How Much Time You Should Give a Guy to Commit Before You Quit

guy looking at his girlfriend

I received this email the other day from a woman who read Why He Disappeared.

I found it frustrating — but really, I was feeling frustration on HER behalf. This woman is tearing her hair out because she doesn’t know how to apply my advice. And her frustration is what spurred me to write today’s post.

I think your advice is contradictory. You imply that you should get rid of the guys that don’t call regularly and make it obvious that they want to date and pursue a relationship and yet in the book you mention that you didn’t take your wife on a proper date for the first 4 weeks and how great she was that when you did call she was nice and said yes to whatever you proposed doing…and you ended up married….which is why women put up with flaky guys and “bad behavior”, holding out hope that it will change and turn into something serious. Like your relationship.

So which is it? Are you always nice when they call and say “yes” to the date? Or do you move on to the next guy because this one isn’t making much of an effort? For some people the 4 weeks turns into 4 months without them noticing and by then they’re in that pattern…and the behavior becomes acceptable yet unfulfilling and it’s too late to change it because you’ve been the “nice”, undemanding girl the whole time.


My first inclination was to defend myself.

After all, I understand what I’m talking about!

But if Tanya is finding this grey area to be a bit too grey, then I have to acknowledge that perhaps I can do a better job of explaining it.

So let’s take a real-life example, shall we?

You don’t win this war by waiting him out and hoping he falls for you after four months or six months or one year of casual sex.

Janie is a client who signed up for Love U.

I like Janie a lot. She’s the type of client I’d be friends with in real life. Positive attitude. Good sense of humor. Understands men and lets them be themselves.

Which is why I wasn’t at all surprised when she met a man only two weeks into our coaching sessions.

What DID surprise me is that, after the initial chemistry rush, Janie settled into a low-intensity pseudo-relationship that didn’t leave her at all satisfied.

Like Tanya — and my wife – she was trying to be the cool girl, but she took it too far.

She needed me to set her straight and show her what her guy was actually thinking.

So why does a man only call or text you once a week to make plans?

Why is a man perfectly content only seeing you once every two weeks?

Why is a man not clamoring to reserve his weekends for you, or take you on a short vacation, or meet your friends and family?

The answer is simple:

He doesn’t want to!

If a man texts you once a week…

If he doesn’t make time to see you regularly…

If he expresses no interest in escalating the intensity of the relationship…

That’s EXACTLY the relationship that HE wants!

Low-intensity. Low-pressure. Low commitment. Low drama.

He wins. You lose.

He’s content. You’re not.

You don’t win this war by waiting him out and hoping he falls for you after four months or six months or one year of casual sex.

You win this one by assessing his efforts and concluding that you’re wasting your time.

There’s a huge difference between giving a guy six weeks to choose you over the other women he’s dating… and to be a sucker for hanging around when you’re merely (and clearly) his “once a week” girl.

Application of this made-up “rule” is surprisingly simple.

When you start dating, Don’t Do Anything. He calls, he texts, he emails – you just “mirror” his efforts and give him enthusiasm and warmth every time.

If he doesn’t follow through fast enough or often enough, make a mental note: “Hmm… this probably means that he’s a) dating other people and isn’t sure whether I’m “the one” OR b) he’s just not that into me and using me for now.”

This doesn’t mean he’s a bad guy. This means he’s a regular guy.

This is how we work.

I may have casually seen my wife for the first 4 weeks of our relationship, but I would always email the next day to say I had fun. I was the one who was making the effort to see her more. She didn’t have to do anything except say yes and not judge me while I worked it all out in my head.

There’s a huge difference between giving a guy six weeks to choose you over the other women he’s dating… and to be a sucker for hanging around when you’re merely (and clearly) his “once a week” girl.

So don’t worry about how much you like him, how strong your feelings are, or anything like that.

Just evaluate your man on the effort he’s making for you.

You’ve had boyfriends before, right?

How did they act? Did they “see you” once a week for six months and suddenly declare their love?


Potential boyfriends act like potential boyfriends.

