He Acts Like a Boyfriend But He Doesn’t Like the Title

He Acts Like a Boyfriend But He Doesn’t Like the Title

I have been in an exclusive relationship with a man for 6 months now. He has shown up in every way AND more. I had major surgery and he stood by me, slept in the hospital, and took care of me at my worst for my 3-week recovery. He just took me on our first trip away. He wants to see me every day and I love that.

Basically though, I was blindsided the other day because after everything, he said that I am not his “girlfriend” and he doesn’t want the expectations that come with the title. Yet he says all the important people in his life know about us (family, close friends, few of which he has) and that he doesn’t want to be with anyone else. I asked what would change with the title? We already have exactly what a relationship is and he “checks in” with me even though I don’t ask that of him.

He tells me to please be patient, that he’s never been with a woman like me, one who trusts and loves unconditionally and makes him feel good when he’s with me, yet he says he’s not with me with the whole girlfriend/boyfriend thing! I don’t know if I should wait and see, since what we have is basically the committed relationship — until he made the comment that I m not his girlfriend, everything was great. Or should I move on at this point? Even his friends address me as his girlfriend and he doesn’t correct them, so why can’t he say the words to me? Yes, we are exclusive, and everything seemed and felt right, but I feel like he negated everything we have had now and feel like maybe I shouldn’t trust him. I hope you can answer! Thank you! —Kris

Dear Kris,

I’ll admit it. I don’t get men like this.

It doesn’t matter what an amazing guy he is if he’s told you things like “I never want to be married,” “I’m too busy for a relationship,” or “I’m not looking for anything serious.”

If he’s acting like a boyfriend, what’s the harm of calling you his girlfriend?

Beats the hell out of me.

And I can understand why it’s mystifying and why you’d be tempted to run.

Personally, I’m of two minds about the whole thing. Which is why I can’t weigh in all that heavily and tell you exactly what to do. But I hope to lay out the pros and the cons for you so that you can make an informed decision on your own, okay?

Cons: One of my dating credos is “believe the negative, ignore the positive”. In other words, it doesn’t matter what an amazing guy he is if he’s told you things like “I never want to be married,” “I’m too busy for a relationship,” “I’m not looking for anything serious,” and so on.

Women waste years on men who said they want a casual relationship on their terms only – and then claim to be shocked when it turns out he was telling the truth.

Next, I’m a big believer that good men do whatever it takes (within reason) to make their partners happy. Sometimes it’s sleeping at the hospital or taking care of your dog or fixing your car. And sometimes, it’s saying “I love you” or referring to you as his girlfriend, just because it makes you feel safe.

And if I have one big opposition to this man’s behavior, it’s that he’s standing on some sort of principle, putting his needs above yours, and refusing to take the very simple step of calling a spade a spade: yes, you’re his girlfriend.”

Add in the fact that “he doesn’t want the expectations that come with the title,” and, well, this is the one thing that I’m not sure I’d be able to get past if I were you.

I’m a big believer that good men do whatever it takes (within reason) to make their partners happy.

Then again, I don’t know how old he is, I don’t know his relationship history, and I don’t know his family history. Maybe he’s really young and doesn’t know how to compromise and please women. Maybe he’s really old and set in his ways. Maybe he got burned by his ex-wife and is unduly cautious of making a mistake or making promises he can’t keep. Maybe he comes from a divorced family where his father never said “I love you” to his mother. There are lots of possible explanations for his behavior.

Which is what brings me to the Pros. In your words:

Exclusive relationship with a man for 6 months now. Has shown up in every way AND more. I had major surgery and he stood by me, slept in the hospital, and took care of me at my worst for my 3-week recovery. He just took me on our first trip away. He wants to see me every day and I love that.
He tells me that he’s never been with a woman like me, one who trusts and loves unconditionally and makes him feel good when he’s with me.

Those are no small feats, in a world where you consistently hear about the lack of good men. Those things are the foundation of your six month relationship and the reason that you’re agonizing over this man who claims not to be your boyfriend.

And I must say: it’s entirely possible that he’s acting in full integrity, letting you know that he’s afraid of hurting you, that he wants to go slow and choose wisely, and that he really does value you and your relationship. He wants to be judged for his actions, not his words.

So what do you do, Kris?

I’d have this conversation with him. Try to get it on the table. Not to negotiate for the title of girlfriend, but to fully understand why it’s so important for him to reject the title and the responsibilities when he’s already acting like a full boyfriend to you. Make it clear that you’re trying to understand him and let him know that he wouldn’t have to do anything different, but that it would make you very happy if you could feel safe in knowing that he was your boyfriend.

