Phrasal Verbs for Romantic Relationships

Read and listen:


Emily: Who was that guy you were talking to at the bar? It looked like he was hitting on you.

Sarah: Yeah, we struck up a conversation, and eventually he asked me out. I gave him my number, but I’m not sure if I’ll actually go out with him.

Emily: Oh? How come?

Sarah: He’s nice, but I just don’t feel like we have much chemistry – so I don’t want to lead him on.

Emily: Well, don’t be too quick to judge. My last boyfriend and I didn’t hit it off right away – I only started to fall for him after we went out a few times and I got to know him better. We were together for 3 years.

Sarah: So why’d you split up? If you don’t mind my asking.

Emily: Not at all. We just started to drift apart – different interests, different plans for the future. The breakup was mutual.

Sarah: Ah, that’s great. My last relationship was a nightmare – I hooked up with a guy at a New Year’s party and we were together for six months – but we were constantly fighting and making up. I don’t know how I put up with him for so long.

Emily: How’d it end?

Sarah: He cheated on me – I caught him making out with his ex. He begged me for another chance, but I know he was just trying to jerk me around – so I said no.

Emily: Ugh! Good for you.

Sarah: Heh, thanks. So how about you – are you going out with anyone at the moment?

Emily: Oh, I’ve gone on a few dates here and there, but nothing serious. To be honest, I’m not really interested in settling down just yet – I’m enjoying the single life too much!

Video Explanation

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Phrasal Verbs for Romantic Relationships Espresso English

Phrasal Verbs for Romantic Relationships Espresso English



Let’s learn the phrasal verbs from the dialog.

First, Emily says it looked like the guy was hitting on Sarah. To hit on someone is to say or do things that demonstrate romantic or sexual interest in that person. It’s usually a combination of comments and gestures as well as the way you look at the other person. Another way to say this is that the guy was flirting with Sarah.

Sarah says the guy asked her out – to ask someone out is to invite the person to go on a date (a romantic encounter). We often say “asked her out for…” and then the activity:

  • He asked her out for lunch / dinner.
  • He asked her out for coffee.
  • He asked her out for drinks.
  • He asked her out for a movie.

Sarah then says she’s not sure if she likes the guy, and she doesn’t want to lead him on – this means to provide false hope or expectation to the other person. So if she pretended to be romantically interested even though she really wasn’t, this would be leading him on.

Emily then says that she and her last boyfriend didn’t hit it off right away – this means they didn’t have a special connection immediately. If you hit it off with someone, it means you like each other and you have great social “chemistry” from the first moment you meet.

However, with time she began to fall for him – the phrasal verb “fall for” means “fall in love with.”

Sarah then asks why Emily and her last boyfriend split up – this means to separate, to end the romantic relationship. You can say split up or break up – and breakup can also be used as a noun.

Emily says that the breakup was because she and her boyfriend drifted apart – this means they slowly started to go in different directions over time.

Sarah’s last relationship was a nightmare (which means it was really terrible). It started when she hooked up with someone at a party. The phrasal verb hook up with someone can be used a slang expression meaning to have sex with someone, especially someone you just met, or someone you only stay with for one night.

However, in Sarah’s case she stayed with the boyfriend for six months, when they were constantly fighting and making up – that means reconciling and restoring peace in the relationship after a fight. It was a difficult relationship, and Sarah says she doesn’t know how she put up with him for so long. The phrasal verb “put up with” someone means to tolerate a difficult, annoying, or unpleasant person.

The relationship ended when the boyfriend cheated on Sarah – that means he was kissing or having sex with another woman. Sarah discovered him making out with his ex-girlfriend (kissing her very passionately).

The boyfriend wanted another chance with Sarah, but Sarah knew he was trying to jerk her around – that means to manipulate her or use her for his own advantage – so she broke up with him (ended the relationship).

Sarah asks Emily if Emily is going out with anyone. The phrasal verb go out with can mean to go out on a date with someone once, or it can mean to be in a relationship for an extended period of time. In this second case, we usually use it in the present continuous – so Sarah is asking if Emily is currently in a relationship.

