Can An Older Man Change Into a Committed Partner?


After six months, I have discovered (the hard way!) that the man I was becoming more and more attached to is an “ambivalent” man, a commitmentphobe, a “runner.” I’m heartbroken, of course. My question, even after “How Do I Get Him Back”: would he or could he ever change, even with all your relationship assistance and my best efforts?

Do I even want him back? I’m 65, twice widowed, and marriage isn’t a priority for me at this point, but a commitment and loyalty and reliability in my man definitely are.


I’ve been a dating coach for seven years now. In that time, I’ve had nearly 1000 private clients who have engaged A decent percentage of them (10-15%) started working with me while they were already dating men.

You want to know how many of them ended up with those men?


That’s right. Not ONE woman who has EVER come to me with a “man she’s seeing” ended up marrying him.

This may be shocking to you — or it may be utterly predictable. After all, women in happy, healthy, relationships don’t usually shell out $4500 for dating coaching.

Not ONE woman who has EVER come to me with a “man she’s seeing” ended up marrying him.

To me, this illustrates the tremendous power of wishful thinking. The idea that a man who is emotionally unavailable after three months will suddenly become emotionally available after six. Or that the man who never talks about a future with you will suddenly see the light. Or that the guy who disappears for a week is secretly in love with you. This delusion is so commonplace that a book like “He’s Just Not that Into You” was seen as revelatory, when to men it could have been subtitled, “Duh.”

Put another way: if you let go of an apple from chin height, you’d expect it to drop, wouldn’t you? Of course. Because every time you’ve ever let go of an apple, it hit the floor.

So look back at your experiences with two kinds of men: the men who turned into your best boyfriends and the kind where you didn’t know where you stood.

The men who became your committed boyfriends did one thing: they made an effort and talked about a future. “What are you doing tomorrow? How about the next day? What about this weeknend? Let’s make plans for the holidays. I want you to meet my family. Did you get my voice mail last night? I think I’m falling in love with you.”

The men who left you walking on eggshells did the complete opposite. A great night of passion is invariably followed by five days of silence. Maybe a text to say, “what’s up?”

The men who became your committed boyfriends did one thing: they made an effort and talked about a future.

Is it not clear which men have long-term potential?

Is it not clear that in waiting for a man who needs a once-a-week partner to change his mind, you could lose years of your life?

Finally, is it not clear that there is only one answer to “How Do I Get Him Back?”

YOU DON’T!!!!!!!!

You don’t get him back because you never had him to begin with.

You don’t get him back because he doesn’t want you badly enough.

You don’t get him back because he makes for one selfish and shitty life partner.

Do you need any more evidence, Jen?

If you truly prize loyalty, reliability, and commitment over, say, money and chemistry, then start choosing men who are loyal, reliable and commitment-oriented.

This is one of the main messages of “Why He Disappeared.” You can’t change a man who doesn’t want to change.

All you can do is leave him for a man who DOES want to value, cherish and commit to you. It all begins with you.

Click here to check out “Why He Disappeared” and let go of the pain of non-committal men forever.

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  1. 1

    This delusion is so commonplace that a book like “He’s Just Not that Into You” was seen as revelatory, when to men it could have been subtitled, “Duh.”
    Thank you!   It is amazing how much mileage that author got out of only stating the painfully obvious.

  2. 2

    I agree that book could have been subtitled “Duh”, but the reason it was necessary to have been written (and has since become ingrained in relationship lexicon) is because alot (ALOT) of men send mixed signals in the first few months of dating. Some come on  like Superboyfriend for several weeks, then become “super busy”, or less attentive. The woman wonders what’s up? Did she do/say something wrong? Turn him off? Maybe she just really  misread his interest? Then…when she’s about to say “Oh, well”   – he’s baaack. Rinse, repeat.

    As long as there are people out there sending mixed signals, there will be an equal number of other people wondering if they are dealing with JNTIY, or something else. Like a quirk?

