Often, a man or woman will question their love interest’s real feelings. Are they lying about their feelings or are they telling the truth? Are they using you or are you just suspicious from being hurt in the past? How do you know the answer?

1. Do their actions match what they are saying? What confuses people is when the love interest is saying one thing but acting in a way that directly contradicts what they are saying. Which do you believe? Here’s a rule of thumb that at first glance sounds extremely negative – always believe the worst possible explanation. Why is that the “correct” answer? Here’s an example of how it might look:

Your boyfriend says he loves you, but cancels plans with you at the last minute. He always has a good excuse, but there are so many excuses. Recently, he had car trouble, and was unable to take you out to the expensive dinner he made reservations for. The next time he cancelled it was because he had to help a friend who was stranded without a ride home from the airport. You couldn’t come along because you deserve a better evening than picking up someone from the airport. And the next time he cancelled it was because he forgot that he had a party to attend for work – no spouses or girlfriends allowed. Interspersed between the cancellations, he is loving and attentive but you can’t help thinking he sees you when it’s convenient and doesn’t feel the urgency to see you as if he really loved you.

Should you believe his words or his actions? Do his actions show you how he really feels? Yes, they do. When you are vulnerable, you are bound to hear what you want to hear and ignore potential red flags in someone’s behavior. He is not concerned with seeing you as much as he is with getting his time filled. He may make you feel special when you are together, but when he has other plans, he is easily about to break a date with you. This speaks to his real feelings about his connection to you – it’s limited.

2. Do you see an unexplained conflict in their behavior?
Your girlfriend says she wants to “take things to the next level”, but every time there’s an opportunity for the two of you to be alone, she finds an excuse to leave early or include someone else. Is she afraid to commit? Afraid of sex or not ready for intimacy? Is she still attached to her previous boyfriend?

3. Are you being used?
There is nothing more hurtful than feeling as though the person you love doesn’t really love you, but has been using you for any number of reasons – maybe for something to do when NOTHING ELSE is available, or for money that you are willing to shell out, or for perks like free meals or concert tickets that you are able to provide through work.

We tend to overlook all that is being given because it feels so good to give to someone, especially when that person is charming and offers a good time in return. The problem is, as time goes by you begin to realize that you aren’t getting anything in return of equal value. You wanted a relationship, instead you got someone who needs money, favors or attention but is unable to be a real partner.

It’s very hurtful when you recognize that your partner is somehow lying to you about their real intentions or that you haven’t been heeding your inner voice which has been warning you to get real about what’s going on in the “relationship.”

But isn’t it better to take the hit and break up a connection with someone that is only worth it a small percentage of time when the rest of the time you find your needs are not being met? If you end with someone who is lying, you have a chance to find a mutual relationship with someone who appreciates you…

Elissa Grunblatt, LCSW-R, SAP is the Owner/President of a multi-clinician outpatient Mental Health Center located in Amityville, New York