Tarot For When “He’s Just Not That Into You”

Granted, could be he, or she. Regardless, the title for this post was taken from the book that was quite famous back when Sex & The City was still in its heyday. Greg Behrendt was a writer on the show and saw so many women pining after unavailable men who treated them like crap, that he decided to write the book. Another fantastic book on this topic is Natalie Lu’s Mr. Unavailable and The Fallback Girl.

I’m not going to lie to you: out of all the readings I do on love partnerships, a large majority come under this category, and sometimes folks, it gets hard to see. Maybe because I myself have been “that girl” and I do continue to fall into the trap of pining after and giving my all to the textbook unavailable guy. Yes, there is a type, and it’s very, very predictable. Which is why I’ve started to see a sort of pattern of cards in these types of readings that, when taken in the context of a question of “why isn’t he calling me after having been so persistent in the beginning?” communicate pretty clearly what the limitations are.

Something to always keep in mind either when reading tarot for yourself or for others, or when getting a reading: the cards don’t, and obviously can’t, solve your problems for you. The cards can’t give you the magic wand that will help you get the job, get over your block, or do away with your unhealthy pattern of choosing the wrong man/woman in your love relationships. What they can do, however, is highlight for you some potential root causes, factors, circumstances, and questions to look at regarding your situation. The cards can bring issues to light, and often they are truths you already know, but are avoiding or denying.

So, when you’re wondering about that romantic partner of yours, and why he/she isn’t calling, isn’t following up, and when words aren’t matching actions, see if any of these cards have played a role in a reading you’ve had on the topic.

1) 3 of Swords


I can’t tell you how many times I’ve almost accidentally called this card the “3 of Hearts.” It’s that big, huge, simple, red heart right in the middle. This card is nearly always like a blinking neon sign to the querent, especially when it shows up in the position of “What do I need to know about [insert sketchy romantic partner here]”? Let’s face it, this isn’t rocket science. If we’re asking about the person in a tarot reading because we feel we don’t know their true motives or plans with us, we probably already know the answer. If the cards confirm our suspicions like this, then it becomes a glaring signpost that can’t be ignored any longer, unless you consciously choose to ignore it. It’s hard to put a positive spin on this card or twist its message into something that it isn’t.

When we see the 3 of Swords, we see a heart being pierced. Your heart is being hurt. This card comes up a lot when there’s another person in the situation: the proverbial “other woman,” or a love triangle. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a third person, however; it can also represent a situation or a challenge that is tearing a couple apart or standing between them. In any case, this is not a card of harmony in love. It’s a card that confirms that a matter of the heart needs to be clarified. Needless to say, it traditionally signals betrayal and heartbreak.

2 & 3) 5 of Swords/7 of Swords


Honestly can’t say how many times I’ve seen these buggers come up in a difficult relationship situation. Although in the card images themselves, they’re depicted as men, don’t be fooled into thinking this is necessarily a man. The person taking action in these cards could equally be a man or a woman, of course, it just depends on the context of the question.

In love situations where there’s suspicion or doubt regarding the partner’s motives or actions, these cards are going to hit a point home without beating around the bush. Note, however, that there are subtle differences, even though the baseline message in both is more or less “you’re getting ripped off” (or if it represents you, asking you how you’re possibly taking advantage of the situation for your own motives or needs.)

In the 5 of Swords, we have a gloating victor in the foreground, and two people defeated in the background. In some contexts, I’ve interpreted this card as one person going through various stages of a seemingly satisfying victory that turns into a false victory which ultimately leads to a bitter personal defeat. In its most basic form though, this card is about getting manipulated, taken advantage of, or basically coming out of a situation without having anything to show for it, if you’re not the victor in the foreground. If the 5 of Swords comes up in a spread position representing the partner, they could even be a smooth talker, a very charming person, but the message of the card is to stay aware, because they are likely to take what they want and need without much regard to how they come by it. It doesn’t mean that the person is necessarily a “bad” person, but in the context of a relationship question, it certainly points to a selfishness that can create a serious imbalance in the partnership.

In the 7 of Swords, we have stealth. Here we have someone trying to “get away with something” and for all intents and purposes, at least in this image, he or she seems to be succeeding. When this relates to a romantic partner, watch out for cheating or some sort of hidden deception, trickery, or trying to pull the wool over your eyes. While it seems blunt to come out and suggest these things, this card generally indicates someone who is either consciously trying to get away with something and deceive, or quite possibly has good intentions but is acting in a way that stands to ultimately deceive another. This card in a relationship is a signpost telling you to ask questions if you have doubts, and if your suspicions continue, examine the reasons why you have them, to try to trace whether or not they’re valid.

4) 6 of Pentacles

In the Six of Pentacles, we see sharing resources and accepting abundance.

