I’m Exclusive with a Woman Who Won’t Let Me Call Her My Girlfriend

woman who wont let me call her my girlfriend

Dear Evan, I really need your help. Here’s the deal. I’ve been dating this girl now for 2 and a half months. We were good friends for 5 months before one-night things changed and we ended up having sex. I’ve known her all my life, since her parents and mine have been friends for over 30 years. She lives in NYC but is moving home to Buffalo to go to law school this July, and I’m here at medical school in Buffalo.

She tells me she wants to take it slow. She says she feels like she’s in more of a relationship with me then she’s felt in her past relationships, which she considered to be actual relationships. She also is not the best communicator of her feelings when it comes to how she personally feels. She told me that she’s talked to me more about how she personally feels then all her other relationships combined; I’m not sure if I should be happy about that or not. I told her I have no problem taking it slow. We are sexually exclusive with each other, but she gets upset sometimes when I do really nice things for her. She says that me taking her to expensive dinners and stuff of that nature is moving too fast and that I do too many nice things. She feels that if she does not reciprocate, then it makes her feel like the bad guy or some such nonsense. But I am just naturally a romantic person and I like to do that stuff!

So I have been trying to not call her as much, and some days I just ignore her and do my own thing. But I feel by trying not to call as much and not be as romantic as I want to be I am playing some silly game with her. I don’t see what is so wrong with a boyfriend who wants to make his woman happy all the time, it’s not like I’m asking for anything in return. Oh and that brings me to another point: I dare not refer to her as “my girlfriend” I guess because that sounds very relationship, and she is not ready for that. So I guess I’m trying to ask what do I do? Do I take it slow like she says and really back off? Since we slept together we’ve only been together on nine dates. I wish I knew how she really felt. I mean her actions tell me that she is really into me but I’m just not super sure. I come from a family where we tell each other how we feel all the time and she comes from one where stuff is just assumed. Ugggh. What should I do? Am I just over thinking all this stuff? Please help!!!! 🙁 Daniel

Congratulations, Daniel. You’re the woman in the relationship.

Congratulations, Daniel. You’re the woman in the relationship.

And I say that with a wink and a nod, because it’s not an insult; it’s just an archetype. After all, how many letters have you read here from women who could have said the same thing, verbatim?

“He wants to take it slow.”

“He is not the best communicator of his feelings.”

“By trying not to call as much and not be as romantic as I want to be, I feel I’m playing a silly game with him.”

“I dare not refer to him as my boyfriend; he is not ready for that.”

“His actions tell me that he’s really into me, but I’m just not sure.”

So yes, Daniel, your letter seems like it could have been ripped out of the pages of Glamour or Cosmo, but that’s a good thing. It shows us that emotions and feelings and commitment are not exclusively female territory…. And hey, believe me, you’re not alone. I’m as much of a female-type communicator as you’re going to find. That’s why I’m a dating coach, and that’s why 75% of my readers are women. Which is why I want you to put your male hat on when answering your own question. If you were giving advice to a trusted girl friend about a guy who was not committing to her, what would you say? Well, you may say something cliched like “He’s just not that into you” And you may be right. But that wouldn’t be enough to satisfy your girl friend. She’s the one who’s feeling the connection. She’s the one who wants to believe this is workable. She knows how he truly feels. Well, sort of…

You’re hung up on a woman who is doing everything in her power NOT to make you feel special.

And that’s where you are, right now, Daniel. Too emotionally engaged in your own relationship to see it objectively. So what you’re doing is using all available evidence to support your ideas. You’re justifying her lack of commitment by saying that she says she feels like she’s in a relationship with you. But you’re ignoring that she won’t let you call her “girlfriend.”

You’re saying that you have no problem taking it slow. But you’re ignoring that you DO have a problem because she’s not making you feel safe and secure.

You’re trying to be a giver because that’s how you feel about her. But you’re ignoring that your girlfriend should WANT to get nice things from you AND give back as well.

Listen, I don’t know you and I don’t know this woman. But it’s glaringly clear that she’s got some serious intimacy issues, issues which you don’t share with her. You seem kind, well-adjusted, and you come from a close family. In other words, you’re a catch. Any woman reading this would love to be with a man like you. But that doesn’t matter. You’re hung up on a woman who is doing everything in her power NOT to make you feel special. Is that what you want? Is that what you deserve? – Cause that’s what you get when you wait for her to come around.

