How Do I Put My Profile Back Up Without Hurting Him?

The image of quarrel of a married couple on kitchen

Can I tell a guy he’s moving too fast and not hurt him? I’ve met a really nice guy online, and I’m very attracted to him. He’s 39 and I’m 33. We’ve had 5 dates. After the 3rd date, he told me he was going to take his profile down. I was flattered so I agreed to do the same. He said I didn’t have to, but I said I would. My biggest problem is I’m too agreeable and passive. I did it to please him and be polite. But now after 5 dates, I feel that I never should have agreed to this before I was ready. I really like him. He is sweet, caring and affectionate. In the past I have always rushed into relationships and been hurt. This time I need to take things slow. I’m not ready for an exclusive relationship – I want to keep my online profile open for 2 months while I get to know him better. How can I do this without hurting him? I also want to tell him I’m not ready for a sexual relationship before the 3-month mark. I’d really appreciate your advice. I really like this guy and don’t want to hurt him. But I also want to move at a pace that is comfortable for me. —Lucy

It’s not a coincidence that I’m posting this question one week after the post about men who aren’t ready for commitment. I’m writing this before I’ve read your comments, but I predict that readers suggested that men are worse than women, men lie to women, or that a real man should know himself well enough to never hurt you and never waste your time.

Alas, the world didn’t get your memo that life should be fair.

This is not true.

This does not remotely reflect reality, any more than “Everyone should be rich,” or “It should be sunny every day” reflects reality. All it does is reflect your desire for others to act according to YOUR self-interests instead of their own self-interests.

And the more one remains stuck in a state of righteous indignance about how the world should treat you, the less likely you are to find happiness. Who’s got the time to be happy or smile at strangers or trust a new potential partner, what with all the fear, anxiety and complaining.

Alas, the world didn’t get your memo that life should be fair.

Which brings us, at last, to Lucy’s question, which if you read the comments here long enough, supposed to be the domain of selfish men:

“She’s nice, she’s attractive, but I’m not ready for an exclusive relationship. I want to keep my online dating profile up for at least two months while I get to know her better.”

Any women ever complained about this man before?

This is irrefutable proof that this type of behavior is not gender-specific.

People want to connect.
People want to fall in love.
People want to keep their options open, but act with integrity.
People want to find commitment, but aren’t always on the same timetable.

And this is the inherently tricky part about dating.

Because what’s good for you and what’s good for your partner are not necessarily the same things at the same time.

Lucy wants to date around for awhile before becoming exclusive with any man.

John might think it’s unfair that Lucy keeps her options open when he knows he wants to be exclusive with her.

Brenda thinks it’s selfish for Ted to go on four dates with her and keep his profile up.

Dating is pretty much always a “don’t ask/don’t tell” medium.

Ted thinks it makes perfect sense to date multiple women simultaneously, especially since he’s not that into Brenda.

It’s easy to say that the person who is the least invested, the person who has the most power, the person who doesn’t want to commit SHOULD tell the whole truth right up front.

But that’s not how it works.

Dating is pretty much always a “don’t ask/don’t tell” medium.

It’s not your job to let him know you’re seeing other people. Your active profile should give you away.

It’s not his job to inform you he had a great date last night. If he doesn’t call you after your date timely fashion, you should probably take the hint that he’s just not that into you.

Wishing for this to be another way is a colossal waste of time and energy.

Just pay attention to the signs: the effort of your partner, his willingness to follow up with you and make a priority out of seeing you, and his proactive desire to become exclusive within the first month or two.

As for you, Lucy, you don’t really have a challenging dilemma. If you want to act with more integrity than most men, tell him the good old-fashioned truth.

“I like you, I enjoy your company, but I really want to be smart before I make a commitment. You’re very nice and the last thing I’d want to do is hurt you. So if you can respect the fact that I’m dating a few people right now and that I won’t have sex until I’ve known you for three months, I’d love to continue getting to know you better.”

If he stays, he stays. If he goes, he goes.

But at least you did the right thing.

Which, of course, is all you can control, not how a man acts with you.

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  1. 1

    Evan, I disagree with you.   Until things get physical I think many people go on the assumption that dating means trying people out, as in multiple people.   That is what “the talk” is about, making sure everyone is on the same page once feelings begin getting stronger.
    I can’t applaud you enough for pointing out that had Lucy been a man and her date a woman, a herd of women would begin the male bashing bit about how men are selish, reckless, prone to be non-exclusive etc etc in dating.   I’ve been listening to women my whole life pointing out sexism in men to a fine degree while being completely myopic to their own sexism and male bashing.   For me personally, it is the best form of birth control after a woman proclaiming she hates cats or is a republican.
    Thanks again man….. 🙂

  2. 2


    You have to do what is best for you. If you don’t want to have sex before 3 months of dating has passed, don’t have sex. If you want to put your profile back up and date other people do it and talk to this guy about it.

