How to NEVER Get Led-On Again

In Advice and Encouragement, Dating, For the Ladies, Relationships, Single by Debra Fileta55 Comments

Once upon a time, I got led on.

Yep, you heard me.  The “relationship expert” herself, got led on.  In fact, getting led on was not a one-time deal when it came to my interactions with the opposite sex back in the day.  At one point in my life, a predictable relationship pattern started to emerge between me and men.  It went something like this:

Step 1:  He starts interacting with me.

Step 2: I get very excited about the prospect of this potential interest, and show some interest back.

Step 3:  We start hanging out, talking more often, and interacting regularly.

Step 4:  I start reading into this interaction, and dreaming of our future. I continue to give, love, and serve.

Step 5: We continue to interact.

Step 6: I start feeling confused.  Does he like me, or are we just friends? Was that a romantic wink, or was there something in his eye?  Are these dates, or am I just his pal?

Step 7: We continue to interact.

Step 8: I feel more confused, but remain silent.  But I keep on giving…

Step 9: We continue to interact.

Step 10:  And the Grande finale?  He tells me he has a girlfriend, or that he’s interested in another girl, or alludes to me being a great sister in Christ, or introduces me to his crush, or drops off the face of the earth.  The end.

With this kind of relationship history, you can probably get me when I say I used to have a little bitterness in my heart toward the entire male race.  I concluded that- Christian or no Christian- they were all the same: confusing, selfish human beings, looking to just have a good time at the cost of my broken heart.  I blamed them, and felt a little hopeless that the well-being of my heart pretty much depended on this kind of discouraging interaction.

Have you ever felt that kind of discouragement about interacting with the opposite sex? 

I’m sure we all have at some point. But looking back, I had no right to blame anyone in those kinds of dysfunctional and desperate interactions—but myself.

You see, when it comes to being “led on” by someone of the opposite sex here’s what it comes down to: you can only get led on if you continue following (Tweet it!).  The term alludes to a picture of someone being a leader, while the other is the follower.  I chose to be the follower, instead of taking charge of my life.  I allowed my life to be controlled and determined by the choices and decisions of others, rather than respecting and loving myself enough to control it for myself.

When it came to relationships with the opposite sex, I was so determined to let them “lead” (because I was a woman who was wrongly taught that men were supposed to “lead”all relationships) that I allowed myself to hang on to unhealthy relationships and interactions with men  that drug on until they got tired of me, or got something they wanted, or moved on to the next thing.  I kept giving, and giving, and giving, even when there was little to nothing being given back to me.  I was so desperate for love and for a relationship that I failed to recognize (and even gave up) my control in the matter.

The truth is, in each situation there were numerous things I could have done to take control of my relationships like: confront him about this seemingly romantic relationship, clarify where the relationship is going, stop giving until I started getting something back, or set some boundaries instead of just letting whatever happened happen.  But, I didn’t do any of those things.  I just kept following.

I think Christian woman especially get so bogged down by the concept of men being “leaders” that we fail to recognize that God only calls us into this kind of “leading” relationship within the walls of a loving, respect-filled, and mutually submissive marriage.  We are not called to simply “follow” a man for the mere fact that he’s a man.

No matter how you choose to biblically define the word “leader”- no man should be given the role of “leader” in your life until the day you enter a lifelong covenant relationship with him as you unite your hearts as one in Christ. We have misinterpreted this “leader” mentality by applying it to relationships and people that should have absolutely no say in our lives- and in the end we end up broken, hurt, confused, bitter, and jaded- because we chose to follow someone we were never meant to let lead.

And you know what else?  Whether we’re male or female, this dangerous “follow the leader” mentality can be applied to any area of our lives in which we are allowing someone other than ourselves and our God to have control.  As adults, we are given the power and the wisdom to make good choices in our lives.  We are asked to“choose, this day, who [we] will serve”.  And at the end of that beautiful passage of scripture there is one conclusion, and one conclusion alone: “We will serve the Lord”.