I wouldn’t give up on her yet, Daniel. Certainly, things can change when you’re in the same city. But if she’s not your girlfriend, and there’s no real commitment, I would highly consider dating some other people right now. You may just find that this amazing lawyer woman is not the best catch for you after all.

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  1. 1
    Loving Annie

    Brillaint answer, and very very very true and accurate. She is emotionally unavailable, and he isn’t comfortable with that and hopes that his caring will eventually make her change. Which won’t happen. She has YEARS of behaving/thinking in this manner. She’ll only hurt his feelings / disappoint him. The longer he stays in this ‘non’ relationship, the more frustated he will get, and eventually feel used and degraded. She’s not being nice to him, she’s pushing him away – and as long as he agrees to that by staying, she’ll think she has a green light to continue to do so. Leave her. Forget her. Blow her off and don’t be ‘friends’. It’ll only be a one way street. Find a girl who appreciates you and how you treat her, who doesn’t have so many issues – like not being able to appreciate a guy who wants to call and do nice things and be loyal.

  2. 2

    As a young woman who acted that way for years with many different guys, I subscribe to the “she’s just not that into him” theory. I was considered a pathological committment-phobe by my friends because I kept every guy I dated at arm’s length…and I knew on the first date that my current BF was different, and I acted that way (we’ve been together over two years). Can/will this girl change? Almost certainly yes. Will she do it for him? Almost certainly no.

  3. 3

    Thanks for posting this letter, Evan. Glad to know we women aren’t the only ones who overthink things!

    Daniel’s letter, however, has raised a lot of logistical questions for me. He’s known her his whole life but they’ve only been friends for 5 months? And how did they start being friends while she’s in NYC and he’s in Buffalo? I assume he’s counting their 2.5 months of dating as from the point when they first had sex, but they’ve only had 9 dates during that time? That’s less than a date a week. At most you can say that the two of you are dating, but to say it’s an exclusive relationship and trying to attach the girlfriend/boyfriend status to it is a bit much, and this is coming from a girl.

    Plus, I’m not so sure that intimacy issues are the girl’s problem. Daniel says, “She says that me taking her to expensive dinners and stuff of that nature is moving too fast.” Daniel and her are not yet doctors and lawyers where paying for expensive meals is not that big of a deal. They are students. And most students (barring trust-fund folks) go for modest to cheap food and save the big expensive meals for special occasions. And Daniel considers doing nice things for her as taking her to expensive dinners and other stuff of that nature. Not necessarily writing a sweet note, giving a foot massage, bringing her soup when she’s sick, or something else that shows thoughtfulness but not a big price tag. And students tend to see a direct correlation between the amount of money spent and the seriousness of a relationship.

    So the girl’s issue may not be that she’s not interested in Daniel, but that she thinks he’s moving WAY too fast. Perhaps he’s even giving off an air of desperation. So my advice to Daniel is to slow down and see how things go.

  4. 4
    Loving Annie

    The ONLY reason I think you have to be very careful – and specific – with your logic is that you pointed out in another post on your own blog that you never went out with anyone more than 3 dates before deciding he wasn’t “the one”.
    Therefore, you didn’t drag it out, and blow hot and cold and say you wanted something but you were scared or not ready or he was just going too fast… or any of the things that were misleading b.s. that cause people to stay when they should be leaving instead.
    So you were clear cut on your decision making an never jerked anyone around. Then you met “Mr. Right” and again – you KNEW from the get-go. So I don’t think you CHANGED at all – you were always clear cut.
    Your friends just were assigning a name tag to it that wasn’t correct. You were picky – not a committment phobe.
    Many other people are users and manipulators and jerk people around knowing full well they don’t real have any real intention of committment – as I think the woman is that he is describing.
    And they don’t change – they stay true to themselves and their own dysfunctional patterns of relating as well.

  5. 5

    @Loving Annie, I always considered myself picky and not committment-phobic, as well. I do think that my own immaturity at that age led me to mislead somewhat–I know that on the actual dates guys often ended up with the impression that I had a fantastic time and that I felt a connection, only to tell them when they called back that I didn’t want to see them again. But, live and learn (those were the early twenties after all)–and as you say, they were aware of my “final decision” within three dates, and I never tried to maintain contact afterwards, so there wasn’t much room for misunderstanding.

