It's not always safe to assume that just because a guy is showing interest in you that he's single. In addition, you don't have to embarrass yourself by being too forward about his relationship status if you are interested. You can tactfully approach the subject by mastering small talk and looking for cues within your conversation to safely navigate the topic of his potential availability without coming off as too eager, bold or brazen.
Steering the Conversation
Coming right out and asking "Do you have a girlfriend" may be seen by some as rude and can leave you in an awkward position. Minimize this awkwardness by steering your conversation to a point where his relationship status naturally comes up. Instead of asking if he is single, ask him what he did over the weekend or how he plans to spend his spring break. If he responds "We went out to the lake" as opposed to "I hung out at the lake with my friends," his use of "We" instead of "I" might be an indication that he has a girlfriend. By saying "We," instead of "I," you can then tactfully ask who he went with, by stating, "That sounds fun -- who'd you go with?"
Utilizing Small Talk
Small talk, or talking about trivial topics such as the weather, is often considered to be menial in comparison to talking about meaningful topics, such as your thoughts and ideas; however, it can be a valuable information gathering tool. In a study of college undergraduates conducted by Matthias Mehl and his research associates published in the 2009 edition of "Psychological Science," small talk was reported to make up about 18 percent of the conversations held by undergraduates. Ask about movies he's seen and restaurants that he's visited lately. Chances are he didn't go see that romantic comedy and have a romantic dinner with his friends. Once that information is out in the open, feel free to ask who he went with.
Assume He Has a Girlfriend
Instead of outright asking if he has a girlfriend, look for an opening in the conversation to mention her to him. Bring up places that you have traveled or some of your favorite restaurants and wait for him to chime in with his opinions. After listening to his ideas on his favorite vacation spot, mention "I bet your girlfriend loved it there" or "That's such a great restaurant for an anniversary date" and wait for his response. If he explains that he doesn't have a girlfriend, you can playfully apologize for the assumption and move forward knowing that he is fair game.
Use a Directly Tactful Departure
The most clear-cut manner of asking if he has a girlfriend is to be direct; however, remember that you can be direct while maintaining your social composure. As your conversation comes to a close, use your departure as a way to approach his relationship status by stating, "If you're not seeing anyone, I'd like to continue this conversation sometime." By allowing the conversation to flow naturally before asking if he has a girlfriend, you stand a good chance of not coming off as rude or solely interested in him for his dating potential. In the event that he does have a girlfriend, thank him for his time and wish him well. If he doesn't, use your departure as an excuse to exchange numbers for a future rendezvous.
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