How Long Should I Wait for Him to Commit to Me?

How Long Should I Wait for Him to Commit to Me?

Hi Evan,

I have been dating a really wonderful man for three months now, and at this point, we are spending our weekends together every week. We have an amazing, intense connection which we both acknowledge and at this point, I’m downright crazy about him, and I know he feels the same about me. When we are together, it just feels right, but we have yet to say “I love you” to each other. I’m not getting that he is ready to hear this yet, so despite my feelings, I avoid saying those three words to him. What I am getting – through his actions and emotions – is that he does indeed love me, but I am not pushing him to formally acknowledge it yet.

People in love don’t spend much time looking for love with other people.

The problem for me is this: in the past, he has fallen head over heels in love and gotten deep into relationships very quickly. Each time, it has clouded his judgment, and he got stuck in rather dysfunctional relationships, which obviously didn’t work out. He has been married once, and was in a long-term (five year) relationship with someone else. He is using this as a basis for keeping me at arm’s length emotionally, and while I understand what he is attempting to do, it is becoming increasingly frustrating for me. Our typical m.o., week after week, is that we have a wonderful, close, electric weekend together, and then nothing for most of the week. This is a very different situation for me, since the typical sign that someone is really into me is reflected in his wanting to call me / be with me fairly often.

He wants to see me each weekend, but unless I get upset about his lack of attention during the week, the time between Monday and Thursday just doesn’t seem to be a real priority for him where I’m concerned. What compounds the problem in my mind is that he is still active on two dating websites, which he says is “very limited” in usage, that he is just looking for “friends” in which he has no emotional ties to, since he’s happy and contented with me (allegedly) at this point in our relationship.

I tried to talk to him about this last weekend, keeping in mind that he is determined not to allow himself to relax and let things just happen naturally yet, even though three months is certainly not too soon to allow such feelings to happen. I expressed my issues with him not wanting to get off the sites and focus on “us” without distraction (in other words, we had the “exclusive” talk), and about his lack of interest in taking the initiative in contacting me more during the week.

Regarding being exclusive, I told him that I was off of the sites in order to focus on “us”, and hoped that he would feel the same. No answer (which told me a lot right there). He said his lack of contact was his way of “slowing himself down”, because ordinarily at this point in time, he would have had me practically moved in with him if I had come along earlier, and wants to build a solid foundation for a lasting relationship. That is something I want as well, but his remaining active on dating web sites even supposedly looking for “friends” is very disconcerting to me, and I told him as much.

Finally, the real question here: How long should I “patiently” wait for him to stop pulling back from me? Is there a good time frame to go by not only for him to acknowledge his feelings, but for me to make a decision about whether I should stick around or not? Six months? One year? I know everyone’s different, but I just need some guidance here, since I would like to see where things go without all the constraints!

Thank you!
Jennifer

Dear Jennifer,

I usually don’t run letters this long, especially when I’ve written at least seven articles in the past year that cover this specific topic (including What to Do When the Guy You’re Seeing Will Not Commit). Still, your letter was well-constructed, self aware, and worthy of response….

So here goes:

Our astute readers will have picked out these key phrases as to why you already know what you have to do.

1) He has been married once, and was in a long-term (five year) relationship with someone else. He is using this as a basis for keeping me at arm’s length emotionally.

Ah, you gotta love the built-in excuse. It’s brilliant in its infallible logic. Really, it’s on par with answering “I’m a perfectionist” to the “what’s your biggest flaw” question in a job interview. I mean, really, who could possibly argue? So get it straight: this darling man of integrity is just trying to protect you from getting hurt because he’s made some mistakes before. Got it.

Believe it or not, I’d still try to give him the benefit of the doubt, since I’ve been wrong before. Hey, maybe he’s just trying to break his pattern of leaping before he looked. Can’t blame a guy for that, can you?

Oh, yes you can.

2) What compounds the problem in my mind is that he is still active on two dating websites, which he says is “very limited” in usage, that he is just looking for “friends” in which he has no emotional ties to.

Couples don’t do that. People in love don’t spend much time looking for love with other people.