  6. 6

    Ooooh. This one is a little too familiar. Daniel, I’m wondering what you mean when you say, “I mean her actions tell me that she is really into me…” Which ones?

    I dated a man for years I was not that into, in some ways, and in other ways our relationship worked for us both. However, I cannot say it evolved drastically over time. What we had at the end was basically what we had at the beginning, and it was not enough. I’m grateful to have had that time with my friend and I also felt at the start this was not, “it.” He had just divorced and was not looking for, “it,” so there was little pressure on either side. It sounds like you would like something more, though, perhaps…”it.”

    I would say: #1 LISTEN TO HER. If she is not comfortable with something, STOP. You may need to give her the space to be into you, rather than forcing gifts and dinners on her. If you continue her discomfort will continue and you both might loose respect for you. #2 MAYBE things will shift when you live in the same town. If she is really important to you, set a time frame for this to happen. Say, 30-90 days, or something, and if it’s still not what you want, leave respectfully.

    This must be complicated by your families’ knowing each other. I can see if you decided to announce you were, “boyfriend-girlfriend,” it might be a more loaded situation and have more significance than, “normal,” dating. This MAY account for some hesitancy, but not all. It could very well be she has some real intimacy issues. The lack of communication is a red flag.

    Daniel, commit to YOURSELF, and having a healthy, reciprocal relationship. No matter how great this woman, if it’s not happening, then it is not. You will feel better when you tune in to what works for you and act on it.

    Good luck!


  7. 7
    Karl R

    Daniel’s girlfriend might have commitment phobia. Almost every statement in his letter is consistent with that.

  8. 8

    People make up all sorts of stories to avoid having to face someone and admit that they are not interested. If a woman is into you she will act like she is into you in all of the ways that fit with common sense.

    If she was into you she would LOVE to be called your girlfriend. She isn’t into you.

    Since you have been intimate with her, have a gentle talk with her. Tell her you like to date non-exclusively( I bet she will NOT be disagreeable ).

    Then go do it.

    Plenty of fish in the sea, there is no reason to spend time on someone who isn’t ready or who isn’t interested when you are.

  9. 9

    Hey Evan, I wanted to add I disagree that women *should* want to get, “nice things,” from men, necessarily. Personally, I want to be *seen* by my man. When a man full-blown pursues me with gifts or whatnot, it’s often I’ve felt he’s in love with a *fantasy* of me, or having his own fun, but not really seeing me or taking into account whether what he’s giving is what I want or need, no matter what I’ve said. So, I can understand someone not necessarily enjoying this behavior from a man before they’ve established even what they are doing. If a man is giving, giving, giving, and not HEARING that the woman is not yet on the same page, why would she want this? A man (or woman–any partner) needs to take the time to get in synch instead of just having their own experience.


  10. 10

    “She feels that if she does not reciprocate, then it makes her feel like the bad guy or some such nonsense”

    She’s told you how she’s feeling, and you dismiss it as nonsense. Are you surprised that she doesn’t communicate with you as often as you’d like, considering you so freely reject the validity of her feelings.

    Women have come in for a lot of stick on this blog for being gold diggers and dinner whores. this woman is telling you she doesn’t want you to feel used if the relationship doesn’t end up going where you want it to. you would do well to listen

  11. 11

    Evan’s advice is right on – it seemed clear to me upon reading this letter that the woman is not that into the man. He is caught up emotionally and can’t see things objectively. His comment “it’s not like I’m asking for anything in return” doesn’t ring true – he wants to be appreciated, loved, part of a couple, and she’s not giving any of that. Maybe he feels he really needs her to make him feel complete – which of course is a sign that he should love himself more, and complete himself on his own.

    When you are truly happy with who you are, you can really open yourself to a healthy relationship. If the other person doesn’t want the same thing, then you know it’s not about you and you can move on to someone else. Evan’s advice for Daniel to date around is great – but I’m guessing Daniel will find it impossible to date around unless this woman blatantly rejects him. Daniel – you don’t need that. Give yourself permission to see other women.

  12. 12

    She may very well be into him, but I have been in the position before. When you don’t live in the same city, you tend to be wary of feeling shared sometimes. I too had a boyfriend who though lived two hours away and we only had dates maybe once a week, after two month was sending gifts, cards, and saying I love you. As a woman, I can’t take that seriously. There is no way you know me enough to be so effusive and sure of your thoughts. And if I feel uncomfortable with it and tell you and you ignore it, what else can I do? Why would she want to take it further and be exclusive when he is not listening to her now?