While this can be a nice card of charity or generosity, when it comes up in a questionable relationship situation, it often refers to an imbalance in the relationship between who’s doing the giving and who’s taking. I often ask the querent to tell me who he or she identifies with in the card, before I go into detail about the message of the card, because it can reveal what the querent already knows or feels. When the querent identifies with the beggar getting change, or the other begger not getting anything, we can ask them about the dynamics of the relationship. Are they doing all the giving in the relationship, and then having to beg for whatever “crumbs” of affection come their way? Do they feel “put down” by their partner, or in a position of inferiority? This card can highlight questions of insecurity regarding money and earning differentials among partners as well, but most often seems to point to codependent type relationship situations.

5) 6 of Swords/8 of Cups


These two don’t actually indicate that “he’s not that into you” so to speak, as much as they indicate that you should actively be moving on. Often when these cards come up, the sitter already knows that he or she needs to be moving on, but isn’t ready to or doesn’t want to. So, sometimes the cards give that visual confirmation or that little push that validates the inner impulse to let this go. Again, they take shape in different ways.

In the 6 of Swords, we see “moving on” in the context of sorrowful retreat. The man paddles his boat, family in tow, loaded down with those swords, his challenges and burdens, and hopeful that he can start over in a new place. In this card, perhaps there was an intellectual or rational or mentality conflict that couldn’t be overcome; perhaps there were excessive disagreements and arguments. In any case, it’s time to move away from the situation to something new, something better, something more promising.

In the 8 of Cups, we see someone who had consciously built up a foundation with heart and soul, something they thought they could count on, something they thought would be lasting and permanent. It’s that wall of 8 cups behind the traveler who is leaving them behind. The 9th cup is missing. Something wasn’t there, and there wasn’t any way to fix it. So, in this situation, you walk away full-well knowing that there was a lot there to build upon, but that it wasn’t enough. This walking away can be emotionally even more difficult, because it involves our heart and emotions on a deeper level (Cups) and because we have to leave behind what we’ve invested our heart in. The positive side of this card though is that it’s constructive: walking away is the best thing for us, since it’s unwise to continue in a situation that has no way to become what we had hoped for it to become.

Again, these cards highlight the personal responsibility that we always have in our lives: the ability to choose our actions consciously. Forewarned is forearmed, as they say. Cards can help us think things through to determine if we really want what we have, and if not, how we can gracefully move forward having learned something from the situation.



  1. This column actually made me smile. I just finished a reading for someone and all except the six of swords showed up. Spot on!

    • Thanks! That’s pretty amazing, all of the cards except the 6 of Swords. I actually wouldn’t expect to see both the Six of Swords and the Eight of Cups in the same reading, necessarily, regarding a topic like this, because they are two different ways of “moving on” with different shades of meaning, so it would seem to me that either one or the other would express that most likely, rather than both, unless one showed how one person was coping with the idea of moving on and the other person was viewing it and facing it in the other way.

      • Hi Shelley,

        I recently received these two cards in a reading. The reading was specific to a situation I am in. I was wanting some insight to whether to remain in a relationship with a good man (hence stable).. She did the Celtic cross and the 8 of cups was shown. Later she did the three card direct answer to a question which was should I follow my heart and be with the other man (who lives overseas) and the 6 of swords was drawn. Could you give any advice/insight? Thank you

  2. Great post! I’m often left trying to put some kind of positive spin on the “III of Hearts”, but its such a face-the-music kind of card! I find it can be helpful to say something along the lines of- what’s done is done. You’re heart is hurt, but now you don’t have to think about whether or not things might work out, so you can start looking forward to healing and moving on.

    • Yes, I find I struggle at times as well to choose the exact method to deliver the messages of some of these cards, especially in certain contexts, for example when it’s a reading that specifically asks “What are his/her intentions” or “What do I need to know about him/her.” I did a reading like that last week in person, where it was “What do I need to know about him” and it was the 3 of Swords, and the querent just looked up and was like “Well, there you go!” It sort of announces itself, doesn’t it? That’s the beauty of the visual language of the tarot, but it’s also the “double edged sword.” One of my colleagues always reminds me to tell clients “Don’t pose any questions that you don’t really want the answer to.” I try not to take tarot overly serious, but sometimes readings like this put it so bluntly that it becomes hard to “soften the blow” for a querent who’s very vulnerable. That’s where the art and craft of reading really goes into overdrive and that’s what makes the difference between someone who can read the cards and a professional card reader/consultant.

  3. So crazy! You’re so right! I wondered why I kept getting 6 of pentacles but positive outcomes. I thought 6 of pents was exactly as you said – crumbs of attention but I kept thinking “who is the other figure”? Turns out he has a girlfriend. I also got 3 of pentacles so I think it might be a girl at work since he always wanders upstairs. I am heartbroken which may also explain the 3 of swords turning up several times too. I was too optimistic and hopeful to listen.

    • Good assessments. Sorry for the disappointing news. But, hey, at least the cards don’t beat around the bush. They give us information we can use to make positive changes and get what we want and deserve. And you deserve better than crumbs! Go get it!

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