WALK. If he follows, he’s your boyfriend. If he doesn’t, he’s exactly who you thought he was.

This guy is using you, Jennifer, and what’s hard to take is that he doesn’t even know it. He’s just doing what’s right for himself, so it doesn’t even occur to him that he’s hurting you. Think about it. He’s not telling you he loves you, he’s not calling you his girlfriend, he’s not seeing you during the week, so how can he be called a jerk? He’s covering his ass. He gets to act like a boyfriend on the weekends, spend the week searching for other women, and still not have to step up to the plate and commit to you. Hey, why buy the cow if you get the milk for free?

3) No answer (which told me a lot right there).

Yeah, it’s hard to have a talk about “us” when there is no “us”. By saying nothing, he continues to cover his ass, and you continue to tolerate it. You’re expecting things to change, but he doesn’t want them to change. He wants a weekend girlfriend with all of the benefits, and none of the costs. As long as you tolerate this, it will continue. Six months? Sure, why not? You can have another exclusivity talk then when you see his profile on Match, but what for? To get three more months of sex and heartbreak in? Go for it and let me know how it goes.

I’m not a believer in ultimatums, but I’m big on action. So why don’t you give this one a try?

“I really, really care about you and have very much enjoyed our time together. But as amazing as I think you are, I’m not really getting my needs met here. I don’t want a weekend fuck-buddy. I want a boyfriend. And it’s become increasingly clear to me that it’s not going to be you. That’s okay. I’m not hurt or offended, but I need to find someone who wants a relationship. Good luck in your search.”

And then WALK.

If he follows, he’s your boyfriend.

If he doesn’t, he’s exactly who you thought he was. And you saved yourself another nine months of wasted time with a commitment-phobe. Use it well.

Warmest wishes,

Your friend,

Evan

 

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Comments:

  1. 31
    Selena

    Joanna,
    You posted the same questions on the thread, “Why do men act interested if they’re really not”. There are some responses there to you.

  2. 32
    Michele

    Jennifer, in my opinion it doesn’t matter if you are in your 20′s, 40′s or 60′s. Three months is a fairly significant period of time to learn about a partner.

    I was with you in every sense of what you wrote including his former failed relationships…..hey that happens. BUT when you mentioned that he’s still active on dating sites – that’s more than a RED flag. And he allows you to know that….another even bigger RED flag.

    Yes, you like him – well, you’re crazy about him and to dismiss him will hurt. You enjoy his company (when the two of you are together) and apparently “some” connection has been made – in spite of his deficiencies.

    Personally I would give him one more diplomatic ultimatum as per Evan. Observe how he reacts. If his behaviour is positive — great. If his behaviour is indifferent — even GREATER. You will then know that it’s time to re-activate your profile and keep in mind there are a lot of fish in the sea (however inadequate that seems at this moment).

    Allow for some grieving time and consider him yet another life experience. You will be an even better person with more practical savvy about life. And I know these things from several closely related personal “relationships” or lack thereof, that parallel your present dilemma.

    Please consider letting us know what happens, Jennifer. I think you know we are forthright with interest especially since the majority seem to share the same option(s) in your case.

  3. 33
    Eda

    Like everyone else, I think Evan’s advice was perfect as it allows you to be in control, respectful, and dignified. No matter what the outcome, you will be proud of yourself for being so classy and he’ll probably be impressed too (not that impressing him is a goal, it’s just a nifty side effect.)

    One thing I’ve learned from this type of situation is that as women we really have to listen and believe men when they tell us right from the beginning what type of relationship they are seeking. When a man says he’s been hurt and he wants to take things slow and not jump into anything too quickly, I intrepret that as he only wants something casual. He’s not ready for a serious relationship, and I think it’s ok to not want a serious relationship as long as you are honest. All too often, however, when a man tells a woman he’s not ready to be serious, but she really likes him and it seems that he really likes her, a woman will think that he might change his mind — or that she can make him change his mind, but many times he won’t. So, now, the woman is left broken-hearted and the guy is confused because he thought he made his intentions clear. It’s a lose lose for everyone.

