This Guy Loves Talking to Me, But Does Not Want to Be My Boyfriend

a woman having a conversation with a man in the bar

Hi Evan,

I met a guy I really liked, whom I was physically attracted to, whom I had a lot in common with intellectually and creatively (we both write). We almost slept together. And then he stopped being flirtatious, but continued to contact me via email and text regularly, talking about film and writing.

I had a feeling he wasn’t interested in me other than as a friend, and gave him many openings for him to tell me so, but he never did. When I confronted him on the phone, he said he’d need a few days before he could tell me what was going on. This sounded so obtuse that I figured it had to be something more complicated than that he was seeing someone else. Two weeks passed, and he finally told me that that was the case – he’d been seeing someone.

Here’s the thing. He tells me he loves talking to me. He’s physically attracted to me and even desires me sexually. He remembers what I say and asks me about my life. He tells me his ideas and asks me about mine. But he does not want me as his girlfriend.

As I mentioned at the beginning, this is not the first time this has happened to me. So, what gives?

I had always thought that the ideal girlfriend/boyfriend is someone whom you consider a best friend whom you also want to sleep with. Am I wrong? If he treats me like a best friend, and also desires me, what’s missing?


Dear Robyn,

Are you familiar with Occam’s Razor? It’s the principle that “All other things being equal, the simplest solution is the best.” I think you’re ignoring the simplest solution to what’s missing in your relationship.


Now I say this without knowing his side of the story. I say this despite your claims that he’s attracted to you. I say this because when you’re grasping for answers as to what went wrong, you deserve a logical answer.

So here’s my logic:

Most men just need to know that you have a pulse.

It’s easy for most men to find a woman that they’re attracted to.

It’s much harder to find a woman who we enjoy talking to, who we pay attention to, who we want to share our ideas with. In fact, most single men who value those traits complain that it’s the main reason they’re still single. Lots of women are hot. Few are hot and interesting.

Thus, if you’re meeting all of his deeper desires and he STILL chooses not to lock you up as his girlfriend, it stands to reason that there’s something fundamentally missing. My guess is attraction.

This may fly in the face of what you’ve experienced with him, so let me explain further.

Most women need to be attracted to a guy AND have feelings for him to take him home. Most men just need to know that you have a pulse. …

In other words, we don’t need attractive or interesting. We need “available”. Attractive is a bonus. Interesting is a fantasy. And that’s where you threw this guy off his game, Robyn. Because you ARE interesting. Because he really DOES like you. Which explains why he wants to get the benefits of your friendship, without any of the obligations of committing to you sexually.

This is confusing to many women because you wouldn’t act the same way. As Alison Armstrong points out, “Men are not merely hairy women”. Stop expecting them to act as you would.

When I was dating prolifically, I hooked up with lots of strangers who I may or may not have been attracted to. Why? Because they were there. The few women I actually LIKED, I treated with more respect. If I got together with them, I didn’t go as far, and quickly downshifted into friendship when I didn’t feel the attraction.

Just like this guy appears to be doing.

I knew from my own experience that I couldn’t legislate attraction.

If what I’m saying is true (and I don’t know it is), I acknowledge it’s a bitter pill to swallow. Attraction’s a funny thing. It’s not always correlated to looks or body type or symmetry. While many people are swayed by the Maxim aesthetic, if you look around at the world, most of us fall below that bar. Thus getting upset that some guy isn’t attracted to you is a futile exercise. Same as some guy getting upset that he’s not your cup of tea. Believe me, it happens to all of us.

Years ago, I remember being told by a highly anticipated JDate (PhD student, thin, big boobs) that she loved talking to me but didn’t feel any attraction. I was devastated — for a day — until I realized that there was nothing I could do about it. I knew from my own experience that I couldn’t legislate attraction.

I’m sharing my personal experience with you, Robyn, just to let you know that being “rejected” because of chemistry is no crime. It’s a universal — and universally painful — experience. But I think it’s better to contend with the facts than to search for some hidden meaning as to why this guy with whom you share a deep connection isn’t reciprocating.

My theory is that it’s not that deep at all — in fact, it’s probably skin-deep, at best.

