Should I Reconnect With A Man Who Isn’t Looking For An Exclusive Relationship?

woman deeply thinking while drinking coffee

Dear Evan,

People say “It will happen when you least expect it.” Well, I’ve been “least expecting it” for more than 10 years since my divorce. I’ve been “least expecting it” while raising my daughter, finishing college and managing a home and career.


Shortly after I was separated I dated a man casually. We spent a few long weekends together and he told me before we became intimately involved that he was not seeking a monogamous relationship. We were both in the same place. We never really had closure. I always felt good about not chasing him and knew that if he was interested he would contact me again.


Fast-forward 10 years. I was having a “least expecting it” morning sipping tea when he contacted me through email. He told me he had two exclusive relationships in the last 10 years but never married or had children. We enjoyed a wonderful afternoon that led to dinner that led to him spending the night. It was as if we were never apart. The attraction was greater than before. I told him I was not in the same place and not interested in a casual relationship. He was much more openly affectionate and forthcoming with his feelings than the first time we met. We agreed to take things slowly. I just felt like a game-playing high school girl if I were to send him home that night and withhold sex. So I took the chance.

If you lived in a cave in Mongolia, it would be safe to say that you wouldn’t expect to fall in love, wouldn’t it?


He didn’t rush out the next day and actually stayed most of the day. He called the next day and said “we should do it again some time.” Okay, that was an odd comment. But he called again the following day and we made plans for me to visit him. He told me how wonderful it was to be back together. How much he wants to spend time with me. He wanted to enrich my life and not cause stress. Words – I know. Actions – I know.


Here’s where it goes awry. I go to his house. It’s a very passionate erotic scene and then the reality hits. I am unnerved being at his house again, flashing back to my last time when I walked out and didn’t see him for 10 years. I became that woman. That needy insecure woman. I couldn’t shake the feeling and I am sure he noticed the shift in my energy. I told him that I was feeling anxious. He asked what he could do to make me feel better. So I told him that I did not want to date other people and wanted to know what he was seeking. Then I heard exactly what I dreaded: he does not want an exclusive relationship. He was open and honest and I respect his position. Once again I walked out of his house not knowing where he stands or plans to go. He called that evening to make sure I was home safely but did not ask to see me again. I don’t plan on calling him and chasing him. I made my feelings known and was clear about what I value in a relationship.



Evan, here is where I need your guidance. I feel he is worth spending time with and taking it slowly to see if it will grow into a wonderful authentic and loving relationship. How do I not lose my “least expected” moment?   -Toni


Dear Toni,

Respectfully, your email has absolutely nothing to do with “love happens when you least expect it”.

If you lived in a cave in Mongolia, it would be safe to say that you wouldn’t expect to fall in love, wouldn’t it?

And if “love happens when you least expect it”, then you can certainly predict that Mr. Right will come knocking on your cold stone Mongolian door, right?

It’s ridiculous to live your life around these kinds of fantasies — to the point that I have an emailed newsletter called, “Love Happens When You Least Expect It — NOT!”

So once we get past your fantastical expectations and puncture the idea that “not trying” is a smart strategy for finding love (personally, I like going on one online date a week until you find a boyfriend), we can look clearly at your situation.

Thankfully, you made it really easy to advise you.

Your salient query: “I feel he is worth spending time with and taking it slowly to see if it will grow into a wonderful authentic and loving relationship.”

His stance on relationships: “He does not want an exclusive relationship. He did not ask to see me again.”


What part of “I don’t want a girlfriend. I don’t plan on seeing you again,” makes you think that he wants a wonderful, authentic and loving relationship?

Losing sleep about a guy you slept with once is like losing sleep when you didn’t win the lottery but you got two numbers.

Your question — so very common in these parts for the past four years — is pure blindness, emotion and wishful thinking, and not at all based in reality.

And the hard part is that you know this. You said it yourself.

“Words — I know. Actions — I know.”


The good news is that it’s really easy to logically jolt yourself out of a fantasy.


You’ve gone 10 years without this selfish douchebag in it.

If you excised him from your life tomorrow, your life wouldn’t be worse for wear. It’s hard to miss something that you never actually had.

Losing sleep about a guy you slept with once is like losing sleep when you didn’t win the lottery but you got two numbers. You didn’t lose $10 million, sweetie. You never had it.

Finally, if 10 years of not expecting love (and not getting it) hasn’t convinced you that it’s a losing strategy, perhaps this latest failure will do so.

Dump the dick, pick up Finding the One Online, get on Match for 20 minutes a day, and tell me in a year if you’re still waiting for love.