    However, be prepared that things might end or that they might get weird ( I think it MIGHT be a red flag that he took his profile down after only 3 dates ).

    If I went out on 5 dates with a woman before she put her profile back up and told me that she wanted to date other people I would assume that she is not into me. I would move on.

    That is not guaranteed to happen. It may turn out well. You have to do what is right for you, you have to talk to him and hope for the best.

    Good Luck.

  3. 3
    my honest answer

    I agree with Evan, though if I were Lucy, I’d use less words to tell the guy so!

  4. 4

    We don’t even know why the guy decided to take his profile down, especially if he told the OP she didn’t have to do the same. Last year, I told a man I was seeing then that I was tired of POF, ready for a break, and warned him that I’d probably be taking my profile down, but that it wasn’t meant as any kind of pressure on him. I came home that night to an email from the guy saying “yeah, I want to be exclusive too!!” and indicating that he’d killed his accounts on both POF and Which made our breakup, which occurred a week later, even more awkward. Poor dude probably lost money when he deleted his Match account, all because of a misunderstanding.

  5. 5

    I tend to be a guy who takes his profile down as soon as I move into seeing someone more often. The way I see it, having more options often leads to split attention, and a failure to really get to know someone because you’ve got too many others on your plate. To me, it’s a red flag if someone wants to keep their profile up for weeks on end, and frankly, I’d really wonder about Lucy’s level of interest in me if she wanted to put her profile back up.
    If you do like this guy, and want to see where it goes, why not focus on slowing down with him? Why not sit down with him and talk about not wanting to rush things? I’ve been in this position before, and it was much easier to accept and work with than someone who basically says they’re “keeping their options open.” Which is what putting your profile back up again does. if he’s really into you, odds are he’ll be willing to slow down with you – that is, if he believes you’re focused on getting to know him.
    Honestly, if you came to me and said you wanted to both slow down AND keep your options open by having your profile back up, I doubt I would stick around.
    Which leads me to this: if you really aren’t ready for an exclusive relationship, then you need to either end it, or find out if he’s ok with you dating around.

  6. 6

    Agreed…men bashing, often unfairly,  has become a  nasty public  habit but I would like to point out that Lucy wrote in with this question and is seriously thinking about the feelings of the guy in question.   I don’t know too many men in this situation  who would spend time agonizing about hurting a woman by putting a profile back up.   As women, we agonize and we expect men to do the same regardless of the outcome.   When they don’t, we are disappointed and read it as lack of caring.

    Let him down gently.   Be sure to say that you enjoy his company and find him attractive, etc, etc but be prepared for him to pull back a lot or walk away.   Putting myself in his shoes, if a man announced that he was putting his profile back up, I would take that as a negative sign and start thinking about cutting my losses, especially since I had made the all-important first move only to have it first accepted, then rejected.   I am not commenting negatively on your desire to keep your options open.   I am just trying to see the situation realistically from his point of view.

  7. 7

    I think you have a very friendly view on men, Evan.
    Just last Friday I went on a date with a guy who told me, as a male, how shocked he is at the many men who can use women for a long time. Without any feelings, just using them like a toothbrush, then throw them away once their purpose has been fulfilled.
    This is reality.
    Lucy is not ready for committment. But she’s empathetic. And she states she doesn’t want to sleep with her date till things get more serious. Let us be honest, there is no need to be exclusive (most of the time) until things get physical.
    But some men are not ready for committment or especially not ready for committment with a certain woman but keep her hanging on to take the best of her as long as they can. Manipulate her emotions.
    Lucy is really doing the right thing. Men are usually more forgiving then men. If he isn’t then she might try to fight for him. But yeah she should really make up her mind if she can see this being something serious.

  8. 8

    It sounds like to truly like this guy, but are trying to break a pattern. You slipped a bit by taking down your profile and down too soon, and now wish to move forward with your intention to date different people before becoming exclusive. If this man respects that, and still wants to see you, I have a feeling you will fall for him even more! It seems like this is about you listening to yourself, more than whether or not you are “really into him.” I hope you do whats best for you, that is the best way to begin a relationship with anyone. 😉 Good luck!

  9. 9

    [email protected]: Women don’t say that men are “selfish, reckless, prone to be non-exclusive” if they haven’t slept with the guy. They say that after he’s brought it to the next level and then acted like it was still all casual. That’s the difference.

