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. 91
    DMC

    The only part I agree with Evan on is the dating site thing – that is definitely a red flag.  If he was serious, he would cut that off.

    I don’t think the arms-length thing is a bad excuse at all.  You are basically assuming he is lying and don’t really offer him any way to prove your accusation wrong.  It’s sort of like when someone says “if you disagree with me, you are an idiot!”.  If they don’t disagree, you win, and if they do, well they just walked right into your point!

    Also the weekend girlfriend thing I see as a good sign.  How do you know he isn’t busy with work and such during the week?  If he was really looking to play the field, he likely wouldn’t be tying up his prime free time (weekends) with one woman.  Now if he was making time for you/steady loving on Tues and Thursday only, THEN I could see a problem.

    Pushing for a conversation he isn’t ready to have is no different than the pressure a man puts on you to have sex when you aren’t ready. 

  2. 92
    Jessie

    Wow! I was in the same boat up until two days ago. I met a guy on a dating site. It seemed like we had a lot in common. Said he had dated girls in the past that had kids and one girl that had no job for 3 years. I have everything together. Been seeing him for seven months. I finally just lost it on him. He only has three days off a week and we always hung out on two of the three days. He was constantly still on the dating site. I badgered him so much about it that he finally hid his profile or maybe he cancelled his membership. We got into it in a text message argument because he just said he wasn’t ready for a relationship. I explained I am in my thirties and I was looking to get married and have kids so I asked that he not waste my time. It just made me mad that he complained about about all the other people he went out with and he was still fishing around. He said because he “paid” for it. Which I thought was ridiculous. After our argument, the next day he was back on the dating site and even put something on Facebook that said he was single even though he never even put on there he was in a relationship anyway. I deactivated my page and he thought I deleted him. When he saw I was on chat he deleted it immediately. This guy is 30 years old. Talk about immature. I just never knew this type existed. There are the players and you can tell but it’s hard to figure it out when someone is constantly taking you on dates, you assume they like you, just to find out later, they have their own selfish intentions. Well, Karma is a bitch. They can keep going on these dating sites fishing around for Ms. Perfect. Good luck to them. The funny thing is I was kind of trapped because I told him I went on some dates on the dating site and he said I was shady. Really? You’re not ready for a relationship, but I can’t go on dates with other guys? What kind of crap is that?

  3. 93
    NonExist

    Regarding Jennifer, I totally agree with Evan.
    She should most definitely get rid of this guy because he is using her as a stopgap.
    The emotional length I could understand out of his fear if it were the only component.
    But him still having his profile up means that he is still actively looking for someone else despite having “friends” listed.

    Personally if I am spending the whole weekend with a woman, every weekend for three months I’d have already asked her to be exclusively my girlfriend. Otherwise I would not be spending every whole weekend with her.

    As far as contact during the week, I’m not a very verbal person and since not much about current events really motivates me to talk about it at length, I may not call but once or twice.  But I would be willing to listen to whatever my SO had to say when I did.

  4. 94
    Carol

    Absolutely love this advice!  I had to laugh!  It made me feel liberated just readiif it and i
    Agining saying it to the commitment-phone in my life!  I’m gonna try it!  I got nothing to lose! 

  5. 95
    Lisa

    Great advice and glad you made the jump to tell him you were moving on… btw is everyone on this site in their 20’s and 30’s?  I feel old here.. I’m in my late 40’s… Evan’s advice is great regardless of age. I have some cool stories for the woman wanting reality dating stories..

  6. 96
    Mich

    3Months that is all. Try 9 years of being with someone always doing things for him and never taking the next step like moving in together etc etc. Now that is a waste of time.

  7. 97
    Doug Harper

    No two relationships are the same. Step back, take some alone time and listen to your heart. Then be honest and tell him what you feel.

