Whether it’s the Oscar Isaac-lookalike at work, the barista who gives you life every morning, or your GMAT teacher who sometimes chats with you as you walk out of the building together (oops), it’s tough to fully crush on someone when you’re not even sure if they’re single. (That GMAT teacher wasn’t — he mentioned his girlfriend to the class once and it was a bummer. We’ve all been there.) Is there a way to ask someone if they’re single without essentially saying “Hi, I have a crush on you”?
In my experience, people in relationships will typically reference their “person” in conversation with you within the first four conversations you have with them. This is because people in relationships are usually god damn proud of their attachments, and are fine with you knowing that they found the elusive “one.” If they don’t reference their SO, they probably enjoy flirting with you in the break room and don’t want you to know that they’re attached. (My teacher crush excluded, as his girlfriend didn’t naturally come up while he was teaching us Data Sufficiency.)
However, it could be very possible the person you are crushing on is in a fledgling situationship, just shy about mentioning their relationship, or is completely single. It’s hard to be suave when trying to gather this intel, and I did my best to come up with some not-entirely-clumsy ways of finding out whether you’re flirting with an available person or not. Here goes:
1. Internet-Stalk Them
Yes, you’re right, this isn’t so much asking a person if they are single as it is asking Google if a person is single, but I think doing your best internet stalk is the most innocuous and easy way of finding out if someone’s in a relationship or not. Public Instagram? Pictures with one woman on skiing trips? BAM, relationship. Photos of them with a bottle of wine at a wedding captioned “my date”? BAM, single. You will be able to find out if your crush is in a relationship or not — just be careful you don’t confuse a sister for a girlfriend.
2. Mention Valentine’s Day
Now is the prime time to casually find out whether your crush is in a relationship — V-Day is just around the corner and is definitely a topic of conversation. I’m not suggesting that you necessarily ask them “What are you up to this Wednesday?” — though that could work if you’re feeling bold. Instead, you can simply grumble about Valentine’s Day in conversation with them and gauge their reaction to the impending holiday.
3. Assume They Have A Partner
This is most useful to those of you with some acting background, or at least some general self-confidence when it comes to making conversation. Ideally, you make a casual “your girlfriend” reference to your crush, and then when they say, “Oh, I don’t have one,” you pretend you thought they had mentioned a girlfriend to you and giggle/blush a little. This approach requires some planning, and can be a bit obvious. If you’re talking about an upcoming vacation, I’d go with a question like, “Oh, with your family?” and then, if they say no, asking, “Oh, with your girlfriend?” Not entirely obvious, right?
4. Mention A Dating Podcast You Love
Doesn’t it feel like everyone’s talking about podcasts these days? I’d casually mention a podcast like 51 First Dates over coffee and see if your crush is interested or not. It’s a way to start the conversation about your respective love lives under the guise of talking about a podcast. Highly recommend.
5. Mention A Dating App
Yup, it’s that simple. Say “Tinder” and see if your cutie wants to start a conversation about “this fun Tinder date they went on the other week.” If they don’t, not all is lost, and you might just have to get a bit more straightforward about asking them what’s going on in their love life. Or internet stalk them.
I will conclude by saying that “Are you dating anyone?” is one of my least favorite questions to be asked, whether I am in a relationship or not. I’ve actually loved co-hosting a dating podcast (yes, that one is mine) so that my friends know that yes, I’m dating, and it’s going, but no, it’s not the most important thing to talk about when we grab dinner for the first time in months. I have a career! Trips! Friends! Anything! Go forth and do your detective work, and I wish you the best of luck in uncovering whether your crush is single or not.
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