    1. 2.1

      I could have written that myself. So true.

    2. 2.2

      Yes this samething happened to me. I’m  broken hearted about and obviously learned the hard wsy.

  3. 3

    First off, I don’t think age has anything to do with it. I agree about the mixed signals, but I’ve also learned (the hard way), that mixed signals are the equivalent of red flags. For example, a man might tell me that he’s not really looking to get serious, that he just wants to date, but he thinks I’m great and is open to seeing where things go. In the past, I’d basically ignore the “not looking for anything serious” part, and focus on the “he thinks I’m great and he’s open to seeing where things go with us!” part. I’ve learned (partly from reading this blog) that if a guy tells you he isn’t looking to get serious right now – and 9 times out of 10, a man will tell you that early on – he means it and is unlikely to change for you. I prefer to deal with reality, even if it hurts a bit, than to project a fantasy relationship on someone that will most probably never happen.  
    As Evan stated, the men who have really wanted a relationship with me let me know it. They are the ones who took down their dating profiles or stopped browsing online, they’re the ones who have made dates with me right away, they’re the one who say “we”, and they’re the ones who talk about a future.
    Also, just about all of these men who weren’t looking for anything serious ended up getting married or finding a girlfriend within months of our breaking up. Dating should be about liking someone the way they are right now, not falling in love with the potential of what MIGHT be if only the guy would come around.

  4. 4

    It is painfully obvious that this older gentleman does not want a serious committed relationship. The OP best move on to someone who is happy to commit to her.

  5. 5

    Excellent answer Evan, I love the way you get right to the heart of the matter in a clear way.   There is NO doubt in dating that when one likes another person a lot, and the other person doesn’t feel the same way that it’s disappointing.   I don’t know of any way to avoid that happening in life (other than not interacting with men romantically at all).

    A few other things I would add that the OP doesn’t really talk about, so I’m not sure if they apply, however, there are always two sides to a story.

    It also seems very commone that women want to go from dating to committment like within a month’s time.   They totally invade a man’s boundaries, doing things for him that are totally inappropriate (desperate, needy, clingy are words that come to mind) or give up their lives.    I find too these women make this same mistake over and over and over again–then they get pissed at the guy when he pulls back, now it’s his fault and all men are committment phobes and jerks.    

    Let the man show who he is and how interested he is–let him ‘work’ to win you (the generic you!).   That takes time and PATIENCE.   In the meantime, if the woman is continuing to date other men, she’s  not all hooked into the guy emotionally. If he doesn’t show that  he’s interested, then it’s just the way the dating and human game goes and to let that man out of your dating cycle.   This is opposed to now saying the guy (and usually  expands out to all men)  is a jerk and a commitment phobe.

    One great thing about men is they are very simple and straightforward.   They don’t stay in their head analyzing everything, making excuses and thinking of ways to piss women off.   They go by how they feel.   If they feel pressured or smothered or there is no ‘challenge’ to winning the woman, more than likely, they will disappear somewhere down the line.   (And if they don’t, then he’s probably not a good man of maturity and character.)

    1. 5.1
      Stephen Lawrence

      Denise, excellent reply, when applied to simple men. But there some men who are not simple at all, and if that’s who you go for, then different advice applies.

  6. 6

    This was a quote I had from another newsletter, which I think says it perfectly. It would be great if Evan agrees:

    You don’t want to come across as if not caring about how your behavior is viewed by others, but you also must conduct yourself in a confident way — someone who accepts who she is, but is curious, bent on improvement in all areas that matter to her, and someone who has standards not just for herself, but for OTHERS too.

    Shift the focus from “Am I good enough,” or from “Is HE good enough,” to the perfect balance: “Are WE right for each other.”

    Then EVERYTHING else about dating works itself out the way it was meant to.

