When Is it A Fair Amount of Time for a Guy to “Know” That He Wants You?

Hi Evan,
I just found your website and wish I’d read it YEARS ago… Really appreciate your insight and honesty. And everything you say makes sense! My question is this: I take on board all of your “he’s just not that into you”reasoning, and also your comments on how to tell if a man is truly interested (calling, making plans, etc.) My problem, historically, is that if I really genuinely like a guy (which sadly does not happen that often,) I expect these things to happen right away. I get frustrated if I feel he’s not doing those things, and rather than make what is usually the classic girl mistake of calling/texting him all the time, I decide I’m about to get hurt and “freeze” him out.

I did this recently with a guy I was really smitten with. We’d only known each other 3 weeks, kissed once, had 2 “dates” alone… But, because I didn’t hear from him for 5 days, I went super cool on him, defriended him from Facebook, etc…

A few weeks on now, the red mist has cleared. I think I wanted too much too soon and just wish I’d sat back, played it cool, and followed your advice on mirroring! He still sends me occasional friendly texts – which so far I answered but then cut short before they get into “conversation.” Can I turn this around and “start again” if the opportunity (or another text) materializes? At what point do the rules of “He’s Just Not That Into You” kick in?

With thanks, from girl with a bruised heart,

Terri

Thanks for the kind words, Terri. Sorry to see you have regrets, but, as I just read on a friend’s Facebook page the other day, “If you don’t have regrets, you haven’t lived your life to the fullest.” I’m not sure I agree (frankly, I think if you HAVE regrets, you haven’t lived life to the fullest,) but that’s not really the point.

What did you actually GAIN by cutting him off entirely?

The point is that making mistakes is part of living and no one lives an error-free existence.

And, make no mistake about it: you botched this one by pulling the overly emotional girl act.

What for? Think about it for a second: what did you actually GAIN by cutting him off entirely?

That’s right. Nothing. Your “defriending” was pure ego.

I get it; I just “defriended” someone who was rude to me at my high school reunion last month. It was my way of saying, “fuck you” to her. The difference is that she’ll never notice, whereas the man you were seeing will definitely pay attention.

Yet somehow, Terri, your undaunted guy continues to send you friendly texts. And somehow, despite your previous experience of being cold to an interested guy, you continue to be cold to him – cutting short the texts before they turn into conversation.

WHY?

This guy likes you and you’re doing everything in your power to stop him. I suppose you can mount an argument that playing aloof is keeping him interested, but you’re missing the most important part of mirroring, as outlined in Why He Disappeared.

You’re supposed to do what he does!

So if he takes 5 days to call you back, you can get back to him in 5 days.

And if he says I love you first, you say I love you back.

And if he writes you a long, warm text message, you respond to him in kind.

That way, you’re never pushing him away with neediness, and always keeping the door open for possibility.

(My original piece on mirroring is here – and links to a half dozen blog posts about non-committal guys, so have yourself a field day.)

Have the confidence and patience to let things evolve at an organic pace.

Really, Terri, this drama is entirely of your own making. Because if you simply sat back and waited for him to reveal himself in his actions, guess what? He would have called you after 5 days, you would have had an amazing 3rd date, and, chances are, at this point, you’d already be boyfriend/girlfriend.

More importantly, if he did NOT step up to the plate to make the effort necessary to be your boyfriend – if he did NOT call more than once a week for 2 months – if he did NOT talk about exclusivity or a future – if he did not make you feel that your relationship was escalating, voila, you have your answer. No need to throw a fit, or bitch him out, or “unfriend” him on Facebook.

When a guy isn’t doing what you want after a reasonable amount of time – 2-3 months at the longest – the best thing to do – the ONLY thing to do – is wish him well and find another guy. It’s really quite simple.

Your big takeaway from this post should be to have the confidence and patience to let things evolve at an organic pace. You may be used to diving into relationships and having instant passion, chemistry and commitment. I also can make the safe prediction than none of those relationships have lasted. So please, give a guy a break for not knowing if you’re his girlfriend (much less wife) after a few weeks.

I have one client now who has met a guy twice and she’s very frustrated that he’s not yet her “boyfriend”. I’ve got another who has had 4 dates in 3 weeks and feels the same way. “He should be more excited about me! He should be telling me he loves me!”

No, he shouldn’t. Every time a guy has ever told you he loves you in 3 weeks, the relationship’s burned out. Maybe this time has a better chance of being for real, because you’ve both taken the time to evaluate each other instead of committing first and figuring out your compatibility later.

This is the central message of Why He Disappeared and if this blog post hit home for you, I encourage you to check it out here.

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Comments:

  1. 31
    Selena

    @ HotSauce

    To me, being exclusive simply means you both agree not to date others while dating each other.  And being boyfriend/girlfriend means having become closer than “just dating” – “I love you’s” have been exchanged.

