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


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.

Join our conversation (141 Comments).
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  1. 41

    Yeah I’m in the same sitation, except we are in a boyfriend/girlfriend relationship , however I can tell there’s no future for us as getting married one day, having kids etc. He just isn’t attracted to me enough…
    Julia’s comment is plain ridiculous, absurd. Personally I don’t think you attitude is healthy. Everybody wants and needs to be loved back.
    As for my situation, I’m ok now, but once I or my boyfriend meet someone special ( I’d say the One ) our relationship will have to be terminated.
    You can’t make someone to love you.

  2. 42

    After reading more of these comments over the months, I’d like to add another. I don’t think there’s anything ridiculous OR absurd about Julia’s comment (#39). It’s a healthy, mature way to look at all relationships. But it may be a matter of your age, experience and where you are in your life. At my age (50s), I’ve learned I can be friends with a man who, for whatever reason, is not attracted to me — for whatever reason — the same way I am to him. If we click enough to have a respectful, fun friendship, it’s worth it to me to remain friends, because true friendships are hard to come by. In the meantime, though, I don’t stop looking for a man who wants more with me. I don’t see this as making myself too available or disrespecting myself. I benefit from it, and I know that if this particular friendship didn’t evolve into something intimate, then there’s another, or many, out there that will. But I want to point out one added perk I’ve discovered in staying friends with a man I thought I wanted more from, and that is that the more time I spend with him, the more real he becomes — less of a romantic icon or fantasy and more of a human, flaws exposed. And in a couple of cases, it was during that friendship that I realized he was not the romantic match I thought he was, and I can be happy for him if he finds love with someone else. I never thought I’d get to this point in my life, and it probably won’t work for everyone in every situation. But I don’t feel tortured, used, or longing for more in these friendships. I just feel satisfied. Go figure.

  3. 43

    Well, this is a “must reply” for me. I have been in an “experience” with a man …will call him “Joe” to protect the innocent… And I can relate…
    1. after being encouraged to meet & date this man for 3 years by a life long friend, I finally met him 9 mos ago in person and the sparks flew.. and have been flying ever since BUT
    2. As we talked/dated/became best of friends, and even got physical I observed several “red flags” such as a demand for privacy and entitlement issues that would allow him to be “disrespected or misunderstood” on the turn of a dime.. My ititial feeling was that this guy was on an ego driven head trip..and like a broken compass..unsure of who he wants and when..not to mention anyone questioning him about it.
    3. We agreed to back off and “just be friends” and then he got a case of the “I Love Yous'” He wanted to get back together and agreed that we were brought together by divine intervention…So we got back together..then
    4. The physical jestures of admiration and sex stopped out of no where six mos later…”the turn on dime trick again eeeghh??”..yes I see a pattern here…So I said..What’s the deal? and he said…
    5. I Love You & I am sooo physically attracted to you, but I just am most afraid of losing you…We should really work on being the best of friends.. I don’t want to lose that……
    -OK-so I admit I was frustrated, humiliated, and kicking myself for being in love with someone sooo emotionally unavailable….so I decided to be proactive..I said, “Well, ok yes I respect that, however it seems like a contradiction if two people love each other, are physically attracted to each other, have awesome sex,speak everyday, see each other at least 4x a week and then have to restrain and Just be friends…I said, part of just being friends is being ok with each other dating other people, even marrying someone else, and that if I am more than friends with someone that I require a commitment that we are only with each other as a couple…He said, “I think we are on the threshold of something big here”…I said thanks for the friendship and politely hung up…. After a 2 hour sob session, a pack of cigs, and a six pack…I passed out cold…woke up feeling hungover and played like fiddle…I went about my day. I then get a text asking if “i am feeling ok?”…I ignored it..then get a voice mail an hour later with him telling me he Loves me again.. (AAAAAAAAAGGGGHHHHH) Talk about upseting and frustrating…well i ignored that too and have come to the realization that “When Harry Met Sally” is the best cure for this delima, and to quickly flirt and schedule as many dates as possible is absolutely necessary, and then if he asks to get together to politely say..”I have a date scheduled, but maybe in a couple of weeks or so we could get a coffee?” and either he will propose to you or be married already, but either way the rest of your life starts today, and as far as I’m concerned young ladies should move on and not chase anyone but be chased, and if someone wants to join you on your journey, they will stand in front of you and get down on one knee and commit….until then live it up sister!

