How Long Should I Wait for Him to Commit to Me?

photo of a woman waiting

Hi Evan,

I have been dating a really wonderful man for three months now, and at this point, we are spending our weekends together every week. We have an amazing, intense connection which we both acknowledge and at this point, I’m downright crazy about him, and I know he feels the same about me. When we are together, it just feels right, but we have yet to say “I love you” to each other. I’m not getting that he is ready to hear this yet, so despite my feelings, I avoid saying those three words to him. What I am getting – through his actions and emotions – is that he does indeed love me, but I am not pushing him to formally acknowledge it yet.

People in love don’t spend much time looking for love with other people.

The problem for me is this: in the past, he has fallen head over heels in love and gotten deep into relationships very quickly. Each time, it has clouded his judgment, and he got stuck in rather dysfunctional relationships, which obviously didn’t work out. He has been married once, and was in a long-term (five year) relationship with someone else. He is using this as a basis for keeping me at arm’s length emotionally, and while I understand what he is attempting to do, it is becoming increasingly frustrating for me. Our typical m.o., week after week, is that we have a wonderful, close, electric weekend together, and then nothing for most of the week. This is a very different situation for me, since the typical sign that someone is really into me is reflected in his wanting to call me / be with me fairly often.

He wants to see me each weekend, but unless I get upset about his lack of attention during the week, the time between Monday and Thursday just doesn’t seem to be a real priority for him where I’m concerned. What compounds the problem in my mind is that he is still active on two dating websites, which he says is “very limited” in usage, that he is just looking for “friends” in which he has no emotional ties to, since he’s happy and contented with me (allegedly) at this point in our relationship.

I tried to talk to him about this last weekend, keeping in mind that he is determined not to allow himself to relax and let things just happen naturally yet, even though three months is certainly not too soon to allow such feelings to happen. I expressed my issues with him not wanting to get off the sites and focus on “us” without distraction (in other words, we had the “exclusive” talk), and about his lack of interest in taking the initiative in contacting me more during the week.

Regarding being exclusive, I told him that I was off of the sites in order to focus on “us”, and hoped that he would feel the same. No answer (which told me a lot right there). He said his lack of contact was his way of “slowing himself down”, because ordinarily at this point in time, he would have had me practically moved in with him if I had come along earlier, and wants to build a solid foundation for a lasting relationship. That is something I want as well, but his remaining active on dating web sites even supposedly looking for “friends” is very disconcerting to me, and I told him as much.

Finally, the real question here: How long should I “patiently” wait for him to stop pulling back from me? Is there a good time frame to go by not only for him to acknowledge his feelings, but for me to make a decision about whether I should stick around or not? Six months? One year? I know everyone’s different, but I just need some guidance here, since I would like to see where things go without all the constraints!

Thank you!

Dear Jennifer,

I usually don’t run letters this long, especially when I’ve written at least seven articles in the past year that cover this specific topic (including What to Do When the Guy You’re Seeing Will Not Commit). Still, your letter was well-constructed, self aware, and worthy of response….

So here goes:

Our astute readers will have picked out these key phrases as to why you already know what you have to do.

1) He has been married once, and was in a long-term (five year) relationship with someone else. He is using this as a basis for keeping me at arm’s length emotionally.

Ah, you gotta love the built-in excuse. It’s brilliant in its infallible logic. Really, it’s on par with answering “I’m a perfectionist” to the “what’s your biggest flaw” question in a job interview. I mean, really, who could possibly argue? So get it straight: this darling man of integrity is just trying to protect you from getting hurt because he’s made some mistakes before. Got it.

Believe it or not, I’d still try to give him the benefit of the doubt, since I’ve been wrong before. Hey, maybe he’s just trying to break his pattern of leaping before he looked. Can’t blame a guy for that, can you?

Oh, yes you can.

2) What compounds the problem in my mind is that he is still active on two dating websites, which he says is “very limited” in usage, that he is just looking for “friends” in which he has no emotional ties to.

Couples don’t do that. People in love don’t spend much time looking for love with other people.

