16 (Definite!) Signs He Likes You But Is Playing It Cool

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How do you know if a guy likes you, but is playing it cool? What does it mean when a guy is playing it cool? And – more so than that – what should you then do? Well my friends, fear not, as in this post we’re going to break it all down. Let’s start with the signs he likes you but is playing it cool, then finish off with a plan of action for how to “play it” your end too.

Uh huh, by the end of this – you’ll be a master at reading this man’s behaviour. We’re about to put YOU back in control! So let’s jump straight into it…

What Does “Playing It Cool” Mean?

So before we look at the signs he likes you but is playing it cool, let’s start by getting clear on what “playing it cool” actually means.

See, there’s a big difference between someone who is playing you, and someone who is playing it cool… That’s really important to note.

For example, on the one hand: someone who is playing you, is essentially wasting your time and messing you around. (Not what you want!) It’s all just a game for them.

Whereas someone who is “playing it cool” is just more conscious of how they come across and are doing it to try to INCREASE their chances with you.

(Even if they don’t always go about it in the right way!)

See, by definition,  “playing it cool” is when you act calm (no matter how you feel inside!) It’s “when you make an effort to be or appear to be calm and unemotional”, even when there are – most certainly – feelings there.

People therefore quite commonly “play it cool” when dating to try to not come across too eager.

Deep down however? They most definitely care, and there is actually a lot of interest there… Otherwise, they wouldn’t bother putting on such a pretence.

So although it’s easy to jump to conclusions and fall into the trap of feeling unwanted, remember – people are complex. They don’t always ACT the way they FEEL.

Do Guys Play It Cool When They Like You?

Guys can therefore, certainly, play it cool when they like you (even if this can be confusing or difficult to get your head around.)

For this reason you want to start by looking for the signs he likes you but is hiding it, then dig deeper into these – all important – signs he’s purposely trying to play it cool…

Signs He Likes You But Is Playing It Cool

16 Signs He Likes You But Is Playing It Cool

So what are the signs he likes you but is playing it cool then? How will he typically act? What kind of things will you notice?

Have a read through this list and see how many signs ring true.

The more that do – the more likely it is that this is the case. (Especially when you can understand the REASONS behind it!)

From that, you can then better piece together what the situation is and better “get” them as a person.

Makes sense? Good stuff. So if he likes you but is playing it cool, let’s start with the #1 rule that will ALWAYS be true…

#1 Sign He Likes You But Is Playing It Cool…

If he likes you but is playing it cool, in almost all situations it will be a case of…

1) He May Not Tell You, But He’ll Show You

This is the #1 fundamental sign he likes you, but is playing it cool.

Now there will be cross-overs with this and the most common signs he likes you, and possibly even the signs he’s falling for you.

But the difference is – his acts of showing you he likes you are more likely to be hidden or toned down.

If He Does Tell You He Likes You…

Now it could be that he has told you he likes you, but if this is the case, and he’s still playing it cool, you’ll notice that he doesn’t put pressure on you or is careful not to come on too strong.

The chances are, if you’re still unsure whether he likes you – he’s probably not told you. (Unless of course you have trust issues to work on and are wondering if he’s genuine or not!)

Either way, it’s at this point that you’re then going to be looking out for the other common signs he likes you but is playing it cool which is the way in which he shows you…

So what does that look like? Well…

Signs He Likes You But Is Playing It Cool

In terms of how he can show you he likes you (whilst still “playing it cool”), you’ll typically notice a mix of the following things…

2) He Complements You… But Not Too Much

He wants to make you feel good, without coming across as too “full on.”

This means there will be complements, but not too frequently, or more subtly complements than anything else.

The good thing is – when someone doesn’t throw complements around willy nilly, they tend to mean more, don’t you think?

3) He Gives You Your Freedom

If a guy likes you but is playing it cool, they’ll be very careful to give you your space, your time and your freedom.

This, at times, may be mistaken for him not caring or being that interested in you, but it’s usually not the case at all.

See, inside, he could be filled with worry or longing (and you probably wouldn’t know!)

But as he’s “playing it cool”, he doesn’t want to scare you off by coming across as controlling, clingy or insecure, he’ll be careful to make sure you know – you can still do your thing.

What do I do when he's trying to play it cool?

4) He Pretends Not To Care

Now if he hasn’t got the balance right and doesn’t know how to play it cool the right way, he may actually try to act like he doesn’t care.

This is one of the key signs he likes you but is playing it cool… Despite it being confusing!