It’s time to redefine your preconceived notions of what it means for a man to “take the lead” and take a look at your relationship history and what it might be saying about you.  If you, like me, have found yourself confused, bitter, and broken- maybe it’s time to take the reins back from people and relationships that were never meant to have this kind of role in your life, and give the control back to the One who has always deserved it.  Trust Him with your life, and allow Him to take the lead.

Whether you’re a man or a woman- don’t ever allow yourself to get “led on” by anyone less than Him.

*This article updated and revised from older version. *

Debra Fileta is a Professional Counselor, speaker, and author of the book True Love Dates: Your Indispensable Guide to Finding the Love of Your Life, where she writes candidly about dating, relationships, and how to find true love. You may also recognize her voice from her 100+ articles at Relevant Magazine or! She’s also the creator of this True Love Dates Blog!  Connect with her on Facebook or Twitter

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55 Comments on "How to NEVER Get Led-On Again"

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Melissa Yakes
This was me absolutely last year. And I agree with your conclusion 100%! Buuuut, I do think that the fellas need to get a little blame too. Sure, we wouldn’t be led on if we didn’t allow ourselves to be, but that’s kind of how relationships work- u show a little interest, he does, and so forth. Why would he give the illusion of leading you somewhere he has no intention to follow through with? We’re dealing with pliable(sometimes lonely) hearts when it comes to single guy and girl relationships. We can benefit from one another’s friendship(and should!) I just… Read more »
Lol. Just about a week or 2 before this blog I was seriously caught up in a situation where I felt I was being led on. Searched high and low for answers to no avail and decided to take a moment and listen to wisdom. I confronted the guy (it made me feel so needy and like I was putting the final blow to our relationship). Well! Things haven’t been better, there’s more fluid-ness and honesty in the relationship and we are not subjecting each other to some unsaid expectations. Confrontation is the way forward. But a word of caution:… Read more »
Hi Debra! I enjoyed this post as well as many other posts you have written. This post confirmed what I have thought about my present situation with a guy I work with. I am highly attracted to him but all he does is flirt with me which makes me think he is not interested in anything more than a friendship because he has had plenty of opportunity to get to know me more outside of work but has not taken it. He is also going on dates with other girls. I feel as if I have been led on by… Read more »

I think this is such an important post. I’ve done this, I know lots of other women who have done this. And sometimes I think our christian communities unintentionally encourage this by acting as if any action on our part is un-godly.

I loved the story about Tim Keller and his wife when they were just friends on the Gospel Coalition.

It’s the kind of action I think a lot of us need to be willing to take in these situations.
Acknowledging, of course, that more often the relationship (if it even is that) is going to end.

Norah from Europe
Whoah. I don’t know what to say. Those ten steps… They are basically the story of my (love)life. This was really, really important for me to read right now! I’ve made some progress lately in this area but seemingly I’ve still got looooots to learn. It’s so easy to slip into that nasty circle of interaction – hanging out – waiting – confusion – disappointment, which always seems to end in tears or anger from MY side. How come there have been so many potentional bf candidates who suddenly have a secret girlfriend lurking around the corner? How can I… Read more »
Estelle from US
Wow, I know what you wrote is true and reading it brought some things to light. I have had a “friend” for 20 years and we were friends first, then dated then moved on. I knew I loved him and he loved me but he could not see it, so of course moving on was very hard for me. (I was 23,not saved then and he was my first and he was 26). He later got married and I got engaged and 17 years later we ended up meeting up again. (We have mutual friends so we never lost each… Read more »
thank u for this article, Debra & I’m absolutely agree w/ u. just a bit sharing, i was led on by a guy (my previous cell group leader) 5 years ago & i let him do that to me for almost 3 years. after almost 3 years no improvement, i finally closed the door. Thanks God & my close friends who supported me to move on. it was soo well worthed i left him. however, it taught me 2 lessons: 1. guard your heart & 2. Contentment. Half year latter, i’d a boyfriend (a deacon @ my church). I’m soo… Read more »

Thank you so much for sharing your heart Debra. I have been praying and struggling with my emotions and I believe now is the time I give God the reigns, all of them.

