How You Can Know When a Guy is NOT Right for You

I read your blog and find all the advice quite useful. However, there is one issue I still can’t seem to wrap my head around. How do you KNOW when the guy is not right for you? You consistently state that we should dump a guy if he isn’t meeting our needs and although I agree 100%, how do we know that it isn’t partly our fault he isn’t?

Here’s my story in brief. I met a wonderful, kind, ethical, generous, loving, honest, attractive man. We had chemistry. Nothing crazy, but it felt nice and comfortable. At the beginning he did all those little things. Texts to say he was thinking of me. Calling me a pet name. Interacting with me on my blog, etc. He took his time with sex and made me feel like I was the center of the universe. He was never really a talkative guy (except about himself) and didn’t really ask me any questions, but we would at least sit and have chats at the beginning. I was always concerned about the amount of emotional intimacy he was capable of having.

When he moved in with me it all went downhill. Slowly it all stopped. I THOUGHT I was trying to communicate to him that I wasn’t getting my needs met. I would say, “it would be really nice if you even asked me how my day was, not because I care about the question, but because it shows you are interested in me”. He would say, “I don’t do small talk”. His love language is touch. I would make an effort to give him a hug while he was shaving or grab his hand in the car and always reciprocated. When I told him, “I understand that your love language is touch, mine is not” he didn’t say anything. Unfortunately at the time I wasn’t sure what mine was and now I know it is quality time.

We did the typical dance. We both knew he was moving and as he pulled away I became more insecure. I tried to pretend everything was o.k. I stopped sharing my feelings. I know I made the mistake of not being vulnerable or open enough. I didn’t feel like he was listening or that he cared. So, I ended things when he moved out of state by saying, “you used to do A, B, C and D. Those things made me feel happy and safe and secure and you don’t do them anymore. I need that. If you want to do those things then give me a call and if not, then we should just stay apart.”

In one of your blogs you stated that we should say something like this: “I really care about you, but I’m not getting my needs met here. This is too inconsistent for me and I need to feel safe.” Is this what I said or was it an ineffective communication?

I’m still conflicted and having second thoughts. Did I end thing prematurely without communicating concisely what my needs were or was my intuition correct and he had no desire to meet my needs? How do you know if HE is the problem or your issues (inability to effectively communicate, some minor insecurities, etc.) are the problem?? I guess, as a woman I always feel the need to try to fix everything and I feel like if I had just done some things differently HE would have reacted differently. But, I’m not sure that is true and that is the struggle. How do you know their TRUE nature without wasting a ton of time?

Carrie

This is the million-dollar question, isn’t it?

There’s what he’s doing wrong. There’s what you’re doing wrong.

You want to take responsibility for your share of things, but he’s not doing the same thing.

You want to save your relationship, but you’re not sure your partner is willing to do the work.

You feel sick inside because you know he’s pulling away, and the more he pulls away, the more weak, needy and desperate you become.

You break up and when the dust settles you don’t know how much blame to assume.

Your ex-boyfriend – for whatever his charms – was selfish, insensitive, and tone-deaf to his girlfriend’s needs. That’s his personality.

You don’t know what you can learn from this experience.

You don’t trust that you won’t make the same exact mistakes again.

Does that sound about right?

This stuff can make you even sadder and crazier than you already were, which is why, right now, I want to take away all of that confusion forever.

There is a very simple answer to your question and I’m going to give it to you right now.

Is it possible that you can stand to improve your communication? Of course. Anxious people often vacillate between feeling like a doormat/silently seething and blowing up with “protest behavior” at a man’s minor transgression. I can’t tell you whether you did that.

What I can tell you – and, frankly, what any objective third party can tell you – is that your boyfriend failed the most basic of boyfriend tests:

He dismissed your emotional requests. Per relationship expert John Gottman, such requests are called “bids” and couples that “turn towards” their partners’ bids have much stronger relationships. Your boyfriend turned away from your bid.

You asked him to consider your love language. He told you he didn’t do small talk.

You wanted to escalate your intimacy. He chose to move out of state.

And yet, somehow, you’re still beating yourself up inside and trying to take the blame.
Maybe you drove him out of state. Maybe if you were a better girlfriend, he would have wanted to give you quality time and words of affirmation.

