General Question

Tinamorena's avatar

What can you do when the man you love is not ready for a relationship (but spends all his spare time with you)?

Asked by Tinamorena (44points) May 15th, 2011

I met this fantastic guy a few months ago and we get along very well, on all levels. He doesn’t believe in romantic love anymore. He’s been hurt in the past and says he can’t commit to someone anymore. He really likes me and enjoy my company, and not just for sex. He calls me when is happy or worried. He texts me almost everyday. He kisses me in public and introduced me to his family… BUT… He’s afraid to hurt me for is not sure he could be exclusive. Besides, he thinks I want a stable relationship and he can’t provide me with the real deal.

I feel I should protect myself and move on, but I don’t want to lose him. I wonder if he could change his mind eventually and fully embark in a journey with me.

Should I stay but give him a lot of time and space, while working on my own happiness, or should I go now but lose my best friend (and best lover ever)?

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42 Answers

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

You don’t have to fire him.;)
Why don’t you just date other people and keep him as a friend?
The kind of friend without benefits.See what he does then.
His reaction will tell you everything you need to know.

Cruiser's avatar

He sounds like a really nice guy…reel in your romantic expectations and let a friendship develop that may someday become the hot romance you desire.

poisonedantidote's avatar

Trying to not hurt someone by not being exclusive does not compute.

I’d give him some space and time for a week or so, see how he reacts. I’m not there, but something does not sound right.

If you share good times, bad times, bodily fluids, and spend time togethere, I don’t see where the magical fail safe that will prevent the both of you from being hurt is.

EDIT: Furthermore, it sounds to me like someone is already hurting a little bit anyway.

marinelife's avatar

I believe that you should fight your own desires and take him at his word. He is happy to hang out with you and is happy to have sex with you, but has no desire for a permanent relationship.

You will get nothing further from him except a boatload of hurt.

Break it off. The pain now will be as nothing to the pain later.

Meanwhile, while hanging with him, you are keeping yourself from being open to other possible relationships.

klutzaroo's avatar

Honestly, he just sounds immature to me. People who lack the maturity to get into an exclusive relationship rarely gain it when people want them to. If you want a stable relationship, go after what you want. If he’s not capable of giving it to you, tell him you’re done. Give him a week to come around and then move on and start looking for someone else who’s on the same page as you are. You can sit around and wait forever or you can get on with your life. I’ve done both and I highly recommend moving on and finding what you’re looking for. No matter how much you like him, if he’s not good for you then he’s not good for you.

BarnacleBill's avatar

If you’ve just met a few months ago, and are already expecting marriage, I think perhaps you’re the one with the “relationship problem.” Dr. Samuel Johnson said, “Marry in haste, repent at leisure.” Romantic love is most often just infatuation. It’s far healthier that this guy is not hot to trot to marry you after a few months. It’s one sure fire way to avoid the mistake of ending up with a woman who is interested only in getting married.

Concentrate on the enduring qualities of the relationship. As a rule, it can take up to six months for every year that you were in a relationship to get over it. He’s not ready, and he’s honest. Concentrate on appreciating him as a person. Be in the moment.

Tinamorena's avatar

He is still in his twenties and I’m 32… He’s very mature on certain points, but I think he want to keep his free lifestyle. What bothers me his the fact I’m not even ready for marriage and family, so I never presented those expectations. I want to have fun and do a lot of activities and project. But I just can’t ’‘enjoy the ride’’ as he does, if I don’t have the exclusivity and if I feel I’m not the one. I don’t expect a material commitment or a serious and boring thing, but I want to be in a team with him, I want a genuine relationship. Damn, why would he have to go with other girls when he’s happy with me?

He hopes I could love him like he loves me (which probably means: without attachment and a need for security)

I think I can’t be friends with him now. I spent 4 days in a row with him, and my feelings are stronger. It’s probably time to go…

Coloma's avatar


I think that is a wise choice at this time. Remember..we teach people how to treat us. The ‘nicest’ people in the world are still, usually, not able to resist getting what they can out of a situation.

Eyes wide open is the only way to go. Along with legs closed. ;-)

Neurotic_David's avatar

I’m not certain I understand the situation from reading your original post and follow-up, but I think that you’re 32 and you must realize by now that a common shortcoming among men is a fear of commitment. If committed monogamy is important to you, and if your boyfriend does not wish to be monogamous, then I think you must move on. Compromising on important principles is never wise, I think, and this seems important.