So give a guy 6-8 weeks to figure out his feelings, if necessary. And if you don’t get the sense that the relationship is growing, the talk is brief and emotionless:

“Hey Adam, it’s been fun getting to know you, but I get the sense that we’re not on the same page. I need a man who is looking for a relationship and you don’t seem to be that guy. No hard feelings, but I’m going to go find that guy. Best of luck in your search. Take care of yourself.”

You’re free. And, yes, it’s that simple.

If he values you, he’ll fight for you.

But chances are he’ll know that you’re right. He’ll know he was using you. He’ll know that his string of good luck has come to an end. And he’ll let you go quite easily.

When the relationship is growing — like it was for me in 2007 — you may just have a moment like this:

One night, when we were eating Chinese food and watching TV, I turned to my future-bride-to-be and said, “I think you’re my girlfriend.”

She said, with a coy smile, “I think I am.”

It was that simple.

I wanted to lock her in. I let her know.

The right guy always does.

Join our conversation (126 Comments).
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  1. 21
    Saint Stephen

    I agree with Nathan and SnowdropExplodes
    I don’t think that the mirroring concept means that you should absolutely do nothing but means that you should let the guy do more of the chasing and initiating.
    Whenever I’ve been the only one calling, texting and emailing for a period of three to four weeks, I mostly lost interest for further communication because in the the few times i tried in the past – I ended up with a woman who didn’t know how to reject me – or men – because they didn’t want to hurt my feelings, or the woman who had someone she was interested in but just wants to string you along till anytime the other dude shows proper interest for a serious relationship. And finally, you have the other woman who just wants to use you in learning how to date – those are the three different categories of women who don’t do anything in the early phase of a relationship. How about when i call you five times, you call me once or twice in reciprocation? By that way you’d still be applying the mirroring concept and at the same time showing the guy that you are interested in him as much as he’s into you and he wouldn’t be doing all the heavy lifting in the relationship.     

  2. 22
    Katarina Phang

    Women can show interest in so many different ways without initiating.   I am very touchy-feely and expressive with my feelings.   If I like a man a lot, I will generously say so or show him PDA.   That can feel a bit too much for a guy if I also initiate the callings, texting etc…unless he specifically says he wants me to.

    If he’s been actively initiating and then he goes silent, I don’t mind sending a text just to touch base.   Not too much though.   Guys always love moderation when it comes to women initiating/pursuing.


  3. 23

    Guys, I think we’re discussing rather different scenarios here…. if you ARE attentive, calling, e-mailing, taking her out, then the issue kinda doesn’t arise… women will just naturally start initiating some of the contact because its so obvious you’re interested and prepared to take on the male role that they don’t have to consciously hold back and things will just evolve in  a normal way. Where women are encouraged to just mirror is with guys who are NOT initiating much contact – there, the natural tendancy would be to step into the breach which is exactly the WRONG thing to do with a guy who isn’t making much effort. In no time you’ve either emasculated him or just ruined the relationship dynamics….  

    I do think, though, that this is an area where men don’t know themselves  very well – they THINK they’d love it if a woman initiated the contacts….untill it actually happens to them ! In no time they feel overwhelmed and smothered and they run for the  hills! Same with women initiating sex…. sounds great till she starts stripping in the middle of the final  round of the US Masters.    

  4. 24

    Great advice as usual 🙂 I’m jumping on the bandwagon here and saying really liked your tip on mirroring and the added advice of the other readers,  about also  giving a little back outside of this to show your level of interest, otherwise the guy is not getting any signals back.