That’s bullshit.

He will be that way to his next girlfriend and to his eventual wife as well.

Your ex-boyfriend – for whatever his charms – was selfish, insensitive, and tone-deaf to his girlfriend’s needs. That’s his personality. He will be that way to his next girlfriend and to his eventual wife as well. I can only hope that she reads this column, recognizes herself and gets out before she, too, thinks she’s at fault when her boyfriend isn’t carrying his weight.

This question is the central question of Love U – my comprehensive coaching course that helps women understand men, set healthy boundaries, and create lasting love. When you’re done, you will never again wonder what you did wrong to drive a man away. To the contrary, you’ll feel more confident than you’ve ever been before, and know when it’s time to cut off the guy who fails to make you happy.

Click here to learn how to gain confidence, set healthy boundaries and create lasting love.

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Comments:

  1. 1
    Tracy

    “Your ex-boyfriend – for whatever his charms – was selfish, insensitive, and tone-deaf to his girlfriend’s needs. That’s his personality. He will be that way to his next girlfriend and his eventual wife as well.”

    This gives me comfort, because when I think back to ex’s who treated me poorly, I believe no woman could be happy with them in the long run. But then I think about examples of people in my own life and I question it. For example, in my eyes, my father treated my mother very poorly and they divorced. He ended up getting remarried to a woman he treats like a queen. He does all the things for her he never did for my mother. This isn’t because my dad is a selfish ass. It’s because he met a partner who was a much better fit for him than my mother was. Isn’t this possible, too? Isn’t possible that the guy who treated you badly will treat the next woman like gold?

    1. 1.1
      Karmic Equation

      Does it really matter, Tracy?

      If your ex is no longer with you, how he treats his next girlfriend is none of your business. Just as it is none of his business how you treat your next boyfriend.

      Obsessing about who he’s with or comparing how he treats her versus how he treated him will only make you crazy or sad or both. No good will come of that.

      Once a man is out of your life, you need to do your absolute best to push thoughts of him out of your head. Depending on the length of time you were together, it’ll take X amount of time to do that. I believe I read it was about 2 months for every year you were together.

      Your job after a breakup is to get that ex out of your headspace as fast as possible.

      Reflect on the relationship and how you may do better in the next one. But don’t go to the place that says “If I had done this or that or the other, we’d still be together!” You can’t change the past. You can only move forward. Whatever fault you wish to assume, assume them and vow to yourself you will not do them again to the next person.

      That is the only way to heal and move on.

      Good luck.

    2. 1.2
      DeeGee

      Tracy said: “He ended up getting remarried to a woman he treats like a queen. … It’s because he met a partner who was a much better fit for him …

      Or did he learn from his past mistakes and become more proactive in the new relationship?  Maybe he didn’t think the current relationship was salvageable (too much water under the bridge), but decided to work harder on the next relationship.

    3. 1.3
      Rlgt

      Hi Tracy!

      I’ll come across a bit strong in my response (and maybe a bit off topic), but it’s only because I am writing “aloud”, thinking about what some of my girlfriends usually say (a version of your comment) when they breakup with some random guy I also usually didn’t like. Being assertive is my way of comforting. 🙂

      There it is :

      Thinking the guy who treated you poorly is a complete a**-h****, everywhere and every time, might seem soothing, but it is not. Because it is not the point here. The guy might treat his next GF like a queen (we can doubt that – sometimes appearances are deceiving), but what does it says about the way he treated you? Did he treat you well? No? Who the f-word does he think he is not to treat you like a queen?! NEXT. Good for him he learned from his experience with you – now he may (or may not) be a better man. I know you became a better, stronger woman.

      Your goal here is not to find the guy who will ONLY treat YOU well, because you are soooo special (Disney princess complex much? “Oh! He used to treat his previous GF so badly, but because I am me, I can bring out the best of him, ya know? I am THAT special…”), but to find a guy that meets YOUR needs, in concrete terms, which are nowhere related to being fed romance fantasies, or him giving you a purpose or a sense of self. Are you trying to win a competition over the other woman, of which the prize would be the guy that did NOT treat you well? What the hell? Even worst, are you trying to be that other woman, the absolute Mrs Grey, the contemporary Elizabeth Bennett? I say no.