So, for example, let’s say he’s a friend who has (secret!) feelings for you. Maybe you tell him about a date you went on, that went so well, and he pretends he’s not bothered by it at all…

He won’t give away that he’s jealous, but you can just about spot it through hidden behaviours.

Like – perhaps he gets a little moody or distant or makes sarky / negative / silly comments about the date “as a joke” (but he’s not really joking!)

Deep down, he minds, he wishes it was him, and perhaps he’s worried about whether things will progress and he’ll miss his chance completely with you.

But if he’s playing it cool – he won’t show it. Or he won’t allow himself to get worked up by it.

For this reason, it may also become apparent that he doesn’t really want to hear about your love life (past or present!)

This is because he doesn’t want it to make him crack, so he shuts off around the discussions!

The same applies in similar situations with guys you may be dating too…

5) He Shows He Has Other Things Going On In His Life

What else will he do if he likes you but is playing it cool? Well, he’ll certainly show he has other things going on in his life too.

If he’s dating you, he doesn’t want you to think it’s all about you. He can also use the “other things he has going on in his life” to seem more desirable or impress you.

For example: maybe he talks about being busy at work to show his drive, focus and ambition, or shows he has friends to seem popular. (Although studies show men’s social circles are shrinking, so it’s hard, but it’s no reflection on him!)

He may also talk about certain hobbies to appear creative or sporty (or whatever you desire!) Hobbies too, can show similarities and relate to you.

And of course, these different things he has going on will also ALLOW him to “play it cool” by keeping him busy, or at least give you the impression he’d never be too clingy in a relationship.

6) He Tries To Make You Jealous (Just a Little!)

What’s more, if you’re dating – he may drop in or hint of other dates, to try to get a reaction.

It’s not that he’s playing you necessarily, but instead, he is trying to gage how you feel. See, if he can notice any signs of jealousy or you feeling potentially threatened, he’ll then know you care.

The chances are – he’s probably got his heart set on you, but he’s playing it cool, wants to be seen as more desirable and less attainable, tapping into why women want “bad boys”.

He won’t say too much to put you off, but will say enough to make you think he’s “in demand” and make you want him more too.

It’s KIND of clever. After all, women can be lured in by “the chase” just as much as men. But this is something that’s easy to get wrong. It’s all about the right balance, you see.

Signs He's Playing It Cool

7) He Texts A Lot, But Doesn’t Reply STRAIGHT AWAY

Another one of the signs he likes you but is playing it cool, is if he texts a lot, you speak often and really bounce off each other, but he doesn’t always reply STRAIGHT away.

See, you may know – the chances are – he probably does have his phone in his hand and is excited for your reply, but he doesn’t want you to think he’s sat there, waiting for it.

So it will be frequent, consistent texting, but not excessive or that constant, contagious, back and forth, back and forth.

On that note, here’s how often you should text someone you’re dating, as a quick guide!

8) He’ll Be Available – But Not Always

Similarly to the “texting strategy” if a guy likes you but is playing it cool, you’ll find he often wants to see you, but he won’t completely free up his calendar for you, or be available at your every beckon call.

This is a good thing. It stops your relationship from moving too fast, and also makes you want and respect him more!

See, he still has other things going on in his life, and although he’ll work around things and make time for you, he’ll still get the balance right if he’s playing it cool, or wants the relationship to be healthy from the get go.

Now, he may make a point of having to “check his diary”, or will play it cool in the fact that a date “should be okay” (when secretly he knows it is and can’t wait for it!)

But he doesn’t want to come across as too keen in all of this either, remember! So when he’s free, he’ll play it down and if he isn’t free, he’ll suggest another date, as the thing is…

9) He’ll Still Make an Effort

If a guy is playing it cool, but does genuinely like you, he’ll still make an effort.

See, there’s ways to play it cool the right way and still investing your time and showing your interest, is certainly part of that.

(After all, there’s too much game-playing when it comes to dating nowadays!)

How do I know how he feels about me?

10) He May Find Excuses To See You / Be In Your Life

Within all of this, if a guy likes you but is playing it cool, he’ll – casually – find ways to see you or plan things with you. So for example, you may hear him say things like:

“So I was thinking of going [here] if you want to join me.” Or, “I have to do [this] if you fancy giving me a hand!”

If you’re not yet dating and are instead just friends (or perhaps, better as friends, not that he knows this!) he won’t let you lose touch. He’ll still make an effort to check in, or try to really build on your friendship (secretly hoping you’ll change your mind / want more!)