  8. 98
    Me

    I think the “RESPONSE” given wasn’t accurate!
    The best way to deal with this is to tell him you love him, he doesn’t want to tell you he loves you because he afraid of rejection, that’s why he is active on dating sites, so that he always has a “back up plan”  

  9. 99
    Lisa Harris

    Great advice as per usual Evan. I’m usually just a lurker to these types of posts, but I thought I’d add some input for a change.

    As Eda correctly pointed out in post #33, looking for signs at the beginning of a relationship is crucial. Dropping hints to see whether he is after something casual, or something more serious can save a lot of heartache. However, in most cases, guys just take much longer to get that feeling of commitment as opposed to women.

    Once you understand men, you can separate the prince charmings from the frogs fairly quickly. Unfortunately, many women follow their hearts a little too much, which often leads to tears!

    Lisa Harris ~ http://truthsaboutmen.info

  10. 100
    karla

    I didn’t read all the replies but I wonder why us women (and maybe even men) KNOW what is going on and don’t just stand up for themselves. We hear it, see it, feel it in our gut and keep pushing for a relationship while making excuses for everything. I know it is hard to want to keep feeling connected to someone who you have already had intimacy with, but why is it so hard to let go? Even as I write this I know the answer. People don’t want to be alone. They want to feel loved and love others. Intimacy is a HIGH! You have all kinds of hormones and neurotransmitters firing you up, keeping you happy and once you feel the threat of loosing that, it becomes unbearable to live without it. Thats what makes you act all crazy and push even harder, and what leaves you feeling drained, sad and more alone than ever.

  11. 101
    Ana

    Yep Evan, that work’s like a charm. Did for me. I let my commitment phobe boyfriend (my story sounds similiar to Jennifer’s) know I loved him but let him know just because I loved him didn’t give him carte blanche to abuse me; and then I took a hike. I refused his text, his phone calls, and even avoided him when he showed up at my door. After a few weeks of this I relented to hear him out. Now he calls me all the time, is considerate of my feelings, and is hounding me to get married – something I myself don’t want to rush into at this point. Jennifer, take that advice. If he comes back it’s real, but if he doesn’t, it never was. Don’t let anyone abuse you emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually.

  12. 102
    Kim

    Evan,
    you hit the nail on the head…and this post really helped me with my problem…I’ve walked with a similar ultimatum and now I feel for some reason that I was wrong or guilty…what’s up with that? Anyway, after reading this, I’m sticking to my guns on this one – I spent way more than 3 months – and it’s time to keep it movin’… I deserve better and so does any woman of value.

  13. 103
    Katarina Phang

    What about just mirroring him aka date him and other guys? Give him the chance to develop emotional attachment while also keeping your options open. There is no fixed timeline for any one when love should happen. It varies differently depending on circumstances. The only problem is when a woman invests more in him than he’s ready to invest in her.

  14. 104
    Lucilla

    I’m in a similar situation, but without the dating site presence. I met him 3 months ago when he relocated to my city, but things haven’t gone well for him here and he recently applied for a job in his old city which he didn’t end up getting. I felt at that time OK about it as I didn’t feel that after 3 months I have the right to stop him doing what he has to do in his life. That was a few weeks ago and he’s still here, but I suddenly feel like I need more from him. I get mixed messages, he says he really likes me, makes plans for the future, introduced me to his friends and family and we have a lot in common and a lot of fun together, but he’s also been hurt really badly in the fairly recent past (just over a year ago), and when I mentioned that I loved something about him, and he misheard and thought I was telling him I loved him, he breathed a huge sigh of relief that I didn’t actually say that. That hurt me because even though I’m not in love with him yet, I could be but I can’t let it happen if he’s not open to it. I know he’s stressing about his life and where he’s going with it, and I’m trying to be mindful of that, but I really need to talk to him about how he feels about me, because if there’s no possibilty of him letting his walls down and trusting me not to tear his heart out, or even if he doesn’t see that he could fall in love with me, then I need to know and get out now. I’m scared of scaring him off, so I don’t want to do it as an ultimatum, more as a gentle talk.