And if, after this conversation, he can’t give you this nominal gift of safety, I would highly consider moving on to a man who has the ability to step up and make you feel safe.

It’s not that this is a bad guy at all, but rather that you might be waiting your whole life to hear some words that shouldn’t cost all that much to say.

Join our conversation (151 Comments).
Click Here To Leave Your Comment Below.


  1. 1

    I have known guys like this, and have to say I would not take Evan’s pro’s and cons view of the whole thing.I’m afraid this is a big red flag.   Basically, this guy wants the “good bits” (or what he sees as the good bits) of being in a relationship, without what he considers the “bad bits”.

    He wants the company, security, cuddles, sex, outings, phonecalls, meals together, weekend plans, but he doesn’t want the EMOTIONAL RESPONSIBILITY  of being someone’s partner. Ths guy is what you might term “the monogamous player.” Not all men who shy away from commitment and marriage are necessarily interested in sleeping with hundreds of women – some of them, in fact, prefer to have one woman, but they are just as commitment phobic as the promiscuous players.  

    He likes things “as they are”. He has no wish to be caught up in a situation that logically, if things go well, would lead to expectations of marriage and kids in the future, on your part and on the part of his family and friends. I agree that for a woman its hard to understand why a man who  is clearly enjoying the relationship he is in would not WANT it to progress to something deeped and more long lasting, but that’s the way some men are.  “So why is he with me??” you might ask? Quite simply, because it suits his purposes, for now. He likes you, he enjoys how you make him feel, he’s having fun – he even may enjoy the “going to the hospital” bit as it allows him to play at being “protective guy” for a while and makes him feel good about himself, but he IS only playing. He doesn’t want to be your protector FOR REAL. He doesn’t want you relying on him emotionally – he said it himself.

    I suggest you show him this post, if you want to, to demonstrate to him the image he is giving of himself by making this remark,how it can be interpreted by a woman,   and see what he says – if he vehemently disagrees with my interpretation – GREAT. If not….well at least you know now. Good luck!      

    1. 1.1

      Whoooo you almost made me catch the holy ghost with this post Helene!! That was exactly what I needed…you broke it DOWN. Thank you!

      1. 1.1.1

        RUN from this guy!!!! He’s telling you he has 1 foot out of the relationship. That way if he wants to cheat he can. You are a place holder till something better shows up, or he can have more then one till caught.   Spending time with you bc nothing better is there atm.

        Then he can say I told you I wasn’t yor bf when you find him in bed with someone else. I know. He is playing you.

    2. 1.2

      Helene. all I could say is that your my hero.   I have been dealing with something similar to this for quite a while now and you have no idea how much you comment means to me. And to the author please girl. RUN!!!!   And don’t look back.  

      1. 1.2.1

        I’m kinda thinkin like Helene. If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, and has webbed feet like a duck, it’s a duck.

    3. 1.3

      Been there. Done that. In my case, the guy would say he wasn’t interested in a relationship, but then shower me with flowers on V-day’s. I was honest and upfront, saying that I did not want to be romanced by a guy that adamantly says “he doesn’t want a relationship right now” because of the plethora of excuses he had. I understood. He didn’t have a stable job. He didn’t have the education background he wanted. That was okay with me. But please don’t do romantic things for a girl without the intention to eventually commit. It is unfair.

      He ended up accusing me of being a horrible, combative person for always refusing his gifts and advances. It was ridiculous. After I stopped talking to him, he moved onto another girl that he did the same thing to, but she actually fell for it and was strung along for over 12 months. She had introduced him to all her friends and family thinking that eventually she would get girlfriend status. In the end, she discovered that he was highly active on online dating sites and he was just keeping her around to boost his own ego until he found “someone better.”

      I don’t think this type of behavior is ever a good sign of anything. You need to dump the guy. He’s only using you for his own personal gain.   

    4. 1.4

      You couldn’t be more right!!!

    5. 1.5

      Helene –

      Holy crap. Thank you!!

      Mine went thru a brutal divorce, got burned, fell in love again, got burned again, I get all that. We’ve all been hurt and we all need time to get over stuff.

      We’ve been exclusively dating for 6 months (a little over). [Sidebar – we knew each other back in HS but lost touch for 30+ years. Reconnected last Nov. Had crushes but never followed through.] I broke it off after 3 months because I felt it was just too much of a struggle for him to be in a relationship while still decompressing from the difficulties of the divorce/becoming a single dad to 2 teenagers, etc. He wants a relationship, exclusivity, etc., but I didn’t think he really had the time to devote to a relationship, nurture it, etc., because the kids take priority always, and he had a problem telling people that we were dating exclusively (I wasn’t even looking for the GF title at that point).