Emily says she isn’t in a serious relationship because she’s not interested in settling down yet– in this context, settle down means to be in a long-term stable relationship (for example, getting married and having kids, and living a “typical” family life).

You’ve now learned 16 phrasal verbs about romantic relationships – but wait! It’s time for the most important part, which is to practice what you’ve learned.

Scroll down to the bottom of this lesson and take the quiz to test how well you remember the phrasal verbs. Then do the writing exercise, where you can practice using the phrasal verbs in your own sentences.

If you liked this lesson, register for the course to get 29 more!

Phrasal Verbs List

Phrasal Verb Definition in Context
hit on someone demonstrate romantic / sexual interest
ask someone out invite someone for a date (a romantic encounter)
lead someone on give the person false hope or expectations about the relationship
hit it off with someone have a great connection from the first moment you meet the person
fall for someone fall in love with the person
split up / break up separate, end the relationship
drift apart slowly go in different directions over time
hook up with (slang) have sex with
make up reconcile after a fight
put up with someone / something tolerate a difficult, annoying, or unpleasant person or situation
cheat on someone kiss or have sex with another person
(who is not your husband/wife/boyfriend/girlfriend)
make out with someone kiss the person very passionately
jerk someone around manipulate the person or use them for your own advantage
go out with someone 1) go on a date with the person once
2) be in a relationship with the person
settle down be in a long-term stable relationship

Quiz: Phrasal Verbs for Romantic Relationships

Congratulations - you have completed Quiz: Phrasal Verbs for Romantic Relationships. You scored %%SCORE%% out of %%TOTAL%%. Your performance has been rated as %%RATING%%
Your answers are highlighted below.
Question 1
I ___________ my last girlfriend because she wanted kids and I didn't.
broke up with
fell for
put up with
Question 2
I was very uncomfortable when my friend's father started _________________. He's 30 years older than me - and married.
putting up with me
hitting on me
jerking me around
Question 3
Vanessa was furious when she found out that her husband had been ______________ her with her sister.
settling down
cheating on
going out with
Question 4
My best friend really ____________ my cousin - after I introduced them, they spent hours and hours talking.
drifted apart
hit it off with
cheated on
Question 5
Barbara and I __________ a few times, but it never really went anywhere - we're just not very compatible.
broke up
asked out
went out
Question 6
My husband and I always __________ pretty fast after an argument - we don't stay angry at each other for very long.
jerk around
make up
lead on
Question 7
My girlfriend is constantly late - it's annoying, but I love her so I _______________ it.
hit on
put up with
make out with
Question 8
Samuel likes to brag about how many women he's _____________.
hit off
asked out
hooked up with
Question 9
I think I'm ____________ my co-worker - what should I do? Should I tell him how I feel, or just keep quiet?
hooking up with
asking out
falling for
Question 10
I've been traveling around the world for the past few years, but I'm starting to think about ____________ in one place.
settling down
making out
drifting apart
Once you are finished, click the button below. Any items you have not completed will be marked incorrect. Get Results
There are 10 questions to complete.

Phrasal Verbs Lesson 1 – Writing Exercises

How to get the most benefit from these exercises:

Try to use the phrasal verb in your answer!

For example, question #2 asks “Who is a person that you really hit it off with?”

Don’t just answer, “My friend Nathan.” Instead, say (or write) – “I really hit it off with my friend Nathan – we met at a baseball game and discovered we had a lot in common.”

Why? Because actually using the phrasal verb will help you remember it better.

  1. Write about a time when someone was hitting on you. How did you react?
  2. Who is a person that you really hit it off with?
  3. How did your previous relationship end – why did you break up?
  4. What should a couple do if they begin to drift apart, but they want to save the relationship?
  5. What is one thing (or one type of person) that you will NOT put up with in a relationship?
  6. Do you think it’s possible to save a relationship after one person cheats on the other?
  7. At the moment, are you enjoying the single life, or are you interested in settling down? (Or have you already settled down?)

Want to get corrections? Write your answers here and send them to me.


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This is a free sample from the
Phrasal Verbs in Conversation Course

30 Lessons – $30
One-time payment… permanent access

Phrasal Verbs for Romantic Relationships Espresso English

Phrasal Verbs for Romantic Relationships Espresso English