Thanks for your article! Well on the other side of the coin, I was part of a friendship that developed into the very grey area which started with her showing interest in me, or so it seemed to me. There was initial hesitation on my part but over time I warmed up to the friendship and got interested anyway. As a guy, I felt the responsibility to strike that DTR conversation at what I prayed and hoped was the right time and I did. Sadly it didn’t pan out the way I’d hoped, I was rejected with no explanation, nor… Read more »
Hello there! I have been reading your blog since the middle of last year,and I can relate to so many of the things you write about. I recently went through a very hurtful situation, where I felt this guy and I connected really well,and then he dropped the bomb on me after 2 weeks. The first time I met him was years ago, and although I was interested in him, he had no interest in me. So flash forward to a few years later,and I see him at my new church, and think maybe we can be friends after so… Read more »
It sounds to me like he realized he want to be committed to something. He sounds like he wasn’t ready, but that was ‘okay’ as long as things remained fun (as in non physical, but intimate). It was not until you two crossed an apparent line that his reaction became to do the opposite of what the two of you had been building up until that point. It seems it was easier for him to end things altogether than to try and reestablish the boundaries that were first (and unclearly) put in place. It is unfortunate, but I think you… Read more »

Great article! And I’m so glad that you brought the focus back to God too! 🙂

I’ve really enjoyed your posts and blog. Your book just arrived in the mail so I’m looking forward to that. There’s a man I’ve been interested in over a year. He sits with me every Sunday night at church and approaches me at Singles events. I don’t see him interacting with any other women. Our talks are getting better and better and feel like we are opening more. I honestly don’t know what to do but keep on doing what I’ve been doing…just being there. How do I pull back from going to church activities and services without hurting myself?… Read more »
Wow. What a timely post. I’m still unsure of how to move forward after reading it as it resurfaces some hurt I’m still dealing with, but perhaps it’s just a stepping stone in my progress. I feel like I was played with by a guy for about a year, and out of my 31 years I can say I have never had to deal with that before. I’m used to guys not being interested/just being friends, but not a guy being continually flirtatious when he’s not even interested or perhaps feels I’m a safe person that won’t get led on.… Read more »

Do you have a post about how to have a DTR talk? I think you said you did that with your husband. I’d love to know how to do this without it appearing I’m pursuing.

I was told by a guy friend that if a guy is truly interested in ‘dating’ someone, he WILL make it known….period (his words not mine). He said some guys may like the way a woman looks and will enjoy flirting with her but nothing more or he may find her really friendly and easy to talk too but again nothing more. I think as women, we sometimes tend to take ‘flirting/attention’ as more than it really is. I think that after a point, we need to ask the guy (before we invest too much time and feelings) what does… Read more »
Concerning being led on: There is a woman that I met during the greeting time in the church that I attend who I think is in her late 20’s or early 30’s. When I introduced myself and shook her hand I got this “deer in the headlights” look. She said hi back but she just kept starring. No smiles, just wide-eyed starring. The same thing happened the next time I saw her and said hello. I am interested in getting to know her but I am wondering if the look that she is giving me is something done to lead… Read more »
I have been in that situation on two occasions but I take full responsibility for having been led on. On the last occasion, I was of the opinion that a guy at my church who I had been eyeing for some time and with whom I was put to teach a particular class with for two years, was interested in me. He came across as flirtatious and I convinced myself that he was the one God most likely wanted for me. Then, suddenly, he disappeared from church for weeks and I was shockingly told by one of his family members… Read more »
I am 35 years old and I’ve been situations like this for as long as I can remember. The last guy I dated, did the same exact thing and as a result I haven’t dated anyone since. I prayed & fasted for God to show me if he was the one & inexplicably, he dumped me on the last day of my fast. I was gutted and the pain I felt was horrible and though this happened two years ago, sometimes, I feel quite bewildered by it. I have learnt to accept that it wasn’t meant to be but I… Read more »
As women of God, we have to learn to take the character of God with us when men come calling!!! I would ask God so many questions when one would come knocking on my door until God starting asking me questions about questions to ask them. I never thought about the questions until when I asked one gentleman straight out. I paid attention to their response and actions. It was amazing! I remember one question was, Instead of me praying to God about him, God said asked him if he prayed about you! And if so, did he get permission!… Read more »