Join our conversation (76 Comments).
Click Here To Leave Your Comment Below.


  1. 1

    Toni- I’m sorry for your anguish. I feel your pain.
    Evan- I love you! In a completely  platonic way. Best and funniest advice ever.

  2. 2

    Great advice all around.       Letting things happen isn’t the same as doing nothing.     You have to do some food prep and get a pot on the stove cooking before you can “let it happen”.       I don’t agree with painting the guy in a bad light.   He was completely upfront and honest about his intentions.     I do agree that she doesn’t have a future with him and will get more happiness looking for someone.

  3. 3

    I’ve always felt that “love will happen when you least expect it” line was b.s. too. It certainly won’t happen with a guy who tells you upfront that he’s not interested in being your boyfriend. I’d have been doubly insulted knowing that this man did have 2 exclusive relationships with others. But guess what, those didn’t work out either! And I fail to see how “taking things slowly’ includes sex on the first meeting after 10 years apart. It sounds like a line he used to string the OP along again.

    I would put the guy in a bad light because he should have told her prior to sex that he wasn’t looking for anything serious. But he knew he might not get laid if he’d been more honest. And Toni knows exactly where he stands now, she doesn’t doesn’t want to accept it.

  4. 4

    “Love will happen when you least expect it” is as true as “Pregnancy will happen when you least expect it” – in other words, almost never.
    I agree with Ruby’s second paragraph.

  5. 5

    It’s really disappointing to hear that people equate withholding sex until exclusivity to being a “game-playing high school girl.”
    Yeah, how’s that working out?

    1. 5.1

      Exactly my thoughts.

  6. 6

    Taking things slow means not having sex for three to four months, not jumping into bed with the guy on the first date after not seeing him for 10 years. I wonder if the guy just got out of one of these exclusive relationships and randomly had a fond though about the OP and decided to get in touch with her.
    I also disagree with the ‘things happen when you least expect it’. Things happen when you stop trying to control a situation, which most people interpret as giving up expectations, but in actuality these are two different things. Not controlling the situation is letting the guy lead the pace of the relationship or letting a guy that’s not good, go or giving a chance to someone who you don’t expect to be right for you. Giving up expectations is packing up your bags and moving to a nunnery where you’ll never see a man again. I mean sure, you might develop a secret affair with a priest or the garden boy so the not expecting love statement would apply, but considering that ratio of men/women in a nunnery, the chances are pretty slim to nil.

  7. 7

    The fact that he had two exclusive relationships in the past 10 years and tells you about it – whether they worked out or not – tells me he is garbage.   He contacts you knowing you had feelings for him and betting on easy sex.
    I have heard of situations where a man tells a woman he does not want an exclusive relationship but then meets someone who really zaps him and changes his tune.   What he is really saying is “I don’t want an exclusive relationship with YOU.”   Sorry to be so blunt.
    Remember the words of this song “In this world only you make me do for love what I would not do.”   Don’t recall singer or name of song but this has stayed with me for years.
    Research tells us that men fall in love earlier in a relationship than a woman.   You deserve   better than him.   Check out some online dating sites that specialize in your interests to start.   But do not have anything to do with him again.
    I feel for you and wish you the best…..

  8. 8

    … wait, what? But unexpected pregnancies happen all of the time.

  9. 9

    So he had two exclusive relationships AFTER he dated the OP was absent for ten years, wanders back into her life with the message that he is not looking for anything serious.   WOW!!   I agree with Evan’s advice.   Candid and hardhitting.  

    I will risk some ostracism here  however by suggesting that since you have already slept with him and he has made himself available to be used,   go ahead and  use him.   Get your groove on then dump his behind saying “this was fun but I want more”   and move on with your life.  

  10. 10

    Remember the words of this song “In this world only you make me do for love what I would not do.”   Don’t recall singer or name of song but this has stayed with me for years.
    Bobby Caldwell, “What You Won’t Do For Love.”

  11. 11

    Dump the dick….   I love it!!!

    1. 11.1

      Hahaha here! here! I agree “DUMP THE DICK” cause that is who he really is to you and what he can only offer…his prick of a dick lol!

  12. 12

    @Venus – That sounds like it would completely backfire on her, as she is likely to develop more and more feelings for him the more time they spend together.