      Won me back after about 3 weeks (intense pursuit, tears, the whole 9 yards), and we’re about 2 1/2 months further down the line now, and sometimes it feels like we’re just about right back where we started. In fact, I just had a conversation with him that it’s almost no different than it was before I broke it off. Same conversations, same crap, different week/month. Of course he disagrees, but it’s what I see/feel that matter to me, now what he thinks or whether he agrees/disagrees.

      He says we’re way further down the path now, that we are bf/gf (semantics really because we’re both voluntarily exclusive, but an important distinction) and to please give it a little more time. I said that I would, but I almost feel as if I’m being dishonest and just “biding” my time, waiting for the moment when I can say “see, same sh*t, different day” and then I walk for good. I know he means well (ah, look at me defending him). I know the depth of his feelings for me, but I also see our relationship and his words in what you wrote (more so than what Mark wrote) and it’s frighteningly on point. I’m not looking for kids (nor his he). We’re both in our 50s and I’ve never been married (nor is that really a goal of mine).

      But while he says he’s going to introduce me to his family, he hasn’t. To this friend or that (that isn’t already a mutual friend, as we have many of those and they all know we’re dating exclusively), he hasn’t. They know he’s dating (his family asks about me all the time) and that’s all very nice, but … still haven’t met the fam, he’s still not ready to tell the kids (his daughter is 13) because it’s going to be difficult for her…

      I guess I’m writing my own response, aren’t I? Handwriting on the wall is sometimes so obvious and yet so easy to look past…

      Anyway, I really liked your comment. Hit very close to home.

    6. 1.6
      I agree

      100% agree, he was upfront and shes still investing in what she sees as his/their potential as well as completely vaunerable for the worst heartache ever when “Its time to go seperate ways”.   She needs to ask herself how its gonna feel, and dosent take much to imagine, when he says “look, i dont have time for this emotional crap, i was honest, didnt lie, you hurt yourself”.   Narcissist much?   Yes im experienced with one, one of the best and im a smart cookie. And inside of a year i lost my home, career, car, and am having the baby completely unsupported.    But like another poster stated, no progression, no deal.   She needs to be clear that shes trapped in the honeymoon stage because thats where he wants to live.   Read: “women who love too much”.   The best way to let go of a dream is to wake up.

      1. 1.6.1
        I agree

        I just wanted to add, as i keep reading others’ advise, there seems to be a lot of “how toos” attached.   How to put him in a corner, lay down the law, manipulate and push him and repress herself, settle, and lastly, how to teach herself the art of devaluing.   NOT COOL.   I have been, as stated previously, in an incredibly contradictory relationship with a narcissist and heres the map out of OZ…

        Our core needs, for each of us, need to be met.   If yours are different than your partners, than pointblank and period its going to be a long good-bye.   All this bliss and somethings missing…gues what?   THAT is the SOMETHING she needs!   Someone has it for you girly, i promise!   I think you need to make room for THAT guy to come along.   Too invested in mr fun, go find mr future.

    7. 1.7

      Exactly Helene I dated the man you describe and I think this is him too.    I will add that this type of man also will usually throw this back in your face if later you have some expectation he is not meeting.   Wait what you were on a date with someone else, well I’m not your boyfriend I told you that!   All the while sure as heck acting like a boyfriend.

    8. 1.8

      Thank you for posting this and your comment. This was exactly what I needed to hear. I’m stuck in this position

    9. 1.9

      wow you nailed it..right there. thank you 🙂


    10. 1.10


      You are right on.    This guy wants to have his cake and eat it too…to have an easy “out” if he finds a situation that he prefers better.   In his mind he can easily tell other females,   “I don’t have a girlfriend.”

    11. 1.11

      Helene,   you say is so true ! I have been with a guy like this for 5 years. He did call me his girlfriend and we have done everything together as a couple, but he would never talk about the future or marriage. I was happy how things were..we are in our 50;s and I have young adult children with me, so was happy to coast along living in our respective homes.

      Then, this past year he was diagnosed with cancer. I was with him every step of the way-surgery, chemotherapy, staying with me as he needed care and support. Now hes through it and hopefully cured, I found myself needing surgery. Nothing serious or life threatening, but he was no support to me at all. When I mentioned it..his reply..”well I didnt ask you to do all that for me”

      Im now questioning myself as to how I spent 5 years with this man. Ive ended the relationship, wishing I had done much earlier.

    12. 1.12

      I am the female version of the person you described, and you hit the nail on the head.

