This Guy Loves Talking to Me, But Does Not Want to Be My Boyfriend

Hi Evan,

I met a guy I really liked, whom I was physically attracted to, whom I had a lot in common with intellectually and creatively (we both write). We almost slept together. And then he stopped being flirtatious, but continued to contact me via email and text regularly, talking about film and writing.

I had a feeling he wasn’t interested in me other than as a friend, and gave him many openings for him to tell me so, but he never did. When I confronted him on the phone, he said he’d need a few days before he could tell me what was going on. This sounded so obtuse that I figured it had to be something more complicated than that he was seeing someone else. Two weeks passed, and he finally told me that that was the case – he’d been seeing someone.

Here’s the thing. He tells me he loves talking to me. He’s physically attracted to me and even desires me sexually. He remembers what I say and asks me about my life. He tells me his ideas and asks me about mine. But he does not want me as his girlfriend.

As I mentioned at the beginning, this is not the first time this has happened to me. So, what gives?

I had always thought that the ideal girlfriend/boyfriend is someone whom you consider a best friend whom you also want to sleep with. Am I wrong? If he treats me like a best friend, and also desires me, what’s missing?

Robyn

Dear Robyn,

Are you familiar with Occam’s Razor? It’s the principle that “All other things being equal, the simplest solution is the best.” I think you’re ignoring the simplest solution to what’s missing in your relationship.

Attraction.

Now I say this without knowing his side of the story. I say this despite your claims that he’s attracted to you. I say this because when you’re grasping for answers as to what went wrong, you deserve a logical answer.

So here’s my logic:

Most men just need to know that you have a pulse.

It’s easy for most men to find a woman that they’re attracted to.

It’s much harder to find a woman who we enjoy talking to, who we pay attention to, who we want to share our ideas with. In fact, most single men who value those traits complain that it’s the main reason they’re still single. Lots of women are hot. Few are hot and interesting.

Thus, if you’re meeting all of his deeper desires and he STILL chooses not to lock you up as his girlfriend, it stands to reason that there’s something fundamentally missing. My guess is attraction.

This may fly in the face of what you’ve experienced with him, so let me explain further.

Most women need to be attracted to a guy AND have feelings for him to take him home. Most men just need to know that you have a pulse. …

In other words, we don’t need attractive or interesting. We need “available”. Attractive is a bonus. Interesting is a fantasy. And that’s where you threw this guy off his game, Robyn. Because you ARE interesting. Because he really DOES like you. Which explains why he wants to get the benefits of your friendship, without any of the obligations of committing to you sexually.

This is confusing to many women because you wouldn’t act the same way. As Alison Armstrong points out, “Men are not merely hairy women”. Stop expecting them to act as you would.

When I was dating prolifically, I hooked up with lots of strangers who I may or may not have been attracted to. Why? Because they were there. The few women I actually LIKED, I treated with more respect. If I got together with them, I didn’t go as far, and quickly downshifted into friendship when I didn’t feel the attraction.

Just like this guy appears to be doing.

I knew from my own experience that I couldn’t legislate attraction.

If what I’m saying is true (and I don’t know it is), I acknowledge it’s a bitter pill to swallow. Attraction’s a funny thing. It’s not always correlated to looks or body type or symmetry. While many people are swayed by the Maxim aesthetic, if you look around at the world, most of us fall below that bar. Thus getting upset that some guy isn’t attracted to you is a futile exercise. Same as some guy getting upset that he’s not your cup of tea. Believe me, it happens to all of us.

Years ago, I remember being told by a highly anticipated JDate (PhD student, thin, big boobs) that she loved talking to me but didn’t feel any attraction. I was devastated – for a day – until I realized that there was nothing I could do about it. I knew from my own experience that I couldn’t legislate attraction.

I’m sharing my personal experience with you, Robyn, just to let you know that being “rejected” because of chemistry is no crime. It’s a universal – and universally painful – experience. But I think it’s better to contend with the facts than to search for some hidden meaning as to why this guy with whom you share a deep connection isn’t reciprocating.

