When Is it A Fair Amount of Time for a Guy to “Know” That He Wants You?

Hi Evan,
I just found your website and wish I’d read it YEARS ago… Really appreciate your insight and honesty. And everything you say makes sense! My question is this: I take on board all of your “he’s just not that into you”reasoning, and also your comments on how to tell if a man is truly interested (calling, making plans, etc.) My problem, historically, is that if I really genuinely like a guy (which sadly does not happen that often,) I expect these things to happen right away. I get frustrated if I feel he’s not doing those things, and rather than make what is usually the classic girl mistake of calling/texting him all the time, I decide I’m about to get hurt and “freeze” him out.

I did this recently with a guy I was really smitten with. We’d only known each other 3 weeks, kissed once, had 2 “dates” alone… But, because I didn’t hear from him for 5 days, I went super cool on him, defriended him from Facebook, etc…

A few weeks on now, the red mist has cleared. I think I wanted too much too soon and just wish I’d sat back, played it cool, and followed your advice on mirroring! He still sends me occasional friendly texts – which so far I answered but then cut short before they get into “conversation.” Can I turn this around and “start again” if the opportunity (or another text) materializes? At what point do the rules of “He’s Just Not That Into You” kick in?

With thanks, from girl with a bruised heart,


Thanks for the kind words, Terri. Sorry to see you have regrets, but, as I just read on a friend’s Facebook page the other day, “If you don’t have regrets, you haven’t lived your life to the fullest.” I’m not sure I agree (frankly, I think if you HAVE regrets, you haven’t lived life to the fullest,) but that’s not really the point.

What did you actually GAIN by cutting him off entirely?

The point is that making mistakes is part of living and no one lives an error-free existence.

And, make no mistake about it: you botched this one by pulling the overly emotional girl act.

What for? Think about it for a second: what did you actually GAIN by cutting him off entirely?

That’s right. Nothing. Your “defriending” was pure ego.

I get it; I just “defriended” someone who was rude to me at my high school reunion last month. It was my way of saying, “fuck you” to her. The difference is that she’ll never notice, whereas the man you were seeing will definitely pay attention.

Yet somehow, Terri, your undaunted guy continues to send you friendly texts. And somehow, despite your previous experience of being cold to an interested guy, you continue to be cold to him – cutting short the texts before they turn into conversation.


This guy likes you and you’re doing everything in your power to stop him. I suppose you can mount an argument that playing aloof is keeping him interested, but you’re missing the most important part of mirroring, as outlined in Why He Disappeared.

You’re supposed to do what he does!

So if he takes 5 days to call you back, you can get back to him in 5 days.

And if he says I love you first, you say I love you back.

And if he writes you a long, warm text message, you respond to him in kind.

That way, you’re never pushing him away with neediness, and always keeping the door open for possibility.

(My original piece on mirroring is here – and links to a half dozen blog posts about non-committal guys, so have yourself a field day.)

Have the confidence and patience to let things evolve at an organic pace.

Really, Terri, this drama is entirely of your own making. Because if you simply sat back and waited for him to reveal himself in his actions, guess what? He would have called you after 5 days, you would have had an amazing 3rd date, and, chances are, at this point, you’d already be boyfriend/girlfriend.

More importantly, if he did NOT step up to the plate to make the effort necessary to be your boyfriend – if he did NOT call more than once a week for 2 months – if he did NOT talk about exclusivity or a future – if he did not make you feel that your relationship was escalating, voila, you have your answer. No need to throw a fit, or bitch him out, or “unfriend” him on Facebook.

When a guy isn’t doing what you want after a reasonable amount of time – 2-3 months at the longest – the best thing to do – the ONLY thing to do – is wish him well and find another guy. It’s really quite simple.

Your big takeaway from this post should be to have the confidence and patience to let things evolve at an organic pace. You may be used to diving into relationships and having instant passion, chemistry and commitment. I also can make the safe prediction than none of those relationships have lasted. So please, give a guy a break for not knowing if you’re his girlfriend (much less wife) after a few weeks.

I have one client now who has met a guy twice and she’s very frustrated that he’s not yet her “boyfriend”. I’ve got another who has had 4 dates in 3 weeks and feels the same way. “He should be more excited about me! He should be telling me he loves me!”

No, he shouldn’t. Every time a guy has ever told you he loves you in 3 weeks, the relationship’s burned out. Maybe this time has a better chance of being for real, because you’ve both taken the time to evaluate each other instead of committing first and figuring out your compatibility later.

This is the central message of Why He Disappeared and if this blog post hit home for you, I encourage you to check it out here.