    13. 1.13

      Who ever u r that wrote this just made me cry.   Everytbing u wrote is what I’m goimg through right now.   Me and this man, its our second time around. He is exactly what u said…..he told me he refuse to introduce me as his girlfriend because he doesn’t want people in his business.   What??!!   He’s 46.   This is krazy.   I’m 47….i don’t have time for this.   I’ve decided already to slow things down because he is comfusing me. I’m good with us being friends.

    14. 1.14

      EXACTLY!!! If he can’t be your boyfriend, then he doesn’t deserve the perks of having a girlfriend.   You love him, but he only enjoys your company.   But if someone else prettier or skinnier or whatever comes around, he can say that he doesn’t have a girlfriend.   Meanwhile, you might be wanting a family – a husband.   Don’t expect that when you don’t even have a real boyfriend.   You’re just something temporary and convenient to fill up his time.   I suggest you get someone else.   If he’s jealous, then just snap your fingers in front of his face and go, “You coulda had ALL DIS, but you’re too late a$$hole!”

    15. 1.15
      some guy

      as a guy i disagree why don’t we flip this round shall we as a   guy i love it when girls   hanging out   chill cuddle phone me     call me over for   company talk to me about problem tell me about there day it nice   buy all mean but i do come clean from the start and to tell them just FRIENDS and when i do find a new girl i give here all the power i give her my number i let her call me some times we both change numbers some of them even have boyfriend and still we chill nothing wrong with a great friend or BFF

      say 6mouth 2 years   4 years with out a guy doing this for you your lucky to even get a what we call a nice guy

      what in tell u get a dick head or a   hunter that views you like a trophy or the sticker

      then come back and say hmm that guy that respected me give me flower hanged out

      watch moving made me lough had great times. understand that life is shot

      and   1 year   go’s buy in a blink


    16. 1.16

      Oh my!!!! I am in that situation right now…. 5 months!!!! Seems impossible that I will ever have a guy that is loving, genuine, caring and not afraid!!! Thanks for the insight!!

    17. 1.17
      Mr. Burns

      Wow. You have summed me up better than I could. I understand myself more. Weird but amazing. You speak truth. There are men like that. If it’s made clear to you from him take those words… Otherwise it’s a chance your taking to allow him to change his perspective

    18. 1.18


      I had been seeing this guy for only a month and a half, but he kept bring me around his friends, introducing me as his “girlfriend”, doing/saying all the right things…

      It was making me uncomfortable because we had never had “the talk”.   So before I went out of town on a trip (that he wobbled about attending, but eventually scheduled work), I asked him what was going on here.   He said, “I don’t know”, so I cut and ran.

      He had some other issues too which did not exactly count in his favor.

      After doing all the right things – you SHOULD know.   If the answer is not a resounding, “yes”, I don’t want it.   And I’m not going to sit around in anxiety (while possibly developing real feelings) while you make up your mind.


    19. 1.19

      Honey Helen, you have said it all. Dam, those guys that fall under that category.

    20. 1.20

      Preeeeach! I totally agree!!!

    21. 1.21

      Damn Helene. You know my life. I’m so happy I searched this topic and found your response. I had to comment and give you your props. Thank you.

  2. 2

    Soooo annoying when men try to pull this. I don’t go for it – if he’s not willing to say he’s my boyfriend then he doesn’t get all the good stuff that comes with being a boyfriend.
    I know it can be hard to put your foot down, but I have found that us women get strung along by dudes like this when we don’t.

  3. 3

    Hi Kris;
    I and my friends have been in this situation a number of times before.   If a person says that they are not your boy/girlfriend they really are not.   It doesn’t matter how they act.      
    Brace yourself for it ending.
    After 6 months he shouldn’t have a problem calling you his girlfriend.   Resolve this issue with him or end the “relationship” him, now.     Life is too short to be with people who don’t want to be with you.