WALK. If he follows, he’s your boyfriend. If he doesn’t, he’s exactly who you thought he was.

This guy is using you, Jennifer, and what’s hard to take is that he doesn’t even know it. He’s just doing what’s right for himself, so it doesn’t even occur to him that he’s hurting you. Think about it. He’s not telling you he loves you, he’s not calling you his girlfriend, he’s not seeing you during the week, so how can he be called a jerk? He’s covering his ass. He gets to act like a boyfriend on the weekends, spend the week searching for other women, and still not have to step up to the plate and commit to you. Hey, why buy the cow if you get the milk for free?

3) No answer (which told me a lot right there).

Yeah, it’s hard to have a talk about “us” when there is no “us”. By saying nothing, he continues to cover his ass, and you continue to tolerate it. You’re expecting things to change, but he doesn’t want them to change. He wants a weekend girlfriend with all of the benefits, and none of the costs. As long as you tolerate this, it will continue. Six months? Sure, why not? You can have another exclusivity talk then when you see his profile on Match, but what for? To get three more months of sex and heartbreak in? Go for it and let me know how it goes.

I’m not a believer in ultimatums, but I’m big on action. So why don’t you give this one a try?

“I really, really care about you and have very much enjoyed our time together. But as amazing as I think you are, I’m not really getting my needs met here. I don’t want a weekend fuck-buddy. I want a boyfriend. And it’s become increasingly clear to me that it’s not going to be you. That’s okay. I’m not hurt or offended, but I need to find someone who wants a relationship. Good luck in your search.”

And then WALK.

If he follows, he’s your boyfriend.

If he doesn’t, he’s exactly who you thought he was. And you saved yourself another nine months of wasted time with a commitment-phobe. Use it well.

Warmest wishes,

Your friend,



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  1. 1


    Evan wrote it before and I agree based on my own experience. People who are truly interested act interested, in straight forward & obvious ways.

    If I was set on someone as girlfriend material I would certainly disable my online personal ads. I wouldn’t need to be asked and I wouldn’t use a dating site to find “buddies”. I probably wouldn’t be ready for matching grave plots after 3 months either, but I wouldn’t dodge the issue if it was brought up. I would also be making and taking week night calls, even as cranky as I get by the end of the work day.

  2. 2

    Agreed on all points. Despite the past, he should know pretty quickly if the girl is girlfriend material. Personally, I can have that decided in 3-4 dates, although I might not take action on it until the 6-8 weeks…my personal buffer space.

    Dude, it costs money to maintain those match and yahoo dating accounts. Give me a break. He’s looking for different/more tail. If you’re not into the weekender FWB thing, then walk.

    Here’s a thought. Re-activate your own match account and tell him you’re getting 100 emails a day from lawyers, doctors, and pilots who want to take you out. Then schedule a few dates. And go on them. That’ll suss out pretty quick what he’s up to.

  3. 3

    Not only do I agree with Lance, but I would also like to add that if those dates that you go on happen to fall on the weekend…so be it. Start living YOUR life again, and if he wants to be in it, he will. If he doesn’t, don’t make excuses. Make dates with guys who are willing to put their money where their mouth is (who came up with that saying, anyway? Money is ewwwyyy…).

  4. 4

    3 months may not be enough for a commitment with a capital ‘C’, but it is more than enough time for a man to know if he wants a woman as full time girlfriend and for him not to dodge a conversation about dating exclusively.

  5. 5

    I have to say Evan is right. But then again, he’s always right. Off the topic, I read your article about mirroring. That is gospel. Its so simple yet so complicated. Thanks. Now, I’m spending my time with a guy who wants to spend time with me on the weekend and during the week. Mwah!

  6. 6

    Wow. have to totally agree with Evan’s action plan.

    This situation is benefiting the guy 100% and not you. What a great situation for him. He gets the best of both worlds. He can have great steamy weekends with you and keep shopping around during the week for something better. Wish I could have though of that in my younger days!!!