  7. 7

    This post exemplifies one of the reasons why I like and respect Evan.   If he didn’t have integrity, he would encourage this woman to indulge her fantasies and to use him to help her solve the impossible.   Instead, he *keeps it real* by speaking directly and to the heart of the matter.
    If I was going to hire a dating coach, it would be Evan, hands down.   His character is evident in his writing — I wouldn’t want anyone else who might not have my best interests at heart.
    Evan, even though it is a day after Thanksgiving, I am extremely thankful for the wisdom and honesty you freely shared by Evan and all on these pages.    I wish everyone much personal happiness in the year to come.

  8. 8

    People change for the next person (sometimes), but however they are with you is how they will always be with you.

  9. 9

    I love this blogpost because it’s absolutely spot on. Brutal, but sometimes I need that kind of reminder, even though I don’t like hearing it.   Guys like that are easy: smile, be friendly and observant. Never give more than you get, emotionally. The key is spotting a guy like that before investing.
    Here’s where I got crossed up: The men who  “made an effort and talked about a future”  throw up big red flags for me.
    The ones  I’ve run across  all seem to have serious emotional, mental or substance abuse issues.  It’s gotten so the ones who say,  “What are you doing tomorrow? How about the next day? What about this weeknend? Let’s make plans for the holidays. I want you to meet my family. Did you get my voice mail last night? I think I’m falling in love with you.”    immediately make me nervous.    
    It’s messed up. I don’t know what to do about it.  

  10. 10

    @#9 Gabrielle

    You are RIGHT ON with your observation about men who do this.

    Mature men (who are usually of good character as well) don’t commit easily.     They protect their resources (time, affection, attention, humor,  labor, money) and don’t expend  them foolishly.

  11. 11

    all of this hearsay, how interesting…very interesting..

  12. 12

    @ Denise,
    I am in full agreement with you! The difference is men and boys in my mind!
    Evan, your a breath of fresh air.   Many are thankful for your openness and honesty about relationships, including myself.   Many blessings to you, your wife and your new addition 🙂   You are cherished by many!
    God Bless

  13. 13

    @ Denisse #5

    I totally agree with you.   Sometimes women want commitment too fast.   I think it is best to observe  a persons  actions and efforts for  a period of time.  

    When I was in my teens and 20’s most of my friends (including myself) became boyfriend/girlfriend material in a month of meeting each other.   How did that work out?   Usually it ended really bad.   Both parties never had time to really get to know each other.   Now that I’m in my early 30’s, I started reading lots of books about dating and relationships (Evan’s, Pat Allen’s and John Gray’s books).   I try to put everything in practice.   It is a whole different perspective, and believe me, sometimes I can feel overwhelmed with so much information, but I believe the advice they give is truly wonderful.   In my previous long term relationships, the men used to call me everyday, made plans to see me, became boyfriend in less than 2 months, etc, only to blow cold after that.   I ended up doing most of the pursuing later on, and believe me, it never worked.   So now I only observe.  

  14. 14

    @jennyana, Observation is good but that doesn’t mean two people can’t click instantly.   My boyfriend and I exchanged maybe 2 emails before meeting (no phone calls), agreed to be exclusive before the end of the first date and were long-distance within a week.   It’s been over four and a half years now, and a wedding date set (in fact, we invited a bunch of my family when we had dinner with them last night!).

  15. 15

    @Hunter (#11)

    I’m not seeing heresay in these posts, I’m seeing observations. You clearly have an opinion on this subject, so why not offer it?

    @Honey (#14)
    I wish you much luck and happiness.
    I agree, it’s possible for two people to click instantly and have a great long-term relationship. Isn’t it wonderful when that happens?

    @Jennyana: It seems patience is a virtue that mature/together folks possess. Immature/unhealthy people seem to want it all, right now, and they let go just as easily as they grab. I’m seeing that a lot of patient people are   TIRED of  patiently building and rebuilding just to get knocked down again.
    Maybe that’s why so many folks in their 40’s on up have given up?
    I dunno. I’m just thinking out loud at this point.