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  1. 1

    Whoa, Evan, that was so deep…Sorry, had to be said =p.
    But I really do think you are right, If he is not starting a relationship with you and is dating someone else, that is a pretty clear signal. I would suggest be happy that you have such a great friend to talk to and get “guy advice” from and find someone who wants you just as much as you want them. It is what you want, and more so, deserve

    1. 1.1

      Where does this ‘deserve’ drivel come from? Only what is earned is ‘deserved’.

      We as a society need to stop telling each other that we ‘deserve’ this and that, as it only serves to exacerbate a prevailing sense of F.E.M.

  2. 2

    I don’t know about this one, there seems to be some mysterious X-factor in play when it comes to whether or not men will want to be your boyfriend. I’ve been in situations in the past where a guy will want me so bad he can’t stay away from me, we get along great as friends, but still not want to be in an actual relationship with me. It was really really frustrating. I guess the only thing to do is realize that if a guy wants to date you, he will be dating you, and if he’s not jumping to date you, forget him.

    1. 2.1

      I agree, I’ve spent the last 8 years after my divorce studying all kinds of dating advice programs, which cost me tons of time and money!!   very informative, but nothing changed, really… There is a bottom line or two, love and respect yourself…   And while dating men, keep in mind that no mater how good his hands feel around your waist, or how sweet his words/kisses are… If he’s not making efforts to date you, forget him… And I will add if you are seeing a man who says he does not know if he’s ready for a relationship but still wants to see you a few times a week with benefits, it is still NOT a relationship, and not a commitment that most women would be happy with…
      there are plenty of fish… toss back the by catch…


      1. 2.1.1

        Amen! I have to agree with you on that. If the guy just wants friendship with benefits forget him. He’s not worth you losing your self worth.

  3. 3
    Loving Annie

    Basically, this man is a liar if he is saying he is attracted to you and desires you – and then just backs out and wants you as a friend.

    That is cruel and selfish, and makes him untrustworthy.

    It’s got to hurt to have confusing double messages like that, but I think you deserve better than to be used – and that’s what he’s doing now. Let him go be friends with someone else, and you go date someone who wants to make you number one in his life, and who makes love to you – and doesn’t just talk about it.

    Evan may well be right that the man isn’t attracted to you – but then he should have had the decency to not ever say he did. You don’t change your minbd about having chemistry with someone – you either do or you don’t, and this guy misled you when he thought maybe he might want to get you into the sack.

    When he decided against it, now he wants to be friends.
    If you can’t trust him to be genuine about one thing, how can you ever trust him to be genuine about being friends either and not change his mind ? Get rid of him. Friends isn’t all you want, so don’t settle for crumbs/being/ second-best and have the humiliation of hearing him talk about other women when he meets someone else.

    1. 3.1

      Loving Annie,

      Wow you are spot on. That is exactly what happened to me. More than that, this man wanted to have a causal sexual relationship with me and once I declined he told me that he didn’t even think that I was pretty. We had already been on multiple dates. I didn’t care so much about the fact that he wasn’t attracted to me. That happens, it is just a fact of life. However, he lead me on, lied to me and then tried to justify it. It is so cruel and hurtful and made me feel like a fool.  

    2. 3.2

      Hi  Loving Annie  im in a very  similar situation and ive your reply over and over and it has really helped me so thank you! i love when you said get rid of him and don’t settle for crumbs. Narcissists will give you crumbs and keep you on a string because you are a source of  narcissistic supply to them. They like to feel that a woman is falling for them and is into them and wants to be with them because they like the attention and  it boosts their egos.    I wont allow that to be anymore. And he tells me about the women he sleeps with -well if its not me that he wants to be with emotionally and physically he doesn’t deserve to even have the privilege of speaking to me. I told him I wanted a relationship so he didn’t need to bother calling me anymore unless it was something really important.


    3. 3.3
      Fed Up

      Yeah, he should just dump another chick and hurt her for This Woman’s benefit. Cuz it’s all about her and nobody else right? Again, F.E.M.

  4. 4

    What Evan says may be true, I don’t know (and, as he admits, neither does he). But he SAID he doesn’t want you to be his girlfriend, so does it really matter why? As long as he’s treating you like a friend, treat him like one.

