How EXACTLY Do I Break Up With A Non-Committal Man?

How EXACTLY Do I Break Up With A Non-Committal Man?

Evan,

I have read your advice on non-committal men. I have done everything wrong. Sleep with him when he wants, clear my schedule for him, revolve my life around a guy who doesn’t do that for me, but he “doesn’t want to lose me”, etc.

I know your advice is: “Walk away and don’t look back. If he follows, you’ll know you’ll have yourself a boyfriend who values you and will follow you to the end of the earth. That is what you deserve. If he doesn’t, then he’s not all that serious about keeping you in his life, is he? ”

My question is, what is the right way to walk away? Do I have a “talk” with him? I feel like having a break-up talk is close to the same as giving him an ultimatum. Do I just go away? What exactly is “walking away?” What would be most effective with men? –Eileen

Dear Eileen,

I must admit, I’m always surprised when advice that I think is straightforward ends up being confusing for a reader.

Obviously, that only means one thing: I’m not nearly as good at explaining myself as I thought I was.

So thank you for reminding me to dig deeper, to straighten out the subtle nuances of the concept of walking away.

He is going to be a great boyfriend and husband for someone. Just not for you.

Let’s paint a scenario that should look familiar to most women.

You’re seeing a guy for the past three months. And by “seeing” him, I mean that you’ve been sleeping with him approximately once a week since the night you met. (If you’re not doing this, the story STILL holds, so please, stick with me.) You like this guy. You like this guy a lot. He’s charming, cute, smart, kind and charismatic. He is going to be a great boyfriend and husband for someone. Just not for you.

And you know this already because if he wanted to be your boyfriend, he’d already be your boyfriend. The fact that he sees you once a week, doesn’t hang out with you platonically, hasn’t introduced you to his family, hasn’t talked about a future, and only communicates by text tells you everything you need to know. This is a dead end.

Now let’s bring this back to you.

I tell you to walk away. What does that mean? Well, let’s start with what it doesn’t mean.

Walking away is not saying, “Jim, so where is this relationship going?” or “Can we talk about ‘us’?” or “How come I don’t hear from you during the week?” or “Am I your girlfriend or not?”
Those are all weak attempts to negotiate with him.

This is not a negotiation. This is a declaration.

Because you already HAVE the answers.

Men assume falsely that because they would like to see a naked picture of YOU, that you MUST equally crave seeing a naked photo of them.

This relationship is going NOWHERE.

There IS no ‘us’.

He doesn’t call you during the week because he doesn’t WANT to.

You are NOT his girlfriend.

This is all obvious to everyone but you (and maybe your equally dreamy and romantic girlfriends).

All you have to say to the noncommittal man – and I’m sure I’ve written this down somewhere before – is this:

“It’s been fun hanging out with you for these past few months, but I’m not looking for a once a week fuck buddy. I’m looking for a boyfriend who is open to a long-term relationship with me. And since, apparently, it’s not you, I’m going to have to say goodbye. No hard feelings. Best of luck in your search. Please don’t call me anymore.”

Tada!

Why should you take such a strong stand?

Because what’s the alternative? Keep doing this weak-ass guessing game, hoping that he’s going to step up and fall in love with you? Go ahead, give it a shot. But first show me a bunch of happily married couples who were fuck buddies for a full three months before becoming exclusive. Fact is: people tend to become exclusive FAST – often within days, but generally not much longer than 6-8 weeks.

If you’re not settled with a guy by then, he’s ambivalent, he’s using you, and there’s no one else to blame but you.

And if, by some miniscule chance, you cut off the guy who really wanted to be your boyfriend (even though he gave NO indication of it beforehand), guess what? He will let you know. And beg you to reconsider. And you can change your mind. And live happily ever after.

Except you know and I know that this isn’t what’s gonna happen.

You’re going to give your little speech. He’s going to look at you with a half-smirk, half-frown on his face. And he’s going to say to you when you’re done:

“You’re right. You deserve more than I can give to you. I respect that. It’s been fun. And if you’re ever lonely one night and want to hook up, please let me know.”