  16. 16

    #14 Honey

    Congratulations Honey!   Sounds like you two are meant to be and you are very lucky.   I wish that was more of the norm, a lot of people would find dating a lot easier!   🙂

    #15 Gabrielle

    Being patient can be reaallllyyy difficult. It’s in women’s DNA to want to know the outcome to things–is this Mr. Right?   Have you ever heard of the story about Bluebeard?   🙂   We want to know the answers to mysteries, one of the reasons astrology and stuff is so popular with women.

    It’s especially difficult to wait for the Mr. Right to come along.   For me, I would much rather be alone that be with a man that I’m not physically really into, isn’t able to be a good friend and true partner, and who I don’t have similar beliefs, values and goals.

    #13 Jennyanna

    Good for you!   Sounds like you are downing down a similar path that I went down after I separated from my husband.   I’m now 5 years down the road and a much better person for all of it.   I also commend you for being truly OPEN to thinking and doing things differently than   you have in the past.

    I also agree wholeheartedly that the information can be overwhelming.   I think you’ll see though that basically everyone is saying the same thing, but coming at it from a different perspective and style, which I think is really helpful.   I would also say that a lot of this stuff is not really rocket science, you don’t have to be perfect.   As a matter of fact, I think   you’ll know when it’s ‘love’ when you do screw up something, he sticks around.   He’s the keeper! 🙂

  17. 17

    I just totally purged a guy that was another HJNTIY situation.   I get it.   I have no desire to hold on, analyze it, wait for it change, or anything else.   I’ll just feel disappointed for however long I’m going to and then get over it.   I’m sure the rejection was a blessing in disguise, but it doesn’t feel very good at the time its happening.

    The other night I chatted with one, with whom it was the first conversation.   He was full of crap with the “you drive me crazy”, “I’ve never felt this way” blah blah blah yada yada yada.   I suspect he’s a hot and cold type.   My gut tells me there’s something not right with that one and I hope I don’t hear from him again.

    The third one, I don’t know.   He admits he hates being alone.   He asked me what makes think I’m complete without a man by my side.   I can’t say I have any interest in this one.   I guess I’ll keep chatting in the event it changes, but right now it’s kinda like, eh, whatever.   I keep giving it the old college try, but I don’t know.   I feel myself shutting down even if I don’t want to.

    1. 17.1

      @starthrower 68
      The 2nd guy you spoke about, the one that said “You drive me crazy!” sounds like the guy I just ended it with. Altho we had 5 weeks of emailing and talking on phone, he was too much too soon. He told me he loved me the first date. He said the same thing, “you drive me crazy, I’ve never met anyone like you, I’ve never felt like this”, and the nail in coffin pretty much was, “I’ve never wanted to marry but after meeting you I want to marry you”. All within 2 weeks. This is a guy, who over 3 months, made incongruent statements, backtracked his stories when I’d call him out on inconsistencies, who had all his exes still in love with him (REALLY??), and wanted me to move in the first 2 weeks….then when he knew I was “in” became passive aggressive, mean, played mind games. Would not return my call for hours and stopped any gift giving (He bought me several gifts even before I met him…sending them to a PO Box). It was confusing because it was interspersed with attention, making dates with me, spending time with me, and good sex.
      I stepped back, broke it off, he came running with “I’ll change”. I gave him another chance, things got worse as far as passive aggressive behavior and denials of behavior….when I ended it for good I’m now hearing, “Don’t let our great love go.”
      I kick myself for thinking that I might not have been seeing bad behavior because it was so subtle but now it is painfully and glaringly obvious. Yikes! I’m happy it was only a few months…not a few years.

      1. 17.1.1

        A leopard doesn’t change it’s spots.