  5. 5
    Cathouse Teri

    Even is right. There is no way to anticipate or manipulate attraction. And there is also no reason to take it personally when someone is not attracted to you “in that way.” (He’s obviously attracted to you intellectually, etc.) For whatever reason, he has chosen to become involved with the other person he has been seeing. And yes, it could be that it is just the path of least resistance. Who knows?

    If this keeps happening to you, it’s only because everyone struggles with finding someone they connect with on a number of levels. And then hoping that this same someone is willing to do what is required to develop a relationship. A lot of hope involved, and a lot of failure. But again, take none of this personally.

    Move on. TONS of great guys out there to share the pleasure of your company with.

  6. 6

    If these assertions have actually been made by the man, “He’s physically attracted to me and even desires me sexually.” then he just doesn’t want to risk changing horses in mid-stream. Many men, and women, will play it safe with what they’ve got. Some, also, are attracted to relationships where they are manipulated to hang in there. If all you want is a friendship with this man, great! You’ve found a great friend. If you want more, end it. Maybe that sounds severe, but you will get what you settle for. When I was a more “prolific” dater I found men were more interested in a woman who had the courage of her convictions. Think about what your own relationship goals are and how you can care for yourself best. Moving toward those goals will either cause this man to make a choice in your favor, or he will drift out of your life, which is as it should be with someone not willing to commit to you, but who keeps jerking your chain making statements like the above and paying a lot of attention to you. Sounds torturous.

    Good luck!


    1. 6.1


  7. 7

    Then what exactly is pushing him to say that he “sexually desires” her? It’s not the kind of thing you just say when prompted.

    I am not claiming that this must mean necessarily that he IS attracted, but there might be a possibility that he really isn’t the wonderful person she thinks he is.

  8. 8

    Robyn — Wow. This letter could have been from me. Thanks for putting it out there. And Evan: thanks for your answer, but I’m still baffled. I would love nothing more than to figure out why so many guys seem to enjoy writing to me, reading my writing, talking to me, meeting up with me, going out with me to a wide variety of cultural events, complimenting me, flirting with me, and seem to enjoy being seen with me, and yet. . . . when it comes to choosing me as an intimate other, a girlfriend, a partner, it’s “gee, I just don’t think so.” BUT they are quick to tell me how much they value our friendship and want to continue it because I’m so fun, interesting, cool, smart, creative, yada yada yada. I’m to the point where I feel like my fate is to have lots of interesting guy friends but no boyfriend, lifemate, significant other or whatever you want to call it. So, Evan, are you saying a guy can find a woman to have depth, personality, intelligence, warmth, and generousity, and even also find her physically desirable, but still not be “attracted” to her as a partner? Is this mysterious “attraction” you speak of really that elusive & impossible to define? Or could it be that men fear having the whole package — you know, the woman who’s got her shit together and is secure about it, who also is warm, funny, optomistic, interesting AND whom he also finds physically desirable?? If so, would a man ever admit to that fear? Even to himself?

    1. 8.1

      Wow! You hit the nail right on the head!!!
      He is full of fear and I have went through all of the same things you have gone through and Robyn!!! I’m glad you both put your situations out there…..
      For a guy who doesnt know what he wants and thinks he does, yes it is that elusive and impossible to define because he can’t even define it himself, lol…..

      Men do fear the whole package, but a Man who can value what is in front of him, is a real man and man enough to be good enough to be your boyfriend…..dump his ass, do not give him the time he gets from you currently because he obviously hasn’t grown up enough yet to actually realize that he is playing the both of you or to actually see how lucky he is….down the road, Im sure your relationship would end up one sided, due to his inability to recognize and handle his own insecurities and fears/feel lucky for the time he gets to spend with you.

      He gets all his needs met by you except the sex and he gets the sex he needs from the girl he is seeing and most likely free of charge, without an effort, while he shares all his thoughts with you…… for a guy that is the perfect relationship….no commitment to either one of you, but his needs are being met so easily…..
      what kind of guy would give this up? So you need to!!!

      “You are the best, so don’t settle for less than YOU desire”
      This kind of bullshit happens everyday and women put up with way too much of this childish garbage from guys who call themselves men! I am hoping and praying that you can find someone who wants to rock your world and who can appreciate the fine woman who has chosen to rock his!!!!!!