And then he’ll hug you goodbye and you will move on your life, instead of wasting months and years on men who have no desire to commit to you.

You just need the courage to tell these players to piss off.

Find it and you’ll be all set.

21
11

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Comments:

  1. 1
    Henriette

    Great advice, Evan!  This post needs to be bound in hardcover and given to every woman on her 16th birthday.

    1. 1.1
      Linda

      I absolutely agree with you… this is very good advice.

  2. 2
    Dagaz

     
    Evan, it seems like Eileen was asking about more long-term thing, not a three-month old relationship. At least, that was my feeling about her letter.
    So, the question might be: how exactly to break-up with a boyfriend of two (three, four etc) years, who is exclusive with her, introduced her to family, spending holidays and vacations with her, carrying about her, but – it is the maximum step he goes up to. He doesn’t want to marry, because he is perfectly fine and comfortable with how he has her in his life for now.
     

  3. 3
    marymary

    watch out. The uncommitted cant commit to being with you and can’t commit to being without you. he or indeed she may very well return after the break up. Be keen for a while, then blow hot and cold. You  break up. You get back together. Ad nauseum.
    so don’t just walk, run.
    You may feel he or she is the exception. In which case I wish you a strong heart and the very best of luck.

  4. 4
    Fusee

    Aaaahhhh Evan this is so good! Love it! Especially the “Tada!”


    People are not confused because they do not understand your advice or how to put it into practice. They do. It’s very, very, very clear. They simply hope for another way, some miracle method that would allow them to avoid having to develop the inner strength to follow through. And of course in many cases some miracle speech that would turn their glorified booty call status into the real deal.


    Never had to deal with this issue at the early stage since I do not do multiple/casual/whatever dating. But 15 months into my relationship with the amazing boyfriend, I’m getting dangerously close to the next sensitive stage…

  5. 5
    Ruby

    I think the problem for many women is that the situation is not as clear-cut as the one you describe. For example, the guy will spend some time hanging out platonically, or he will call during the week, won’t expect sex right away, will even be exclusive, and/or will talk about future plans. When I’ve been in this situation, invariably the men didn’t want to break up, or had very ambivalent feelings about it and I’ve never had a man agree easily, or tell me I deserved better. etc. That’s not to say that women shouldn’t be firm about what they want, but that men can be  very ambivalent about what they want, and it can be extremely confusing.
     

  6. 6
    Agatha

    Evan I love your no-nonsense advice and agree completely.
    I also like that you so clearly pointed out a way to say goodbye but not be a b*tch about it…there really can be no hard feelings in these situations if the woman takes a stand to genuinely & authentically value herself.

  7. 7
    Deannie

    I finally took this advice. Doing so allowed me to give myself the best gift: my self-respect. Evan, you feel like a friend giving me common sense reminders. Genuinely practicing consistency in my life has unleashed new energy as I remove energy zapping *anything* from my life. You rock!

    1. 7.1
      Maria

      I’ve taken the advice and got kudos from my family for having some pride.  
      It’s been 7 weeks of sleeping with my self-respect and pride.  I’m just cranky & I miss the sex, companionship & going out.  Yes I’ve got an active life with hobbies, friends etc… But at night when it’s quiet and I’m alone in my empty bed I just want to cry.  Because doing the right thing is hard and lonely and the benefits don’t always come quickly…. But I really believe they will come and I will find my way to being happy and fulfilled while I am a party of one. Maybe week 8 will be great… Till then I’ll be at the gym, playing and hanging with friends and working on that promotion.  I’ve got lots of things to contribute to my family & community.