  4. 4

    Mmm that’s a tricky one! He acts like a boyfriend in the NOW but he seems to want to remain free of expectations in the FUTURE. Makes me smile as we are curently debating about the topic of freedom in relationship in another thread. “Absolutely no loss of freedom in relationships”, really? : )
    I agree 100% with Evan in suggesting a curiosity-based conversation about this situation. Some of my questions would be:
    1. “What are the expectations that you imagine I/you would have with the title that I/you would not have yet?”
    2. “What is uncomfortable about these expectations?”
    3. “Regardless of the title and the expectations, how do you see our relationship progress in the next few months?”
    My last question addresses a crucial aspect that is not enough evaluated: PROGRESSION. Sure, we want to see more actions than words. Sure, we want to see words and actions aligned. But we also want to see progression in the relationship. A relationship that does not progress will eventually die.
    Nothing beats progressing towards more emotional intimacy and more commitment. Safety is a big one, thanks, Evan for the right choice of word. People can fake words and actions and even plans. But it’s much harder to fake deep emotional conversations, compromises that require being a bit uncomfortable for the sake of the other party’s happiness, or increasing levels of commitment. (Sure they can also be faked, but at that point the effort would not be so much worth it for the player involved).
    My suggestion to the letter writer is to have the discussion that Evan suggests, but also carefully evaluate how the relationship actually progresses (beyond being lovely and all the fluff of meeting friends and family). Like helene #1, I see the rejection of the word boyfriend as a red flag that has written on it “I do not want to go down the path to fiance and then husband” in big letters. After all if you are not a even boyfriend, it’s going to be hard to become a husband.
    That’s why we must not be fooled by words and actions only. And that’s why we must not get stuck in a multi-year relationship, playing the perfect partner and “waiting for a proposal”. It can lead you to a three-year status-quo relationship that the other party would have zero intention to progress towards marriage. If what you want is a solid and happy marriage, you need to encourage the relationship to progress into that direction from the beginning, and not be afraid to talk about your needs early on. Not on date #1 (!), but certainly before the one-year anniversary.
    Really glad that the Letter Writer is asking herself the right questions at the six-month mark! If you are interested in marriage, the six-month mark is a good place to start talking about your plans, see if they are compatible to the other party’s, and if so, move into a more serious investigation of one another (character, compatiblity, timeline, etc).

    1. 4.1

      Excellent post!

  5. 5

    I dated a man like this for 18 months.  After about four months I started asking  “Why are you with me? Why am I here?” He would always  blow me off with no real response, telling me I was “silly.” Needless   to say,  it didn’t get better and I am sooo angry that I wasted a year and half on this guy! I’ve heard he’s with someone new now and is doing the same thing to her. When  we first met he was quick to tell me he was looking for the right woman to settle down with and marry. Fine. After four months, or six, or 12, if I’m not her, then why not let me go?   I have no idea what his problem is; I only wish I’d gotten out sooner. My gut was telling me something wasn’t right, and I suspect it’s this same feeling that prompted Kris to write. Honey, do yourself a favor, and RUN. The right man will be PROUD to call you his girlfriend (as my new boyfriend does every chance he gets)!

  6. 6

    I don’t know how old he is, but he sounds very immature. “The expectations that come with the title” of boyfriend are – eventually – a committed relationship with marriage and/or kids. The other possibility is that, while he cares and enjoys being with Kris, he still wants to keep his options open for meeting other women, should someone else more appealing come along.  
    If a woman “trusts and loves unconditionally and makes him feel good” when he’s with her, yet he still can’t call her his girlfriend, then maybe he’s not ready for the responsibilities a committed relationship brings. It’s one thing to tell someone within the first couple months or so of dating that you’re not ready to be boyfriend/girlfriend yet, but after 6 months, it’s not acceptable. I also remember reading a similar example in the book, He’s Just Not That Into You, and you can guess what the verdict was there. If a man doesn’t want to be called a boyfriend, why should he get all the perks of a loving relationship?  

  7. 7

    A good guy will be happy to call you his girlfriend after two months. At least if brought up in traditional, or “normal” social circles, rather than poly, or player circles.

  8. 8
    mary anne

    I totally agree with Helene and Steve.   I have been exclusive with my guy since January and he has actually done less than your man, and my guy has no problem calling himself my BF and letting all of his friends and family know.   So I see a real problem with your guy not wanting that emotional responsibility.   To me it’s really stupid….if he’s acting like your BF there is no real valid reason NOT to call himself your BF unless he is as Helene put it, the “monogamous player.”   I would definitely talk to him about this and try to find out exactly why he feels this way.   Only when you know his reasons will you be able to make the decision to either ride it out or move on. Good luck.

  9. 9

    Oh c’mon Evan, don’t  get soft on us now. The man gave his reasons for why he doesn’t want the title of boyfriend, “he doesn’t want the expectations that come with the title.” That statement is as clear as crystal, there are no two ways about it, he’s a good guy, but if something better comes along, if he wants to have a one night stand with  the hot girl he met at the bar, if he wants to go on dates or talk to women that he’s met on the dating site she doesnt know about… then he can do so with no remorse or guilt, because he doesn’t “technically” have a girlfriend.  He is acting like her boyfriend in every way execpt in the way that counts the most– he won’t commit to her. Read: he’s keeping his options open. Havinging a deep  involved conversation with him will only lead to more confustion and more doubt as he will not admit  what his true intentions are. After all he does care about her and probably doesn’t want to hurt his feelings.