      I’ll add that you probably were at some point, milady, an a-h yourself with some guy you met, didn’t trully like and rejected, or treated like crap without even grasping at the time  you did. I know I was. And weirdly enough, I am happy I was, for 2 reasons : 1) I can get ride of the belief I grew up with, that women are supposed to be perfect, and poised, and calm, and so considerate of others they forget to be of themselves; 2) since I am not perfect, the guy in front of me is not either, and makes mistakes and can equally be an a-h, which is actually ok. Life is messy, uncontrolable, it stings. You try, you hurt, then you grow out of it.

      When you are trully in touch with your feelings, like men are when it comes to women (if YOU don’t make HIM feel good about himself, he doesn’t think twice before moving on. Why do you?), you understand that whatever your ex is doing to his next doesn’t matter. If he did not make you feel consistently loved and secure, if he broke up with you directly or indirecly by slowly fading out or being an a-h, if you reacted with him like a crazy needy insecure person, then it’s because he was not the right guy at the right place in your life, whether it’s your “fault” or his’. I repeat : he was not the right guy at the right place in your life. Why do you insist on being hurt even after that guy got out of your life? Take the lesson he was kind enough to give you when he left or made you leave : move on.

    4. 1.4
      Tara

      He lost a wife and family may have been the influencing factor in his change. My exhusband does all the things for his new gal that he neglected for me and our marraige. 17 years of being neglected and unfilled.  Being controlled and denied affection. His new partner seems to have better influence on him than I did. For a time he was making changes in himself to try and save our marraige, for me the emotional anguish was to much to give much effott myself. I wanted another baby/ I was fixed due to the bullying I endured after my 2nd and last child. He was supposed to get fixed as well. I wanted to ride motorcycles, go on bike runs (it was too dangerous, and we had kids that depended on us to stay safe). Me and my daughter begged for a garden (no time). Family vacations build family values, morale, character… memories (no money). The house we bought together was neglected, repairs took years….. Well, after I divorced, he started a garden, he bought a motorcycle, he had a baby, theyve just got back from Walt Disney World, he maintains her house and improves it. He’s a lot more attentive to this new love than he was me…. and I think it was loosing us (me and the kids, the lifestyle, our dreams, what we built together) that made him change.

      1. 1.4.1
        Tina

        he will end up treating her the same way he did you

        1. AllHeart81

          Lets hope not. Lets hope he’s learned something from his mistakes. Lets hope that all of us can be redeemable. Lets not wish the way our exes treated us onto other people simply because it gives us some small human satisfaction.

    5. 1.5
      LaTrice

      With all due respect Tracy, the two of you are no longer together. So, what goes on in his life, as well as how he’s treating his current girlfriend doesn’t concern you. Nothing good will come out of this experience if you’re constantly comparing and being obsessed on how your ex-boyfriend treats his girlfriends in the future.

      When someone walks out of your life, take all of the time you need to work through your pain. Whether the relationship lasted for six months to three years, it takes time. You have a choice to continue to keep torching yourself with memories, or you can move forward by not constantly thinking about your ex-boyfriend.

      Allow this experience to be a learning lesson, so you can avoid making repeated mistakes in the future.

  2. 2
    April

    Yeah, I do a lot of self-blame…a lot.  I try really hard to seek a balance between my needs that I hope he wants to meet and between being relaxed, and accepting things for what they are and him for who he is.  But sometimes it just doesn’t matter how well you’re doing on your half if the other half is playing brain dead and uninvested…which happens, no matter how great and how much potential you can see in things and how long you’ve been together….their crap may be so deep that they just don’t care to care.  It’s really sad and disappointing, but also not your fault.  The only thing you can kick yourself for is not leaving after you finally see it.

    1. 2.1
      DeeGee

      April said: “… their crap may be so deep that they just don’t care to care.The only thing you can kick yourself for is not leaving after you finally see it.”