      1. 8.1.1

        Sadly, I don’t believe that men “fear the whole package.”   It’s just that they can see that a woman is kind and pretty and smart and fun but just not “feel it” for her just as we’ve all known good, smart, friendly guys we simply aren’t hot for, even though sometimes we wish we were!

        1. starthrower68

          It seems reasonable to me that if a guy only likes me for a friend I will treat him as such. If he wants to talk politics, current events, etc, that’s fine I can do that.   But then I leave the flirty and pseudo-romantic stuff alone.   There are plenty of women from whom a guy can get that fix.

        2. Karmic Equation

          I agree with you, Henriette. Not every guy we’re into are going to be into us. Just like we’re not into all the guys that are into us. Does it mean we’re afraid of “commitment” or “the whole package”? No, it just means they didn’t do it for us.
          @Zann, I usually agree with your perspective on things. But this one, I think you need to change.

          Don’t take it personally if men don’t see you as their girl friend. It just means that you’re not what those men are looking for in a girl friend.

          I really think if women made a list, on one side of all the men that they were interested in but who weren’t into her; and a list of all the men who were into her, but she wasn’t into them, the lists would come out pretty even (or maybe the she’s not into them list would be him!). And if she goes further and categorizes why she weren’t into those men, she’ll come up with the list of why the other men weren’t into her.

          Attraction works both ways. Just because one side feels it, doesn’t mean the other side will also.

          Flirting is a skill like that one gets better at the more one does it. Flirting just to flirt and to exercise one’s girl power is a good thing. Because when you do find someone you like, it will come naturally. The problem is that most women only flirt with men they’re interested in. If she flirted with all men, flirtation would not only become second nature, but also she’ll stop attaching outcomes to it. A woman should be able to flirt as effortlessly as she can smile and laugh, and, similarly, dole out flirtation in the same way as she smiles and laughs…generously. We don’t smile and laugh only at guys that interest us.

      2. 8.1.2
        Karmic Equation

        Oops, typo…”the she’s not into him list would be LONGER!” is what I meant!

        1. starthrower68

          Karmic, God bless all you gals who can flirt, have NSA sex , etc. I fall short, I know. But there are plenty of gals out there who can do all those things a woman should. That I don’t isn’t bothering anyone. 😉

      3. 8.1.3


      4. 8.1.4

        I agree im dealing with the same thing with  my neighbor finally I cut him off and told him to not contact me anymore or come by as I wasn’t interested in friendship -I felt like telling him to go talk to the girls he was fucking. He made me feel like I wasn’t good enough to want to be in a relationship with me even though I showed him my best self and what I had to offer.

        I wasn’t going to continue to allow him to give me crumbs and take me for granted and think that was ok with me and though I miss talking to him at times I don’t miss the way he left me feeling snubbed as he stopped hanging out with me after  things almost got intimate between us  one   night but he wasn’t fully functioning if you know what I mean so I think he got embarrassed and pulled away after that and decided we should just  remain friends but I decided friendship wasn’t good enough for me.

        That is where we have all the power as women we decide the conditions and terms of our relationships and what we will and wont settle for.

        Its been a couple weeks now and im proud of myself ive been tempted to message him and knock on his door a couple times but my pride wont allow me to do that. I want to show him that I stand firm in  what I say    and that I don’t need him in my life.He pulled away and distanced himself so now he has to deal with the consequences of his own actions which is no contact/access to me even though we live in the same building and on the same floor. I felt like he completely took me for granted. I swear men cant fully appreciate what they have till its gone. I think he is also a narcissist who only liked talking to me because im a good listener and asked questions and he loved hearing his own voice. Narcissists need narcissistic supply and its not always  just in the form of sex but like loving Annie says you gotta get rid of these types of guys  because you end up investing so much of yourself and the return on your investment is slim to none. Wasted time that you will never get back when you could of been focusing on yourself and men who want all of you not just use you to have their own selfish needs met

    2. 8.2

      Why in the world would a man FEAR having a women with everything they want? I REALLY wish some of us women would stop being so damn CLUELESS. It has been spelled out for you. DUDE DON’T WANT YOU!!!

      Stop it with the “He’s just scared”.Men aren’t scared of women who have everything they want. Stop flattering yourself. That’s like a tall, handsome, billionaire asking why women are so AFRAID of everything he has to offer. They’re not. And neither are these men.

