know what to do!

Recommended Read: 15 Signs He Is Fighting His Feelings For You

He may also get frustrated with himself – telling himself that he needs to “man up”, or frustrated at the situation – he doesn’t want to feel this way. He wants things to be simple, easy. Only it’s an internal battle that’s going on with him really!

As a result, you may find that he sometimes seems off with you, blows hot and cold, can sometimes be a little mean or snappy even. But this is just because he’s trying to work things out in his head. This leads me onto my next point…

Is He Scared Of Getting Hurt?

2) He Gets Defensive

So maybe he’s allowed to joke about him liking you, or you liking him, but if you do the same – it’s a different story. Maybe he snaps, gets sarcastic or tries to swap things around.

This is because he doesn’t really want you to know, not if you don’t feel the same way back, and he certainly doesn’t want to be the “butt of the joke.” To him, it’s not actually funny. He likes you, he wants to be with you, but he’s scared you don’t feel the same way.

Getting defensive about how he feels, how you feel, or how the situation between the two of you is, is therefore a common sign he likes you but is scared of rejection.

He may also get defensive about other, related things. For instance – if he’s seeing someone else, if he has feelings for someone else, anything that could be a touchy subject (like if he lives at home but doesn’t want you to think he’s immature!)

He cares what you think remember. He also cares how he looks – what impression things give. And he’s on edge! This all combines if he secretly likes you, and there’s that fear behind it.

3) He Lacks Confidence

If he likes you but is scared of rejection, it’s useful to consider – where has that fear come from?

Maybe he’s been rejected multiple times before which is why it’s all built up. Perhaps he had a difficult childhood, struggles with abandonment issues, and so putting himself out there makes him feel vulnerable.

Or it could just be that he has low self-esteem, which is why he’s doubting himself so much – thinking he’s not worthy of you and not wanting to face another knock back!

Whatever it is, a lack of confidence often works hand-in-hand if he’s scared of rejection. Alternatively…

4) He Exudes Confidence

On the flip side, another sign he likes you but is afraid of rejection, is if he comes across as over-confident. Cocky even. The thing is, in most cases, it’s actually just an act.

He doesn’t like the way he feels, he doesn’t want to feel it, and he certainly doesn’t want you to know about it. He’s scared of rejection but he feels like he has to “back himself”, so he pretends that he does – taking it to the extreme so that it’s almost pretty comical.

This is really just his way of protecting himself. He has this guard up, this front. But it can be something to look out for if you’re not quite buying it!

Recommended Read: Is He Flirting With You By Text? Click Here To Find Out

Signs He Likes You But Is Afraid of Rejection

5) He Asks You Lots of Questions

Now of course, another one of the common signs he likes you but is scared of rejection, is if he asks lots of questions – not just questions to get to know you, but to try to gage where you’re at.

Is there anyone else on the scene? Are you happy right now? Perhaps he’ll flirt a little – joking about the two of you (although not fully joking as he will genuinely want an answer!)

You’ll probably find that he seems to have a very big interest in you and your love life – one that tends to be far more than any of your other “friends”. This is because he isn’t just a friend, or, doesn’t want to be anyway.

Recommended Read: 10 Signs He Sees You As More Than Just a Friend
Recommended Read: 10 Signs He Actually Wants To Ask You Out

6) He Does Nice Things For You

Despite his battle with his fears, if he likes you but is afraid of rejection, he’ll still try to win you over – just in the safety of you not fully knowing that’s what he’s doing.

So you’ll find he does nice things for you, makes an effort, is fun to be around. You may see hints of behaviour you don’t like, but you’ll still see the “best side” of him too. After all, he’s still trying to “woo” you.

So maybe he brings around little “pick me ups” when you’re feeling down, is there to LITERALLY pick you up after a night out (taxi guy at your service!)

He’ll also be the first to check in on you. Maybe he even plans little surprises for you. Or just as a whole, does things to make you feel good.