      I agree with you.
      It can be tough to see the signs at the beginning of a relationship.
      And then when you do see them, you may still make the decision that you want to try to make it work, but if the other person doesn’t put in the same effort, you are working for nothing.  Sometimes leaving is the only choice.
      Unfortunately, I was married to a woman for 9 years who was like that (my first and only marriage, 20 years ago).  I put in a lot of effort but it failed anyway.  Even the marriage counselor asked me “why did you stay so long, any other man would have left”.  Now I think leaving sooner is the only way to save yourself from extra hurt and beating yourself up, I feel my experience has jaded me somewhat.

      1. 2.1.1
        Suzy

        Thank you DeeGee! Just thank you! “You may still make the decision that you want to try to make it work, but if the other person doesn’t put in the same effort, you are working for nothing.  Sometimes leaving is the only choice.” This is exactly what I needed to hear. Okey, my case was that we were “only” seeing each other, but your comment still applies. I got way too nostalgic about the beginning phase and especially about our last date, the perfect date in my opinion. (Which turned out to be – ironically – our last date.) I kept thinking about the great moments, the past, without really seeing the current situation. I realized that now, months later I was the only one putting the effort, contacting him. Because hey, I still wanted to be in contact with him, and if he didn’t contact me, why couldn’t I do that? We’re all equal right? And then wondering how can someone be always busy and how come he didn’t contact me or make plans to see me when he did have the whole weekend free? I was blind. Thankfully I realized it now and not later. Just called it quits. It felt terrifying but I’m proud I did that. Freedom from him, hello!

    2. 2.2
      SMC

      “The only thing you can kick yourself for is not leaving after you finally see it.”  April, truer words were never spoken.  I’m STILL kicking myself (though I’m doing it less and less) for not leaving my ex and letting the pathetic “marriage” go on as long as it did. (4 years together, 1 year separated).

  3. 3
    Carrie

    Evan

    I think you are right on all counts (except the needy/seething/protest behavior as I don’t do that. I just stayed silent and pretended to myself it wasn’t happening-which might even be worse!).

    Normally I can spot emotionally unavailable men a mile away, but this one presented as secure and available. He was good at the facade, but naturally it fell apart over time. I wanted him to be the person I met at the beginning and had a hard time reconciling the truth.

    You are also correct, that he did not meet my bids for emotional attention.  When he failed to call me to say good night on Xmas I had to stop pretending.

    I communicated, but perhaps not quite as succinctly as I should have. I let his insecurities be o.k. and dismissed my own needs (luckily not for long which is why I ended things).

    He was required to move out of state for his job (military) so I know I wasn’t the reason he left.

    But, you’re right in that I am taking too much of the blame as women tend to do.

    Through this relationship I realized that although I have high self esteem I was lacking self love and have gone on a mission to get it.

    I am also trying to take what you say in regard to boundaries and expectations and apply them going forward.  I need to choose who is right for me, not let them feel like I am lucky to have them when they should feel lucky to have me!

    1. 3.1
      Debby

      Carrie,

      I deeply related to your post.   Thank you so much for sharing.   I am learning through Evan’s  love U course the many ways our partners  sabotage relationship  when they fear they cannot go the distance.   I now believe that people enter relationships with great intentions, and as they become more intimate, they may bow out.   Fear is so powerful!   It has a loud voice that will sometimes  drown out all of the positive aspects we are offering our partners.   You are likely a great partner!  He was likely a great partner as long as he could be, before his fear started to run the show….

      1. 3.1.1
        Carrie

        Thanks for the comment Debby.  I also strongly believe that your partner is a MIRROR of you.  He wasn’t emotionally available because in truth I wasn’t either.  I spent the next 8-10 months doing a lot of soul searching, working on self love (I started a blog and meditation) and focused solely on myself.

        In October I met an amazing man who is securely attached (my first ever) and I truly believe it’s because I decided that I deserved better (not just consciously but subconsciously).  I’m still working on my communication but for the first time ever I’m allowing myself to be vulnerable and share my true self (because he is actually secure and not pretend-secure!) and that has made all the difference

  4. 4
    April

    Yes, it is tough to go when you see it.  You have to choose yourself over a “comfortable but barely  acceptable love”…a lot of bravery to leave your comfort zone and ask for more from life.  Also I usually read it as this sort of very subtle rejection from them…but since they stick around, part of me sees it as a challenge to see if I can woo them into “breaking” and finally loving me all the way like I need.  That’s been a long playing habit with me that I’ve finally recognized with the last guy and decided to stop it.  I like to chase after guys who are interested but clearly not wholeheartedly invested.  It’s more subconscious than what I’m explaining…this is usually the part where the psychologists chime in and say, “Well that’s how you learned to get affection as a child…you had to work for it, so you’re just repeating a familiar pattern.” I’d be more sassy about that, but I know they’re right with that assessment. Lol I’ve had to learn to value myself more, set my own worth and just walk away when guys don’t see my worth. I think that’s what Evan’s really trying to teach us.