My theory is that it’s not that deep at all – in fact, it’s probably skin-deep, at best.

8
5

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Comments:

  1. 1
    NewWrldYankee

    Whoa, Evan, that was so deep…Sorry, had to be said =p.
    But I really do think you are right, If he is not starting a relationship with you and is dating someone else, that is a pretty clear signal. I would suggest be happy that you have such a great friend to talk to and get “guy advice” from and find someone who wants you just as much as you want them. It is what you want, and more so, deserve

  2. 2
    x

    I don’t know about this one, there seems to be some mysterious X-factor in play when it comes to whether or not men will want to be your boyfriend. I’ve been in situations in the past where a guy will want me so bad he can’t stay away from me, we get along great as friends, but still not want to be in an actual relationship with me. It was really really frustrating. I guess the only thing to do is realize that if a guy wants to date you, he will be dating you, and if he’s not jumping to date you, forget him.

  3. 3
    Loving Annie

    Basically, this man is a liar if he is saying he is attracted to you and desires you – and then just backs out and wants you as a friend.

    That is cruel and selfish, and makes him untrustworthy.

    It’s got to hurt to have confusing double messages like that, but I think you deserve better than to be used – and that’s what he’s doing now. Let him go be friends with someone else, and you go date someone who wants to make you number one in his life, and who makes love to you – and doesn’t just talk about it.

    Evan may well be right that the man isn’t attracted to you – but then he should have had the decency to not ever say he did. You don’t change your minbd about having chemistry with someone – you either do or you don’t, and this guy misled you when he thought maybe he might want to get you into the sack.

    When he decided against it, now he wants to be friends.
    If you can’t trust him to be genuine about one thing, how can you ever trust him to be genuine about being friends either and not change his mind ? Get rid of him. Friends isn’t all you want, so don’t settle for crumbs/being/ second-best and have the humiliation of hearing him talk about other women when he meets someone else.

  4. 4
    Honey

    What Evan says may be true, I don’t know (and, as he admits, neither does he). But he SAID he doesn’t want you to be his girlfriend, so does it really matter why? As long as he’s treating you like a friend, treat him like one.

  5. 5
    Cathouse Teri

    Even is right. There is no way to anticipate or manipulate attraction. And there is also no reason to take it personally when someone is not attracted to you “in that way.” (He’s obviously attracted to you intellectually, etc.) For whatever reason, he has chosen to become involved with the other person he has been seeing. And yes, it could be that it is just the path of least resistance. Who knows?

    If this keeps happening to you, it’s only because everyone struggles with finding someone they connect with on a number of levels. And then hoping that this same someone is willing to do what is required to develop a relationship. A lot of hope involved, and a lot of failure. But again, take none of this personally.

    Move on. TONS of great guys out there to share the pleasure of your company with.

  6. 6
    Kris

    If these assertions have actually been made by the man, “He’s physically attracted to me and even desires me sexually.” then he just doesn’t want to risk changing horses in mid-stream. Many men, and women, will play it safe with what they’ve got. Some, also, are attracted to relationships where they are manipulated to hang in there. If all you want is a friendship with this man, great! You’ve found a great friend. If you want more, end it. Maybe that sounds severe, but you will get what you settle for. When I was a more “prolific” dater I found men were more interested in a woman who had the courage of her convictions. Think about what your own relationship goals are and how you can care for yourself best. Moving toward those goals will either cause this man to make a choice in your favor, or he will drift out of your life, which is as it should be with someone not willing to commit to you, but who keeps jerking your chain making statements like the above and paying a lot of attention to you. Sounds torturous.

    Good luck!

    ~Kris

  7. 7
    JuJu

    Then what exactly is pushing him to say that he “sexually desires” her? It’s not the kind of thing you just say when prompted.

    I am not claiming that this must mean necessarily that he IS attracted, but there might be a possibility that he really isn’t the wonderful person she thinks he is.