Join our conversation (62 Comments).
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  1. 31

    @ HotSauce

    To me, being exclusive simply means you both agree not to date others while dating each other.  And being boyfriend/girlfriend means having become closer than “just dating” – “I love you’s” have been exchanged.

    If you are officially his girlfriend I should think you would feel free to call him anytime you liked.  I should also think you would be close enough to tell him you wanted more contact with him during the week.

    Are you satisfied with seeing him only on weekends?  What would you consider “pursueing you” at this point? 

  2. 32


    That’s a really good post! You’ve done some great research. 😀 I’ll have to keep all this in mind when I’m dealing with men (not just romantically…I recognize what you’ve written in male family members as well).

  3. 33
    Katarina Phang

    Thanks, Sayanta.  Since my breakup I have learnt a great deal about basic differences in men vs. women.

  4. 34


    No problem. At the same time…thinking about it a little more, if we go by your theory, doesn’t it mean that men basically have no accountability in their relationships? (ie, they do whatever they want when the mood hits them, but expect women to always be on ‘best’ behavior). Not that all men really do behave that way, just the ones you’re using as examples in your theory,

  5. 35
    Katarina Phang

    Sayanta, if you opt to see it that way, that’s not a very empowering place to be in.  See this as an avenue for self-growth.  It’s all about you -how you are responsible for your own happiness and in charge of your own emotions- NOT them, the men.
    Seek first to understand then be understood.  See how magical that will be.

  6. 36
    Sara Malamud

    While, the inner workings of the male psyche may be a mystery to women, situations such as these are often self explanatory. It doesn’t take a guy or even your girlfriends to tell you that he doesn’t like you. The odds are if you have to ask, he probably just isn’t that into you to paraphrase Greg Behrendt.

  7. 37

    If there was one piece of advice I would have adopted when I was younger (and immature, so I’ll give myself that!) was to be PATIENT!  Now that I’m older, although it’s no my virtue, I totally get the value of patience. I often have to talk myself into patience, but so be it. 

    I just don’t get the move across country, uproot your life, move in with guy, meet the whole family, etc., etc., after a week, two weeks or even 4-5 months.  What is the hurry?  Especially if the relationship starts long distance…the only way we really get to know each other is by spending time together, in person.  Not on the phone, not on line, not in IM/chat.  So much about learning about people is situational–what does he do in his free time, what kind of phone calls is he making, how much time does he spend on line, how does he handle stressful situations, how does he handle negotiation, what are his habits, etc. etc.

    Just some random thoughts 🙂

  8. 38


    SO well said and SO true Evan

  9. 39

    After reading this, I know when I have seen a man interested (calling 2 days after the date to ask you out, calling you and texting you) and when a man is not that interested (waiting 5 days to call you and not asking you out right away).   I would say, give the benefit of the doubt the first couple of weeks, but after that, if he is not calling you more and asking you out,  then it is time to say goodbye.  Because he is not that into you.

  10. 40

    One more thing,  just what I have noticed (not the truth), I see that Evan flips flops sometimes with his view (Pls dont take offense Evan, I totally like your what you are doing here).    You say:  What did you actually GAIN by cutting him off entirely? but in another post You stated why waste one more minute being with the wrong guy.    Also, I have seen this in your Internet dating book also.   Nothing wrong, it just that everyone has their beliefs and it is good to get guidance from other people, but the best advice is from your intuitive self.   

    1. 40.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      Kim, if you can cite exactly where I contradicted myself, I’d be willing to own it. But your claim that sometimes I tell women to stay and sometimes I tell women to go doesn’t make your case. You don’t gain anything by cutting off a man who hasn’t responded to your email on Match.com for 2 days. You don’t lose anything by cutting off the man who’s been sleeping with you for six months without a commitment. These aren’t contradictions. This is common sense.

    2. 40.2

      Kim is very right about Evan. He will clearly say to move on if the guy isn’t stepping up. Yet in this case, some meaningless texts are enough to give him a chance? A chance for what, more wasted time? The worst men are those who feign interest. No, this guy is just keeping her as a text buddy.