      1. 7.1.1
        kristin

        I’m sorry you’re going through that, I have been there before. In fact I experienced this feeling in my 20′s when dating different guys but not after my 13 year marriage ended, lol.
        One thing that always helped me feel better about myself and being alone is doing as MUCH as you can to make yourself look gorgeous. Especially physically fit. When you are in great shape, not only do those workouts provide you with mood boosting endorphins, but when you feel stronger it resonates to your mind as well. You also stand taller with more confidence. And in addition, a total boot camp on your diet, what I call “beauty foods”. Lots of raw fruits and vegetables, especially green stuff, and plenty of water. Your skin will glow and you’ll look younger. Pretty soon you’re walking around thinking to yourself “I’m the hottest chick on the planet and any guy who can’t see that is a complete loser” and you will start to truly believe that. The real magic happens when guys start flocking in your direction because they cannot resist that confidence. 45 and divorced and have dated many guys in their 20′s and 30′s because of this.
        Let that fool who didn’t appreciate you be the motivation for a whole new you, one who is light years too good for him :)

  8. 8
    Anon

    Great advice Evan!
    I am in a different but similar situation.
    I have been dating my girlfriend for 6 months. Things been going very well until two months ago. She joined a multi-level marketing company selling fashion jewelry. Since then she has submerged herself completely into “owning my home based business” and “making a 7-figure profit” endeavors. She has become unavailable most of the time and I am now just an after-thought.
    So far she is hardly making any profit and her prospects are drying up (one can only trade her social graces for money to her friends and family for so long). One part of me is saying that give her some time and she will eventually come back to reality, but then if one could commit to the lure of a pyramid scheme and toss aside a relationship, she is probably not the right person with whom to pursue a long term relationship.

  9. 9
    Carla

    Thank you For this article, IT came at there right time. although I manage to cut IT off without hesistation but then later thought Hmmm was I wrong? was it too early ? But as I kept reading and stated if he really wanted to be your boyfriend he would byou for you to change your mind thats when I said yup I did the right thing. He didnt beg but he did ask if I was sure we couldnt stay friends, that was enough For me then later saw him chatting away on Instagram with a girl from Brazil saying the the same things he told me,so I knew then I was nothing special to him. I did The right thing I saved myself alot of heartache and wasted time.
    honestly, deep inside you already know The answer We just have too much hope.
    I learned there is so many guys out there who amazing and a better match why teta and convince someone your worth it. Thanks Evan!!!

  10. 10
    Jackie Holness

    The “slow diss” (a phrase that I’ve coined) always work…stop calling over time…he will get the message…as if he cared anyway:)

  11. 11
    Rochelle

    @Marymary #3, I agree that happens too,  it’s like they want to have their cake and eat too. They don’t always respect your wishes either when you tell them not to call and might still contact you. So if he tries to come back, don’t assume anything unless he asks flat out for a relationship. Don’t think anything else is a “sign”. If it’s a situation where your feelings have faded and you want to be platonic acquaintances while seeking real romance, okay,  but in other cases, continue running. lol 
     

  12. 12
    Fusee

    @Ruby #5: “…men can be  very ambivalent about what they want, and it can be extremely confusing.”
     
    Yep! Most men looooove a good status quo! A bit more than booty, a bit less then wife… just the perfect balance of ongoing benefits without too much expectations and responsabilities…
     
    When it’s confusing or simply stops progressing, I put a deadline on it. Keeps me in touch with my goals and detached from any outcome, and prevents me to slide into a dead-end LTR where I convince myself that “he just needs time” before considering an upgrade. Most men do not “need more time”, they just like it as it is and have no desire of progressing into more commitment. The ones who really need more time say so, use it efficiently, and then move the relationship forwards without prompting when they are ready. It does not take years.
     
    In dead-end LTR cases, before walking away, it would be more effective to have a conversation about needs and intentions to allow further clarification. Sometimes he really needs to figure a couple of things out (about you or about other life stuff), or work through some fears, before progressing to the next step. Most of the time he does not though, and has no desire of breaking the status quo. That’s why he will not offer more, but will also refuse to let you go.
     
    Nothing beats clear communication involving asking curiosity-based questions about his needs and intentions, and encouraging progression towards resolution of doubts and fears within a reasonnable time frame. That’s what I’m doing with the boyfriend and it’s working well. He really needs the guidance and encouragement. We would not be where we are at if I had not taken that matter into my own hands. He is grateful I have.