    So if you want a boyfriend, don’t spend anytime on a man who tells you early on that he only wants something casual — especially if that man has all the qualities you want in a boyfriend. Move onto the next man who is seeking the type of relationship you are. You’ve got a much better chance of having all of your needs met because you won’t have to talk him into giving you what you want — he’s already there.

  4. 34
    Selena

    Jennifer,
    Have you ever dated someone who was ‘crazy about you’? Even if you found you didn’t return the same feelings? What characterized that? I bet the guy wanted to see you often, no? Not just week-ends, but week days as well. And if he was busy, didn’t he call to say, “Hi, how’s your day going?” Did he invite you out often? To his home? To meet his friends? To do things with him that he might otherwise do on his own? Like running errands, meeting up at a sports bar to watch a game, making a brief appearance at an event he really didn’t want to go to, but was expected to show his face?

    When someone is really interested they make time to be with the person they are interested in, even if it’s to do things that may seem mundane. The “fun” is in simply spending time together, even if it’s hanging out together not doing a damn thing. (Great fun with the right person.) Contrast that with this guy.

    It would appear you have a guy who likes you. But he likes you *causally*. The fact he is still active on dating sites pretty much slams that point home. After 3 mos., he’s not going to suddenly fall madly in love with you because you’ve been “patient”, it’s either there or it’s not, and enough time has passed for that determination to have been made.

    Confront him if you need to hear it words, otherwise go about your life not expecting anything more from Mr. Casual than he has thus far offered. Being patient for 6 mos., a year, isn’t going to change anything. Except perhaps a feeling within yourself that you have wasted your time.

  5. 35
    Andrea

    This reads like a letter from someone who already knows the answer and needs/wants it validated.

    I echo Evan’s advice and the replies here. It sounds that you two want different things and so it’s best to break up and move on. It could encourage him to commit. However, don’t give your hopes up- and don’t tell yourself that you aren’t giving your hopes up if you are. If reconciliation happens it happens.

    This is one of those cases of if it’s meant to be it will be. Don’t waste your time on someone who doesn’t want the same thing as you.

  6. 36
    BeenThruTheWars

    Selena, re doing those “mundane things” together when someone really digs you: my husband loves telling the story of the moment he realized he had fallen in love with he. He had just asked me to be his exclusive girlfriend, about 2.5 months in. It was the week between Christmas and New Year’s and he was off of work. He wanted to buy a new toilet seat because his old wooden one had a crack in it and he was worried it would pinch my butt! (Apparently, getting his own butt pinched hadn’t been a big enough incentive to replace it prior to that.) He invited me to go to Home Depot to pick out a new toilet seat. He was going to get a plain white one, but I talked him into a clear blue one with plastic tropical fishes embedded in it. Totally kitschy and wacky. He loved it. We laughed ourselves silly picking it out. He said later… that looking around at all the couples shopping together for boring, normal household things together made him realize that “you don’t invite ‘just anyone’ to go toilet seat shopping.” That’s when it hit him — he saw us being a real couple, one that was going to last. An epiphany in the Home Depot plumbing parts section. See, that ol’ lightening can strike anywhere! P.S. When he sold his house, the toilet seat came with us to our new home. It’s currently hanging on the wall in the garage like art; when we remodel our bathroom, it undoubtedly will occupy a new place of honor.

  7. 37
    Selena

    Great story Beenthruthewars! Yeah, I’d guess you wouln’t “invite just anyone to go toliet seat shopping”. Thanks for sharing that. And it’s true, in early dating, sometimes doing the most mundane things actually creates some of the best memories.

  8. 38
    Li-Ann

    Selena – an excellent post about being patient. I found (in my history anyway) that through my dating years in my twenties and thirties, I thought the right thing to do was to be increasingly patient. After all that time I now realize that if he “isn’t that into you” after 6 months, it doesn’t get any better with time. I think it was because when I liked a guy, I therefore wanted to believe whatever excuse he gave me as to why he could only see me infrequently. I would wait patiently, and it didn’t get me anywhere. The guys that truly liked me were all over me with calls, visits, etc. The guys that were stringing me along frequently did give me the speech that they “wanted to take it slow”, but I didn’t listen. My fault there. “Wants to take it slow” always translated to the eventual speech (or slow fade) where he would tell me he’s met someone else, or I’d never here from him again as the absences grew longer and longer.