  13. 13

    I feel sympathy for the writer. I greatly sense that he contacted her at a time when she happened to be feeling vulnerable and lonely. Her letter kind of taps into something that Nathan posted in his comment #186 in the “Why Don’t Men Hate Being Single” thread which is (to paraphrase) how people end up twisting themselves into something they don’t want to be, in order to have someone in their life, especially someone who isn’t a great match. The writer wants exclusivity, and he clearly stated that he does not, but she’s willing to work through a casual dating arrangement and subvert her needs in the hope that more time will give her the authentic, wonderful relationship with him that she’s hoping for, while not being authentic herself.
    When she writes that she “took the chance,” this sounds to me like she decided to chance that even though she wasn’t sure on that night if he wanted the same thing as she did, she felt that being intimate might help to persuade or influence him on the issue. This sounds like high-school, and not the other way around.

    I think she also read too much into his words. Yes, he thought it was wonderful. Yes, he wants to spend time her her. Yes, he’d like to enrich her life and not cause stress, and take things slow. But this does NOT mean he wants exclusivity. Of course, since he’s been involved in a few relationships, he may have very well known how she’d interpret all of his platitudes, and didn’t care to further explain because he hoped to continue being intimate with her.
    My advice is to move on, and don’t ever look back to him again. While I think they both played their part, I liked Evan’s final parting words! 🙂

  14. 14

    Dang Evan!   Talk about keeping it real! LOL   I like what you said, this guy is a friggin selfish douchebag.   What I find and have learned from reading your book and newsletters, etc. is that guys will do exactly what you allow them to do.   She appears to be allowing him to string her along.   Ten years, PALEAZE!!!!   That’s not love, that’s somebody who’s got nothing else better to do or no one else better to email!   LOL   Dump the dick is right! LMAO!!!

    Still the man Evan, still the man. . . . .

  15. 15

    Yep, this guy doesn’t want an exclusive relationship with her.   Girl, take Evan’s advice.   Get on and give it a go.

  16. 16

    I find the comments that this guy is a douchebag questionable. From Toni’s letter, it doesn’t sound like in neither case did he lead her on. Both times, he told her he didn’t want to be exclusive. Ten years ago, it sounds like neither of them were really keen on having an exclusive relationship. Now, their goals are totally different.
    To me, the only thing that stands out is that he told her he’d had two exclusive relationships in the meantime. So, either he’s not into her enough to commit, or he’s not being upfront about something. Perhaps with more information he turns out to be just an ass, but with what we have now, it’s hard to tell.
    However, then there’s this:
    Then I heard exactly what I dreaded: he does not want an exclusive relationship. He was open and honest and I respect his position. Once again I walked out of his house not knowing where he stands or plans to go. He called that evening to make sure I was home safely but did not ask to see me again.
    Just reading those sentences shows that she heard exactly where he stands, but hopes maybe things will change. I have been in that place before. It almost never changes, and who wants to spend huge chucks of their life waiting for something that has only a small chance of coming? Too many do, so Toni, if you’re reading this, I hope you choose to let go of him.

  17. 17

    This is why you’re one of the very few blogs that I read – you cut through the fluff and you made me laugh at the end.

    What this man did was do what a lot of unavailable men do – test to see if the door is open. He exploited the history and ‘nostalgia’, pressed the Reset Button as if he’d only been gone a hot minute instead of 10 fricking years, and he even through in a spot of fast forwarding and swept her off her feet for an evening. He probably thought she might realise that he’s not the relationship kind. Then he thought she might go along with things. Then he had to clarify that not a damn thing had changed in 10.fricking.years. This guy is a pisstaker! The best thing she could do is meet this man as a closed door and stop letting herself be an option.

    Should you reconnect with a man who isn’t looking for a relationship? is like asking ‘Should I reconnect with a disconnected man that only wants to connect for a casual relationship? ‘

  18. 18

    Eek I meant ‘threw’ !

  19. 19

    I think that most people have been too hard on this guy! He was upfront with the OP when she expressed the sort of relationship she is seeking. More guys should be as honest as he was.

  20. 20

    Wow,  this is why I love Evan.   He tells a woman what she needs to hear even it if is painful.  

    What I am wondering about though is why Toni  feels that  witholding sex even when a woman is  still not sure about a man is “childish high school girl.”    Evan says to have sex when you feel safe  that  a man is becoming your boyfriend.   That means calling regularly and making her a priority.   I am pretty sure I read that.   It seems to me that the childish high school girl is actually  dating in a more mature way.

    I am wondering if it is because he contacted after 10 years she feels  he must have been thinking about all those 10 years and she thought that meant  they were meant to be  together.   But it sounded like it was more convenient for him to hook up  with a very willing ex.      

    Toni only had a few romantic words to go by and certainly not the actions of a boyfriend.    It is almost like she is saying that if a man says romantic words   and gives us hope for a future we must give him sex.       Is sex a reward for sweet talk?  

    I hope Match will bring her someone  will be where  authentic love is.

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