  5. 25

    I’m a huge fan of mirroring! In my experience, when a man is interested in a woman, he goes after her. He pursues and doesn’t much keep score between how many times he’s initiated compared to her–so long as he’s getting glaring green lights when he does call and sees her.
    Especially in the very beginning (first few weeks), I think a woman should let the man pursue and do very little by way of pursual, meaning trying to set up the next date. The exception, for me, has been an occasional unsolicited text saying something cute, sassy, funny–nothing boring like “just wanted to say hi.”
    This is only in the beginning while his pursuit is more casual and we’re getting to know each other. Once he steps it up with communication and increasing dates–like a momentum is happening, I’ll call occasionally too but I still tend to let them ask to see me.
    I’m engaged now to a hunter who made his interest very obvious. He said that my lack of pursual (because most women he dated DID pursue) made him think I was dating others and figuring out my feelings for him. He stepped up his game because he wanted to win me. He asked for exclusivity after 3 weeks. It’s been 5 months now and we just got engaged.
    I let him lead, gave him major green lights. I was dating others very casually but I wanted my fiance’. I showed my interest without chasing. It’s a fine line that everyone needs to be comfortable with. My fiance’ is a traditional man, a hunter. The kind I like and he liked the fact that he pursued and won me!

  6. 26

    Before mirroring became the norm (at least on this site- it needs to go viral imo), women went slow, feigned disinterest (I have on occasion) ’cause men have SUCH a rep as commitment phobes that really you guys have us near paralyzed.

    The coolest thing I read here was Evan’s remark that men are sexual and emotional hypocrites. In my dating, and admittedly I haven’t dated enough emotionally available guys, I have always, always gotten burned if I led with my heart, if I made my feelings known AT ALL. Guys love to spew the worst, the most outrageous compliments, insincere emotional crap to get you in bed, but God help you if you are yourself and do likewise.

    So we shut up. It’s up to you to decide if it’s disinterest, the above or something else. We learned long ago to keep our mouths shut until we heard “I love you” or something damned close.
    Luckily, lately, I’m with a great, sexy  guy who encourages me to open up, to get affectionate. He is gunning to be my boyfriend and it feels marvelous. Only took three years folks! He came along only two months after I broke up with what turned out to be the biggest (secret) player on the planet. I feel vindicated and very lucky finally.

  7. 27

    I think there’s a bit of a paradox.   Most people don’t want to date someone who doesn’t have much going on in their life, right?   You don’t want someone who just sits home every night watching TV.   However, those are the people whose schedules are flexible enough to date you multiple times a week, right off the bat–if that’s what you think makes a person a worthy BF/GF.   Everyone else will have to make space in their schedule in order to do that, and you won’t know whether or not a person is worth rescheduling your life until you’ve been out with them a handful of times.   So I don’t really see it as a problem dating someone once a week on weekends for a month or two.

  8. 28

    I’m in agreement with Helene @13.   I have never been in a relationship that started through online dating sites, or depended on texting to sustain it  so I’m sure that skews my views a good bit.   But, like Helene says, if someone only wants to send me a text once a week, and lets tons of time pass bewteen dates, then it would be very discourageing and disappointing to me to be waiting around hoping and wondering if the guy liked me enough to some time soon step it up!   I am also lucky in that (so far!) I’ve always been involved with guys who pursued me in a sufficiently eager manner (lol!) that I didn’t have the worry of these thoughts running through my mind.   I give out positive, reciprocal interest signals for sure if I’m interested in a man, but other than that, I let him chase me  (not really, chase, but you know what I mean) and I’ve had some fantastic relationships throughout my life.   The one I’m in now may be the end of the road for me, but I’ve never and will never wait weeks to hear from a man on a regular basis.   There needs to be that surge of interest from both of you initially to get things going, at least that’s my opinion.

    There have been a couple of posts on here that prove there are exceptions, but you’d need to be able to properly read between the lines, as in the case of Kym @19.   She waited a bit longer for her now committed boyfriend to get more serious because she was able to cut through and understand  some of the very valid  reasons for his lack of availability at that stage in his life, and he was worth the wait it seems.     But its never worth your sanity to spend ages and ages trying to guage someone’s interest in you.   Mutual interest and somewhat regular contact is critical within the first  few months for me.     Who wants to feel like they are never thought about or missed?   I don’t need or want constant contact, but someone calling me only  once every two weeks would not fall into the potential *boyfriend* category.

