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. 121
    Amy Rickers

    All of your articles hit home for me, but this one in particular has made things as CLEAR as ever! I am 3 months into a very healthy relationship with a very nice guy. I broke up with my EX not too long before that.  After reading the “truth” about men/relationships I feel not only at peace but ECSTATIC about my decision to break up with the EX and date the awesome, safe, kind guy.
    The story behind my ex: We dated for 2 years, 1 which was long-distance while I was in school. The last two months of our relationship (I hadn’t realized that at the time) I moved to be closer to him. I was going through a very tough time, I was depressed and having financial struggles. And he left me. After going back-and-forth with him for ONE LAST year, I finally decided enough was enough and ended it for good.
    He is the type of guy who is a little hard to just forget. He is an Alpha Male who makes you weak at the knees and is fun as all Hell… but the short-term burst of endorphins is only that- “short-term”. I am very lucky to have seen the writing on the wall before I wasted more time on him. And like I said, after reading your articles it helps me to realize that I might the right decision.
    I am still getting used to being with a guy who isn’t a 10, doesn’t give me severe butterflies, make me angry, sad, CRAZY… It sounds sad, but I’m having to get used to being in a normal, mature relationship.  I guess people (ME) don’t change overnight, but I am proud to be making an effort to change me for the better.  
    My Ex texted me two nights ago to “catch up”, he likes to remind me he is still very much alive- and I turned him down. The old me might have wanted my EX back- to follow my heart and go with the one who gives me “that feeling”.  The next day, my new boyfriend asked me to be official. THANK GOODNESS I STARTED READING YOUR WEBSITE. You equipped me well Evan, and I thank you for that. I thank you for the free Blogs for those of us who are just starting our careers J  

  2. 122
    Nesrin

    I am not sure if checking to see if someone is actively on a dating site is the right way to go about it. I am dating someone and I still have a match.com subscription and i go in about once a week, to delete some emails as once..i was inactive for 7 months and it took me ages and ages to go through accumulated mails. So i am not actively searching for someone but i still have a subscription and am keeping my inbox tidy. Also the guy i am dating has not said they want to be exclusive with me, so if i want to I can go on there….
    Which leads me to another question, when i first met him i really liked him and after 3 dates decided that i did not want to date anyone else just to see how it went, but I dont know what he is doing….

  3. 123
    susan

    From my personal experience, I feel I need to add an addendum to Evan’s original advice ” . . .And then WALK. If he follows, he’s your boyfriend.”
    Not necessarily. I just now am dating again after a six-year hiatus. My last “boyfriend” (I actually called him the guy that i was dating as I knew he wasn’t really even a “boyfriend”) was doing what your guy is doing. I gave him a similar talk to what Evan suggests, and then walked. BUT, he followed and said he really did care about me and blah, blah, blah but then kept doing the same B.S. as he had been doing: not calling during the week and staying on the dating sites. Finally on Valentine’s Day when I did not hear from him, I left him for good. So just because your guy follows you, doesn’t mean he has changed unless his actions do too (meaning, he gets off the site, starts calling you during the week and starts treating you like a treasure.)

  4. 124
    WhatsGoingOn

    Good point Susan. I just assumed that’s what Evan meant: if he follows and starts acting like a bf vs if he lets you go.

  5. 125
    Peter 61

    Men’s interest level starts high and if requited, fades.  If you don’t have a path to the future that you can discuss without tension after 3 to 6 months, walk.  If you are a man, hooking the fish can take a lot longer.

  6. 126
    Henriette

    Really Peter? Within as soon as 3 months, a couple should have a “path to the future???”  I can tell you that if I guy started talking marriage & babies to me within 3 months, I’d be scared and wonder if he might be a bit desperate.

  7. 127
    WhatsGoingOn

    @Henriette – I don’t think Peter meant marriage and babies by a path to the future, just that by 3-6 months a guy should know by then if he can see you in his life for the long term or if this is just a fling.  Evan says something similar – that by 3 months he should know whether he wants to commit and be your boyfriend.  If at 3 months you are still doing the once a week thing, he’s not calling you, and you have no idea when you’ll see him next, he is not acting like a bf and seeing you in his future!
     