  15. 105
    Rochelle

    I was in a similar situation to this  with a guy I knew for years. But we never dated til last year for about 4 or 5 months. He didn’t ask me to be his girlfriend and a relationship, although he told me wasn’t seeing anyone else.. When I look back at it, it was like he was trying to keep his options open but he enjoyed my company so he was happy with that set up. He  kept saying and doing things as if it will happen someday..such as “we were working towards being a couple”, “didn’t see why we shouldn’t be together”  but he needed “more time”. While telling me this he was contacting me less and less, and acting a bit differently (in a negative way) from how he behaved at the beginning. When I saw he was pulling back, I  started feeling crazy and insecure. So I “casually” brought up the status of how things were progressing more often. Not an effective move but at the time I thought I was just being “rational” because I didn’t want to waste my time. Fortunately I hadn’t slept with him or I would’ve felt even worse.  I ended up dumping him when  it became clear that it wasn’t going anywhere… As a man who wants a relationship to progress would have kept  up his game in contacting me, not pulled back from calling and texting almost everyday,  to a few texts here and there. Actually I think it was when I originally came across this blog and this specific post re: “how long to wait” that I was convinced to dump him :-) And he didn’t follow.I agree with Katarina @104. Nowadays I think the best thing to do is just continue to date other men while seeing the guy that stands out more, see what he does, and be willing to walk from him after a certain amount of time.  If he isn’t   making it clear that he wants to see you exclusively, there’s no reason she can’t date other guys. When a woman acts like she’s his girlfriend and invests more than he is ready to, it never works out. Plus he won’t see a reason to ask her to be his girlfriend if she’s acting like his girlfriend without  establishing a relationship first. He’ll just do what  he can as long as she allows it.

  16. 106
    Katarina Phang

    I’ve been dating this younger guy the last 4 months.  While he has been very cautious about expressing his feelings for me, he calls me almost every day and wants to see me most of the time.  He only said the L word twice but he admitted that he had emotionally attached to me, hence the constant checking in with me.  

    I just enjoy the ride, never worrying about the future.  At the same time, I know he feels he’s not ready for relationship (funny thing is I am the only woman he’s seeing right now ’cause he’s with me most of the time).

    I just let him be while keeping my options open.  I love being cherished and adored as he compliments me on how special I am all the time because “I understand men and know how to be a woman.”

    Be a high-value woman and work on your attraction, he isn’t going anywhere.

  17. 107
    Rochelle

    “Be a high-value woman and work on your attraction, he isn’t going anywhere.”

    So true. Act like you deserve love and radiate confidence, you will be more likely to receive love, rather than when you send out desperate/needy vibes. The latter is just self sabotaging and I understand that now.

  18. 108
    Shawn Catherine

    Spot-on!

  19. 109
    Stephanie

    This article popped up in my inbox, and it was spot-on. Too bad I didn’t read it about two months ago, when my now-ex started putting all of his energy into work and relegating me to weekend status. I tried to be flexible for his sake. Last month he broke up with me after what seemed like a typical date, saying he didn’t think we were heading in the same direction and that talking with his single friends made him realize he wanted to see what else was out there. In the moment, he blindsided me. I was quite a wreck for that first week. But in hindsight, I stopped being a priority some time before, and I just hadn’t realized it. It really hurts to think that I thought we were on the same page, whereas he was planning his escape route. But in the end, it IS better to be hurt now than further along down the line, when I would have been even more attached.