  8. 8
    zann

    Robyn — Wow. This letter could have been from me. Thanks for putting it out there. And Evan: thanks for your answer, but I’m still baffled. I would love nothing more than to figure out why so many guys seem to enjoy writing to me, reading my writing, talking to me, meeting up with me, going out with me to a wide variety of cultural events, complimenting me, flirting with me, and seem to enjoy being seen with me, and yet. . . . when it comes to choosing me as an intimate other, a girlfriend, a partner, it’s “gee, I just don’t think so.” BUT they are quick to tell me how much they value our friendship and want to continue it because I’m so fun, interesting, cool, smart, creative, yada yada yada. I’m to the point where I feel like my fate is to have lots of interesting guy friends but no boyfriend, lifemate, significant other or whatever you want to call it. So, Evan, are you saying a guy can find a woman to have depth, personality, intelligence, warmth, and generousity, and even also find her physically desirable, but still not be “attracted” to her as a partner? Is this mysterious “attraction” you speak of really that elusive & impossible to define? Or could it be that men fear having the whole package — you know, the woman who’s got her shit together and is secure about it, who also is warm, funny, optomistic, interesting AND whom he also finds physically desirable?? If so, would a man ever admit to that fear? Even to himself?

  9. 9
    LJ

    Or it could be that he just can’t “get it up” and he doesn’t want to admit it.

  10. 10
    JB

    I have a lot of women I “love talking to” but have absolutely NO desire to kiss them, touch them or see them naked under MOST circumstances …lol They ARE and for the most part ALWAYS will be in the “friend zone”. And it’s the opposite for a few women & me and there’s nothing I can do about it except not give them any of my valuable time etc… I say “hello” then move onto women that DO show interest.

    Believe me if I or any other man has REAL interest in a woman they will KNOW it.

  11. 11
    MC

    I’ve had a similar experience to Robyn’s recently, although we never were close to go to bed together. He would spend most of his time with me, enjoying my company, laughing at my comments, convincing everybody around me he had romantic feelings for me…

    Well, he didn’t and he said it very clearly. He thinks I’m cool, I’m great, he feels very lucky for being my friend but… he doesn’t feel “that way”. I think Evan is right here, and it’s hard to accept. But Robyn: once you understand this is the only way things are you’ll be happy, because you’ll be closer to understand (or accept) that men are just different.

    As for me, I’ve decided to not try to analyze as before. If a guy has feelings for me, according to Evan, he will let me know in time. Oh, and for the record, he is still single, so am I, and he keeps calling me and seeing me as much as before… But I’ve promised myself I won’t let any other guy confuse me!

  12. 12
    Jennifer

    When a man really likes you, is attracted to you and wants you to be his girlfriend, you don’t have to ask, you will know because he will let you know. Think of how much easier a relationship is when you don’t have to feel insecure, wait for him to figure out his feelings, feel like you are being lied to, etc. It sucks that he doesn’t want you to be his girlfriend, but he doesn’t. And you shouldn’t try to change his mind because even if you succeed (very slim chance) you still won’t have what you really wanted: someone who is into you enough that you don’t have to chase them down and convince them that you are right for them.

    Now, all of the interest that he’s taking in you, talking all the time, asking your opinion etc. i can see how that would be confusing for you. You are probably constantly on the lookout for ‘signs’ that he’s changing his mind, or over analyzing his words and actions. That’s gotta be exhausting and disheartening and if I were you, i’d take a break from him.

  13. 13
    Ruby

    I don’t quite agree with Evan’s assessment. Sounds pretty straightforward to me – the guy was already dating someone. He may feel an attraction to you, but I think he’s simply not really available. Keep him as a casual friend if you like, but find someone who is truly unattached. Perhaps he wants to keep you around just in case the other relationship doesn’t work out…I say don’t fall for that. Don”t be so available for this guy to chat with. I’ve been there – trust me, you will be wasting your time.