  13. 13
    maria

    This REALLY CAME ON TIME. 
    I love the straight to the point talk. I have given this talk about 3x this year.
    He keeps coming back but does not step up.
    This articled has described every action going on from being used, to not meeting family members, to everyone knowing we are not going to be together but me.
    Not that that isnt embarrassing enough, I have let this go on since the beginning of the year, so we passed the three month mark. 
    It is true when they say seek and you shall find. Ask and you will receive.
    Not that I did not ALREADY know, like common sense, sometimes we just do not apply the common sense.

    Thanks!  

  14. 14
    starthrower

    Maybe I was too harsh; I didn’t even bother having a chat.  I just disappeared.  But I don’t think it mattered at that point.  I had already been phased out so there was no reason to have the chat.  He was ignoring me anyway.

  15. 15
    Leesa

    she said that he said that “he didn’t want to lose her”. so when evan said that if he does try to talk her into staying ….. , well, i’d have to say that it’s not because he wants a relationship with her. he just doesn’t want to lose his “sure thing” until someone new/better comes along. and he may sound convincing when he’s begging her not to walk away, because if she really likes him, some women don’t need much to stay holding onto a painful situation. this is where she has to keep her eye squarely on past actions and not present words.

  16. 16
    sarahrahrah!

    Amen, EMK!

    I followed this advice this past spring and cut loose a guy who wouldn’t commit.  Low and behold, he has come back again twice, but he couldn’t give me what I needed and really wouldn’t acknowledge that he was unavailable.  I had grieved the relationship (what I had invested in it) after I let him go (and saw how he responded), so when he came back I wasn’t vulnerable to him.

    I am tremendously grateful for this straightforward advice and encourage anyone who is floundering with someone whom you know in your heart doesn’t care, to free yourself so you can be with someone who truly likes and cares about you.  It’s worked for me.

  17. 17
    Allison

    This is such timely and amazing advice – I’ve been in a similar situation since July and finally, I took EMK’s advice and just walked away gracefully.  No talk, no nothing.  We have mutual close friends so we stay in touch but it is firmly platonic now and after few weeks of mild sadness, I’m doing just fine.   But it was HARD to take that step because I really, really, liked him.

    Now, I’ve been out three times with a guy who calls on Monday for a date on Saturday, texts and emails me throughout the week and have a few more dates lined up in between.   It’s kind of amazing – if men like you and want to hang out with you, they are very, very obvious about it.   That is the single most valuable piece of information I have ever been given in my dating life. 

    EMK, your advice rocks.

  18. 18
    Gina

    FANTASTIC!  Evan, I have enjoyed your blogs so much over these past couple of years.  They have helped me, over and over again.  This one will be flagged amongst them all.  You couldn’t have hit it more dead on and been any clearer.  We have to remember, we get what we accept.  Thank you!

  19. 19
    Annalise

    I have read Evan religiously since my divorce a little over a year ago. I have dated constantly and followed everything EMK has said. I got very good at recognizing the signs of guys who were not ever going to commit. I walked away from several guys, and not one came back. If they are not ready, they are not ready. I have now been dating a guy for the past month, and it is like night and day. When they like you and want to be with you, they make sure you know it. Keep telling yourself what you want, and it will come to you if you are ready.

  20. 20
    Kristy

    I wonder though….it’s hard sometimes if its not so cut and dry. I’ve been exclusive with a man for almost a year, have daily contact with him and see him almost everyday and all weekend, yet he doesn’t call me his girlfriend, but if we dated others it would be cheating, so what happens in that situation? We spent the holidays together lat year and this year he is p,awning to visit my family back east for Christmas with me….so is he afraid to commit? Wen essentially he is committed.