It sounds like he’s losing out by losing you, and I think that one day he’ll call you and tell you what a terrible mistake he made.

klutzaroo's avatar

@Tinamorena He’s immature and wants to have everything and give up nothing. Like little kids that eat ice cream until they puke because they can’t stand not having it all. There’s no point in staying at this time because he’s not going to decide to grow up and be exclusive all of a sudden. The level of commitment required for exclusivity and for marriage are different things. If he can’t make the lesser (even if you don’t want the greater right now)... Kick him to the curb.

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nikipedia's avatar

I think @marinelife, @Neurotic_David, and @klutzaroo nailed it.

He has told you what he wants. He’s getting everything he wants. Why would you expect him to change?

It’s a tough situation but you have to take care of yourself. He clearly is not going to.

Coloma's avatar

And, remember…ACTIONS speak LOUDER than words!

Women can be such suckers for flowery verbage, all the while ignoring the actions.

I’d also say that while SOME men, a rare few, can, be LT relationship material in their 20’s, most of the time they are not.

I’d go for someone at least your own age, if not a few years older for the best chance of success.

IMO as a ‘mature’ woman who has been married and single, at this time of life I’d say that 90% of all men should not marry before their mid-30’s for optimum maturity and potential success.

Possibility vs. probability. ;-)

Neizvestnaya's avatar

If I encountered that scenario then I’d think the guy has the perfect story to make me feel all nice and comfortable being a f**k buddy. In my experiences, when a man thinks you’re really great, he does everything he can to get you and keep you, all to himself.

If he’s taking a step forward and then a step back, all the time saying this isn’t a relationship then my gut says he trying to con you or else he’s mostly gay and doesn’t know what to do with his attraction to you.

Pandora's avatar

Sounds like you are both already in a relationship if he has introduced you to everyone who matters to him and is constantly in touch with you.
He just sounds like he has a problem with any word associated with commitment but not actually the commitment part. He’s just fooling himself. I guess he figures if he gives it a name you will go up in smoke. Explain to him that with or without the word, your relationship has equal chance of going up in smoke. If the feelings are there on both parts than you both have the risk of a broken heart. If he already can’t be without you than his heart is already in danger, so why not step it up one more step. Unless of course he is a shameless player and likes using these words as an excuse; “We never promised to be exclusive.”
So if it is his intent to shop around some more than you should just move on without him.

jca's avatar

I would have a serious talk with him but don’t be like a dictator, be very sweet, tell him you want so much more and are not happy without a commitment. Then if he insists that he does not want one, can’t be exclusive (does that mean he’s fooling around on you now?) then start seeing less of him or being unavailable all the time like you are now. If he really is into you he will come around. If he is not then it will fade away. It sounds like you are scared to try that and see what happens. However, the alternative is limbo like you have now.

Tinamorena's avatar

Wow! You guys are plain awesome! Thank you so much for these brilliant answers. That’s exactly what I needed today.

Reading your comments I can’t help but feel used, even though he’s not directly playing with me. He’s just a baby! ;)

I’m tired of all his contradictions: he can’t commit, but we are already in a relationship; he doesn’t want to hurt me but he’s doing it anyway; he doesn’t want to lose me but does nothing to keep me; he wants us to take it slow but he’s always the one to contact me and fire things up.

My plan is to vanish for a while and concentrate on my life. I don’t want to have the talk with him, for we already had it and I could easily fall in the trap again. (After we decided to be a couple and then broke up, he asked me to give us a second chance, but we remain in this ’‘artistic blur’’ I can’t stand. I’m not asking for much : I just want to be his lady!

Anyway, I’ll do my best to be very busy, move on and be open to a real relationship with a grown up man.

I’m sure he will try to seduce me again and I’ll have to be strong and resist. I’ll come here and reread your posts :)

klutzaroo's avatar

“Very busy, things to see, people to do. Tata!”

chyna's avatar

It sounds like he wants to keep you at arms length in case someone better comes along and he can tell himself he was totally honest with you the whole time. I’d distance myself, but you say you can’t be friends with him at this time, so maybe you should just cut it totally off with him.

Blackberry's avatar

After a few months and doesn’t want to sign his life away, and that makes him immature? Give me a break…..

You either break it off, or wait until he’s ready.

klutzaroo's avatar

@Blackberry She’s not asking for marriage, she’s just asking him to stop trying to “play the field” on her. He wants all the benefits of a relationship while not “officially” being in one so that he’s free to do whatever he wants. THAT is immature.

Blackberry's avatar

@klutzaroo It sounds as if he already told her what the deal was, so that’s when she takes it or leaves it. Stringing her along by being dishonest would be immature.

mazingerz88's avatar

After asking what you may do, ask what you want to do. Enjoy this relationship for what it is without future expectations or find someone else who will do all the same things he does with you but with the additional willingness to commit?

I think you can safely bet he is not going to change his heart about you. Any man does not believe in romantic love anymore only until that special woman comes to restore his faith in it. Don’t wait until that happens to him and you end up with a broken heart. Quit while you are ahead. ( I’m really hoping I am wrong but did this myself once upon a time with a girl and ended it after asking myself, “Who am I kidding?”

klutzaroo's avatar

@Blackberry Stringing her along in any way is not the action of a mature person.

cazzie's avatar

Just be glad for the spare time.

Blackberry's avatar

@klutzaroo “in any way” What other way is there? I agree it’s wrong to lie to get your way, but if the guy already said something along the lines of what she has said about him, he has already put himself out there and that means it’s her turn to make a decision. If she is deciding to stay, the blame is not with him.

sweetbee's avatar

When a person tells you something early on listen..He said he didn’t want a commitment that’s what he means. He is probably a great guy but to me he is getting all the benefits of being with you without truly committing. When he needs you there be there as a friend but don’t give of yourself totally because he isn’t doing the same for you. Continue seeing other people with boundaries. You need someone who will see your worth and take the necessary steps to honor you. Relationships take work but it should never be a one sided affair. Hope this helped.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

He may not be up to anything insidious but it’s time for you to stop settling for less than you want from him. I like the idea of basically giving him the shot to choose his side of the fence. It will be frustrating for awhile if you have to back off and get him out of your system but life goes by quick, find someone who wants to move at your speed.

klutzaroo's avatar

@Blackberry There’s stringing someone along and lying about everything, there’s stringing someone along and lying about the possibility of the future, there’s stringing someone along while being “honest”... and making implications about the possibility of the future… There are about 15 other ways. Even if someone is “honest” when they’re speaking, if their actions imply differently (as these do) then they’re stringing someone along. Its immature, childish behavior.

Blackberry's avatar

@klutzaroo I’m sorry, maybe I’m not understanding. Are we assuming that this guy is just stringing her along in one or more of his 15 ways? How do we know this?

klutzaroo's avatar

@Blackberry His actions and his words don’t match. At all.

Blackberry's avatar

@klutzaroo We’ll agree to disagree. Have a nice day :)

Tinamorena's avatar

He texted and called me today but I didn’t answer… I just can’t do it now. (I cried instead…) I already miss him… and I guess I’ll have to tell him what’s on my mind one day or another. My friends think I already spent too much time and energy on him, so I should just give him the silent treatment and he will get it. What do you think? I don’t want to be rude but I feel too fragile to explain my behavior. He would surely try to convince me to stay. Anyway, the sound of his voice would make me melt…

klutzaroo's avatar

He’s being rude to you. Ignore him. If he keeps calling and keeps calling tell him that if he doesn’t want a relationship, he should be happy he isn’t in one. And that you have better things to do than sit around waiting for him to grow up.

nikipedia's avatar

Well now. As long as we’re telling people to be grownups, I think the mature thing to do is to tell the guy calmly what the issue is, discuss it, and be prepared to hold your ground and walk away.

Kardamom's avatar

I don’t think you should give him the silent treatment. Since you guys have already kind of had this conversation once, he needs to hear from you what you are feeling and what you plan to do. The silent treatment is really awful for people who really care about you. And it also leads to more mis-understanding. Unless you tell him why you need to distance yourself from him, he may grow to resent you, or he might think that he did something horrific to you and he won’t know what it is.

You need to talk to him very sweetly and explain that you have very strong feelings for him (or even love him, if that is the case). But tell him in no uncertain terms that you need more in your life than just a “friends with benefits” kind of situation, which is pretty much the definition of what you have. Also, you can tell him that you often feel confused because he has told you that he doesn’t want a “relationship” but that is kind of what you guys have (in the most basic sense of a relationship).

It’s a real relationship, but it isn’t a particularly good one, at least from your side. Let him know gently, that you understand that he isn’t at a point in his life of being able to be exclusive with you or anyone else, but then tell him that you simply can’t continue dating and having sex with someone who can’t give you that exclusivity. Exclusivity may not be important to everyone, but it is extremely important to you. Let him know, gently, that you guys just don’t have the same life goals or values and there’s nothing wrong with that. You just need to be with someone who more closely parallels your ideals.

And you can gently point out to him that you are not asking him to marry you and you are not giving him an ultimatum, you are simply letting him know that you can’t remain in a situation that feels like limbo to you. And because you are 32, if you actually do want to get married and have children, you need to be preparing to do this right now (I don’t mean hunting down a husband, I mean simply moving forward into a better situation that is likely to lead to marriage and children). Sure there are lots of fertility treatments for older women, but your odds of getting pregnant diminish greatly after age 35, even though there is plenty of anecdotal evidence to point out that women do have kids well into their 40’s.

You can just tell him that you realize that you are both in very different places in your lives, in part due to the age difference. That is not an insult to either one of you, it’s just the reality of your lives. Most guys in their 20’s are not looking for a commitment. Most women in their 30’s are looking to build a committed life with a mate and start a family.

All of this conversation is not meant to punish him, or for you to have some sort of dramatic exit. It’s only to let him know what you want and need and how you plan to go about living the life that you need. That may be by walking away from him, and maybe the two of you deciding to talk in 6 months to see if anything has changed (for either one of you). But let him know that the reason you might want a no-contact rule is simply because it is too painful for you to be “just friends” and you refuse to continue being “friends with benefits.” None of this conversation has to be yelled and you don’t have to cry and no one has to be the bad guy. It’s just two people talking about what they need and how they are going to go about getting what they need.

If you don’t think you can have that particular conversation immediately, then just tell him that you need some time alone to think things over and then plan to get together on a certain date or in a certain number of days (like a week) but please don’t give into the temptation to give him the silent treatment. I think you would ultimately regret it.

Good luck to you my dear : )

jca's avatar

I’m all for telling him what you’re feeling and being totally honest about it all. However, if you are totally honest and then weaken and end up hanging out or sleeping with him in a week or two, he’s going to not take you seriously. If you are honest with him, be sure to hold your ground

Tinamorena's avatar

You’re right Ica. I sent him a mail today, and I told him about my feelings and my need to protect myself and look for a more satisfying relationship. He didn’t answer and I guess it’s better this way (but it makes me think that he doesn’t care). I miss him so much already, I could be tempted to give us another chance. But I’ll be strong…. I hope…

It feels like entering rehab. I have to stop taking this powerful drug cold turkey. Arghhh! Thank you so much for your insights.

chyna's avatar

He didn’t answer? He didn’t fight to stay with you? I’m sorry, but that is your answer. He is letting you go. I know it will be hard, but once you get over him, you need to find someone that is on your wavelength. That wants the same things you do. Good luck.

jca's avatar

@chyna: it could also be that he is gambling that she’s just upset about something and that she will come around in a week or so Like I said, if she does, he’ll never believe her ever again, he’ll just figure she gets these little made episodes and then she gets over it.

Ajulutsikael's avatar

Well I was in that situation a while back. I started being in a casual relationship in December, I just got out of a long relationship and didn’t want drama. He was hurt from a past encounter and wanted something easy. I was in love with him, I admit. I knew pushing the subject would make it worse. He’s younger than me and he is more for casual than serious. So I figured I would go with the flow. Eventually he started referring to me as his girlfriend and mentioned that we are dating. I let him be the first to say “I love you” so as not to scare him off as well.

Take it one day at a time and hopefully things will fall into place. Let him make all the moves forward.

klutzaroo's avatar

@chyna Hate to play devil’s advocate here, but he might not have checked his mail… or he may be trying to figure out how to respond to it. You have to have more than just a few hours between sending an e-mail and deciding that he agrees that its over considering how many unknown factors there may be.

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