  14. 14
    B

    I have found that if you really want to meet someone, it is best not to pursue a friendship with these types of guys, as nice as it migh be to be “friends” with them. You waste too much time trying to figure out why this guy who you get along with so great doesn’t “like” you, AND it takes an unneccessary toll on your self esteem. It’s better to focus your “friendship” energy on your girlfriends and your guy friends who you are not attracted to, and also spend your time putting yourself out there to meet someone available who is attracted to you.

  15. 15
    hunter

    Sounds like a sensitive man to me, and he was turned “off” by something she said.

  16. 16
    downtowngal

    Evan you’re making this sound waaay more complicated than it actually is.

    Remember that letter you posted recently about the woman who was dating this incredible guy but he wasn’t fully committing to her, only calling sporatically, seeing her once a week and sending mixed signals? You said he was using her.

    Robyn’s guy’s doing the same thing to her. It doesn’t sound as if she’s fallen into the ‘friend zone’, because he said he ‘desires her sexually’. It sounds as if he wants to have his cake and eat it, too. Perhaps there’s somethig missing from his relationship that’s causing him to seek friendship from Robyn. Or he has intimacy issues and for some reason doesn’t want to have a relationship with a woman who is his intellectual equal.

    If a guy is happy in a relationship he’s not going to want to spend so much time with another woman.

    Bottom line is that this guy’s being a selfish asshole. Robyn, if you’re not getting what you want from this guy then move on, there’s nothing you can do to change him.

  17. 17
    A-L

    I’m wondering, did the guy tell her he found her sexually attractive, or is this the OP’s opinion? Let’s read what she says:

    Here’s the thing. He tells me he loves talking to me. He’s physically attracted to me and even desires me sexually. He remembers what I say and asks me about my life. He tells me his ideas and asks me about mine. But he does not want me as his girlfriend.

    The only thing it’s clear that he’s said is that he loves talking to her. It appears that everything after that statement is the OP’s opinion. That first statement does not make him some sleazy, using guy. It makes it seem as though Evan’s point is that much more likely. He enjoys talking to her and enjoyed the time that she was “available” but is not attracted to her. And he now likes her well enough that he doesn’t want to use her in a friends with benefits way, as he doesn’t see it ever becoming more than that.

    What does cause a question mark on this guy is his behavior while he was still seeing someone. He’s texting, e-mailing, flirting, and almost sleeping with another girl. Granted, it sounds like his relationship may have been on the rocks, but at least end it before you move on to someone else.

    My $0.02.

  18. 18
    Jennifer

    One thing in the letter to me that stood out to me, ‘he desires her sexually’ yet they stopped short of sleeping with each other. And haven’t found themselves in that position again. Either he doesnt’ want to cheat on his real girlfriend (possible, but i don’t think it’s the true reason with this guy) or he doesn’t ‘desire’ her all that much. Guys who ‘desire’ women don’t spend all of their time talking to them and no time trying to see them. Not a lot of romantic stuff for Robyn to hang her hat on here.

  19. 19
    Marc

    I’m with downtowngal. Sounds like he’s using you to so he can feel like he has options. Even if he has no intention, or even desire to cheat on his girlfriend, he wants to know that he can….Yeah, guys do shit like that.

  20. 20
    Loving Annie

    LJ and downtowngal – thank you !!!!! Robyn, they are probably BOTH right !

  21. 21
    BA

    It could be as simple as the guy was casually dating two women (nothing wrong with that), slept with one and then put the brakes on with the other afterwords. He doesn’t want to completely break it off because he likes you and wants to keep you as a friend. You and he might share a common bond of some type but he has a sexual bond with her. It’s apples and oranges – the two can’t be compared evenly. She might be absolutely amazing in bed. I can’t speak for women, but as a guy, if I’m having really great sex it would take a lot to get me to break up with a girl. Actually, if I’m getting any sex at all I would be reluctant to break up.