  21. 21
    Michael17

    Evan: Great post. I have been that guy who dithered on a girl. What was happening on my side was that I felt that she was an awesome and giving person who seems to genuinely appreciate me (very rare, so it was getting me to stay), but there was a level of attraction that was missing for me (which was getting me to dither). Anyway, sometimes the girl showing a boundary as you suggested just might be what is needed for the guy to wake up and see what a good thing he has in front of him.
     
    I do have to point out something though that wasn’t clear to me. You say that people tend to become exclusive really fast. At the same time too, aren’t you advocating to your female (and male) readers choosing on the basis of character, and settling for a chemistry of 6 or 7? (I didn’t say you were saying to *disregard* chemistry altogether, because I know you are not.) I think those two tidbits contradict each other, because when two people commit so fast, it is usually because the chemistry is so intense–”they just know”. I myself know that if I am dating a girl who for whom I only feel moderately strong chemistry for (but I am still seeing because I am picking up that she is a great person), I will be more “rational” and take my time about becoming exclusive.

  22. 22
    Rochelle

    @Kristy, yeah that is a bit different from the above situation. I don’t get how some guys want to be exclusive, not have you see anyone else, but not call you his girlfriend. And a year of that is a really long time but some  guys really are capable of staying exclusive  and acting like a boyfriend until someone else comes along.  And that isn’t fair to you.  He may just think it will be easier for him to leave when he wants because he can say “well we weren’t boyfriend and girlfriend”

     Did you verbally agree to that arrangement to see each other only? Because unless some sort of verbal agreement was made if he isn’t calling you his girlfriend, it isn’t cheating to see other people, even if it has been a year. He may not be committing since you are allowing him to have the benefits of a girlfriend without truly committing.  That would make it another “having his cake and eating it too”  “why buy the cow if you can milk it for free” situation.  

    But on the other hand his has credibility for behaving like a boyfriend, shows that he is capable of certain actions… If you haven’t really discussed  it might be a good idea to discuss it, not putting pressure on him to call you his gf but to lay out your concerns and understand where he is. 

  23. 23
    nathan

    Sometimes, it is as cut and dry as Evan painted it. And for those situations, his post is dead on. Other times, it’s not so clear and I don’t think women are all that less prone to being ambivalent – when they aren’t sure, or are afraid of hurting the guy they are with.
     
    I have been on both sides of the coin. During my 20s, I had two longer relationships where I was on the fence. One, I finally ended. The other, she did. Since then, I have dated a series of unavailable, non-commital women. Part of me wonders if it’s some kind of karmic boomerang, but that’s beside the point. I have been the hidden boyfriend. I have been the “I think I love you, but I have to leave you” guy. I’ve experienced “future faking.” You name it. The good thing about all of that is that I can read things really well these days, and feel like I’m in charge of my decisions around the relationship, as opposed to acting out of a fear of loss or a desire to placate.
     
    So, the way I see it, the OP needs to decide what she wants. If you feel that it’s worth giving him a chance to make some changes, then sit down and have a talk with him about what your needs are. However, you have to be ready to let him go if he just wants to keep things the same. And be ready for weak attempts to weasel back in when loneliness kicks in. At the same time, if you do have a talk with him, you might be surprised by what you hear. Perhaps he has his own set of needs to address. Sure, that’s probably a minority of guys, but it’s a possibility.
     
    Which is why it’s most important to decide if you’re mostly ready to move on, or if you think it’s worth one last chance. Because if all you’re looking for is a perfect exit, that’s just an excuse to keep hanging on. If you’re just hanging on, take Evan’s advice and move on.

  24. 24
    Amy

    I agree completely with what Ruby said @5. Many situations do not fit into the classic profile of a non-committal guy. This is going to sound so conservative, and I’m the least conservative woman I know, but I think the problem has to do with sex. Our (we women) desire for sex and our freedom to have it gets us into these situations. If we could/would hold off on sex even a little longer, most guys who don’t really want anything long term, (but instead just a comfy situation where they have someone nice to sleep with.. all the while keeping one eye out for the girl they will want to commit to) will eventually move on. Their priorities will become obvious. As much as I hate to say it, once we sleep with them, we lose the upper hand so to speak. I really wish it wasn’t like this because I like the idea of complete sexual autonomy. But that tends to be an ideal that does not play out in reality for most women. Sigh.