      I find most of these letters women write in have the answers right there in black and white. They ACTUALLY write the ANSWERS themselves, he said he didn’t want a relationship (Gee wonder what that means), He said he wasn’t ready to be a step father to my kids (Wow can someone translate for me), He’s pulling away and not calling or coming over and sleeping with all the other women he’s dating (Do you think he is sleeping with these other women out of fear for how wonderful I am?).

      For all the crowing and burning of perfectly good bras feminist did back in the day in the name of women being allowed and able to make decisions for themselves it sure doesn’t seem to have helped the QUALITY of the decisions we seem to be making.

    3. 8.3

      Yes, it seems . . .       years of observation from another chyk here.

  9. 9

    Or it could be that he just can’t “get it up” and he doesn’t want to admit it.

  10. 10

    I have a lot of women I “love talking to” but have absolutely NO desire to kiss them, touch them or see them naked under MOST circumstances …lol They ARE and for the most part ALWAYS will be in the “friend zone”. And it’s the opposite for a few women & me and there’s nothing I can do about it except not give them any of my valuable time etc… I say “hello” then move onto women that DO show interest.

    Believe me if I or any other man has REAL interest in a woman they will KNOW it.

    1. 10.1

      but what is “real interest” what does that mean to you, versus what you are showing as ‘real interest” just curious??

      1. 10.1.1
        Emily, the original


        but what is “real interest” what does that mean to you, versus what you are showing as ‘real interest” just curious??

        He asks you out and tries to make a move. Texting means almost nothing. A phone call means a little more, but if you aren’t seeing him in person and spending time together, it also means nothing. If he’s barely doing anything, he’s that interested.

  11. 11

    I’ve had a similar experience to Robyn’s recently, although we never were close to go to bed together. He would spend most of his time with me, enjoying my company, laughing at my comments, convincing everybody around me he had romantic feelings for me…

    Well, he didn’t and he said it very clearly. He thinks I’m cool, I’m great, he feels very lucky for being my friend but… he doesn’t feel “that way”. I think Evan is right here, and it’s hard to accept. But Robyn: once you understand this is the only way things are you’ll be happy, because you’ll be closer to understand (or accept) that men are just different.

    As for me, I’ve decided to not try to analyze as before. If a guy has feelings for me, according to Evan, he will let me know in time. Oh, and for the record, he is still single, so am I, and he keeps calling me and seeing me as much as before… But I’ve promised myself I won’t let any other guy confuse me!

    1. 11.1

      Confuse you? He flat out tells you he doesn’t feel “that way” and you talk about being confused?

  12. 12

    When a man really likes you, is attracted to you and wants you to be his girlfriend, you don’t have to ask, you will know because he will let you know. Think of how much easier a relationship is when you don’t have to feel insecure, wait for him to figure out his feelings, feel like you are being lied to, etc. It sucks that he doesn’t want you to be his girlfriend, but he doesn’t. And you shouldn’t try to change his mind because even if you succeed (very slim chance) you still won’t have what you really wanted: someone who is into you enough that you don’t have to chase them down and convince them that you are right for them.

    Now, all of the interest that he’s taking in you, talking all the time, asking your opinion etc. i can see how that would be confusing for you. You are probably constantly on the lookout for ‘signs’ that he’s changing his mind, or over analyzing his words and actions. That’s gotta be exhausting and disheartening and if I were you, i’d take a break from him.

    1. 12.1

      what if the man never married and is now 50? I hungout last yr with a guy in my apt he came on strong but never makes a move on me other than a bear hug and kiss, flirted a lot, called me beautiful, then in between I don’t hear from him for 2 wks or more hes busy with golfing events and work. I got mad and then he said I said I was busy, he never did; he then said your a good woman, a friend. So I said oh a friend who flirts, he then stated its ok to flirt…..then after this he stopped flirting- I saw him one more time for 4 hrs at his apt, I made a move on him hugged and kissed his cheek, he promised we would go hiking by Friday its now Monday- I had to initiate texting twice, he responds back but does not make a plan – I was so upset- I broke my arm in feb and im in pain a lot……I really like him and now this…..