    If you are officially his girlfriend I should think you would feel free to call him anytime you liked.  I should also think you would be close enough to tell him you wanted more contact with him during the week.

    Are you satisfied with seeing him only on weekends?  What would you consider “pursueing you” at this point? 

  2. 32
    sayanta

    KPH-

    That’s a really good post! You’ve done some great research. :-D I’ll have to keep all this in mind when I’m dealing with men (not just romantically…I recognize what you’ve written in male family members as well).

  3. 33
    Katarina Phang

    Thanks, Sayanta.  Since my breakup I have learnt a great deal about basic differences in men vs. women.

  4. 34
    Sayanta

    KP-

    No problem. At the same time…thinking about it a little more, if we go by your theory, doesn’t it mean that men basically have no accountability in their relationships? (ie, they do whatever they want when the mood hits them, but expect women to always be on ‘best’ behavior). Not that all men really do behave that way, just the ones you’re using as examples in your theory,

  5. 35
    Katarina Phang

    Sayanta, if you opt to see it that way, that’s not a very empowering place to be in.  See this as an avenue for self-growth.  It’s all about you -how you are responsible for your own happiness and in charge of your own emotions- NOT them, the men.
     
    Seek first to understand then be understood.  See how magical that will be.

  6. 36
    Sara Malamud

    While, the inner workings of the male psyche may be a mystery to women, situations such as these are often self explanatory. It doesn’t take a guy or even your girlfriends to tell you that he doesn’t like you. The odds are if you have to ask, he probably just isn’t that into you to paraphrase Greg Behrendt.

  7. 37
    Diane

    If there was one piece of advice I would have adopted when I was younger (and immature, so I’ll give myself that!) was to be PATIENT!  Now that I’m older, although it’s no my virtue, I totally get the value of patience. I often have to talk myself into patience, but so be it. 

    I just don’t get the move across country, uproot your life, move in with guy, meet the whole family, etc., etc., after a week, two weeks or even 4-5 months.  What is the hurry?  Especially if the relationship starts long distance…the only way we really get to know each other is by spending time together, in person.  Not on the phone, not on line, not in IM/chat.  So much about learning about people is situational–what does he do in his free time, what kind of phone calls is he making, how much time does he spend on line, how does he handle stressful situations, how does he handle negotiation, what are his habits, etc. etc.

    Just some random thoughts :)

  8. 38
    Diane

    #30

    SO well said and SO true Evan

  9. 39
    Kim

    After reading this, I know when I have seen a man interested (calling 2 days after the date to ask you out, calling you and texting you) and when a man is not that interested (waiting 5 days to call you and not asking you out right away).   I would say, give the benefit of the doubt the first couple of weeks, but after that, if he is not calling you more and asking you out,  then it is time to say goodbye.  Because he is not that into you.

  10. 40
    Kim

    One more thing,  just what I have noticed (not the truth), I see that Evan flips flops sometimes with his view (Pls dont take offense Evan, I totally like your what you are doing here).    You say:  What did you actually GAIN by cutting him off entirely? but in another post You stated why waste one more minute being with the wrong guy.    Also, I have seen this in your Internet dating book also.   Nothing wrong, it just that everyone has their beliefs and it is good to get guidance from other people, but the best advice is from your intuitive self.   

    1. 40.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      Kim, if you can cite exactly where I contradicted myself, I’d be willing to own it. But your claim that sometimes I tell women to stay and sometimes I tell women to go doesn’t make your case. You don’t gain anything by cutting off a man who hasn’t responded to your email on Match.com for 2 days. You don’t lose anything by cutting off the man who’s been sleeping with you for six months without a commitment. These aren’t contradictions. This is common sense.

  11. 41
    Scooter

    Okay, this is probably an old post but I have to make a comment. Good lord ladies, please take a chill pill. Just because a guy doesn’t hound you two or three times a week doesn’t mean he is out for a casual or sex only relationship. It also doesn’t mean he isn’t interested.  It’s more likely he has a life outside dating such as hanging out with friends, family, or work.  No man or woman should be a priority over these other things early on while dating ( 2 -3 months).  If that’s the case, then the guy or girl probably doesn’t have a life.  As sad as that is, i wouldn’t want to date a girl that doesn’t have a life outside of me.  If a girl gets mad or gives me attitude about the time i spend with her and we are not exclusive and it hasn’t been 2 – 3 months, then i know she is not for me.  She is selfish and insecure in my opinion and i will split.  Remember to use your head and stop being so insecure next time you have to wait for a guy to call.  I’d be willing to bet that 90% of the time a guy is not playing games or only looking for sex (make him wait). He probably just has other priorities.  Or maybe he is worried that contacting you too much will scare you off.  Two or three times a week might be good for some of you but other girls may see that as too needy.  Oh, not to knock Evan but ladies you can contact a guy too.  There is nothing more flattering than a girl contacting a guy first every now and then.  Some of my best relationships have come from the girl approaching me first.  That is all.

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