l presently have two guys right now sending me mixed signals, and with wisdom from God am guarding my heart against heartbreak. l shake off the “and they live happily ever after” feeling regularly in order not to get carried away. l love your write up, we sisters need it badly.


Maybe he just wanted to make friends. You led yourself on.


Step 1: He starts interacting with me.

Step 2: I get very excited about the prospect of this potential interest, and show some interest back.

The escalation between these two “steps” says it all.

Thanks Debra for this article. It’s sooo true… Ladies, we have to guard our hearts very well because we are way too emotional beings. I had learned a big lesson last year. Reaching 30 this year, I’ve never been dated until last two years ago, I met this guy. He is such a gentleman. He has a caring heart. The fact, he don’t set boundaries. I fell into that ‘trap’ thinking he is doing the extra stuff for me, you know the kind of man who cares and shows ‘sign’ he likes me. I like him too. Well, I prayed… Read more »

i think rships are just a risk u cant avoid. If u dont allow yourself to be led on, how will the fship be mutual? And if the fship is not mutual, d initiator won’t go further because no one likes a one-sided rship. My point: if you dont want to be led on, there is a probability that his / her actions/interests might not be reciprocated.

Ken Woodhouse

Mixed messages mean move on…I just wish I could get that through my thick head lol. When someone is interested in you they will show it and you’ll know it. When you have to sit and question what this means or that means it’s time to move on and save yourself from the inevitable downfall. That’s my two cents.

Debra, your guy should have told you by step 4 that you and him are JUST FRIENDS. I’m a guy so I know where he is coming from. Also, did you tell him you liked him? If you did tell him you liked him, that is when he should have told you that you and him are JUST FRIENDS. I have a female friend that I thought I was interested in, but she just wants to be friends. She told me after the first time we hung out. As time was going on, she was concerned that she was leading… Read more »

This pattern is literally what happened to me but we did kiss (although i guess that wasn’t a big deal to him). It really hurts because he knew I liked him and I don’t think he would have told me about his sort-of girlfriend if it wasn’t for me asking whether he really liked me. Sucks right now cos I’ve just started uni. I know I’ll be OK, I think I’m just bad at being alone 🙁

John Fileta

Such a sad story to hear, Amy! You are definitely not alone in your experience. But thankfully the more you know the better you do. Being single is such a good time to learn how to be healthy while standing alone. I would challenge you to pick up a copy of True Love Dates and learn as much as you can during this time of singleness….so that you don’t repeat the same patterns in dating. Best to you, dear!!

Hi..thanks so much for the post..i experienced a similar problem but mine looks a bit complicated because i confronted this guy whom we have been very close some time back about whether he had interest in me and he said not yet(he more or less didnt answer my question).I decided to hang on till (3 months now)we have become more closer making things more intense between us….he still hasnt told me what his intentions are..but he said he isnt seeing any one yet but decides to settle down soon(he sounded like he had a range of options to choose from).He… Read more »

This is me right now….i remember crying so hard and asking God questions 3days back. I’ve liked a a particular guy for years and we recently started talking….we have been talking almost everyday since the beginning of the year and i felt i was allowing myself to be led on so i asked if he was seeing someone then he told me he was talking to someone at the moment….
I criedddd but hey! i’m glad i asked and now i can move on…thanks for this great piece Debra


I just want to write that your article blessed my life and was so simple and easy to read. Thank you for being bold enough to post your thoughts in this blog. I am grateful that I stumbled upon it.