  25. 25
    Liz

    Boundaries. Exactly what I needed. If they aren’t there, you gotta walk. No holding on to the once a week dates, and spotty phone calls, because it is better than being alone. A man that wants you will stop at nothing to get you, have you. There isn’t the guessing game. 

    It works if you delete their number or give it to a girlfriend to avoid those drunken texts that go no where.  

  26. 26
    Fiona

    Anon, maybe  try talking to your girlfriend about how you feel. She may just be going through a difficult period as new jobs are always hard and demanding but generally get easier as time goes on. I was once left a few months into a high pressure role (that I hated) as my boyfriend complained that I was working too long and tired all the time but that period passed when I was more settled in my role and knew what I was doing. Transition is often tough but it passes.

  27. 27
    Tom10

    Kristy
    “I’ve been exclusive with a man for almost a year…yet he doesn’t call me his girlfriend…so what happens in that situation?…is he afraid to commit?”

    This doesn’t look too good for you unfortunately. Non-committal men are masters in obfuscation and excel in the art of carefully threading grey areas. As Annalise said; “when they like you and want to be with you, they make sure you know it”.

    If he’s serious he’ll make sure you have no doubts.

    Amy

    “If we could/would hold off on sex even a little longer, most guys who don’t really want anything long term…will eventually move on. I really wish it wasn’t like this because I like the idea of complete sexual autonomy.”

    What you say is true, but there is another way to fend off the non-committal men other than holding off on sex: ask them what they want! I’m always amazed at the way women are so reluctant to say what they’re looking for and will spend months forensically examining the situation trying to suss out what he means, rather than just asking him. What’s the worst that can happen if you ask?

    1. 27.1
      CJ

      Except many men will tell you what they think you want to hear. Actions speak louder than words, and the only way you will know is to let him work for it. Men who aren’t serious, aren’t going to stick around if they think sex isn’t quickly forthcoming.

  28. 28
    Amy

    I’ll tell you what’s the worst thing that can happen because I’ve experienced it. The guy will say “why are you so needy?” which for most women, is the worst thing we can be called. Many dating experts strongly discourage women from making any statement or asking any question that a man could interpret as the woman pressuring them to move things forward. But since you’re a guy, your comment comes as a welcome relief… asking a guy what he wants does seem pretty simple. I guess if he pulls the “you’re so needy” line, he’s probably not the right guy anyway, at least not at that moment.

  29. 29
    Sherel

    I have had guys say I am their girlfriend and not act like we are in a relationship and I have had guys who seemed to not want to claim it “the relationshp” right  way but treated me great.  I will take the latter any day.  As you get older and have been married and have had kids things do not necessarily happen so quick.   As a single Mom I do not have time, nor the inclination to be swept off my feet right away. I want to take things a bit slow and appreciate someone that wants the same.  Daily long conversatons and seeing someone 4-5 times a week is a deal breaker for me!
         

  30. 30
    Still-Looking

    Amy@28
    I find open communication to be the key and I don’t mind at all if a woman asks what I’m looking for.  After a couple of dates I know if I’m interested in a LTR with a particular woman.  If I am, then I can be completely honest and say I’m interested in a LTR and would like to see how things work out over the next several dates.  If I enjoy spending time with the woman but I’m not interested in a LTR I can answer truthfully that I’m just looking for casual dating or a platonic friendship (it’s amazing how many women are looking for the same thing).  And if I have little interest in the woman it gives me the chance to explain that I’m looking for “the one”  and I’m just not feeling the chemistry – a way of gently letting her know I’m not interested.  I’d much rather do that after 2 or more dates than just fade away.

    The vast majority of women appreciate my honesty and it sure beats sending mixed signals like a once a week date night and sporadic communications through out the week.

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