    With all the technology out there to keep in touch, it is harder to explain that you are too busy to make contact. I’m sure you don’t expect an hour long phone call, just a quick hello. Nobody is too busy to do something they want and that gives them pleasure.

  9. 39
    Joanna

    Thanks guys! After reading all of the comments, I know I did the right thing by letting go of a guy that couldn’t make time for me. Why does it feel so wrong?? In the bback of my mind, I wonder if he misses the friendship we had or me?

  10. 40
    cinnamon

    Joanna,
    I’m compelled to quote something I’ve read recently:
    “In our best relationships, we all have temporary periods where one person participates more than the other. This is normal. But as a permanent way of participating in relationships, it leaves us feeling tired, worn out, needy, and angry. (…) Are we doing all the waiting, the hoping, the work? We can let go. If the relationship is meant to be, it will be, and it will become what it is meant to be. We do not help that process by trying to control it. We do not help ourselves, the other person, or the relationship by trying to force it or by doing all the work.”
    This basically sums up the wise advice that I received years ago when I was staying in a “should I stay or should I go” situation too long. If you feel you’re doing all the work in a relationship, in a couple of months you’ll start to feel “tired, worn out, needy, and angry” and this will for sure not help to build a healthy relationship with your guy.
    BTW, I believe this is gender-neutral.

  11. 41
    Joanna

    Thank you Cinnamon! That is so true. Letting go is the hard part and finding someone new seems even harder!

  12. 42
    Li-Ann

    Joanna, you wrote “…I wonder if he misses the friendship we had or me?”

    That really resonates because I went through those emotions so many times in the past . I would think I had something special with a man. I would convince myself that he must find something unique and special with me, and that he needed this. I would delude myself once he left that one day he’d miss me and come back. However, in so many cases I would just get the “you are really special…but I need to see other people”, or “I’m not ready” speech.

    Sometimes another person just isn’t seeing things the way you are. They may really enjoy your company, so it may look that way to you. You have to remember that you can only know what is going on in your head, but you have no idea what he is really thinking.

    As I mentioned, I had my hopes that men from the past would return to me because of something that was unique to our relationship – that they’d miss me. It didn’t happen. I’m not the only woman out there. Lots of other women can be just as interesting, fun to be with. You might think he’s the only one, but he might find you, and a whole lot of other women looking interesting to him. If a man doesn’t want to settle down yet, there is a good chance he has his reasons, or that he wants to be open to other possibilities, just in case. It is sad, and I’ve been there, but I wouldn’t hold out hope.

    He may call again. Sometimes the guys that tell you they need to see other people do return after a while, often because they’ve had trouble finding someone. I had to decide that I wouldn’t accept that – why should I be the last choice after all other options are exhausted? When they return there is a good chance they’ll soon go back to pushing you to the sidelines. The old patterns will re-appear. Don’t get fooled if he calls again after your break up, unless you see some really significant changes.

  13. 43
    Lindsey

    Thanks for the post! I am glad to know that I am not alone in this kind of situation.

    I am dating a guy for 6 months now. I really like him. He is a workaholic and he put his job in front of everything. I only see him like once per week which I don’t really mind because I know job is his priority. When we were dating for 3 months, he told me he liked me but he didn’t fall for me. He told me normally he fall for someone pretty fast. I told him it may take time because I didn’t fall for him at that time as well. Therefore we continue dating.
    Now, 6 months later, I don’t see any improvement. He still calls me almost every day but normally we only talk for 5 minutes because he is tired after work. He only gets one day off per week. In the past 2 months, he told me he works too much and all he wants to do on his day off is stay home and play video game or watch movie. Therefore, normally we just hang out at his home and watch movie. He will go out with me only if I ask him to. He doesn’t make plan and ask me to do stuff outside of his apartment anymore.