    Also even if he talks about marriage at 6 months, depending on your age and depth of the relationship it can be perfectly normal.  People in their mid thirties who have a lot of experience in the dating world and know the kind of partner they want and can stthin discussing marriage at 6-7 months and likely get engaged at 1-1.5 years.

  8. 128
    Irina

    I had a very similar situation as in Jennifer’s letter and those though in my mind were similar, but at the end I just couldn’t stand that he was seeing me less and less and his excuse I even don’t really understand. He said he feels miserable. I was patiently waiting but then fed up. Probably I was scared to loose him. He didn’t follow, it still hurts because he refused to talk about ‘us’. 

  9. 129
    AllenB

    @Irina  “… it’s clear to me that you are not going to be my boyfriend. Good luck in your search…” That is not an ultimatum. That is a farewell speech!
    No matter how I felt about I would think “..she has made up her mind. I guess I blew it. I am devastated, but it is too late now. She has already moved on,” nurse my wounds and try to forget her. Men are straightforward and take what you say very literally. If you say “… you are not going to be my boyfriend..” they will hear that as your decision, end of discussion, no debate.

  10. 130
    Shiwanna

    Wow i really enjoyed this article. Very insightful. Thanks to both parties involved

  11. 131
    judy

    Yes, Evan is right. 
    I waited too long for a man to commit, and have to say, I should have been smarter at the beginning.
    If a man just uses you for sex, why SHOULD he commit? No seriously!!!
     

  12. 132
    SofiaGarcia

    Evan was right.  I took his advice this morning and it worked.  I was so glad to have found this blog post yesterday when I was conflicted with what to do.  
    I’ve been dating a man who I found wonderful for two months.  We met on an online dating site, where he contacted me.  Even though we lived two hours apart, I said yes because he seemed like a nice guy.  We hit it off, and after our first date, we made the time and effort to see each other every week since that first date.  He would come to me.  I would go to him.  We would meet in the middle.  Things were great.  We really got each other.  We had tons of fun together, and had lots of things in common.  He was affectionate, available, kind, and loving.  He was consistent and gained my trust.  Things felt effortless and seemed to be progressing naturally.  
    Eventually, he started introducing me to his friends, and even his best friend that he’s know since 3rd grade.  We were now also spending two nights in a row together some weeks, and things were getting deeper.  We were getting through conflicts together.  He even told me that he had decided to eventually make the move to my city.  All these things felt like positive signs and it gave me a lot of reassurance.  But, we still had our dating profiles up.  It seemed like the only thing left to do was take them down, right?  They were still up, and we hadn’t addressed them.  Honestly, it didn’t even seem like a big deal to talk about because it seemed obvious that we getting serious.  I was just waiting for him to make the first move.  He didn’t, so I decided to bring it up, and with a lightness, I made a little joke that let him know that men still contacted me on the site, but that I had not gone out with any of them, because of him.  He made no comment.  Just sorta skipped over it.  This was the first waving red flag.  
    Of course, this left me kind of stunned.  He said nothing about it.  I knew he read it, and the no comment felt fishy.  Was he dating other people?  I decided that I would bring it up in person.  When he came to town a two days later, I decided to ask him while we were cuddling in bed.  Turns out he had gone on some dates.  I was surprised, but what surprised me more was what followed.  I asked him if he still intended on going on dates, and his response was that he liked using that site for meeting friends.  He said he had no intention of meeting anyone romantically, but was open to making friends there.  That did not sit well with me at all.  Then the conversation lead into the topic of exclusivity, where he began to get quiet.  His response was, “I don’t need to not be exclusive”.  Wait, what?  There was a lot of hesitance there.  Suddenly, I felt like I didn’t know who I was really dating.
    He ended up admitting to me that he had commitment issues.  All the confidence I felt previously was lost.  The thought of continuing to invest in this relationship felt terrifying.  I really really liked him, cared for him, but felt so confused.  I was torn between my heart and my head.  
    I needed help, so I decided I would check Evan’s blog for advice.  I read the post “How Long Should I Wait for Him to Commit to Me” and followed his advice.  At the end, Evan says to take action, and walk away.  If he follows, he’s your boyfriend.  If he doesn’t, he’s what you thought he was – a commitment phobe.  And that’s what he ended up being.  When I walked away, he didn’t argue.  He agreed with everything I said, and confessed that he was interested in the idea of love and a serious relationship, but was realizing that he was not committed to making it happen.  He agreed that he was enjoying the benefits of a girlfriend without the commitment.  That he wasn’t ready for the responsibility.  
    Hearing that sucked.  It wasn’t a pleasant moment.  But it was the truth, and I had to accept it.  So I did, and we broke up this morning.  I’m sad about it, and I will miss his companionship, but I’ll move on.  It’s better that it happened now, than later.  The less time and pain, the better.  
    So, thank you, Evan.  For the good advice.
    Much love,
    S