    You simply choose to either put up with it or walk away. Staying with him ensures that 6 months or more into it, he will probably have met someone else that likes enough to be calling/seeing/dating during the week and he will drop you and spend his weekends with her.

    Seem to me its better to suffer through walking away and seeing what results now, rather than months down the road when you are even more attached.

  7. 7

    Yeah, I agree with the other guys. If a guy is in love and wants to be exclusive ALL online profiles on dating sites get deleted not just hidden.

    Since all of us men on here know if you put your profile back up you’ll certainly have more choices and action then he’d have on 5 sites it would be an interesting way to play “chicken” and call his bluff and see what HE does.

  8. 8

    Whose article on mirroring? Can you provide a URL?

  9. 9

    It only took me one key phrase.

    That’s one of the perqs of being a regular reader of Evan’s.

    You learn faster.

  10. 10

    I think the key thing here was your comment “that he is just looking for friends”. I’m pretty sure that men don’t look for female friends on match websites just so that they can have a platonic friendship and talk about their day at work.

    I agree that 3 months is not a long time. However, as the other posters have pointed out, I think you usually know if you really like someone by then. I think he is just keeping you in reserve. He can have a great weekend with you, and then still be open to meet someone new if just the right person comes along on the dating site. It doesn’t hurt him at all, but it has the potential to hurt you a great deal. In the case of spending lots of months and years on relationships, women suffer the most as men prefer younger women.

    I don’t buy the friends thing at all. It’s just an excuse. Can’t he make friends at work? Male friends?

    As for saying he needs time, and he doesn’t want to move too fast – well, that is an old technique for stalling.

    Of course, if you are still in your 20s, and have time to wait around, you can wait around another 6 months and see if anything changes. I would recommend that if you are in your 30s, you don’t have a lot of time to waste. I have a funny feeling that things won’t chase much if you put 6 more months of your life into it, but I wish you the best. Good luck!

  11. 11

    ” He said his lack of contact was his way of slowing himself down, because ordinarily at this point in time, he would have had me practically moved in with him if I had come along earlier, …. ”

    Oh, pu-LEEZE!!!

    Jennifer, I was in your situation once. Met a great guy, total connection, blah blah, but he kept making excuses for keeping me at arm’s length, similar to what this guy was telling you. I knew he was going through a tough time so I gave him his space, but after 5 months of this (after he got through his tough time, which didn’t make him any more willing to commit) and hearing all my guy friends were saying ‘what are you DOING??” I moved on.

    If a guy can’t recognize a good thing he’s not worthy of you.

  12. 14

    In response to post #13:

    Thanks Evan!

    It’s called mirroring.

    Basically, if you’re not sure how to act with a guy you’re seeing, just do whatever he does.

    This sounds really cool. I wonder if I can make it in reverse. You know, show up at a woman’s home wearing a negligee and holding a bottle of mine. Then she will mirror my behavior and show at my place 🙂

  13. 15

    I couldn’t help thinking of the other frustrated women this guy is using during the week. You know, the ones he is out having dinner with every Tuesday and Thursday nights unbeknownst to you, then going to back to their places afterwards (so he doesn’t have to go through the hassle of kicking them out of his bed on a work night)… but dammit, they can never seem to get a Friday or Saturday night date out of this guy, so they are writing letters to advice columnists and complaining to THEIR friends about this guy’s lack of commitment because he is always mysteriously busy or “has to work” on what the world acknowledges are official “date nights” for couples who are at all serious about each other.

    Also: Any guy who is still active on dating sites isn’t looking for “friends.” If you buy that one, you are being naive. Evan’s advice is spot on. Walk. Now. And don’t look back. He has already answered your question of “where is this relationship going?” with his cowardly, immature refusal to even discuss it, while continuing to accept your sexual favors. You can usually halve the time you are in a sexual relationship with someone you have bonded with to get an idea of how long it’s going to take you to get over the heartache. At this point, it’s going to take you only about a month and a half to get over this guy if you leave now. I wasted 7 YEARS of my life with a guy who wouldn’t commit; it then took me a full 3 1/2 years beyond that to get to the point where I wasn’t bitter, wasn’t hurt, wasn’t angry with him anymore, and basically never thought about him or cared what he was doing anymore. Don’t do that to yourself.