  4. 44

    If he wasn’t attracted to her, why would he say he desired her sexually? I had a similar situation where the guy wanted to have sex with me, how can it be that he wasn’t attracted to me? Thats messed up crap.

  5. 45

    The guy who wrote the answer to the asker stating how a man can sleep with a woman even if he is not sexually attracted to her does not know what he is talking about.
    There are many different attractions.
    Intellectual attraction = you like talking to the person FOR HOURS, you like how she/he thinks and arrives to a conclusions, you like mental stimulation and all that comes through the MIND.
    Sexual attraction/Physical attraction = your body responds to someone and you like having sex/making love with that person MORE than once. You like having physical sexual CONTACT with this person.
    Emotional Attraction = you like how someone makes you feel, they are kind, and respectful and when you see them you smile, you are excited, happy and you feel warm.
    Soul Attraction = Connection to someone’s soul, in spiritual sense you feel the person, their soul is “old”, wise, etc… you feel like you know this person from somewhere, from the past lives etc…
    Why does he wants friendship and not a realtionship?
    BECAUSE a relationship might be “scary” to him. He was burned and knows your value. He knows you could be The One and if he becomes your boyfriend he will fell in love and want to spend the rest of his life with you.
    To avoid this he made an OBSTACLE ( another woman not on his level ) in which he can not fell in love and such RL is like a wall.
    He is sabotaging it * making you to go away * because your closeness is a THREAT to him. He knows if he would be with you, he would be yours in heart, mind, body and soul.
    He wants to keep you as a friend because truly he might even be in love…. he is trying to AVOID falling harder so friendship seems to be safer … for now.
    Tell him you accept being friends but do not initiate calls, texts etc… let him miss you… and look for you…. make sure you tell him you can not communicate the same way after he stated he has a girlfriend because he is * not available * and this is against your morals.
    He will be faced with his real emotions and if these emotions are really strong he will end that BS he has with a woman he does not really like and is not his equal OR he will sacrifice his own happiness and become a VICTIM of his own past. ( someone hurt him in the past he is not eager to try love again ).
    Good luck and let us know what happened!!!
    ( By the way this is heavy question and most people are not skillful enough to determine the real REASON of his behavior )
    Ref: – my experience – Psychology degree

  6. 46

    XYZ, This is exactly the same situation I find myself in with my very best friend (who for thirteen years who I absolutely adored and who I spoke to many times a week). I was married for all that time and went through a divorce. Once my ex-husband had moved out, my best friend who had begun flirting with me and I began to feel that there was something going on, rang up and asked: what would make you happy? I said for him to come round and have a cup of coffee. Sure enough he came over, we had a cup of coffee, I made dinner and we ended up in bed together. The following weekend he came back and there we went again. But the following weeks he started to make excuses for not coming round and I had a very hard time controlling my emotions – I had fallen in love. This was the man who knew everything about me and for 13 years had been a constant in my life – sleeping with him had been like a dream come true and an experience that we had never considered until I got divorced. Suddenly it became perfect that we felt an attraction that I thought had grown out of years of friendship. Silly me – he has told me he does not want a relationship and wants to be just friends with no sex whatsoever. I’ve told him that is now impossible for me as I have fallen for him. I do not regret my honesty – I could not just hang around on the chance that he may want sex and more commitment. I am WORTH MORE THAN THAT. But my heart has been badly broken and I am still not over him. We have not spoken for two weeks – he has not called and I cannot bear to chase him. I am so disappointed in myself but do not regret the sex – it was MAKING LOVE and although he chooses to walk away from me, he cannot fool himself about that. I think he was falling in love too but was scared. He had been married for many years and is divorced like me. Sadly, I think he will become a victim of his past as you   state above and choose to walk away from the possibility of happiness. Even sadder: one cannot force someone to love them. In time I will get over this but it will always hurt. To get over my heartache I have been throwing myself into more work and seeing friends for dinners and the like. I make sure I am busy and not available. If he calls, I will expect him to say   I miss you and want to be with you as a lover. We can never return to being friends – he should understand that.
    Women have to be strong in these situations or we will forever be undervaluing our selves and denying our chance to be happy. In a relationship both people have to agree to what they want – either we stay friends or we walk away or we have a relationship – one can’t choose and expect the other to follow.

  7. 47

    you need to work on cultivating an air of mystery and playing hard to get. if you act like a lap dog, all happy and eager to take whatever love you can get you will lower your value in his eyes and thus your potential for   companionship  plummets. certain men love the chase. they only like it if it comes at a high price. ALSO,   some things are SO beyond our control and have NOTHING to do with BEING attractive–for ex, i like guys who remind me of my dad. my dad had very little body hair, pale skin  and  light eyes.   so no matter how handsome mediterranean men are and how much i enjoy their company, i always find myself most attracted to what is familiar to me and what i grew up with. do not  underestimate  the electra or the oedipus complex, it is a powerful force.   i know GORGEOUS women who have dated fat overweight men or one who were going bald b/c that us what their fathers looked like. sometimes it isn’t whether or not you are comely    it’ s just that they want a girl just like  the  girl who married dear old dad! or a boy who married dear old dad. so i hope that makes you feel better.

  8. 48

    uh, boy who married dear old mom–if it’s the other you really are in trouble 😉

  9. 49

    I had that experience too; I think there are many possibilioties but the simple ones are that he used u as a option if his current lover fell out or he just was scared of falling too much for you as he may have faced in the past so he does not feel strong enough to go for a full-blown commitment – physcology theories would support that as has been pointed out in this thread.

  10. 50

    Hey Evan, Great article. I’ve been looking for such an article for years and all it took is this article to answer all my questions about relationships. I’ve lost all hope in ever getting a significant other Haha But on the bright side, At least I didn’t waste my time.

  11. 51

    Well??? What happened????

  12. 52

    nah. i don’t buy it evan’s explanation. i am in a very similar situation, with the exception that if i budge even an inch with the physical stuff, this guy who calls me every night (i don’t talk to ANYONE else EVERY night!), txt me every day, and who has told me straight up he’d be ‘bummed’ if i went on a date with someone else, but who won’t commit to dating me seriously (wow, sorry for the run-on sentence!), will jump at the opportunity to make out with me. he’ll want to ‘sext’ me late-night, where he tells me that every time he sees me he has to keep his mind out of the gutter…and i have had to be the one to put the kabosh on all things physical/sextual b/c he just won’t commit.  

    here’s my theory: it could be so many things…you could be great but not ‘fit’ the mold he has in his mind for a future wife, for WHATEVER reason…he could be too in love with his own freedom to put forth the effort to be in a relationship where he’s accountable to you…he could have baggage he’s too afraid to show you…and yes, sometimes he just doesn’t find you ‘attractive’, but not when he’s said he does.

    bottom line is this, if he wants to date you exclusively, any man worth his weight will make that clear. in the meantime, treat him like you’d treat any other friend. don’t make special concessions for him in hopes you’ll win his heart. just go about your daily life. date if you want, and don’t wait around for him. in the end, if he really is a suitable mate for you, he’ll step up and work hard to win YOUR heart…. 🙂 now, if i could only take my own sound advice!!! 🙂

  13. 53
    einzahn post  made it clear about mixed signals I’m getting from a guy friend. It was always on my mind for over 3 years, but tonight, I realized after read all those comments, and yours made me feel I was being so naive. I don’t need to worry and suffer for his unknown intention. I want to be smart in the relationship and I hope things will be different now.

  14. 54

    i am so happy that i came across this blog…i was with a guy who at first i swore i would never fall for, and i did.   he told me from the beginning that he didnt want a gf, but loved talking to me and found me extremely attractive. i let it go on for two years thinking that eventually he would fall in love with me too.   he would never take me out on dates, dinner and/or movies because he said thats what bf and gf’s do and i dont want that.   all of my friends begged me to let him go, but i needed time to see things for what they were.   three weeks ago, we stopped speaking because i felt that his status posts on fb were offensive to me, although he was just putting things up (w/o my name), etc.   it took time, and three weeks later we still haven’t spoken   my heart is broken because i honestly thought he did care about me, but i realize now he never did.   i always made up excuses for him not wanting to be with me except for one thing.   i realize now that i am better than that and there is someone out there who wants to love me as much as i love them, so i let him go. i cant hold onto something that will never go anywhere….

    1. 54.1

      Wow how similar our situation is .just like u i promesed not to fall for him but couldnt .and accepted everything from him .i made excuses for him wen he got upset i was there always for him .and he knew i love him so was making joke that hey we r just friends nothing more .but before 1 month i told him dont tell me about ur feeling for other girl .i accept be fr. But plez dont hurt me. He just stoped talking to me .
      Iam sad i lost him but mostly i thought he cares as fr. We were close i was there 24hr talking to him .now i see i ment nothing for him .1month and he didnt ask once as if he doesnt know me….as if i just was chatting fr. Just spending his time with
      So brokennnnn

    2. 54.2

      hi. We have similar situation he knew how much I loved him and still he made joke about me being just in friend zone.dont know y but I accepted that may be just not to lose him .he kept hurting me I was there 24hrs for him if need anything I was there cause I thought I was his best friend but after all I see I wasn’t even a friend .just was a chatting fr. I month not talked to me as if he doesn’t know me just coz I asked him not to open any subject about girl he might chose to marry .just that .wat makes me upset is I thought he cares and he likes me but he doesn’t loves me I accepted that.but he left as if I did something wrong

  15. 55

    The answer given to this situation is filled with contradictions and quite a load of loaded “guy” bullshit – all they need is for a girl to have a pulse to get an erection but he’s not “really” attracted to her? Com’on there has got to be a more logical conclusion.

    The last time I was in a similar situation I did go home with the guy and there wasn’t a moment of sleep the entire night – we had sex 6 times and you’re telling me he was just into me that night just because I was there? Its a long story but the moment with this charming workaholic passed, perhaps partially timing but then I was involved with someone, then we worked together, then he was involved with someone, then we didn’t work together again so… we shared another “moment” where he said he had always really liked me, had remained attracted to me, that he loves the way my mind works, he reported feelings of a deeper affinity during the time he had gotten to know each other constrained platonically. In his words so there is no mistake “I didn’t know you really were who you are when I met you but I can see in the time I’ve gotten to know you, you’re that & more – and btw I still find your vocabulary sexy as hell. I don’t know what’s going to happen with this (other) relationship but I have always hoped we would have our chance one day”

    Well – we didn’t. Another long story I don’t even know all the details of but he married her, they’re pregnant. I never hear anything about their life news from him though despite our contact, frequency of conversations or how much he professed always to value our friendship and to care for me. What’s more is I broached the subject at least once and he swears he isn’t trying to protect my feelings or anything like that but yet I had to eventually stop having anything to do with him or our mutual friend because I was tired of getting the third hand news flashes – its like he still likes to think of me in a certain way but isn’t even able to be completely honest with himself about that because of guilt or something and yet he still wants the contact high of whatever it is he doesn’t get at home.

    It makes me sick to my stomach to get absolutely stellar reviews both as a person, a best friend, girlfriend, marriage material and LOVER (even more so when I am not available naturally) but somehow they chose someone else and whats even more sickening is to occasionally hear one of these guys still thinks of me as the one that got away (which is as I said a load of bull).   In all these years about the only thing I’ve been able to ascertain is these other women where just less of a challenge in one way or another. As one male friend once told me is he prefers relationships that only require about 50% of his total energy because that’s all he has a threshold for he feels he needs the rest for his day to day life – at first glance this makes a lot of sense but I have also observed this is a guy who I’ve observe is just more comfortable in life period when he just doesn’t allow himself too much awareness of things he can’t control.

    And before anyone tries to think I am just tooting my own horn here with the “challenge” angle – it really is no reward to hear you are too much of anything to be a viable life partner – it actually hurts quite a lot no matter how wonderful or “interesting” or magnetic some of these qualities are supposed to be. My guess is this guy just wasn’t comfortable – for best or worst – with the degree of awareness this woman brought out in him. So enough of this “don’t take it personally because he just wasn’t that attracted to you” non-sense. Maybe he did do her a favor in not entering into a relationship or social contract with her after all but in the end we all have to find our own rewards for just being who and what we are (or aren’t) to others.

  16. 56

    I do not always know which is best…the attraction…the connection…the mind…the physical?
    With every single man I’ve met it is different..and just as one thinks aha…I’ve got it sorted..a new way jumps out.
    Men are individuals…some might really want you and desire you..but they are trapped in ex families…in cultural paradigms…what should one do.?
    When the connection is there…should you give it a time limit? should you stand back>
    All I know is the amount of time you spend in your mind trying to solve this issue…wow…it’s a great deal of energy going into that.
    But….why do we get trapped in such situations? Is it Karma? Maybe you had to learn something from this..evolve as a person and move on.

  17. 57

    I know of a case where the man is head over heels in love but he sends out the wrong signal because he is not financially ready for a serious relationship leading to marriage. He is an actor, by profession, and struggles to make ends meet financially. He met the woman he was waiting for all his life but cannot make afford to date or support a wife at this point.
    Does that make sense? It blew my mind. Do not know what to make of that situation. Wonder what Evan to respond in this case.

  18. 58

    Err..I’m a girl but I have to say that right now I am in the position of the guy. I have a stable, secure, loving & caring boyfriend whom I love so much and who I believe will make a compatible long-term partner (and yes we’ve talked of marriage).

    But on the other hand i have this male friend of mine who I used to hav a major crush on a few years ago, and only 5 months ago he revealed to me that he has been attracted to me & wished that i was his girlfriend but that now it’s all too late. Nevertheless, we still occasionally contact each other via email or text, and everytime we do, sometimes it gets too personal/deep/emotional, and other times it gets too sexual. I have to admit that sometimes i would reciprocate too. He has been single for 2 or 3 years now. He said he wants me to keep my options open if things dont work out between me and my current boyfriend. To be honest, i am very much attracted to him too, and i can see that he has a lot of the qualities that i want in a longterm partner. I just dont know him as well as i know my boyfriend. So yes, although i am fully committed with my man right now, i am keeping this guy on the side ‘just in case’. He fully knows this and I dont think he minds (otherwise he would stop contacting me). Plus, he’s casually seeing other girls too so it’s not like im hindering him from getting the happiness he deserves. So right now I consider him a friend with a “potential”.

  19. 59
    Janet Vakis

    Ohmygod, thank you to all of you who wrote repiies to this woman’s dilemma.   This is almost identical to my situation, except my man spent 3 yrs pursuing me, we are massively different in ages.   He did all the talking all the running, then the games started, won’t bore you with it all. The chemistry between us is just electric.   I told him 3 times to f….off…….leave me alone because I couldn’t stand the games, they took over my life.   Then after a year of polite distance, he stops his car and me in the middle of the road as I was walking along. He says he can’t forget me, wants me every time he sees me… says he has come back to me again…… I didn’t say anything but walked on.   Though secretly I was thrilled waiting for this moment, thinking aha my patience and coolness paid off, this is it, I’ve got him.   Since then, I left a message for him to call, he said I was doing his head in, that I should just go with the flow!   What the f…. does that mean.   Since then, that was a week ago no calls, nothing.   I saw him once, he was nervous, so I just played it cool.   So I am back to square one, if I let this happen.   BUT I READ ALL YOUR COMMON SENSE REPLIES, AND PEOPLE, I’M GONNA GET ON WITH MY LIFE AND NOT LOOK BACK! YAY

  20. 60

    This seems like common theme that all men do, regardless of them having some sort of emotional or deep connection to you, the bottom line is if they’re still not coming forward then you just have to let it go and cut ties with them.

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