See it could be that the two of you are dating, the relationship is progressing, and it’s not a case of you not knowing his feelings – it’s just a case of him being afraid to take it to the next level in case yours aren’t fully reciprocated. This leads me onto my next point…

7) He Tells You

Now this one may surprise you, but a guy can like you and be afraid of rejection – yet still tell you how he feels. The thing is, he’s likely to do it in a way that makes sure he can’t be set up to fail.

So maybe he tells you that he likes you, jokingly. He means it, but he’s just testing the waters to see how you react, or what you say, with the “escape” of being able to backtrack because of the fact he was “just kidding!”

Alternatively, he may tell you he likes you, without actually asking you out. He’s pretty much beta testing “the big moment.” Because yes, he’s scared, but he still wants to go for it!

He Likes You But Is Scared of Rejection

8) He Doesn’t Bring Up Commitment

If he lets his fear take over, you may find he tells you he likes you, without giving you the opportunity to discount it or embrace it.

So he might say, “you know I like you but…” and shut it down immediately, doing the rejection part for you!

Alternatively, he could avoid the serious talks altogether – just enjoying things and appreciating what the two of you have in that moment, pushing anything else out his mind.

Will you work out? Will you get together? He doesn’t want to think about it – just in case the answer isn’t what he wants.

Instead, he focuses on you, if you’re happy, and enjoying whatever it is that you have, whilst it lasts – before worrying about the long-term / serious part.

9) He Seeks Reassurance

If he does tell you he likes you, if the two of you are open about your feelings, a sign he’s scared of rejection is if you find he heavily seeks reassurance, up until the fully exclusive or relationship-official stage.

He may also come on a little too strong, or try to move things along, to get to the point of “security” faster.

Recommended Read: 10 Signs Your Relationship is Moving Too Fast

He seems a little nervous, anxious even.This is because he’s scared of things not working out, which is led by his fear of rejection.

10) He Says Nothing At All

The last sign he likes you but is afraid of rejection, is if you KNOW how he feels, but he doesn’t say it. He doesn’t actually need to – you can just feel it… in the way he looks, in the way he acts. It’s an unspoken thing.

Recommended Read: Why Does He Stare At Me So Intensely (Here’s What It Means)

You feel the chemistry between the two of you, you know there’s something there – but it’s not acted on. And this could be simply because he’s afraid of rejection – not necessarily just scared of getting things wrong, but things going wrong – something not working out.

He’s not ready to put himself completely out there and so he doesn’t say, he doesn’t act, but you feel that energy between the two of you and you know there’s something more.

See, if you’re feeling it with a person, then there’s a good chance they are too.

Does He Like You But Is Afraid of Rejection?

So what’s the verdict, is he scared of being rejected? Scared of rejection? Does he secretly like you but he’s holding back because he doesn’t want to get hurt?

If you recognise the signs he likes you but is afraid of rejection, you feel that from him, then ask yourself: how do you feel? Do you like him back? Have you been holding back? Or are his feelings not returned?

If you’re not feeling it, don’t call him out on his feelings but make your own clear. Tell him you value his friendship, tell him you’re not looking for anything right now – or talk to him about someone you are interested in.

That way, you’re rejecting him, without directly rejecting him but by doing so, you’re freeing him. He’s still going to be hurt, but he won’t have the humiliation and outright rejection that he fears.

Recommended Read: How To Reject Someone Nicely

If you do like him, have a read of this: How To Tell a Guy You Like Him. There’s different ways, for different stages. And literally telling him how you feel, is far better than simply making the first move…

If he’s scared of rejection, that clarity will really help. So be bold, be brave!

Good luck! Hope this helps.


Signs He Likes You But Is Afraid of Rejection
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Ella Stearn
Ell is a Breakup, Dating & Relationship Specialist & Coach, with over 3 million annual readers, globally. As the Creator of Forgetting Fairytales, her mission is to help you learn to love yourself, find the right person to give your love to, then make it a love that truly lasts.

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