    Yesterday, he told me he is going to Italy this summer for vacation but he didn’t invite me to go with him, even I mentioned to him before that Italy is one of the countries I want to visit. He also told me some of his future plans; however, I am not included in his plans. It makes me think he may never fall for me.

    Both of us are in our late twenties. He always tell me how much he likes to live by himself and how much he enjoy his alone time at home. At this point of my life, I feel like I want a family but he doesn’t seem like he wants to settle down, at least not with me.

    Is 6 months long enough or should I give him a little bit more time? I don’t want to misjudge him and regret in the future.

  14. 44
    Selena

    Linsey,
    You have been dating a man who is content just to see you casually. He told you after 3 mos. he hadn’t fallen for you and another 3 mos. hasn’t changed that. In fact, it would appear he’s made even less effort to “date” you than before. Not taking you on vaction with him? Seems rather obvious he does not consider you his girlfriend.

    You don’t need to give him any more time. Move on to someone who really IS interested in you and leave this guy to his video games.

  15. 45
    Lindsey

    Thanks, Selena!

    I broke up with him today. This week is a slow week for him. I suggested to go to a Jazz club tonight, which used to be one of the activities we both like to do. However, he made it clearly to me that he doesn’t want to hang out with me during the week. He will only see me during the weekend. He told me if I want more, I should look for someone else. Therefore I told him I am done with him.

    I am heart broken now, however, I am not going to look back. I don’t need someone who doesn’t care about me in my life.

  16. 46
    Selena

    I’m sorry you are hurting Lindsey, I hope you start feeling better very soon. But you are quite right that you don’t need someone who doesn’t care about you in your life. And it’s actually a good thing this guy was honest enough to tell you if you wanted more you should look for someone else. Think about how much more time you would have wasted had you gone through with “giving him more time”. I suspect you would have been even more disappointed than you are right now. 6 mos. was indeed enough.

  17. 47
    Lindsey

    Thanks Selena, you were right. I actually did thank him for being honest with me. Actually I saw the red flags 3 months ago, however, I kept thinking maybe I was just being too sensitive, he was just too busy at work. Now at least I won’t have to make any more guesses, kind of a relief actually.

    I am sure I will feel better eventually. Time heals everything.

  18. 48
    Tara

    I’d be interested in what Jennifer ended-up deciding…

  19. 49
    Rachel

    EMANCIPATE YOURSELF, LADY. Hey, if one of your girlfriends told you about the same kind of situation, what would you be telling her? Give yourself the same advice. Of course, it’s easier when you can step back and take an objective stance. But look at what everyone is saying here. Why are you giving away your power and letting him call the shots? This guy is clearly a loser, and you can do better.

  20. 50
    Jennifer

    Hi Evan,

    I have to say that you were spot on with your advice to me, which I can clearly see now, and I should have ‘walked’ at that time. Unfortunately, when I got your advice on the blog, I was still delusional, thinking that things would eventually ‘change’ and he would see what an ‘idiot’ HE was being…all the cliche’d ‘answers’ that, if one of my friends were telling me this, I would be all over her to ‘dump the dude!’

    Unfortunately, the idiot was ME, and why I didn’t take your prescription for handling my situation right away is still beyond me. Five more months passed, along with the requisite frustration, and then I finally got it. It hit me like a bolt of lightning, and I told him to get lost. It felt VERY freeing to finally kick him to the curb…I just wished I would have ‘gotten it’ months ago!

    So..Thank You Evan! I just wanted you to know that your great advice – even through the haze of dating this guy – stuck in the back of my mind and probably saved me a lot more heartache and time in a losing situation.

    Jennifer

  21. 51
    Been There 2

    I was in the same exact boat a month ago. I had been with my boyfriend for exactly the same amount of time (3 months), but he wouldn’t call me and was still advertising on a dating site. Exact same scenerio.

    I really hate to say this, but I don’t think he’s the guy for you. I didn’t want to think this true and tried as hard as I could to hold on, but in the end he wasn’t ready for a committment. He wanted me…but he, just as you stated your man said, wanted to still have “friends” on these dating sites. Let’s be real, nobody is looking for “friends” on dating sites. If he wanted friends he’d either find them in real life or if he was that desperate he’d join a forum based on an interest of his.