    Listen, I’ve  been there, and that’s exactly what i meant when i’ve told someone that I’m not ready to be in an  official relationship with them, even though I was supportive in everyway a girlfriend should be. I’m sure Kris too has been on the other side of this cunundrum, as well as most of the posters on this blog. We just fail to see it for what it is when it’s happening to us though.  

    Kris shouldn’t dump him yet though, they have only been dating six months.  She just needs to open her eyes and see the relationship for what it is. However having a so called “exclusive” relationship with a man that won’t even call you his girlfriend is beyond  me.

    1. 9.1
      I agree

      100% agree, he was upfront and shes still investing in what she sees as his/their potential as well as completely vaunerable for the worst heartache ever when “Its time to go seperate ways”.   She needs to ask herself how its gonna feel, and dosent take much to imagine, when he says “look, i dont have time for this emotional crap, i was honest, didnt lie, you hurt yourself”.   Narcissist much?   Yes im experienced with one, one of the best and im a smart cookie. And inside of a year i lost my home, career, car, and am having the baby completely unsupported.    But like another poster stated, no progression, no deal.   She needs to be clear that shes trapped in the honeymoon stage because thats where he wants to live.   Read: “women who love too much”.   The best way to let go of a dream is to wake up.

  10. 10

    What i’m getting out of all this is: It’s ok for you to be his girlfriend and live up to all the expectations that come with the title, but it’s not ok for him to be your boyfriend and live up to all the expectations that come with the title. I won’t get into my own experiences, but take it from someone who went too far with a man just like this, and ended up a divorcee….RUN.

    He’s never been with someone like you, and you are amazing. True, but useless. I heard the same things. He’s “there” for you. True, but also useless. My ex was there for me too. Not wanting to live up to expectations is the biggest red flag there is IMO. Totally apathetic. Don’t you want someone who is driven to live up to expectations? What happens when the expectations are that of a husband, or a FATHER?  


    1. 10.1
      Lynn (the other one!)

      Late to the party, going through the archives. And just had a first date with a guy I met online, amazing initial connection, who has now run because he’s adamant about no expectations. (He’s in his 60’s, I’m in my 50’s).

      He heard me say I had expectations of my last boyfriend – which is true. We’d been together over a year when he distanced himself so I never knew when I would hear from him or see him. And I came second after everything, even the laundry.   That was so not ok with me that I ended it. New guy said wow, I really do mean I don’t want any expectations.    You had expectations of your boyfriend! My reply: I have standards. I don’t do crumbs. I’m not anyone’s fck buddy. Standards are good. Valuing myself is good.   I aspire to a committed LTR. My version of ‘no expectations’     is we’ll date, we could become exclusive if we both agree, and no expectations that it will result in marriage or living together. We’ll let it unfold. Especially early on each person gets to bow out. No pressure. Dating is for discovery.  

      So he’s bowed out. Fair enough!

  11. 11

    I’m perplexed as to how Kris got to 6 months with someone who won’t call himself her boyfriend. It seems to suggest an emotional distance for which there does not seem to be a cause, from her letter. And whilst his supporting her through her surgery was wonderful, it’s also something that a best friend might do.

    There’s a lot of information that we don’t have  about this relationship that should influence things – what is the quality of their sex life, does he demonstrate affection in public, does he say  “I  love you”, is he progressing the relationship to become gradually more serious. All these and many other little signs could give clues as to  his real intentions. If literally every other sign of a real relationship is there, the boyfriend title should not be a difficult thing to add, in time.

    But I do think it’s worth it for Kris to really ask, am I a girlfriend or a best friend here?

  12. 12

    In addition to my previous comment, this is what I would do in her shoes:

    Sit down with him in a relaxed environment (have a beer, wine, coffee whatever). Tell him you are having doubts about your relationship. I would say “You are really great, and I enjoy our time together. You have been there for me and I appreciate that a lot. But when I hear that you don’t want to be my boyfriend I can’t help but worry that this is not the relationship I hope for. After this much time with someone I like so much, and who likes me too I hope for a man who wants to be my boyfriend. It is something I need to feel safe and happy. I respect your desire for freedom from expectations, but if you can’t or won’t provide what I need i’m afraid I have to move on.”  

    Sadly, but honestly, I think he won’t put up much of a fight. Breaking up sucks, but not every relationship can be nurtured into something more. If he does put up a fight, then go from there.  