  11. 41

    Okay, this is probably an old post but I have to make a comment. Good lord ladies, please take a chill pill. Just because a guy doesn’t hound you two or three times a week doesn’t mean he is out for a casual or sex only relationship. It also doesn’t mean he isn’t interested.  It’s more likely he has a life outside dating such as hanging out with friends, family, or work.  No man or woman should be a priority over these other things early on while dating ( 2 -3 months).  If that’s the case, then the guy or girl probably doesn’t have a life.  As sad as that is, i wouldn’t want to date a girl that doesn’t have a life outside of me.  If a girl gets mad or gives me attitude about the time i spend with her and we are not exclusive and it hasn’t been 2 – 3 months, then i know she is not for me.  She is selfish and insecure in my opinion and i will split.  Remember to use your head and stop being so insecure next time you have to wait for a guy to call.  I’d be willing to bet that 90% of the time a guy is not playing games or only looking for sex (make him wait). He probably just has other priorities.  Or maybe he is worried that contacting you too much will scare you off.  Two or three times a week might be good for some of you but other girls may see that as too needy.  Oh, not to knock Evan but ladies you can contact a guy too.  There is nothing more flattering than a girl contacting a guy first every now and then.  Some of my best relationships have come from the girl approaching me first.  That is all.

  12. 42

    Well, I tried the mirroring thing, perhaps too literally, and this is how it turned out. I’ve been seeing a guy for about 2 months, although we only have time to see each other 1x/wk or every 2 weeks, as we are both busy with work/school, mostly me. He usually takes 1-2 days to contact me, but recently he took 3 days. He messaged me to ask me how my exam went.  So, I decided to wait 3 days. Well, it only lasted 1.5 days because he messaged me again asking if I got his previous msg and if everything was ok…lol. (He is an expat and doesn’t have a good phone plan…yet). 

    So, I guess this points out he likes me….One more point, I still see he is online on the dating site where we initially met. (Note we initially met in February but I didn’t reciprocate enough interest back. I took my profile down, but contacted him in the summer and we rekindled things easily.) But I guess since we haven’t had an exclusivity talk, he can still do that…I haven’t initiated it yet, b/c I’m not sure if I want to be exclusive with him yet…  

  13. 43

    Well, I realize in my previous blab, I forgot to include my questions, oops…

    I agree with Evan to let the man initiate prior to becoming exclusive, i.e., if he calls, you call him back; if he asks you out, you say yes.  But is it really necessary to wait for example, 3 more days, if the guy takes 3 days to contact you again?  And what if in the meantime, he asks if you got his message or voicemail, etc?   Similarly, what if he takes 3 days to contact you again, but asks you out for Saturday on a Thursday? Well, if I waited 3 days, the weekend would be over and I wouldn’t get to see him. (Getting together during the week is difficult for me due to my schedule). And if I ignored his call or message, well, doesn’t that come across like I’m blatantly ignoring him? Everyone knows people in this age have their phones glued to them. 

  14. 44

    Hmmmmmmmmmmmmm. Not sure how I feel about this advice.

    I get that everyone wants to “play it cool” and seem detached but there is such a thing as too cool, and sometimes you do need to cut people off if they are “too cool”. All of my serious relationships have been with men who did not play it cool in the beginning. They were consistent and kept in touch regularly. The issue with a man who texts you once every week or two is that he is avoiding building any intimacy with you or getting close to you. Regardless if you mirror his behavior or not, that man is showing you that he’s not looking for anything serious. Why even play the game if he’s already making it loud and clear that you’re just someone he texts when he’s bored.

    Are his friendly texts invitations to hang out or go on a date? If not than you’re a back-burner girl. He’s keeping things light and on good terms with you just in case it does’t work out with the girl he’s really interested in. People who are ready to find someone special won’t randomly text and let days and weeks go by without speaking.

    Also, this idea that only relationships that start off slow are the ones that last is also bullshit. One of my worst relationships was one that started off slow and steady, it eventually crashed and burned no different then the ones that developed fast.

    If something feels off, then something is off. Three dates is more than enough time to figure out if you want to continue seeing someone. You’re supposed to get closer, not further apart.  If a man is communicating with you infrequently then he is not very interested in you seriously.

    Ladies. stop following this dumb and advice and do what feels right. A women’s intuition is her strongest power, follow it.

    1. 44.1

      Jesskia, this is such excellent advice.

  15. 45

    Jessika, I agree with you 100%.

  16. 46

    Evan, you got this one wrong. Wasn’t it you who once wrote that texting means nothing? She’s not blocking his texts, she’s answering briefly. If he WANTED to see her, the text would say, “Hi, let’s have dinner Saturday night at 7 pm”. Not meaningless banter of Hi, what’s up, etc.

    Men know quickly who they want. He seems to like her, but isn’t wild to keep her off the market. She is one of several text buddies!  I guarantee you, the inane texts will continue for months without action. He might hook her up with her eventually, yet another time-waster that doesn’t mean anything, but no, he just isn’t into her. Everytime she answers him, she mentally keeps him in her mind–time to cross him off and stay open to meeting new men.



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