    All I know is I don’t want you to go down the same path I did and be hurt the way I felt. In the end, he told me he wanted to be open which I interpreted as I’m the main girl…and he can sleep with other girls on the side. Not ok.

    Literally a month after our break up, I found another guy who cares abuout me and is willing to make an effort to call, see me as often as possible, and work on us instead of “him”. It’s so much better this way and much less stressful. I hope you find the same as me. A guy who is ready and willing will not be thinking of other girls period and this issue will not come up.

  22. 52
    attractologydatingadvice

    Your advice is spot on. I’m interested in seeing what Jennifer decided
    .-= attractologydatingadvices last blog ….Too Much Tongue? =-.

  23. 53
    Lost

    I met this guy. Instant chemistry. We slept together first date. Slept together every time we saw each other. We see each other like every three days on average cause he likes his space(We talk almost every day). After a month. He said he wanted me to ask him to move in with me. I didnt of course. He explained to me he thought i wanted him as a homey,lover,friend and i told him this was not true. After a week he told me he think he might have approached me the wrong way or something. We started hanging out more and he cut off the sex. I can tell he is still attracted to me even with my slight advances. He will not sleep with me. He found a way to meet the kids(didnt want to in the beginning); asked for a toothbrush for when he stays the night; among other things. He shows signs of being interested….I can’t get him to sleep with me and its been over 3wks……… im so confused..

  24. 54
    Tia

    red flags everywhere, run the other way, he’s wonderful but he’s on dating sites. im sure deep down she know’s hes full of it.

  25. 55
    Been There As Well

    I had to find and re-read this letter and Evan’s advice today after going through a similar situation in my own life. The guy is older, single father, and said that he has rushed into relationships into the past and that is why he has to “slow things down” a bit. To him, this means not calling me during the week after fantastic weekends together, and continuing to talk and go out with other women. Evan’s advice is spot on.

  26. 56
    Selena

    @#55

    I bet there’s another woman out there writing somewhere how her guy is “slowing things down a bit” by not seeing her on the weekends. ;)

  27. 57
    Brenda Lee

    Greetings One and All:
    I actually used the ultimatum on Thursday, July 8th.  By Monday, July 12th, he was apologizing for his bad behavior.  Its not that he was dating anyone else, he just didnt know how I felt.  Seems that he and I had our wires crossed.  And because of it, we are talking way more than we ever had and in the past two days, we are totally excited about being each others sweety.
    Thanks Evans!!!

  28. 58
    starthrower68

    Brenda Lee,

    I’d be willing to bet your situation is the exception rather than the rule.  But good for you for having the courage to stand up for what you wantg and say no to what you don’t want.

    1. 58.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      That’s not the point, Starthrower. Having the talk isn’t about getting him to step up and commit; it’s to end the cycle of insecurity and get clarity on your relationship, instead of suffering silently. Even if he said he was letting her go, the conversation had it’s intended effect.

  29. 59
    Brenda Lee

    Thanks Evan.  The talk was to get what I wanted, clarification on the status of us.  It’s fifteen days later and we are still feeling good about us as a couple and still working on us as a couple.  It’s very sweet actually.  My reason for showing up was to share the article with a friend.  She has been seeing a guy, long distance, for four months. He claims his past marriages make him slow to commit.  I have given no advice, well except to send her this article and the choice.
    Again, Thanks Evan!!!

  30. 60
    StillBelieve

    Just like Jennifer’s story, I am in almost exact the same place today… I fall for him since our first date… a little over two month now, I am sitting here feeling sad and miserable, confused about what’s next? I sense something is not right for the the time being, maybe I am just naive, I still believe if a man cares for me he would want to spend as much time as he can with me… but, should I confront or give him more time?.  After spending hours of reading and through all 60 comments from all of you, I found the answer I need… Just want to say THANK YOU ALL! It’s time for me to give the “ultimatum” and let him know what I need, perhaps walk away with my head up high is the lesson to learn in life.   Thanks Evan, Thanks All!
     
     

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