    2. 17.2

      I feel the same way. Shutting down even if I don’t want too. I’ve met some seriously damaged men over the years, especially divorced men 0ver 45years old. Now I can’t even bring my self   to date anymore.
      Read countless dating books. Not much helps. It’s seems almost impossible to find one that is slightly normal.
      If I decide to date again I’ll will have a zero tolerance policy. If something doesn’t feel right it’s goodbye.   

  18. 18

    I dated a non-committal older man for 15 YEARS! We lived in different cities, never shared a home and really, I could describe it more as co-dependent FWB. I think we wasted each others lives as he is now 50 and has no wife or children because it was just easier to be with me. (I know, I completely wasted those years. Now I’m left starting life over at 35!)
    I next dated a VERY eager guy who texted me after every date, texted me everyday, emailed constantly and ALWAYS made plans for the weekends, even took me on several extravagant trips. I didn’t know what to do with so much attention.
    I thought it was dream come true and I admit, I also saw it as kind of a reward for the last 15 years basically amounting to nothing. I met the parents and all his closest friends right away, he started calling me “his girl” and when I asked him what that meant he got all shy and said he was “content to date me and wasn’t seeing anyone else.”
    Tthis man was textbook “into me” and it all blew up. He had bitterly divorced 10 years earlier and not a day went by that he didn’t feel the need to assert that marriage was just for women who “want baubles” and that he was “never getting married.”
    After 15 years with someone culminating in a heartbreaking split rather than a future, I couldn’t deal with all his anti-marriage commentary. I had planned on playing cool and seeing where things went but he was also an avid blogger and I would find things he’d written, such as that smart men “don’t buy, they rent” when it came to relationships. It was like a karmic test having to listen to and read all that.
    So, I never let my guard down because I felt like he was making sure I was always aware that it wouldn’t last. Eventually, he broke up with ME because he said he “didn’t feel like our relationship was headed anywhere.” I felt like I’d been slapped – he was criticizing ME because we hadn’t developed an intimate connection!
    I was DEVASTATED for a long time but reading Gabrielle’s comment about emotional instability and substance abuse (we spent most of our time together drunk) had shed some light on some things. I have blamed myself for months for “failing” to overlook his words and focus on his actions.
    I still question if I should have just been cool and let his actions keep speaking or if I am human to have been freaked out by his negative words.

  19. 19

    Yes, there is no doubt that this older man does not want a committed relationship. It’s really not that hard to figure out whether a guy is interested in you or not. If he is interested, he will try hard. What counts as trying hard may vary from person to person but once you get to know a person, you can tell if he is trying hard or not. If he is not, then … yes … he is just not that into you. Move on.

  20. 20

    #14 Honey.

    You’re right about that.   Sometimes people can click the first time they see each other.   Congratulations on your future wedding. 🙂

    #16   Denise

    Thank you.   Believe me, it wasn’t easy, but I realized that I was doing something wrong when it came to dating.   I had no problem getting second or third dates; my main problem was that I got into relationships in where I wasn’t treated right and just stayed there because I thought they could change.  

    I do want to be in a loving and committed relationship.   I know it’s not easy finding the right partner, but I keep trying. 🙂   This year brought a lot of changes in my life: new country, new job, new friends, first time living alone, etc.    I’m working on my profile because next year I’ll try online dating for the first time. 🙂  

    Finally, sometimes men do act differently from what we expect, but there’s nothing we can do about it.   For example, I met a man when I moved here at the beginning of the year.   For the first months, nothing happened.   Out of the blue, last month he asked me to see a movie with him.   I went and had a great time and told him so.   I wasn’t expecting nothing more.   Well, we ended up going out two more times.   I always made sure we both had a good time and thanked him for the date.   I  started to like him and see him in a different light.     Right now I haven’t heard from him for the past three weeks.   At first I was a little disappointed because I was beginning to like him, but  what can I do?   He always told me that he had a great time.   I don’t regret going out with him; he was a perfect gentleman and a very nice person.   I’m sure that if he was interested he would have pursued me, but that is not the case.

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