  20. 110
    JAN

    I started seeing a guy twelve months ago, he works nights.  To begin we practically lived with each other for four days then he got cold feet.  We seem to gravitate back together and three months later we slept together and he said it was a mistake and that he does not want a relationship as he does not want to be hurt again.  We have just remained friends and it is strictly platonic, when he is not working he phones and spends lots of time with me, he has even said recently that he started to think this is nice and is more relaxed about the whole thing, also that he has grown very fond of me as a friend.  I want a relationship and have deep feelings for him, he knows this and says massaging it won’t work let it run its course, he also says pushing him is not the answer.  He has been through a rough time and I have lent money, loaned him my car, and provided food, even found him a job.  He says when he gets some money he will make amends and has said he would like to take me out.  I need physical affection and just wonder how much longer do I wait as it is really starting to hurt.

  21. 111
    Christine

    i agree  he needs to get off the web sites if you two are exclusive. Chances are he is talking to lots of folks. i would pull away no more dates. let it go . if he loves you he will be at your door in a heartbeat. if not then you know it is time to move on. as painful as that sounds that will help you emotionally in the end. good luck

  22. 112
    LadyT

    Evan I had the talk with a guy I have been dating for 8 months. He says he doesnt know what he wants and wants to take things slow and that if I want to see someone else then ok. But when I told him I can no longer continue seeing him or talking to him the way we have been for own sake he will not accept it and still wants to “chill”. Granted we are not rarely active when it comes to sex either.  He thinks I am changing and want to control everything. He says when you label this everything gets complicated. I think he is still hurt by his ex (4 years ago) or he still not over her.

  23. 113
    Rochelle

    Well I recently had the guy I mentioned in my previous post call  me and I  missed it. I don’t know why he called out of the blue but I didn’t feel comfortable returning the call as he didn’t leave a voicemail.  I was surprised that he still had my number in the first place, as we haven’t spoken in several months. (I searched the number online since it looked familiar)   We were acquaintances before dating but I don’t think I can go back to that right now. although I have since  realized I we wouldn’t have made the best match romantically anyway,  I was rather affected by the situation at the time.

    Either way I think we should be weary of the “hesitant to commit after enough time” type  guy we dump and still tries to hang around.  It doesn’t necessarily mean he wants a relationship, he may just want how it is before… These days I make no assumptions.

  24. 114
    Courtney

    If only I found Evan a year and a half ago, I wouldn’t be going through such amazing heartache right now.  The whole “lack of attention during the week” drove me NUTS.  Reality was – I was trying to change reality by sheer force of will.  Reality was – no matter how beautiful every single weekend was (we spent 95% of them together), he was not willing to commit.  Monday-Thursday was proof. 
    Take your beautiful weekends as wonderful memories and a hint of what real love is like, because he’s just living a lie right now and you happen to be his practice-ground.  He can’t be the person he pretends to be when you’re together, which is why he needs the weeks to himself.  He is living a lie, and feeding you a lie. 
    Hindsight is 20/20 and I wish I had Evan’s advice a long time ago…..and then had courage to act on it.  If the WHOLE PACKAGE doesn’t feel good to you – walk.  Make it on your terms, there will be less to mop up when its all said and done.  Spend your precious time on what feels good, not this gnawing uncertainty.

  25. 115
    Trisha

    I’ve read all your replies. I do understand how it feels being dragged by all the plans etc. I met my bf online. Been in the relationship for almost 3 yrs now. I remember I was 28 that time when I met him on the dating site. I fell for him till we met in person after 8 mos.of chatting but my great dreams turned to frustrations after finding out he met another girl the time he first met me. It turned me into pieces & it almost crushed my heart. Stupid I am I know, I still go on w/the relationship & I ended giving him another chance coz it’s what I thought is right,coz I really love him & I considered myself being committed to him when we first met. Till we met again last mo.for the second time around. I should say, i can remember I broke up w/him thrice for almost 3 yrs.but I cant understand why I keep feeling pushing myself to him. Maybe the right word is HOPE, I keep on hoping & expecting him to marry me. He knows when we first met that I am looking for someone to marry, settle down & make a family I can call my own. But as mos., years passed by I got more scared. Am I that stupid enough to keep hoping for it? He got 5 kids & divorced, I am 30 single, never been married & no kids. Sometimes I keep asking myself, is it right to still HOPE? I can feel his kids are his priorities, his work & I cant understand why he’s letting me feel being taken for granted if he really loves me. I think LOVING is GIVING. Giving your all no matter that nothing will be left to you… But why I should feel this way? I want to feel happy again but he’s not doing that thing to me. He knows what I hope for, to get married but telling me we dont need to rush makes me think… What should I need to do now? Is it right to entertain other guys/ get to know someone again? I feel being cheated all the time coz i dont see any reason he’s doing all his efforts to prove to me that he really wants me in his life. Maybe yes he needs me, just as a girlfriend but not a WIFE….