    So I would say that the gender switcheroo with this example doesn’t exactly jibe. A more accurate gender switcheroo  would be: 1) They meet online, go out,  and hit it off. 2) She seduces him. 3) He now thinks they’re exclusive because of her sexual interest in him and says they should take their profiles down. 4) She agrees  so as not to rock the boat; she likes sleeping with him and thinks he’s fun and attractive and maybe he has relationship potential, but she doesn’t share any of this with him and  doesn’t take  down her profile. 5) He sees that her profile is still up after they’ve spent  several weekends together and calls her and all women “selfish, reckless, prone to be non-exclusive.”    

  10. 10

    Personally, this should be her wake up call to change her passive behavior and learn to trust her instincts more – stop catering to other people and what they want and start doing whats  right for  her own self.   If she felt things were  going too  fast, she should have said something…I get it – she was scared and wants to be ‘nice’ to him because he’s a good guy – but moving that fast is a red flag isn’t it??   And see she knows it’s a red flag but ignored it by agreeing to take her profile off.    One doesn’t do the other person any favors by  “being nice”  and  half heartedly agreeing to what the other  wants.   It took me a LONG time to learn this about myself  so I’m glad it’s finally connecting in her brain.    

    Evan, women get upset when there are hallmarks of a relationship made that lead them to believe a man is more serious than he is…THAT’S what they are complaining about.   I definitely  think if you’ve moved into having sex territory then yes, the profiles should be down.   I think if you’re both on the same page and genuinely into each other equally and both mention taking the profiles down – then fine do it.   But if there is that little glimmer from yourself of “eh…I like him but what else is out there” then  you should NOT give the slightest indication that it’s more than what it is.   I often think men do exactly what Lucy did because they don’t want to “hurt” this person that is nice but yet they barely know.  

    However, I am certainly not discounting the fact that many women go into a date with expectations and a fantasy they have built up in their mind about the other person.    Then when they see the  other person  is still looking around online  (and rightfully so) they are hurt.   And the thing is they brought that hurt on themselves by expecting too much too fast.

  11. 11

    @ Lisa #7 You said: “But some men are not ready for committment or especially not ready for committment with a certain woman but keep her hanging on to take the best of her as long as they can. Manipulate her emotions.”

    Woman are perfectly capable of being manipulative and not always forth right with their true emotions or intentions.   This is not a gender specific trait.   I’d like to think that most  people at least care where the other person is coming from, and are in it for the right reasons.   However, humans are not perfect and aren’t always good people.   I’ve known women who would hold onto a man because he spent money on her, she enjoyed his attention, and he was really into her.   As soon as someone ‘better’ comes along, or she taps out the funds he’s willing to spend on her, she moves on w/o a single thought of how it made him feel.   Why do I think people do this, because they are incredibly selfish, ignorant and just worried about getting theirs.

    @ Jesse #9:   I understand what you are trying to say here but I see it a little different.   Why is it all the guys doing when it gets to the ‘next level’?   Getting intimate with someone is a two way street.   When getting to know someone, you should be protecting your self interest.   I highly doubt many of these women straight up told the guy they wouldn’t be physical until they were in a committed relationship, they sleep together, and then the guy keeps it casual.   More likely is this scenario:   Girl wants to be committed, sleeps with guys assuming that will get him to want to be committed too, or get them  closer to commitment.   She never told him her boundaries though, and now that he doesn’t want a commitment, it’s his fault for using her.    
       Everyone’s relationship tempo is going to be a bit different than others, and it will change for the individual as they go through life.   Just as the levels of commitment they are willing to give, type of relationship they want to have . . .   This all   changes as we age and grow.   Be aware, learn to listen to people, read their  voice tone, posture, etc.   Be honest with yourself about yourself, and be honest with others.   Don’t expect anyone to read your mind.   Compromise with the other persons’ way of being and  tempo (probably best here to follow the man’s, from my experience)  see what happens.     You get to answer the questions (will you date me, will you be exclusive with me, will you marry me)   but he gets to decide when to ask them.  

  12. 12
    Jackie Holness

    I agree with Evan too…Just like we were told in childhood, honesty is the best policy…If he is really diggin’ you, he will respect that and continue to date you…and men like to chase too!

  13. 13

    A person points out the bigotry of a group and members that group post to defend their bigotry.   FAIL.

  14. 14

    <<“She’s (or he’s) nice, she’s(or he’s)  attractive, but I’m not ready for an exclusive relationship. I want to keep my online dating profile up for at least two months while I get to know her (him) better.”>>

    In general, I’d say that when a woman says this, she is being sincere. However, when a man says it, it tends to mean “I’m just not that into her, and want to keep my options open”. In fact, a couple of the dating books I have tell women to do exactly this, and to not try to date exclusively for the first 2-3 months. Is this so that a woman can go on her merry way dating all the men she wants? No, it so that she can get to know a man slowly, not rush into anything too soon, and avoid getting hurt, which is exactly what Lucy is saying. I don’t think she’s being non-committal, and I do think that 3 dates is pretty soon to take down a profile. Her big mistake was not being more direct about her feelings, but it’s not too late to be honest.