    2. 12.2

      I have to agree with Jennifer…when a guy wants you, he wants more. I was in the same situation. My guy was all over the place when it came to dating and he asked me out – three times! We had great conversations, he asked for my opinion, I made him laugh. I said no each time….he hadn’t ended it with his girlfriend and I didn’t want the drama.

      He still keeps in contact and shows me he’s interested (which drives me nuts – I want more!). I’ve continued on my merry way and soon, I’m going to tell him to go away. I need a break.

  13. 13

    I don’t quite agree with Evan’s assessment. Sounds pretty straightforward to me – the guy was already dating someone. He may feel an attraction to you, but I think he’s simply not really available. Keep him as a casual friend if you like, but find someone who is truly unattached. Perhaps he wants to keep you around just in case the other relationship doesn’t work out…I say don’t fall for that. Don”t be so available for this guy to chat with. I’ve been there – trust me, you will be wasting your time.

    1. 13.1

      Great point.

  14. 14

    I have found that if you really want to meet someone, it is best not to pursue a friendship with these types of guys, as nice as it migh be to be “friends” with them. You waste too much time trying to figure out why this guy who you get along with so great doesn’t “like” you, AND it takes an unneccessary toll on your self esteem. It’s better to focus your “friendship” energy on your girlfriends and your guy friends who you are not attracted to, and also spend your time putting yourself out there to meet someone available who is attracted to you.

    1. 14.1

      I think this is the advice I need to hear… Well said… And

  15. 15

    Sounds like a sensitive man to me, and he was turned “off” by something she said.

  16. 16

    Evan you’re making this sound waaay more complicated than it actually is.

    Remember that letter you posted recently about the woman who was dating this incredible guy but he wasn’t fully committing to her, only calling sporatically, seeing her once a week and sending mixed signals? You said he was using her.

    Robyn’s guy’s doing the same thing to her. It doesn’t sound as if she’s fallen into the ‘friend zone’, because he said he ‘desires her sexually’. It sounds as if he wants to have his cake and eat it, too. Perhaps there’s somethig missing from his relationship that’s causing him to seek friendship from Robyn. Or he has intimacy issues and for some reason doesn’t want to have a relationship with a woman who is his intellectual equal.

    If a guy is happy in a relationship he’s not going to want to spend so much time with another woman.

    Bottom line is that this guy’s being a selfish asshole. Robyn, if you’re not getting what you want from this guy then move on, there’s nothing you can do to change him.

  17. 17

    I’m wondering, did the guy tell her he found her sexually attractive, or is this the OP’s opinion? Let’s read what she says:

    Here’s the thing. He tells me he loves talking to me. He’s physically attracted to me and even desires me sexually. He remembers what I say and asks me about my life. He tells me his ideas and asks me about mine. But he does not want me as his girlfriend.

    The only thing it’s clear that he’s said is that he loves talking to her. It appears that everything after that statement is the OP’s opinion. That first statement does not make him some sleazy, using guy. It makes it seem as though Evan’s point is that much more likely. He enjoys talking to her and enjoyed the time that she was “available” but is not attracted to her. And he now likes her well enough that he doesn’t want to use her in a friends with benefits way, as he doesn’t see it ever becoming more than that.

    What does cause a question mark on this guy is his behavior while he was still seeing someone. He’s texting, e-mailing, flirting, and almost sleeping with another girl. Granted, it sounds like his relationship may have been on the rocks, but at least end it before you move on to someone else.

    My $0.02.

  18. 18

    One thing in the letter to me that stood out to me, ‘he desires her sexually’ yet they stopped short of sleeping with each other. And haven’t found themselves in that position again. Either he doesnt’ want to cheat on his real girlfriend (possible, but i don’t think it’s the true reason with this guy) or he doesn’t ‘desire’ her all that much. Guys who ‘desire’ women don’t spend all of their time talking to them and no time trying to see them. Not a lot of romantic stuff for Robyn to hang her hat on here.

  19. 19

    I’m with downtowngal. Sounds like he’s using you to so he can feel like he has options. Even if he has no intention, or even desire to cheat on his girlfriend, he wants to know that he can….Yeah, guys do shit like that.

  20. 20
    Loving Annie

    LJ and downtowngal – thank you !!!!! Robyn, they are probably BOTH right !

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