    1. 132.1
      Henriette

      Congratulations!  I’m sure it was painful to “pull off the bandaid” but you did yourself a big favour.  Now you’re free to go out and find a good man who wants to commit to you.

    2. 132.2
      SofiaGarcia

      Update!

      I wrote the first post in March, when we had just broken up, and to my surprise there is an update!  

      Unexpectedly, after completely moving on from this relationship, we have ended up back together, and in a relationship!  We ended up rekindling our friendship, and 4 months after we broke up, he revealed that he still had feelings for me all this time.  His feelings never died.  He ended up getting a job in LA and moved here three weeks ago.  And on top of this, we are in love!

      I did not expect this outcome at all.  When I broke up with him, I meant it.  It wasn’t a game, or a way to get what I wanted.  It was genuine.  I knew what I wanted, and he didn’t seem to want the same, so I moved on.  And, I really moved on!  I remembered him fondly, and trust me I mourned the relationship, but I let it go completely.  I was dating again and feeling great about myself.  So, for this to happen, for us to end up together and in love, is so surprisingly awesome.  

      Ladies — be loving.  Listen to your needs, and honor them.  Love others too, and respect where they are in their journey.  Maybe they’ll meet your needs, maybe they can’t, maybe they won’t want to.   In the end, love yourself enough to give yourself what you need, and trust that you will find just that.

      Much love, S. 

  13. 133
    SparklingEmerald

    SofiaGarcia@132-I am glad you found this blog, and were able to walk away sooner rather than later and save yourself some heart aches.  Good for you, for having the courage to do that.  I am VERY suspicious of guys who live far away who contacted me.  For one thing, my profile specifically says my mileage range.  But I suspect that men from far away, who often “visit” my part of town, or are “thinking about moving here eventually” or just flat out live 2 hours away but think that the distance doesn’t matter, are just players, commitment phobes, or married men up to no good.  If they are online, they could narrow their search to women in their locale, so why on earth would they reach out to someone 2 or more hours away, if they really wanted a committed LTR ?     I won’t date anyone who lives more than an hour away.

    1. 133.1
      SofiaGarcia

      I thought it was strange at first too, but then I thought I’d be “open” and give it a shot. In retrospect, I could find more red flags now, but they were difficult to detect. 

  14. 134
    GL

    I have a similar situation. My guy got out of a 5 year relationship and wants to not be ‘labeled,’ but he acts like my boyfriend. He has a small child who he has to devote a lot of time to. He has also told me how much he likes me but wants to work on himself. I have tried to walk on more than one occasion and he has followed me. Basically right now I’m trying to give him space. We are exclusive and I told him if he gets on a dating site I’m not sticking around. I also told him I’m not wasting my time. We’ll tonight he found out his mom may have breast cancer. So I’m trying to give him his space and not make demands. I’d love to be with him all the time but he has to be with his 3 year old.  This whole non label thing really upset me, but he said he considers us together. He doesn’t want to see me with anyone else.  We are in contact every day. What he really means is space. So we’ll see, I’m giving it a couple months or until things change for the better or worse. I also told him I’m do not want to waste my time….but I feel the separation. I don’t know. I look at other guys and wonder if someone else will come along. 

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