If he does anything especially nice, he’ll play it down with things like, “oh, it’s no big deal”, or “no problem, I’d do it for anyone!”, when really, he wouldn’t!

He’ll make a play for you, but without openly making a play. With that said…

11) He’s Happy To Take It Slow

Now, if a guy likes you but is playing it cool, it’s a given that he’s happy to (or at least willing to), take it slow. Otherwise he simply wouldn’t even be able to go at this pace in the first place!

He’s in it for the long-haul, he’s playing the slow game. But slow is good and slow is manageable.

It also slows down your feelings and removes any intensity, allowing the relationship to flourish at a healthier pace. (So it’s not a bad thing!)

Recommended Read: How To Slow Things Down When Dating

12) He May Act Hot & Cold

Now remember, playing it cool is not always easy; particularly as – when you play it cool – you often don’t know how the other person is feeling.

It’s tough, it’s confusing and often, it can be conflicting for a person, as he probably wants to move things forward, but doesn’t want to scare you off.

So it’s natural for it to take its toll on him, every now and then.

For this reason, you may also notice slightly confusing hot and cold behaviour from him… Or hot and cold texting even (as it’s harder to understand where you’re at with a person when you’re not together!)

Essentially, he’s being pulled in by his feelings but then pushes himself back in an attempt to continue to be able to play it cool. So that’s all that’s going on there.

Top Tip: If you notice this going on, now may be a good time to tell the guy you like him! (And don’t worry, it doesn’t have to be such a daunting, scary thing!)

Signs He Likes You But Is Playing It Cool

13) He Asks Questions

Questions, questions, questions. You’re likely to have many, and so is he.

But if he likes you but is playing it cool, he’ll be careful with how much he asks and what he asks. After all, he doesn’t want to come across as too strong and is conscious of the impression he gives.

So, he’ll ask the key questions to ask before dating, and those essential early-days dating questions. There may be interesting, more intentional questions thrown in there too.

(It doesn’t mean you have to have boring conversation!) He may still be dating with intention and able to show he’s dating with intention.

He may also casually try to drop in questions about how you feel about him, or what you’re looking for, every now and then. But this won’t be done in a pushy way…

He’ll still keep his cards close to his chest and keep it light with you!

See, the way in which he words things, the way in which he says things and his timing of the “bigger” questions will be more careful, so that they’re able to seem more casual.

14) He Tries To Understand You

Leading on from the questions, he’ll always be taking in what you say, to better understand you as the better he understands you.

After all, the better he knows what you’re like and what you want, the easier he can get the right balance with you.

He’ll be trying to understand your “boundaries”, you see, as people have different limits and playing it cool with one person, can look very different to playing it cool with another.

He also remembers the small details. (And yes, there are tricks to help you remember almost anything – thankfully!)

But this is a clear giveaway that he’s trying to understand you and again therefore ties into the signs he likes you but is playing it cool.

15) He Asks Others About You

Now a key giveaway he likes you but is playing it cool, is if you find out he’s been asking others about you, or is often talking about you (in nice ways of course) to other people.

See, he could be playing it cool to you, but can’t help getting insider information. This way he can find out more, without pushing you. 

(It may also be that he simply can’t help but find himself talking about you, too!)

It’s kind of sweet really, and it’s why often – your friends will notice he likes you before you do, because around them, he’s more likely to let his guard down and give it away!

(This is just another of the science-backed reasons why friends are important, right?! They can help in more ways than you realise, when it comes to your love life!)

Signs a Guy Is Playing It Cool

16) He Teases You

Last but not least, if a guy likes you but is playing it cool, you’ll often find that teasing comes into play.

See, flirting by teasing is actually pretty common and it works especially well for a guy who’s trying to play it cool… As it’s subtle and simple and tones the flirting down.

So for example, you may notice a lot of “banter” but “flirty banter” where it’s not too strong but it’s enough to build the chemistry and connection between the two of you, further.

Or maybe he flirts in a non serious way with jokes! This not only comes across as “cooler” but could be a sign that he’s afraid of rejection which is why he’s playing it so safe.

So it’s subtle, it pushes the focus back off him liking you, and shifts it onto being light and fun.

So What’s The Verdict?

Does this help you better conclude whether he likes you but is playing it cool? I hope so!

Remember, dating can be mind-boggling at times. But it’s well worth it when it leads you to finding “the one.”

So stick with it, stay strong, have fun and be yourself… Always.

Sending my very best wishes.


Signs He Likes You But Is Playing It Cool
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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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