  9. 29
    Lemon Zest

    SnowdropExplodes @ 20 – To tell you the truth, I did more than strictly mirroring.   I recall initiating several calls and texts, and I even asked this guy on 2 dates during that month.   At one point I even came right out and told him that I wanted to be his girlfriend.   I don’t know how he could have doubted my interest in him.   I was actually worried that I was initiating too much.   This man is a paradox.  

    1. 29.1

      You sound like me.You let the guy know because you were into him.At some point he showed you so like I ‘m not gonna call or reach out anymore. IT HURTS.

  10. 30

    I have to agree with Joe’s point about timelines here as well. There is a difference between someone who keeps everything at a distance for weeks on end, like the guy Tanya was seeing, and someone who works to fit dates into their schedule as they can. You can go out once a week or so for the first month, two months, but have plenty of other contact in between. Evan’s point about escalating the relationship is probably more important to consider. You can go on a lot of dates with a player who, in the short term, is getting his fix, but still be left high and dry. At the same time, you can go on fewer dates with someone who is genuinely interested, but has a full schedule and is slowly opening it up to spend more time with you.

    1. 30.1

      My guy was married that’s why!!

  11. 31
    Katarina Phang

    Lemon, he’s perhaps an anxious (read “Attached“).   Sounds like he’s clingy like a woman.

    It’s also perhaps just an excuse.   Most guys I know don’t care much about clingy women/initiators.  

  12. 32

    nathan  @30, excellent points…I agree entirely with your thinking here.   There is absolutely a common sense element to the timelines we impose on relationships and their progression.   For the first few weeks of dating someone who  we are really developing an interest in, it would be quite acceptable to go out perhaps once a week, with a few phone calls or something in between dates.   Knowing that you are at least on someone’s mind as things are moving pleasantly along is great.  

    But as for waiting two weeks between any form of contact  after a date, as I had mentioned, well, that is just too slow for there to be any real connection forming, IMO.   Unless  the man/woman in question  is on a business trip or has some realistic  enough scheduling  issues to deem the huge gap in communication unavoidable, then it just doesn’t come off as a good potential match if there is that little desire to get together a bit more often.

  13. 33

    I also agree with helene in #23. I think that the scenario that Kym (#19) describes in not the norm, although I’m glad it worked out for her. If a man is into you, he assumes that other men are as well. He will try harder to beat out the competition. If you are just okay for now, he simply won’t be as concerned about losing you, and won’t work so hard to keep you. I’m also suspicious of men who rely too much on email/texts for contact, rather than phone. If a man is really into you, he wants to hear your voice, and spend time talking to you.

    One of the downsides of online dating is that it has created a lot of lazy, even disinterested, daters.

  14. 34

    Ruby, I think treating dating as competition is actually part of the problem. It drives people to rush timelines, ignore or miss red flags, and make declarations of love and commitment before they are really ready to. It makes more sense for men to simply ramp up their effort and displays of interest because they want to show a woman they are into her. At the same time, I stand behind my comments that simply mirroring doesn’t fly – at least for me – and often leaves men in a position of having to guess at a woman’s level of interest.
    Also, about the phone. A lot of guys aren’t “that great” on the phone, and prefer in person conversations. Obviously, sometimes that isn’t possible, but I think that lack of phone use needs to be placed within the whole context of the dating situation. If a guy only texts/e-mails and rarely sees you, then something is probably off. And if in general, the communication is only happening once a week or less, something is also off. However, a lack of phoning doesn’t always mean anything. And it’s definitely the case that phones are less relied upon in general these days, regardless of the situation.

  15. 35

    This article is great!!! I just broke up with my bf because he wasn’t making much effort and things just seemed like it was a casual relationship and not progressing after 3months, when I wanted something more. Firsty he only made plans with me once a week and if either
    Of us were busy that day I wouldn’t see him until the next week, (pathetic) lol. He also only ever txted me and never called, he went to nightclubs to his mates bdays and never once invited me. I only met his friends once…and finally he spoke to me badly on valentines day coz we didnt agree on something small and he went off me….that’s when u ended it. Has anyone met a guy like this? Ditch him!!!!!