  13. 13

    Or — you can hedge your bets.   If he wants to keep his options open, you should, too.   You don’t “technically” have a boyfriend, so now is the time to multi-date, try out a new online dating site, join a new organization that is male-rich, and just generally be on the lookout for opportunities to meet new single guys.   You can continue to see this guy… or not.   No reason to share your activities with him because he is not your boyfriend — he’s made that abundantly clear.   Not his business what you do in your private time.   Only see him once or twice a week, in other words don’t be quite so available.   Be busy, enjoy your life, see your friends and family, take on a special project at work.   I don’t necessarily agree that you need to go all the way to cutoff with this guy at six months; however, I would hate to see you hanging in there monogamously, holding out hope for something that may never happen.   By the way, “date around” does not need to mean “sleep around.”   I’m just saying, protect yourself, do whatever you want with regard to this relationship but don’t have any expectations beyond enjoying each other’s company.   And if you want marriage and kids, don’t waste time thinking you’re in a committed relationship when you’re not.   I was already dating two other guys (non-sexually) when I met my now-husband, and just added him to the mix.   It was great, as I always had a date whenever I wanted one, and eventually two of the three stepped up and declared themselves, and I picked.   This is what your technically-not-your-boyfriend wants the ability to do for himself, and what’s good for the gander is good for the goose.

    1. 13.1
      Karmic Equation

      Well said! Agreed.

    2. 13.2

      Completely agree.. I would scale back physical intimacy, as you do not appear to be in a committed relationship and begin multi dating. It is a reasonable action, as he is giving you very important information that he either wants to keep options open or is not truly commitment minded. These are the type of people that will date you, then fall completely in love with someone else and be married within a year. Perhaps he views you as wonderful company and has feelings for you yet not as a future partner. Who wants to be the placecard holder for Mrs. Future?

    3. 13.3

      That’s great advice and answer my question.

  14. 14

    Look. I am sorry, but it is doubtful that you will have a meaningful future with this man. I dated a man when I was 26 (he was 33) who acted like this. He kept telling me that I could not be his girlfriend because he was “testing our relationship” to determine if we should date long term. Excuse me? We had already been dating eight months by then. Like the young fool I once was, I accepted his lame excuse. By the end of my tenth month of dating him, he was checking out other women whenever we went to restaurants together. I broke it off, simply because I deserved better. Yes, he acted like my boyfriend. Yes, he brought me flowers. Yes, he encouraged me to pursue my dreams. Yes, he was charming, but he was not the right man for me. Now, that I am in my late thirties and in a healthy, happy relationship, I cannot fathom being with someone like him again. By the way, my guy asked me to be his exclusive girlfriend five months into dating. That’s what men do.  

  15. 15

    I pretty much agree with all the commenters here.
    I dated a guy about a decade ago who was recently divorced. Big mistake (well, it was for me since I was looking for someone who wanted marriage and family, and he was just getting out of that and not in that mindframe). But I was young and didn’t know better. Anyway…
    I remember when I was getting frustrated by his blowing hot and cold and him not wanting to spend certain periods of time with me. He said, “You’re looking for a boyfriend, and that’s okay. There’s nothing wrong with that. But I’m not in a position to act as a boyfriend to you.”
    That said it all. He wanted to date me and continue to spend time with me, but on his terms. Which meant that this situation would be at his convenience only, and he had no intentions of sacrificing any time and energy for me or catering to any emotional needs or concerns that I might have.
    From that point on, I realized the importance of titles. Because even though he didn’t want the title of boyfriend, he completely understood that calling himself a boyfriend meant something. It meant having more of a commitment to a particular woman than he wanted to have… and by not accepting the title (and by not giving me the title of “girlfriend”) it freed him from having to behave in a certain way.

    1. 15.1

      So true. Your post really helps me!!!! I have someone who says the same to me… He can’t give me what I need. He can’t be my boyfriend. Meanwhile, stupidly I am two years in!!! He can’t understand why I get upset if he flirts in front of me. :-/

  16. 16

    I’ve been this boyfriend… well, girlfriend… before! (almost)
    I think Evan is right that you need to get to the bottom of it.   I think there are many people who don’t want to be rushed into things, and it’s all just a stairway to marriage.   Did your boyfriend have a bad breakup, perhaps the girl he expected to marry?   Now, he is renegotiating everything with you?
    When I had my own version of this situation, I knew that I was moving.   It was also during my senior year of college, so factor in that I was 22 (You didn’t mention how old you are), and I knew after I finished I was moving to another state.   A friend had a crush on me for a year, decided to “go for it” and we went out a few times. When he asked if I wanted to be his girlfriend, I said no, I didn’t want that title.   He was as confused as you.   I explained it was because I was moving.   He said “So…?” and I said “What’s the point?   We can hang out now, or not, but I’m 100% moving”.   He still didn’t get it.
    Then, he was shocked when I moved and didn’t want to talk on the phone anymore, etc etc.
    (a) Is your boyfriend bringing his past girlfriend issues into the relationship? (Lame, but something you can definitely work on).
    (b) Does he have other future desires in life outside the relationship, and is being kind of a love hedonist? (in which case, then you may have issues down the line)
    I sort of get the hedonism/commitaphobia, although now I am 30 and no longer in that mindset.   Some people like to come around on their own time.   I could see him thinking that if he agrees to be your boyfriend, next you will be pressuring him to move in / get engaged / be your obligatory date to everything, whereas him visiting you in the hospital and being otherwise great is all on his terms.