    I agree with the above comments that as a student, that kind of extravagence smacks of being too much – because most of the time students can’t afford to do so, and if he is, that means he’s putting a lot of time and effort and money – that I can’t do, so its awkward. I like to hold my share of the bargain. Maybe I’m less of a romantic, but simple things say romance so much more than dinners and roses and cards. Paying attention to my needs and thoughts are so much better. The most romantic thing a man has done for me are the ones that I needed, not wanted.

    Also, it is a lot easier to maintain and communicate in a relationship when you are in the same town as well. You get to see your SO on his/her home front and in a more comfortable setting, and spend more time together. So maybe she wants to take it slow now, knowing that just on proximity alone it will speed up once she moves into town. You don’t really know a person until you have spent some quality time with them in person. And 9 dates doesn’t qualify.

    Daniel can move on and date other people at the same time, at least until she’s in town and they can see what its all really going to be like. – Or just dump it all together. But more importantly, if he does want to make it work – he should listen to what she has to say and ease up. And I know he said that he tried ignoring her for days and what not – but he’s buying her gifts and dinners on the days he is not; its too hot and cold. Be consistent and be slow, if you want to be with her, and that is what she wants. If you don’t want to do that, then find someone else who will appreciate your efforts.

  13. 13

    Daniel doesn’t talk about her, appearance wise. Sexy women are hard to leave.

    1. 13.1
      Dr. Jazy

      Haha, good point!

  14. 14

    Hunter, ouch – but you might be right (and presumably you also mean that the guy isn’t on her level in terms of looks). Or it could be issues of emotion intelligence, personality, or something else.

    Quibble – “75% of my readers are women” sounds like it would be true of most relationship-focused websites, and Evan does not sound like the “man-woman” writer.

  15. 15
    Cathouse Teri

    Excellent advice from Evan. There clearly is a problem here, even if it’s just a matter of incompatibility. There is no need to pursue a relationship with someone who makes you feel all undone all the time. Relationships should be comfortable. Hunter mentions some “physcially sexy” crap, but there is nothing more sexy than a woman who makes a man feel good in his own skin. This women seems entirely self absorbed to me.

  16. 16

    As a woman I will tell you this…. the only time I feel uncomfortable accepting such attention (nice dinners, gifts, etc) is when I’m just not into the guy. It makes me feel bad because I know he’s doing things because he likes me a lot and wants to be with me, but in my heart I know I’ll never be in a relationship with him so it makes me feel a little guilty.
    I say if a woman won’t let you treat her nice or take her to a good dinner then she’s just not that into you.

    1. 16.1

      I want to put in my two cents.

      I’ve had real commitment and intimacy issues my whole life. It may have come from some childhood trauma.

      Being uncomfortable with being treated nicely never had anything to do with whether I was into the guy or not. And I’ve dated many, many men over the years, so I know this is true.

      I can be into the guy and still be afraid of the relationship leading somewhere positive and promising.

      I’ve often been generally stand-offish in the dating department, especially in my twenties. having the door opened for me, having them pay for things, flowers, gifts… it all made me uncomfortable. and I’m still figuring out why I was this way.

      It’s easy to try to hypothesise why this woman in particular was acting distant. but we’re all very unique and have unique reasons for how we behave. it could be any reason under the sun.




  17. 17

    “I’m Exclusive with a Woman Who Won’t Let Me Call Her My Girlfriend”

    Not to be too obvious, but what the hell else do you need? The rest of the mental gyrations are meaningless. To quote King Arthur from Monty Python the Holy Grail at the Castle of Louis D’Lombard…

    “Run Away!”

  18. 18

    on post #15

    “physically sexy?”….OMG!….LOL!…..

  19. 19

    on post #16

    A woman may not be “into” a man right now, but, that does not mean, she will never be “into” him. Women don’t change their minds, their, “feelings” change.

  20. 20

    I was just reading an article like this. The guy can’t get a commitment and he was thinking that maybe she had had some bad experiences in the past or something. I think it’s something you should talk about because then atleast you’ll know why she doesn’t want to commit. Usually women want to, so you want to make sure she’s really into you.

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