  16. 36

    Nathan – why would you have to “guess” at a woman’s level of interest if she is mirroring what you do??! She is displaying the same level of interest that you are – (and may feel more besides, but can’t express it becuase you aren’t!) We have to go at YOUR pace. Mirroring demonstrates AT LEAST the same level of interest that the man is revealing. And if you think not initiating and simply mirroring is easy, and therfore effortless and implies nothing, you’d be way wrong. It takes a lot of restraint, thought and skill to mirror effectively – and hence, implies a lot of effort and interest.
    I go to tango classes, and there, the man leads every single move – the woman literally doesn’t take a step unless the man directs her to.  Does that mean tango is “easy” for women? You bet it doesn’t.  You have to tune in to your partner (all men dance a little differently) you have to be ready to move   – or stay still and silent – at a moment’s notice, without ever knowing what’s going to happen next, where he may lead you. You have to feel what it is he wants you to do, keep your balance(in high heels)  whilst not being able to see where you are going as you
      are generally walking blindly backwards, you have to place your trust in him that he has the situation under control and knows what he’s doing,   and all the time pull all this off with poise, elegance, sensuality and   – if the situation demands it – passion. If any of you guys have any ideas that mirroring is the easy option, I suggest you put on high heels and a skirt and take a tango class – as a woman!

    1. 36.1

      Cool answer. I would agree. Personally, being passive in dating can sometimes make me feel so powerless, helpless and bewildered. Keeping the faith and chilling out is not easy sometimes. Especially if it turns out that the guy does not step-up, then you have to be open and ready to feeling sadness and that’s hard. To let that pass through without holding onto it or pushing it down to turn into resentment – just feeling it and moving on is not easy. And then it can also be really scary if he does. I just had a guy text me for the 3rd day in a row when I haven’t met him yet. I’m just not used to it – I’m used to quiet times!!! Now I’m wondering if he’s the obsessive type. None of it is easy.

      1. 36.1.1
        Karmic Equation

        Mirroring shouldn’t only be of actions, but emotions as well. I think most women fly high with their emotions with a guy long before it’s warranted and hence feel “powerless, helpless, and bewildered” when a guy doesn’t do anything that indicates HE has the same interest in HER.  

        Until he’s your boyfriend…and, for me, until a man says “I love you” — you cannot count on his everlasting devotion (or at the very least his WILLINGNESS to give you everlasting devotion).

        So if you’re “just dating” (sex or no sex), mirror his interest.

        If he’s your boyfriend, mirror his emotions.

        If he says he loves you, THEN you can relax and let the love flow through. The caveat is that “real” love doesn’t blossom in a month or two. “Real” love can only blossom AFTER a first fight and a good resolution. Usually, this happens after 3-4 months. “I love you”s said during sex or during pillow talk don’t count either.

        When a man says “I love you” when you’re both fully clothed, doing something mundane and far from romantic, e.g., watching the News or making dinner or going grocery shopping, that’s when you know he truly does.

