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 (136 Comments).
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  1. 61

    Great thread. I’ve been there a few times – Im smart, hawt, etc I’m also happily married (20 years) in an open/swinging marriage and I STILL get the “friends” routine from men! They are frustrating creatures!!! Bottom line is, men need a lot more than a pulse for repeated sex. The OP is on the back burner, because he likes knowing that she likes him. She’s like a security blanket, and he doesn’t care about her as a person. If you are romantically interested in this guy, dump him and move on – he just isn’t into you. If you really value his friendship (really – do you need more friends?) then be friends. But most likely, your self esteem will suffer from accepting a back burner position. If you value yourself, then you deserve to be on the front burner, on high. YOU choose the relationship – don’t accept what someone else gives you, or you will be nothing more than a doormat. YOU decide what YOU want from each man (friendship, sex, money, etc) and if you aren’t getting it, move on! There are 3 components to a relationship between two people: you, the other person, and the relationship itself. Own and MANAGE your relationships. Maybe your barista is The One, but you’ll never know if you only ever expect lattes from him. Don’t take the crumbs of life, take charge of the stove.

    1. 61.1

      excellent post here!! couldn’t agree more!!

  2. 62

    boy oh boy been there done that and got a wardrobe of t-shirts.
    but there’s one thing i just don’t get…why does this KEEP HAPPENING to me!!!

  3. 63
    Katarina Phang

    I have a hunky neighbor who obviously was attracted to me when we first met last year. But then he got weird and pulled out, finally he admitted he was seeing someone else. That was also my suspicion from the start.

    So it was timing. Recently he broke up with her and out of the blue started to text and call me again. We began to hang out and play tennis the past month.

    He’s back. And he affirmed his attraction for me in more ways than once.

    So, sometimes it is really about timing and it’s not you. I’ve learnt to figure out that a man who is hot and cold with you, very likely, isn’t really single. Move on. If you still like him when his relationship is over, you can always start over.

    I’ve learnt also guys who find you attractive will always bounce back in the picture one way or another.

    Another reason is he might not be available for relationship because he’s not financially secure. It’s a big issue for a guy. You would want someone whose ducks are somewhat in a row anyway.

  4. 64
    Katarina Phang

    Ooops…I meant he got weird and pulled away.

  5. 65

    God, it is the story of my life, “” I like you as a friend, you’re good fun ” 🙁

  6. 66
    prototype jay

    I have been in the shoes of both you and your friend and I wished someone had explained it to me when I was at your side of the court and saved me some confusion! I think its possible he had begun seeing his “dreamgirl” just weeks before meeting and becoming intrigued by you. He could be genuinely interested in you but it took him a couple of weeks to realise he had invested more in HER (it could be old-fashioned loyalty, emotions, money, etc), to risk bringing YOU on board and making it a 3 person boat / exchanging her for you. Its also possible his existing relationship was not-yet exclusive / stable when you first met, but became exclusive during that 2 weeks. So he was “confused” for a couple of weeks before making his decision. Not excellent behaviour if you ask me, but he’s also not a total jerk – it could have been much worse if he had slept with you!    
    Dont take it personally – see it as him being loyal to the girl he met first and look elsewhere. You can accept him as a platonic friend, as long as doesn’t make you suffer and he does not try to lead you on again.

  7. 67

    um totally went through this with a guy, called me every day, wanted to talk all the time, hitting on me non stop but also said he respected me and wanted to be friends because he had been through a couple bad relationships and didn’t think he’d ever want to be monogamous again, but then he added but he might want to, he’s just not sure yet.  so I accepted him as a friend and dude wanted to know everything I was doing and yep got to the point where I went on some dates and sure as a friend I told him this as he wanted to know my every move.  ha.  he kind of flipped out re the dates then basically told me he thought I was a player and probably have a harem of guys.  and I said why don’t u just admit you want more from me than just friendship.  he said I do, but you keep going out with other guys! I said helllllooo you said you didn’t want anything in the first place, just friendship, that you were a mess… was I supposed to put my life on hold and pray for the day that you weren’t a mess any longer????  no reply.  I also added I don’t read minds so spill it and make an effort if you are interested but don’t call me names because you didn’t have the guts to make a move.  arg!! 

  8. 68

    @67 blueberry,
    …almost seems as if your man knows little about getting into a relationship…

  9. 69

    No, he’s just a wuss.