  26. 116
    marymary

    Trisha
    your dreams may be great but your relationship is not. It,s pure fantasy to fall for someone you hadn’t even met. This is real life, don,t go casting yourself as the heroine in a diy romantic drama.
    loving is giving and it is hope. But if it,s one sided it,s less about a relationship and more about you refusing to face reality while you continue to stubbornly plug away at your own agenda. Giving until you have nothing left isn,t love, it,s madness and not in a good way. 
    the right thing to do  is break up, think about why you let this happen and then start dating again. Don’t add to this mess by cheating. Yeah, even if he did it first. try baggage reclaim, link up at the left.
    i used to have crap relationships too but am now with someone who treats me well (and is sexually attractive). I am not particularly giving and am more selfish than i ever used to be. Martys don’t win themselves a wonderful relationship, they just get martyred.
    oh yeah, and don’t go clinging to the three years as an excuse to give it another three years and then another. That,s not commitment. Is it really commitment to commit yourself to something hopeless or is it just an excuse not to take proper action towards what you say you really want? How much do you want it? Enough to cause yourself some short term grief for the long term goal? that would be commitment, not frittering your life away on dreams.
    dreams, you can’t live on them.

  27. 117
    starthrower68

    I do have sympathy for the OP; I think what’s worse than knowing he has no intention of committing is feeling foolish for not paying greater attention to or completely missing all the red flags.  I’m sure it is also possible to be that naïve, but it has been my experience that I know something is off.  Walk away and hold your head high.  If you were good to him, you have nothing to be ashamed of.  Just learn from this and move forward. 

  28. 118
    Trisha

    marymary thanks for your words. i really need someone to talk to now. glad i did find this site while browsing it on google. glad to know i am not alone in my situation. honestly im feeling cold towards my bf everyday. last night when we chatted, i dont feel the same anymore. i feel i was a stranger to him now & i have in my mind that whatever he says, it seems i dont believe it anymore. im tired of waitying & hoping now. you’re right 3 yrs. is enough. telling me that we need to be financially stable & will get married after 2 more years, i dont know if i can still wait for it. im not getting any younger. i was dreaming to get married, settled down when i turned 30 but i got frustrated w/that. i once got engaged when i was 24 w/my ex fiance but aborted our wedding on the day of it. it gave me a very traumatic experience that i once told myself that when i find the right guy, i will marry then & wont find another guy anymore. but things didn’t happen. im tired of his sweet nothing’s… calling me childish to always remind him of what he’s doing to me, i dont think so he has that plans to marry me after all. i tried to give all my efforts, my time to him but i even tried to ask him if he did ask himself why i am like this to him now? but he always give me unclear answers. now maybe it’s time for me to do my thing. im just thankful i will have a new job soon so my focus will not be on him anymore. i want to be happy again, to feel as if being treated w/love & respect but it’s not what is happening. i tried to love him, w/all my heart & soul but how about me? i think he’s not yet ready for a commitment & his kids & work are his priority. i cant push myself much on him… im already tired….

  29. 119
    Magdalena

    Evan, you get an A+!!   Who would have thought that I wouldn’t argue?  Not me!

  30. 120
    Johanny

    I love it Evan I just copy, paste and saved your response just in case, is perfet!

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