        At least that’s when I truly believe him 🙂 YMMV  

    2. 36.2

      @helene: I have to disagree. I don’t think ‘mirroring’ is difficult, at least not half as difficult as the man’s role is. I think the main reason u may find it requires restraint and skill is that it’s not what u grew up doing or seeing others do. As someone from a non-American society, mirroring (or less!) is totally natural for females–although we never learnt this specific terminology–because from young there are societal messages telling u that it’s unbecoming or even skanky for a girl to show more interest or take more initiative in a rship than the guy. (I’m not saying these messages are good, though) If u asked me or my friends to do more in a rship than the guy, we would feel so strange and lost!  
      I think in more feminist societies like America, women are subconsciously encouraged to be more pro-active, even in dating. So letting the man take charge goes against the women’s instincts and they find it difficult. Otherwise u’d see what i mean when i say the men’s roles are soo much more difficult. Men have to ask women out and handle many face-to-face rejections. I used to assume rejections didn’t hurt guys, cos I thought they were so used to it; it was ‘expected’ that guys will face many rejections. It’s only when I got older that I heard and read from many guys who say being rejected stings. I wish I’d been nicer and more sensitive towards guys I turned down in my early 20s; I think that’s a sentiment many women would feel when they mature and empathise more with guys. (I wasn’t half as bad as the women Ben #56 mentioned who curse at guys who ask them out, though, that’s terrible)
      I’d say the only time mirroring is hard for women is if u’re dating a man u grow to love a lot, then he loses interest or ends it for whatever reason. And u can’t really do much about it, because if he’s not interested u should walk away–I agree that would suck. (Whereas a guy may feel he can ‘chase’ a woman who wants to end it; he’s used to chasing less-interested women anyway, since that’s how most of his rships started.) But how many times does this happen in life? A woman may love 3 or 4 guys in her whole life; out of those 4, the average woman may end the rship with 2 of those, and the other 2 guys may end the rship with her. So in a society where women mirror guys’ actions in dating, the avg woman could have the pain of feeling abandoned twice in her life, whereas an avg guy has countless instances of feeling rejection, and the rest of the time he’s always in the drivers’ seat guiding the rship’s progress, and hoping the woman doesn’t lose interest. Do u really think the woman’s role here is anywhere near as difficult as the man’s?

  17. 37

    Nathan #34

    Sure, it makes sense for a man to ramp up his efforts to show a woman he likes her. But I think when you like someone a lot, you assume that other people like that person a lot too, and that is one component that drives you to want to “lock” them in, as EMK put it.  Of course, that doesn’t mean you’d want to be exclusive with anyone without assessing potential red flags first.

    As far as talking on the phone, that may be a generational difference, up to a point. I’m sure younger people are more used to texting. A man who texts a lot may not a be showing signs of disinterest, if he also makes a concerted effort to spend time with someone. But in my experience, men who prefer emails and texts to phone calls have not been that into me.

  18. 38

    I agree with Joe, Nathan and BC.   Having arbitrary times for contact are not good in the begininng.   Have a life ladies!!   Too many of us are sitting around waiting for some guy to call or text.   If he doesn’t  do so   every day or every other day at the onset we assume the worse.   I believe that as you get to know someone and your interest increases so will consistent contact.   How many women have been played by some guy that called or texted daily and wanted to see them frequently early on get dropped like a hot potato at 6 weeks!  

  19. 39

    The OP mentions something about letting time slip away while being the “nice, undemanding girl” for a guy who isn’t making much effort.
    If a guy isn’t making much effort, there’s no reason you can’t be dating other people (or at least looking), in between his infrequent calls.   Then you won’t be letting 4 months go by.
    I remember some good advice (I think it was from this very blog) that if your predominant feeling about a new relationship is “confusion,” things probably aren’t going to work out.   If a good man wants you to be his girlfriend, he’s going to make sure you aren’t confused about his intentions.
    “Mirroring” is one of the concepts I’ve benefited from most, since discovering EMK.   I still can’t believe how well it works.    

  20. 40

    @Ellen #26.   Excellent post.   I forgot about this rule when I met someone 4 years ago (yes, it’s been that long) and was just exiting a 4.5 year relationship.   I hadn’t really dated in 6 years when I met this man and since he was so seemingly into me and we had (what seemed to me) rather electric chemistry and a lot in common, I just assumed he was sincere and I fell for him.   Since I had “forgotten” how to date, I opened up about my feelings and BAM, that was the death knell.   I still have to see him through shared professional interests we both have that I was not willing to give up because of him.   It’s not easy but I deal.  
    Now I know when I meet a man I am “into” I have to be:   passive, friendly but feign disinterest, not pursue AT ALL, flirt but retreat, and above all, keep my mouth shut.   Oh yeah, and if you become unavailable every now and then like Kym when she went off on a two week vacation WITHOUT him, that helps.   It is such a game but one that must be played.   All the men I have no interest in, who I do NOT date incidentally but just know through my work and avocations, pursue me continually because I am friendly and fun when I am around them, but unavailable and not interested in dating them.   All men want what they can’t have (and many women too).

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