    1. 4.1
      Lisa

      Hi. I can totally relate to your post. I just read a book called “Women who love too much” and it was life-changing. May I suggest you consider reading it. I think you will get a lot out of it as well.

  5. 5
    Candace

    Wow I can totally relate to Carrie’s dilemma b/c I dated a guy who didn’t do ‘small talk’ and I thought well then how am I suppose to get to know you better and create intimacy. I tried multiple ways to let him know that I would like to know him better and we should talk more regularly b/c he lives an hr away but he doesn’t do phone conversations either. We eventually broke up b/c I wasn’t feeling like he cared but I questioned if I could not have done more. Buuuut when the next guy came along and he was a wonderful communicator then I thought it wasn’t just me. You cannot figure everything out. Just got to put in your best and let it go.

  6. 6
    ScottH

    Seems pretty clear that this guy is not the right guy for Carrie but I would ask the other million dollar question:  How do you know when they ARE right for you?

    1. 6.1
      sophia

      I would say “lack of anxiety” and your GUT! Be still and listen to it and don’t let your mind begin to interfere…..

  7. 7
    Emily, the original

    Here’s a general question for people: If you compromise on one thing (Carrie sounds like she compromised on sexual attraction. “We had chemistry. Nothing crazy, but it felt nice and comfortable.”), are you then expecting the person to really “bring it” with the other things?

     

    I don’t know how important chemistry is to Carrie. Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that it’s very important. Is she then more acutely aware of the times her boyfriend isn’t emotionally available, consistent and caring, particularly because she feels the relationship is really lacking in that one key area?

     

    1. 7.1
      KK

      I think Evan said it in another post. Compromise is good. Settling is bad. He also said that the crazy over the top chemistry is also something that doesn’t last, so it’s better to have SOME chemistry than the over the top infatuation type of chemistry.

       

      “(“We had chemistry. Nothing crazy, but it felt nice and comfortable.”), are you then expecting the person to really “bring it” with the other things?”

       

      I’d say yes. If your mind is clear (because you’re not in a state of infatuation), you should have certain expectations. Reasonable expectations. Carrie’s expectations were reasonable. She wanted him to reciprocate. Nothing wrong with that. If your needs aren’t met, what’s the point? On the flip side, if you have over the top expectations of someone, expect to be disappointed continually.

       

      1. 7.1.1
        Emily, the original

        KK,

        I guess I struggle with knowing how much chemistry is enough. I went out with this guy a couple of weeks ago, and while he was pleasant enough, I felt nothing. I didn’t find him unappealing, but nothing was drawing me to him. I had no desire to want to get physical him. (Cue up Olivia Newton-John!)  How much interest has to be there before you decide to go on the date?

        1. KK

          I hear you. If there is zero attraction, I move on. I’ve dated guys where there wasn’t a lot of chemistry, but there was at least one thing about them that I really admired and it propelled me to want to get to know them better. If there’s absolutely nothing, then I wouldn’t force it.

  8. 8
    GL

    Happened to me. This boomerang guy would come around and I would try to communicate what I wanted, and he wouldn’t step up. It all makes little sense. I can only put it behind me and say he’s very immature and selfish. There was nothing I could say or do to change anything, because his interpersonal skills are crap.

  9. 9
    John

    This says it all: When someone shows you who they are believe them; the first time.

    Maya Angelou

  10. 10
    Rene

    This post was extremely timely.  I just broke up with a boyfriend for very similar reasons.  He was attractive, smart, and we had chemistry and a lot of fun when together.  But there were things that bothered me from the beginning.  For example, lapses in communication (3-5 days) before we were exclusive, and even after he became my boyfriend he did not call/text everyday or ask how my day was.  When I requested him to do these things, he refused and said that it did not feel natural.  If I wanted to tell him about my day, I should just tell him. I explained that his concern would make me feel cared for, but this did not convince him.