  14. 16
    Liza James

    If anyone’s interested, my company is calling for submissions of reality dating experiences
    we just want stories of the good, the bad and the ugly 😛
    feel free to check us out if you feel like sharing your journey!
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    1. 16.1
      Mary Ann Kelley

      Really, as in really?   Yes you want to get in touch with me. I totally regale people with my experiences. I am a 30 year experience critical care RN. I could probably blow you away with not only dating tales but also medical ones, as well They are actually very much the same as they involve human interaction on a highly personal level.

    2. 16.2

      I have to say Evan has hit it out of the park—trust your gut–and when you run out of words–use your feet–

    3. 16.3

      I’ m going through the “EXACT SAME SITUATION” except I stay with my guy and he referrs to me as his girlfriend to some people. I’ve told him how it hurts me that hes still on those friend finder websites and he doesnt answer. I peek at the history on his phone occasionally and find he goes on there daily when I’m not around. He’s very sweet to me most of the time but wont say “I love you” back to me and it tears me up. I’m about to force myself to leave him. I will be on the street when I leave him but I will survive. I’m not going to be anyones piece of ass anymore. I’m learning the hard way how to toughen up. No more Mrs. Nice Girl.

  15. 17

    I think I could have lived with a lot of this scenario since 3 months is still early in a relationship, that is until reading the part about active dating profiles. Here is the thing, if you are getting to know someone as a friend and potential weighing them as more in the initial dating period, doesn’t it speak volumes that he is still out there looking to acquire other “friends” on dating sites?
    Sounds to me that he is keeping his options open in case he didn’t realize something he may find more appealing is out there and in all honesty you should be too.
    Don’t invest more of yourself then he is willing to and by all means move on if he isn’t meeting your needs. You can try and talk to him, discuss it, and explain it all you want, but if he isn’t invested to the level you feel you are all you will be doing is wasting your breath. It will fall on deaf ears because emotionally he is not there yet and judging by his actions he is never going to be there with you.

  16. 18

    Evan was right on target. I actually was in the same situaltion and I walked when I realized it. Best decision I ever made. Keep up the good work, Evan!!!!

  17. 19

    I agree that you aren’t getting what you want and that he is not ready to give that to you. It seems that he’s not sure you are the one for him since he is still looking. I can understand that he really might not want to commit to a relationship with you if you aren’t the one for him. It’s up to you to decide if you are willing to wait is spite of this lack of commitment that might never come.
    I am a woman on that man’s side of the fence right now. I have a great job, my own home (not paid for yet, though), and am a widow of two years. It probably looks like I don’t want to “commit” to the great guy I’ve met even though we like to do similar things and we are physically attracted to each other. I get tired during the week so I like to get with him when I am fresh on the weekends (and ours are “electric” as well). We talk briefly on the phone almost every night during the week, but like I said I’m tired from work or not sleeping well and I don’t want to get his hopes up that we can see each other, then have to cancel.
    More complications with my situation, we are both over 50 and he is divorced, doesn’t have a job right now, had to move in with his elderly mother, and he hasn’t told her about us so we aren’t going into his house, and I am not having him over to mine. While I enjoy his company and we both said we aren’t seeing anyone else, I don’t want to have to take care of anyone right now and I think seeing him more often would spoil things. He’s made it pretty clear that he would love to be with me at my house but I’m seeing “golddigger” flags on that. And, I’m still looking online, but I’m not pursuing anyone else online and I would let him know if things were to change in that respect. Evidently I’m not typical for a woman. Just my 2 cents worth.

  18. 20

    Unbelievable! I loved every single word of it, Evan….every comma, colon, and paragraph break were: Right. On. The. Money. I wish I’d had this tattooed on my brain about 30 years ago. But, as they say, better later than never. Thanks.

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