  10. 70

    @69 joe,
    aha!!…you are funny!!…many guys are clueless….really..!!..I have done my own personal research….

  11. 71

    It is hard because I have know a dude for ablmost two years off and on but it never felt as if we werent together. He always tell me he loves me but just out the blue he wants to be single. Im confused cause he does things for me, spends money on me and always tell me he loves me but yet. what do i do cause i want to be with him and LOVE him with all my heart.

  12. 72

    also to add to my comment he will be moving because of his job for 2 years, he says its best for me to stay where i am because i want to stay in the state i live in and get the job of my dreams. so he wants me to get the job and have everthing on track so when he gets back he says he will buy a house and we will live togerher happliy. What do i do I love this dude with all my heart, we arent togerther offically because he says he has seen to many relataionships go sour because they placed a title on what they were so he feels as if he dont say what we are then we are fine together. I love him so much and it really hasent be a week that has went by without him contacting me in some type of way ( even we are so called not together) I love this dude with all my heart.. TKG I LOVE U!!!

  13. 73

    Wow this has been so great. I had a guy who dumped me for not being skinny enough (I had gained FIVE pounds and i was thin to begin with) then he dated a tall skinnier woman but the intellectual wasn’t there so he asked me to lose the five pounds and he’d be mine again. I said ok but then he kept sleeping with the other woman. So i said that’s not on and he ‘dumped’ me again. But he wanted desperately to stay friends.. We could talk about everything.. Finally after 7 months i realised- he was using me. He was in a relationship with the 2 of us, and i was allowing it. so i stopped being his friend. What a relief. Now i met a great guy online (i chat with many, not just him) and he hasn’t progressed it beyond the email/1 phone call stage. 9 days of daily emails. Last email he said.. We connect intellectually. As in, not other ways? He hasn’t asked me to meet him. My question is, is he a slow burner and i should just continue to enjoy the contact, or am I being used, again. Thanks peeps!!

  14. 74

    How can you connect any way but intellectually if you’ve never met him?  Get off the phone/computer and meet in person.

  15. 75
    flor m garcia

    relationships are so confusing..

  16. 76

    Wow.. this whole blog and everyone’s posts I can relate to.  It is so confusing to have a best friend with whom you connect with on so many levels without a boyfriend girlfriend relationship.. my situation is similar to other women who have posted.  I have been emotionally involved with the same man for over 4 years.  My feelings gradually developed over time and I sensed the same for him.  When we lived in the same city we spent all of our free time together.  When either of us were on holiday we would stay in touch constantly and could not wait to see each other when we returned.  I eventually fell in love.. Since meeting me he has not entered into a relationship and seeks out my companionship even when we are miles apart.  He moved to another country from where I live and I have since moved as well.   And he still reaches out to me and we used to skype for hours.  I have not found anyone nor has he that matches the same emotional and intellectual intimacy that we find in each other.  When I told him how I felt almost 2 years ago he has tried 2 times to entertain the idea of intimacy with me… but when push comes to shove and we are face to face he either denies his feelings for me, OR that he does not feel capable of being in a relationship even though he is physically attracted to me..There are several emotional factors involved.  For one he has addiction issues and is sober and since he has been sober he says that he has trouble making the emotional leap towards a relationship. He also says he has never been in love before since he was tossed around from home to home growing up.  Last year I did not speak to him at all for 8 months and that was difficult for both of us.. Then he came to me this summer and said that I was his “home”  his “soul mate” and even though we were 2000 miles apart that he missed me and wanted to try to be in a relationship.  He suggested we go on holiday together this summer and he planned an entire holiday that I reluctantly agreed to.  Sure enough on the holiday he backed out again.  He said he could not do it.. So I am once again confused, once again frustrated and do not know how to move forward.   I am in love with him and it hurts to feel a connection for someone that just does not seem to be able to move forward.  I have tried distance and no contact and that clearly does not work.  He just contacted me again after 2 months of not communicating and is wanting to be in touch.  He says he is thinking of moving to the country where I am living..  I don’t know why I love him.. it is something that is hard to articulate in a single blog post.  I would love to meet someone else and move on in my life.  I have had relationships in the past and this is clearly one that is hard to let go of.

  17. 77

    So then what should she do in this situation? Should she stop talking to him and giving him the benefit of her friendship and emotional support if he doesn’t want to be her boyfriend? After all, it will be hard for her to watch him date others or better yet, watch him hit on/flirt with friends of hers who he IS more attracted to as long as she feels this way.

  18. 78
    Elizabeth Cole

    Ahhh…. this explains so much. I have a guy whom I liked and dated for a while, but he would never commit to dating me consistently but would still call and talk for hours to me in the evening. He finally told me there wasn’t an attraction but he respected me and liked talking to me on the phone so he wanted to keep that. This article causes the whole experience to make sense. Thank you. Glad I found it.

  19. 79
    Bobbi Ysmael

    You’re freaking HILARIOUS Evan. I loved reading your article and I love how you write real. Like “He’s not locking you up as his girlfriend” What? Do men lock women up when they become their girlfriend now? That’s hilarious. You are a really good writer with a great sense of humor while being real at the same time. Thank you so much for that. PEACE, LOVE, AND HAVE FUN
    Bobbi Ysmael

  20. 80

    I know it’s hard not having expectations beforehand if things were going so well at first. Unreciprocated feelings or unreciprocated love hurts especially when we like someone so much. Take him for his word. If you cant draw that line between friends and your feelings let him go. It will only hurt you in the long run. Don’t devalue yourself and sleep with him if he does come around later on. Ive seen it too many timed with women thinking a way to a mans heart is giving in to sex too soon. If he loves you he’ll
    have no problem proving it. If he doesn’t he’ll bail. Be patient and be a friend if you can but dont wait on him while hes already involved. You’ll be shorting yourself. 

  21. 81

    I went thru something similar last year. This guy and I met online and click right away. By the second day he was blowing up my email and slyly asked for my number for faster correspondence. Next few days were bliss,flirting and some sexual mixed in. After long I started to worry because we were both expressing deep feelings for each other . kicker was we still hadnt seen even a picture. I was on the heavier side and knew he would not like me. I bit the bullet and showed him a pic. Long story short he didn’t go gaga over my pic and I figured he would disappear. He made a comment that I accept his flaws so he can accept mine(assuming he meant physical). We kept talking everyday and I’d often tell him to find someone he likes,I always had the vibe he was only emotionally and intellectually in to me. One reason was after the pic thing the flirting /sexual dialogue stopped but was replaced by deeper displays of affection so I ignored it somewhat. He never said he wanted me “like that” just would say he wouldn’t be there if he wasn’t or sometimes you just accept people for who they are. This went on for 7 months. During which we had a lot of dramas. He’d always fight to keep us going and would cry over losing me. He even sent love songs back and forth and beg me not to leave him and pet names galore. He would always say i was the first woman to make him feel loved,he was attached(too fast for me honestly),the first woman to make him see what love is.Although there were valid compatibility issues why we didn’t work,I always felt the underlying issue was lack of physical attraction. The next woman he was with supposedly a looker,got commitment status right away and he barely knew her,it hurt so bad. Drama ensued between us because his antics after the ending were his true colors. Whatever ,connection he had to the next woman it wasn’t deep or real because he was back begging to talk to me within months. Through out this new phase of relationship, he would sometimes mention how my behavior and nothing else drove him away. I really don’t believe him because he took chances on other women after giving them more status in his life just based on their looks. Like some above posters said,we aren’t good enough for them to take that plundge on but some newbie with a good body and barely a hello is catipulted to the top. Very hurtful and honestly even though he said he really did love me but I hurt him too much and made him miserable with my pushing him away,there is a gut feeling that had I been the cutesy type he would have gone in blind  regardless of these other factors. At the end his actions mean more than his words. Another thing for everyone to consider is a freind of mine said that a guy can use you emotionally. I figured because he never asked for $ or sex that I didn’t get what was up why he wanted to talk again after breaking my heart and moving right onto the next,my freind said there are other ways to use people. Food for thought!

  22. 82

    as a girl you need to see something,the guy you go out with you have to see his atitude.he maybe friend with you, or even ask you to go to bed with you have to think sometimes he will try to tell you to show your self to him,but doing all this he has someone else
    you will think oneday he will tell you he loves you,maybe he will tell you when seeing the way you are and how nice or beutiful you are.maybe it may be he want only your body
    but not all guys are the same some are different.same as a girl have to see if he make you may come that he loves you but he will be shy to tell you.and it may come that you also like him but you will also be shy to tell him  you have to choose a good guy who will make you happy in your life,if you love him stay with him.

  23. 83

    Robyn, you do really strike me as an interesting woman.  By the way you told the story, mostly.  You had good grammar, good punctuation, and underneath it all, you had something to say.  Most people don’t.

    Keep searching for the one who will appreciate your finer qualities.  You may have to look a little closer.  But when you find him, you’ll be so glad you waited!

  24. 84

    This is very timely for me, I’m dealing with this now and it’s confusing. We had several dates, a quick kiss but I could tell things were stalling out, he finally told me on his own that with his job situation and a possible move that he just wanted to be friends and see what happens. I saw him once since we had this conversation a few days ago and he was just as attentive as before and we had a good time, he even introduced me to some of his friends. It’s a weird place to be, there’s honestly been too much attraction for me to reverse and go into platonic mode overnight so I may just need to throw this one back in the pond and keep fishing. I don’t mind finding a guy friend maybe after the first meet but several weeks of build up it just feels like rejection at this point. Going back to Evans statement of believe the negatives.

  25. 85

    Why did they not go through with sex did she stop it or did he?  I think that answer is crucial.  If she stopped it then the clear answer is this guy was looking for sex.  He is continuing to talk to this woman to string her along as a back up.  His interest may very well be genuine but as he stated he’s seeing someone else so why is she even holding on to be second best?  When she did not give it up he went to one of the other women he was dating and got it.  He will date her until he gets bored or maybe he will marry her (doubtful) but he wants to know when he’s ready you will be there waiting so he’s making sure you are.  And by doing this making you question what’s going on if he likes you he’s upping the likelihood you will sleep with him next go around because he will be more desirable to you and you will recall how he reacted when you did not.  Please don’t fall for this.  He likely is doing this to many women right now. I’ve met this guy.  Or if giving him the benefit of the doubt as Evan does he stopped the sex my guess is maybe he really knew he was not attracted to you and did not want to hurt you.  But I don’t think so I think he’s stringing you along he’s seeing someone else.

  26. 86

    Okay I so needed to read these! Here’s mine: I met this guy through work. He had a crush on me for 2 years. I finally gave in and gave him a call. We clicked. He was so excited. He asked to come over and hang out and me being so happy I invited him over / found out he only lived 10 minutes away. So here starts my faults: he was a hang out guy, came to my place only, we talked for hours, had make out session but no sex. I thought he was wanting to take it slow and truly get to know me. SO, texting chats became our communication only and then coming over to hang out. 2 more years of this bonding on talking about life. He never kissed me and wouldn’t cuddle hardly. I took the same approach. Trying to be chill. He saw all the great qualities in me and even referred me to a new job position recently which I got!! I was thrilled and when texted him to let him know we was so happy. OKAY here it comes… I invited him over to hang out so I could tell him more about the job. His reply: I Met Someone and we are dating so I can’t hang out.   My reply: that’s cool! Thanks so much for your friendship and all the best! Tori.

    His reply: was that your email or something why did you sign your name?

    My reply: don’t want to bother you and your dating. Good Luck.

    I ended it!!!!

  27. 87

    So this was years of friendship… will he miss me?

    And I so wanted him to ask me out.

    Work wise – only saw him 30 minutes once a week-he was coach.

  28. 88
    Cat m.

    Let me tell you something. I met this beautiful man when I was nineteen. (Funny we are both writers.) We’ve written/hung out/cuddled/spoke/flirted (never kissed nor slept together.) but over a year we’ve liked each other on/off. Like the response up^^ well he has so much respect for me he is afraid. As am I. I’m now twenty and in love with him. It’s hard and I see the way he looks at me. He sees how I look at him. I believe he knows. I know he’s my guy, he’s something. Keep trying! If you know then you know girl!!

  29. 89

    So wha happen to CHOICE. One must choose to love and choose to commit to an imperfect person to accomplish common goals and dreams together. In my opinion too much emphasis is placed on feelings. Those are unstable entities in our lives. Be a man and choose to choose a lady and grow something substantial. Thy type of man described in this chat is so unattractive to me. He may think himself a can of soda and a bag of chips but he is far less. This is not a man to me but a boy posing as one.

    1. 89.1

      eyes, I agree with you, at 50 we choose to be with someone….

  30. 90

    “Being in a “just friends” situation, knowing that you want more, is only torturing yourself with the false hope that he will come around in the future. Most importantly, it is cock-blocking you from finding the guy out there, who is ready to define a relationship outside of just friendship.”

    also a great link related to this topic.

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