  15. 15

    I try never to generalize or make assumptions across the board, every situation and person is unique.

    However, in my experience and from people I know personally….men and women seem to have different motives.

    Until the “Yes this IS a serious, exclusive relationship” discussion happens….not implied or assumed…. but a face to face conversation, women leave the profile active as a “safety net” and men as a “fishing net”.

    She doesn’t want to be hurt, and he wants to know if maybe someone better is out there.

    Again, NOT my generalizations, but observations from many “war stories” from many friends.


    1. 15.1

      U have a nice guy and you dont want him.   If he gave u grief u would want him.   The perfect man doesnt exist.   Men cannot hear that ur talking with others…just enjoy him, what he gives to you.    If its not gonna work it wont.   Stop the drama and be happy.

  16. 16

    I have to be honest, I like this piece of advice.   This is the type of information that should be going out there from dating coaches.   Honesty, integrity, and clear communication are all so vital when in the midst of a blossoming relationship, even when it’s not the easy thing to do.   If you feel the relationship is going somewhere (and hopefully you can tell if it is or isn’t) then why not lay a healthy foundation now?   

  17. 17

    Hi Lucy,
    Here is my question:   Do you want to put your profile back up b/c your past mistakes with men primarily stem from you jumping in too early (something about you), because you aren’t ready to be in an exclusive relationship at all (something about you), or because after 5 dates you’re still not that into him (something about him)?
    My only concern for you is that you are going to impose so many rules on yourself in an attempt to do the opposite of what has “failed” for you before, that you are going to come off as aloof or flaky.  
    I feel the same about your 3-month rule for sex.   By all means, I think it is more than fine to want to wait and that you should wait, but not for some arbitrary date.   You should wait until you are confident that he is someone you want to get sexually and therefore more emotionally involved with.
    It seems that the idea of getting emotionally involved is throwing you off, putting you in the “loser” position again… or you aren’t ready for a relationship.   If you just aren’t excited to get to know him, what is fair to him is that you should cut him loose.   I can’t tell which you are.
    But, to answer your actual question, how will he know if you post another profile?   Can’t you just create a new one w/ a different username?  

  18. 18


    He’s a grown man of 39 yrs. After 5 dates, you’re not going to “Hurt” him. He’s a big boy who’s had relationships before.

    Perspective here: It’s been 5 dates. He’ll live. Just be honest and tell him what you said in your letter.

    “I really like you. I want to get to know you better, but I’ve moved too fast in my past and want to do things differently from now on. Therefore, I think for me, it would be best  not be exclusive for now so we can take things slow.”

    And see how he reacts. Any mature person would appreciate your direct and honest approach even if they were a bit dissapointed.

    I wouldn’t even mention the “no sex until 3 months” thing. If you don’t want to have sex, don’t. Just stop things before they get to heavy so you’re not sending mixed signals.

    And if you feel in your gut that he’s not  potential  relationship material and you’re not that into him, let him go now.

  19. 19

    It sounds to me like she’s just not that into him ! As a woman, I don’t see how it applies any different from a man. She doesn’t want to sleep w him so much that she can’t help herself. She’s very analytical about this. She doesn’t want to rush involvement, and is aloof even after several weeks and plenty of indication that he’s into her.  

    Regarding previous post #17- the picture would be the same- she can’t really hide in this situation.

  20. 20

    Hi Lucy
    Unfortunately, I think there’s no way to put your profile back up without hurting him, and that there’s a significant risk he would interpret your doing so as a sign that you aren’t interested in him.
    I think the key issue here is to work out why you regret agreeing to take your profile down, and to base your decision on that. From your letter, it sounds as though there are two possibilities: first, that you do really like the guy, and are open to a serious relationship with him, but don’t want to rush into anything. Second, you genuinely want to find out what other dating opportunities may be open to you, and this is a higher priority than the possible relationship you might have with this guy.
    If it’s the latter, I’d say exactly what Evan suggests above. If it’s the former, you should certainly tell him you want to take it slow and hold off on sex, but I think it’s worth considering staying off the dating sites for the two or three months you say you want in order to work out whether you want a relationship with him. Two or three months isn’t a very long period, and at your age I don’t think it’s a big deal if you are absent from the dating scene for this time. I’m not necessarily a fan of serial consecutive dating, but if you actually like him, I think there’s an argument for it on this occasion.
    Also, agreeing to take your profile down is not the same as marrying him! Even if you keep off the dating sites, this is still the time when you should be getting to know him and finding out whether the two of you are a good match.
    Just my twopennorth; best of luck with whatever you decide.

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