    There were other things too, like not making his living space accommodating.  When I was at his place, he always watched what he wanted to on TV, and never asked or considered my preference.  To be fair, in his view, if we were watching TV at my place, he would not expect me to consider his preference.  I just don’t see it that way – wouldn’t you want your partner to enjoy watching TV with you?

    Even though I would consider these selfish tendencies (he also would post things about our conversations I would consider private, even though I protested him not to), I was deeply in lust (still am) and thought we were compatible in many ways, and enjoyed his company tremendously.  He is a funny and entertaining individual and we had great conversations.  But we ended things because we argued too much. Arguments that stemmed from me not being satisfied and asking him to “change”. I blame myself, and wonder what I could have done differently – and miss him a lot.  But reading this post gives a little solace that such men are not interested in responding to such “bids” as Evan mentions.

    1. 10.1
      DeeGee

      Rene said: “When I requested him to do these things, he refused …

      Then he is not compatible with you, he does not meet your needs in a relationship, and you should move on and find someone who does.
      I am good friends with a woman in her mid-40’s and it drives her crazy when I (or a boyfriend) asks her how her day was.  So different people have different needs.

  11. 11
    Deborah

    Wow, this is all great information to consider for my next relationship.  It is the most frustrating thing when a man seemingly can’t or won’t step up to to be more emotionally supportive only to find after the breakup they are doing all those very things for the next woman.  Then we beat ourselves up wondering well, what am I doing wrong?  I know the age-old advice that people always say, do your life, be independent, exude joy and you will attract people, don’t operate from a place of fear.  Well, being with a man who is selfish and inconsiderate will send you into insecurity and doubt.  So maybe the bottom line is when this selfish, rude, inconsiderate behaviour starts up, we are to make a calm “bid” request to talk about needs being met, and if they are unable/unwilling, then we need to walk away with dignity and no regrets and next time just pick a guy who shows more care and appreciation.  It is frustrating though.

  12. 12
    Merrilylane

    That’s been a long playing habit with me that I’ve finally recognized with the last guy and decided to stop it.  I like to chase after guys who are interested but clearly not wholeheartedly invested.  It’s more subconscious than what I’m explaining…this is usually the part where the psychologists chime in and say, “Well that’s how you learned to get affection as a child…you had to work for it, so you’re just repeating a familiar pattern.” I’d be more sassy about that, but I know they’re right with that assessment. Lol I’ve had to learn to value myself more, set my own worth and just walk away when guys don’t see my worth. I think that’s what Evan’s really trying to teach us.

    Love your self!

  13. 13
    Lucy

    Yes I’ve dated guys like this before. I was too young to know I could do better. Personally I have never made outrageous requests of men I’ve dated. I’ve never demanded the earth. I mean things like communication, making an effort to plan date nights together and making an effort to show affection. One relationship I had became depleted of this for several months because he claimed he was too busy focusing on his studies. He wanted to start being affection again, start actually taking an interest in doing things with me but it was too late for me. I had just lost all romantic feelings for him because he didn’t sustain his affections and expected me to be there and come back to him. Just to clarify, all I wanted was to go out somewhere once or twice a week, for him to initiate affection rather than just me and for him to skype video call me (he refused to show his face and would insist on only typing rather than talking) and this was after over a year of being together.

  14. 14
    John

    I’m a guy and I wasn’t in touch with my emotion (except anger) until I was around 35 years old. How did I change?

    A patient woman kept talking to me and  she quasi forced me to talk by incessantly asking questions about my thoughts a feelings on things.

    In my experience, all of my male friends  are completely removed from their emotions.

    My advice to women who find a good guy is to go what my woman did for me when I was 35. It’s the best solution I think. I am a better man for it.

  15. 15
    nicole

    Um, yes good comments below, however it still deosnt take away the pain and resentment and jealously that you may feel because he didn’t treat you the same way. That kind of thing you can take on personally to feel as though you were not worth. Over time working on your own happiness will be the thing that makes you the most happy and then you will meet someone new who floats your boat and you wont think of the ex much at all.

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