    If you’re truly interested in this guy, I would keep your distance and limit your contact. As long as he’s sleeping with her and getting his intellectual stimulation from you, he has no reason to date you exclusively. Once you’re out of the picture for a while he might get bored with her and realize what he’s missing. My parents started dating about 45 years ago under very similar circumstances.

  22. 22
    hunter

    Loving Annie on post # 20

    You maybe right, not all women give guys erections!……….LOL!…..OMG!….

  23. 23
    Lance

    The letter isn’t really about the guy being available, unavailable, or a douche, it’s really about Robyn the letter writer. Notice she mentions in her second to last para that “this has happened to her before.” What she really wants to know is how to attract the right men and what to do to find them.

    We know virtually nothing about Robyn, but I’d guess there are issues there are holding her back from attracting them she wants. She should examine her presentation (looks and dress), how she projects herself sexually, and what kind of connection she forms when initially meeting men. If you want to attract a man as a sexual partner, then you need to establish a sexual tone at some point. Also, is she going out to meet the right guys? Just a couple of thoughts.

  24. 24
    Lance

    Also wanted to respond to Teri’s comment #5. Attraction CAN be anticipated and manipulated. That’s the bread and butter of any pickup or social artist.

  25. 25
    Jojo

    At least this guy was honest about the other girl. He didn’t have to say anything about her and could have kept talking to you and misleading you. It seems that he likes getting sex from the other girl and likes talkking to you. Since you like this guy, I would keep my distance because talking to him will keep you from looking for someone that really wants to be with you. I was in a situation where the guy loved talking to me and we would talk for hours on the phone. We went on some dates and we did have sex. It didn’t seem like he put effort into spending time with me even though he lived an hour away from me. I felt like I always had to initiate when we would see each other. When I finally talked to him about it, he told me that he does what he can. I never undrstood how he liked talking to me and even enjoyed sex with me, but would not make the effort to spend time with me. I just called it off and told him I didn’t want a phone relationship. When someone lies you, they will make the effort. I stopped speaking to him all together because I didn’t want to set myself up. It’s best to keep your distance and if he cares, he knows where to find you!

  26. 26
    downtowngal

    L J, I think you’re right, it could be that Robyn’s allowing her expectations to get in the way here. Not that this guy is a saint, but that it seems to be a pattern with her. Perhaps Robyn’s being too giving and having expectations about the wrong guys.

    Robyn, I suggest you decide what you want and act accordingly. Easier said, I’m sure, but if this guy’s not giving you what you want, he won’t change so you should move on.

  27. 27
    Cute Redhead

    In a way I’m just thinking “who cares what’s going on with this guy.” Really — he probably doesn’t even know himself. People do and say all kinds of weird things, especially where sex and romance are concerned. What’s troubling is that the OP even cares enough about it to write in. I do understand that mixed signals are maddening and, in an odd way, fascinating. An analogy: If you were struggling on a trek through a desert and spied an Evian bottle in the distance you’d be all excited. But if when you reached it and it were empty, would you keep trying to get drops out of it? And then obsess about why it was empty?
    “Maybe it evaporated. But the cap was on! Can that happen?”
    “I bet someone else drank it. People in the desert are so selfish!”
    “Maybe when it came out of the bottling place in France it was empty and the QC person didn’t notice!”
    “Now why don’t they have watering stations here in the desert, like they do at marathons. Life would be so much better!”

    Except that it isn’t any better than what it is — it just what it is. The guy is a desert.

  28. 28
    hunter

    I like the Evian water bottle analogy…..

  29. 29
    hunter

    Many of us guys are the desert. Most of us remain there, ’cause the average man does not study relationships/human behaviour. And to top off, the few of us that do, rarely find answers…..

  30. 30
    LJ

    Post 27 Cute Redhead,

    Isn’t that the definition for insanity? Doing the same thing over and over but expecting a different result. We ALL do this occasionally because we want a different result so badly, because we can see ourself being really happy with this person, etc. It’s a very normal experience to have.
    And if it troubles you so much that the OP wrote in about it, then why do you read a dating advice column? Just sayin…

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