  17. 17


    I couldn’t disagree more, who care what he calls himself  – he is right there with you, sleeping in your hospital room when you need support. Does it really matter that he’s your  ‘boyfriend’ he’s you friend!! Maybe this guy is not forever, but enjoy the moment and realize that sometimes folks come along when we need them. Maybe this is the friend that gets you to the place you need to be, so when  the real thing comes along you’re ready.

    I would say enjoy the time with this man, take it for what it is, and stay strong and healthy. He may be the love of your life.      

  18. 18
    David T

    I am going to fence sit with Evan on this one. It is odd that he does not want that moniker.   If he truly is committed to her, what is the big deal ? His refusal is strange and maybe a red flag, but he might have some hangup.   OP needs to find out why he doesn’t like that word.   Is it because he does not like the implied progression of the relationship?   Is it because he wants to still date other women? Is it because he has some obscure hang up about the word in particular because of how a past girlfriend treated him? From the sounds of what the OP wants, if yes is the answer to either of the first two, they need to breakup or at least scale it back. If it is the third or something similarly innocuous then she should not act hastily.
    This behavior is causing her fear and doubt and she owes to the relationship and more importantly to  herself to get to the bottom of it.

  19. 19


          BELIEVE THE NEGATIVE, IGNORE THE POSITIVE. I dated a guy like this for a year and a half and he ended up bailing. EXCEPT, he actually called me his girlfriend. His actions are GREAT. Calling you his “girlfriend” is a “claim” and a “title”. He likes the security of you.  

    If I were in this situation AGAIN, I would have a conversation with him. After 6 months, what is wrong with claiming you? Is he dating other people, although your exclusive. Sometimes exclusive means that you both are not sleeping with other people but still DATING others. This is what happen with me.  
    I SWORE on EVERYTHING we were going to get married, we even went to look at rings , planned our future etc. Then one day, he just said, we are not meant for each other.

    Talk to him, then tell him you do not want to close off your options until he knows what he wants to do. He will either leave or claim you. BOTTOM LINE.

    -Evan has a article on here about a conversation with a guy in regards to moving to the next level.


    I feel is his comfortable with you and doesnt thing you will leave. Shift some things a little. He gave you your answer. The ball is in your court.


    1. 19.1

      wow Maria…  
      were we dating the same guy!??   the exact same thing happened to me…. 11 months… i meet the mom the sister… his child… he actually told everyone that I was his wife when ever I was ready…..talked to my dad about marriage …the whole 9 yards….then poof…..he broke up with me…. that break up happened over a year ago and i still get a little misty when i think of how it all went down…. title or

      I hate to say it but I dated a guy for 2 years that never gave us the title… needless to say I eventually could not handle the endless ambiguity and broke things off…he did not stop me…..did not even try….

      SO…..exclusive or not… friends lovers…benefits … or not…. I think the only time you can trust the situation and love with out fear or reservation is when he puts the ring on your finger …walks down the aisle and says I DO….

      then you can relax and trust him….for a while ….

  20. 20

    This is a tough one. But generally a man who cares about a woman and knows there is something bothering her that he could easily rectify would make an effort to do so. No, a lot of men don’t naturally know to do the right thing, but if it’s brought to his attention and  the guy KNOWS something small would make you happy, that’s his cue to do it. And if he doesn’t, if he can’t, that’s a huge red flag.

    I remember back in college that during a summer break my relatively new boyfriend and I had to be apart for a few months. He was terrible on the phone, and I was in a lot of anxiety about him not calling regularly, but after I got up the courage to bring it to his attention, he called me every evening because it was a small thing he could do that he knew would make me happy. And even before, I had initiated “the talk,” and it turned out he liked me a lot but  was just not the suavest guy about  dating; once it was out in the open he was happy to be my bf and turned out to be a pretty good one. In both cases, I don’t hold it against the guy for not doing exactly what I wanted, but I would have held it against him if hje didn’t do what would make me happy  AFTER it was clear how I felt.  

      So –make clear one last time how much this means to you and why, and if he still won’t do this minor thing to make you happy, I’d seriously question the point of hanging around.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *