Handling Rejection
For Men

She says she has a boyfriend: 3 smart ways to respond

February 15, 2024
▪ 13 mins read

3 smart strategies on how to respond if a woman you like tells you that she has a boyfriend

After summoning up the courage to say hi to her, and striking up a good conversation, you may be more than a bit surprised when she says, “sorry I have a boyfriend.”

Why didn't she mention this earlier?!

If you have approached a woman and felt things were going well, then at the point of asking for her number she mentions she has a boyfriend, this can feel confusing.

You may be left thinking, 'if you have a boyfriend then how come you've been happily chatting to me for the past 10 minutes?'

In this post I'll explain:

  • 3 responses if a woman says she has a boyfriend
  • Why does she show interest in you if she has a boyfriend?
  • Should you ask her outright, “Do you have a boyfriend?”
  • 7 signs she probably has a boyfriend, even if she hasn’t told you
  • Should you try to convince a woman to leave her boyfriend?

3 responses if a woman says she has a boyfriend 

1. Leave her happy and move on 

All approaches (when you start a conversation with someone you've never met before) should be built on the principle that you want to leave her feeling happy. Not harassed, or annoyed. Not miffed or bemused. Content. Now, of course, you can’t control how she responds but the principle of being altruistic here is a good place to start. If she has a boyfriend this doesn’t mean that she doesn’t like you or that there’s anything wrong with you. It just means she’s already got someone in her life.

I would use this as a nice opportunity to build her self-esteem and leave both of you smiling by saying something like, “he’s a lucky man, have a great day.” This positivity will make you both feel good and helps a bigger cause of women associating positive things with a man approaching them: which one day will benefit you when you approach another woman and she’s more relaxed about the experience

“He’s a lucky man, have a great day.” 

2. Use playfulness to diffuse the tension 

Ok, it is slightly annoying when a woman flirts and then says she’s got a boyfriend. The men I coach will often ask me, “why do women want my attention and flirt when they’ve got a boyfriend?”  I would answer this by saying that people have different definitions of `flirting’. Your version of `flirting’ with her could be her version of `being friendly’.

And of course, some PEOPLE (not just women) can be a bit relaxed about their relationship status. Some people cheat. Some people flirt to get an ego boost. People aren’t perfect. But as I explained earlier, this isn't intended to be malicious.

So what to say when she says she has a boyfriend (and that comes as a surprise to you)? I would be playful. Playfulness diffuses tension. It also allows you to `vent’ in a way that isn’t hostile towards her. To women hostility equals ‘dangerous’ and will make her feel deeply uncomfortable. 

“Damn here was me getting excited to meet your parents”
“Ah and I had such a good first date planned. That’s cool - I’ll save it for someone else!” 

Note: If you’d like to meet more women in real life check out my Training Day taster bootcamp.

A pretty woman looks seriously at a man like she could be telling him she has a boyfriend
Not a soul at the party had so much as sipped James' homebrew

3. Surprise her with sincere intentions

Imagine if you meet a woman, you really click, sparks are flying and then (with hesitation/an apologetic tone) she tells you she has a boyfriend.

In a perfect world when a relationship begins to dissolve or isn’t `right’ people would have that realization and choose to be single. Unfortunately, relationships are a lot more complicated than that. The decision to be single - particularly for women who are often stigmatized for being single - isn’t easy. The path forwards often isn’t clear and sometimes it does take getting some `feels’ for someone else for people to wake up and realize what they want.

Still, even under these circumstances, I wouldn’t ever advocate trying to `steal’ someone else’s girlfriend. Morals aside, the facts are if she’s just coming out of something big then she’ll need time to re-orientate herself and be okay to be by herself. If you want anything meaningful here then it’s not the wussy option to express an interest in getting to know her better before making your move.

“Look I really like you, but I know now isn’t the right time to explore that. Normally I’d take your number, but instead you can have mine. If something changes in the future you can reach out and we can see where we’re both at.” 
"Look, I’ll always respect your boundaries but I have enjoyed talking to you. Let me take your number so we can at least stay in touch."

Of course sometimes a woman you are talking to, or messaging online, doesn’t outright say, “sorry I have a boyfriend.” You just get the general impression that she’s not fully available. If this happens to you - show her that you’re sincerely interested in a non-pushy way. This positive first impression may mean that you get a message from her out of the blue in the future once she’s cleared up her relationship status. 

Why does she show interest in you if she has a boyfriend? 

Here’s a hard truth: It’s often easier for her to say, “sorry I have a boyfriend,” than, “sorry I’m just not interested.” Saying she has a boyfriend can be a convenient excuse to not exchange numbers with you. 

I know this can seem misleading, but get into her shoes. Think about how awkward (and potentially dangerous) it could be to say directly to a guy that she’s not sexually attracted to you? So the 'boyfriend' line may well be a way she's trying to give you a polite, 'thanks but no thanks,' that’s intended to spare your feelings. 

By being indirect and blaming her lack of interest in the fact she has a boyfriend, she’s not trying to mislead you, she’s trying to be kind and considerate to your feelings. Remember, if she doesn’t yet know you this is more of a reflection of her emotional availability, than your self worth. 

The other option is that her boyfriend is very much a real person. In this instance, she probably didn't mention him straight away because it wasn't necessarily obvious your conversation with her was romantically charged. Again: if she brings up the B-word too early, it sounds a bit presumptuous, no?

She also may have been living in the moment, and genuinely enjoying flirting with you, but when push comes to shove, thinks the better of it and removes herself from the interaction.

I understand why all these things may feel frustrating to be on the receiving end but they're not intended to frustrate you. This can be particularly confusing if she has a boyfriend but still chooses to talk to you everyday: What might be a pleasant acquaintance to her, can feel like a lost opportunity to you. 

If you'd like to understand women a little better you may enjoy my post “Who Has Dating Harder - Men or Women?”. Spoiler alert: the answer may surprise you!

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Should you ask outright, “Do you have a boyfriend?”

Asking her “do you have a boyfriend,” at the start of a conversation won’t present you in an attractive way. Sure you might save some time, and some guess work; but going right to her relationship status as the first topic of conversation is going to feel transactional. 

She will feel the only reason you’re curious to talk to her is to see if she’s sexually available. It will come across as presumptuous. Remember she will feel really attracted to men who show they’re actively choosing her because of the connection you’ve both felt. Asking “do you have a boyfriend,” as a first conversational gambit will bomb. 

However, if you’ve been chatting online or in person for a while then it will feel more natural for you to introduce this topic to the conversation. Again you can use playfulness to diffuse the obvious intensity that the,”do you have a boyfriend?” question brings: 

“Better call your boyfriend and check he’s okay with that.” 
“Wait a minute are we doing flirty chat or normal chat?” 
“Don’t worry my imaginary girlfriend won’t be offended.” 

Notice the last two examples I’ve given you don’t ask her out right if she has a boyfriend, but they get right onto the topic of relationships and provide a great opportunity for her to tell you that she has a boyfriend. 

Hopefully her responses to these verbal prompts will let you know whether she’s got a boyfriend or not. However, if you’re lacking a clear verbal answer then you can also look out for these other signs she likes you but has a boyfriend. 

7 signs she probably has a boyfriend, even if she hasn’t told you

If she does have a boyfriend, she may not tell you outright. Here are some of the tell-tale signs she is already seeing someone, even though she may like interacting with you:

1. She’s happy to chat for a while, but calls time on your interaction

You’ve met a woman out and about, things seem to be going well, but when you suggest grabbing a drink, she finds an excuse to leave. Chances are she was enjoying the conversation with you, but taking things a step further didn’t feel morally right to her. 

2. She’s unwilling to give you her phone number 

If you’ve enjoyed a conversation with a woman, but she doesn’t give you her phone number (or suggests her social media or an email instead) she could be keeping you at arm’s length as she’s already in a relationship. 

3. She doesn’t respond when you suggest meeting up

If you’ve been chatting to a woman online, notice what happens when you suggest meeting up. A woman who is not already in a relationship and is ready to meet someone, will spend time with you in real life. If the chat drops off the moment you suggest actually meeting, then rule her out. 

4. She’s flirty one moment, gone the next

Does she only message you at random intervals? Does she seem flirty and curious one moment, then straight up non-responsive the next? This could signal that she’s in an on-off relationship with someone and unable to commit to spending time with you. 

5. She’s neutral when you try to be flirtatious

If you try to flirt with her, her responses to you stay neutral. This is her way of showing you that while she’s happy to chat, she doesn’t want to cross a line into anything more romantic. A woman who is in a relationship will often seek to subtly communicate this fact by not responding in kind to your flirtation. 

6. She brings up her relationship problems with you

Talking to you about her relationship problems might be her subtle way of indicating, ‘I may not be in my existing relationship forever.’ However, to safeguard  your own sanity, avoid getting drawn into a vague promise that she’ll be single soon. Focus your attention on women who are single now. 

7. She tells you she’s seeing someone

She may not come right out and say, “sorry I’ve got a boyfriend,” but at a certain stage in the conversation you may find that she starts saying “we.” What’s the reason for her being so indirect? She may feel it’s presumptuous to tell a man who she doesn’t know that well, her relationship status. So instead she may communicate more subtly through details that she chooses to share about her life or routine. 

So I replied, "You'll just have to arrest me, Officer"

Should you try to convince a woman to leave her boyfriend? 

In short - no. 

That’s unethical. It’s also unlikely to lead to the relationship that you want. 

Even if the woman you like has broken up with her boyfriend, don’t assume that she’ll be ready for a new relationship with you. You need to focus your time and energy on women who are ready to date you. If she’s ‘confused’ about how she feels, still in touch with her ex-boyfriend, or in an on-off relationship with him, avoid getting caught up in this situation. Whilst you may see a lot of potential in the relationship, if you step in too early and provide emotional support this strategy may completely backfire. 

If she’s getting her physical or emotional needs met with you, then she may feel less of a need to analyze whether her relationship is working or not. Yep think of it this way - with you in her life providing her with attention, she’s not able to see as clearly what her current relationship is lacking. By trying to convince her to leave her boyfriend, you also face the prospect of putting a lot of time and energy into attempting to develop a relationship with a woman who is ultimately unavailable.

If someone is showing signs of being undecided or confused, stand back; let her come to her own conclusions about her current relationship in her own time. 

You deserve someone who is totally ready and available to you. Not chasing around after 20% of someone’s attention.

And don’t be tempted to playfully suggest she's “missing out” — it's usually counterproductive.

What to say if she has a boyfriend can be a bit of a minefield. The most important thing for you to remember is that the bare minimum you need from her, to build a relationship with is her time. If she’s unwilling to commit time to getting to know you, whether she has a ‘real’ boyfriend or not, the result is the same: It’s not happening. You can’t build a relationship from one side. 

Done with chasing after women who aren't available? Time to meet some new women? Book a call with Hayley for specific, objective dating advice on what to do next.

What to say if she has a boyfriend: FAQs

Can a woman like you if she has a boyfriend?

Yes it’s perfectly possible for her to like you, even if she has a boyfriend. Whether she’s not that serious about her boyfriend, doubting her relationship or just caught off guard by how much she’s attracted to you, she may develop feelings for you even if she’s in a relationship. However, these feelings don’t change the fact that she has one relationship to dismantle, before beginning a new relationship with you. 

What should you do if you develop feelings for her, but she wants to stay with her boyfriend?

If she tells you that she wants to stay with her boyfriend, take her at her word and respect her decision. It’s tough but remember you need to invest your time and energy into a woman who is able to give you a clear ‘yes’. So take a step back and give yourself the opportunity to detach from her. 

Should you tell her that you like her if she has a boyfriend? 

Before you tell her that you like her, consider your social relationship to her. Does she just consider you as an acquaintance but nothing more? Do you know each other well? Have you just been chatting online? If you haven’t had that much social contact with her, telling her that you like her will feel misplaced. If you are already good friends, but you’re aware you’d like your relationship with her to be romantic then you can choose to communicate this to her as a boundary, “this maybe wasn’t a smart thing to do, but I’ve got feelings for you. I know you’re in a relationship, so I’m going to have to take a step back.” 

How do you compliment a woman who has a boyfriend?

How you compliment a woman who has a boyfriend depends on your intentions. It’s nice to genuinely compliment others, and provided that compliment isn’t of a physical or sexual nature, then it’s OK to express something you’ve noticed about her. However, be mindful of trying to use compliments as a way to communicate your interest, or because you want something from her (i.e. for her to break up with her current boyfriend.) If this is the case, you’ll need to communicate with her more clearly about what your intentions are. She won’t just choose to be in a relationship with the man who compliments her the most! 

How do you text a woman who has a boyfriend?

If you’re texting a woman who has a boyfriend you want to demonstrate social intelligence by observing the unwritten social rules of messaging a woman who is already in a relationship. Avoid messaging her late at night, sending heart emojis, or writing anything romantic. Text a woman who has a boyfriend, like you would another platonic friend. If you’d like to be in a relationship with her instead, remember there’s a limit to how much emotional intimacy that you can build by messaging her. She will need to choose to spend time with you in real life. 

How to win a girl over another guy? 

Before you try to ‘win’ a woman over another guy stop and consider is your ego getting the better of you? What’s driving you to break up their relationship? If the woman’s single, but has other men that are interested, the most attractive way you can engage with her is to communicate with her that you’d like to spend time with her in person. If she’s not receptive to this, then have high enough standards for your relationships to walk away. Remember she has her own agency to choose her partners: It’s not a competition between you and another man. 

What do you do if you’ve fallen in love with a woman who has a boyfriend? 

Whilst you can feel in love with a woman who has a boyfriend, remember love is a two way emotion. If she’s not actively engaging in building a relationship with you then what you’re feeling is infatuation with who she might be, and what your relationship could become; rather than a sincere love for who she is in the here and now. This sounds harsh, but you really deserve to be with a woman who is equally invested in building a relationship with you.

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