Am I Foolish For Waiting For A Non-Committal Man To Commit?


So I’ve been dating this guy for about 6 months now (I’m 26 and he’s 28). We go out about once a week. We have a lot of fun together and definitely seem to click. Sometimes I feel like he’s letting me in – like when he introduced me to his mom when she was in town. Other times he shuts me out – no contact for a day or two cause he’s busy with work, or he’ll tell me about parties he goes to but rarely invites me along. He admits to compartmentalizing his life.

Since I know how much he values his independence and tends to shy away from change, I hadn’t brought up the “state of affairs” talk in the past…hoping things would evolve naturally on their own. I also know he likes to move slowly but I guess I hit my limit this weekend and told him how I’ve been feeling. I said I would like to get closer and know where he sees this going. He told me that he’s not emotionally in a place in his life for a serious relationship (due to ex baggage, etc), but he really cares for me and would like to keep seeing me. He admitted that he didn’t know where he’d be in the future, but right now, this is all he has to give. He said he knows I deserve to have what I want and that I had a right to walk away but he doesn’t want me to.

I really do care about him and he’s the first guy in a long time I can see myself with…if he actually let me in, that is. I don’t want to lose him but I’m not sure that I can be satisfied having a superficial relationship with him. I don’t have to be his girlfriend right now but I at least want to know that we’re progressing and the possibility is there rather than just heading blindly for a dead end that will leave me even more hurt. Is it silly to hold on to this and hope that one day his feeling will be strong enough change his mind or am I just setting myself up for heartbreak?


Dear Jill,

A healthy relationship with an emotionally unavailable man is like a threesome with Brad Pitt and George Clooney. Only in your dreams.

It kills me to hear sweet women like you holding onto a prayer like this. And yet this is the most popular question I get. Click your heels three times if you’ve heard this before.

“I’ve been dating this guy for (X Months) now and I like him more than anyone I’ve met in a long time. I see him (Y times) a week and while he tells me he cares about me and ultimately wants to settle down, he also makes it very clear that he’s not in a good place right now. I believe him and really want to make this work but I’m not sure I can take it anymore because I want a future with him. The uncertainty is killing me. Can I get him to commit or should I get out now?”

You already know what I’m gonna tell you, Jill, but I’ll stretch it out to make you see my point of view yourself. Here we go — based solely on what you wrote in your email.

Dating for 6 months. Seeing each other once a week. Is this guy a boyfriend? Or just a guy you sleep with once a week. A boyfriend is committed to you. He calls you every day. He buys you things because he’s thinking of you. He wants to see you during most of his spare time. Ask yourself if this guy passes those boyfriend tests.

Shuts me out. No contact for a day. Not invited to parties. Not very boyfriend like. You know how I can tell?… I’ve BEEN that guy. I’ve dated people who I liked but didn’t want to lose, but went out to parties seeing if I could trade up. And as long as he can keep you around without committing to you, who can blame him?

Likes to move slowly. Values his independence. Shies from change. Looks like you should be doing PR for him, because you’ve bought all of his bullshit excuses, hook, line and sinker.

Told me he’s not emotionally in a place for a relationship — Um, and what was it you said you wanted? That’s right. A relationship.

Said I deserved to have what I wanted and had a right to walk away — Hey! The first thing he’s gotten right.

So listen to this man of integrity and take his sage advice.

Walk away and don’t look back.

If he follows, you’ll know you’ll have yourself a boyfriend who values you and will follow you to the end of the earth. That is what you deserve.

If he doesn’t, then he’s not all that serious about keeping you in his life, is he?

Join our conversation (155 Comments).
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  1. 1

    Hi Evan,

    I just wanted to say how much I love your site and all the great advice you give. You’re really able to give the necessary “tough love”, but not at all in a mean or condescending way. Keep up the great work!


    PS Loved your book!

    1. 1.1

      Most of us can relate! Great advice evan! This is why i have your site bookmarked!

    2. 1.2
      Helen Schirmer

      This male behavior is tolerated in our culture  now and very many women face this same dilemma.   Men are not expected by society to get married in order to have the benefit of a sexual relationship. Because of this toleration,  men can always says they are not in a place to  give commitment.   This, after dating many women and having various relationships. They know they have the woman on a string.   They get sex and keep their freedom. Due to all the dating sites available, they know there are always other women out there that will accept this arrangement, if the current one decides to break it off.   And they might be prettier and better than who they are with. They are blind to the value of the woman they are with. In a nutshell, they have not opened their hearts and become vulnerable. Their focus continues to be on themselves. Hard decision to leave, but these situations should  be deal breakers. They may be a nice person,  but still inherently selfish. Not husband material at all. Women can do so much better.


      1. 1.2.1

        I should frame this.

        Perfectly said and true, thank you


      2. 1.2.2

        Wow. Couldn’t agree more. They are still trying to have relationships with 30 year olds when they’re 60, broke, lazy and lonely.

  2. 2
    My LA Story

    So, why does he introduce her to his mom? Why is he doing some of the things that suggest forward motion?

    And yes, I am asking for me! 🙂

    1. 2.1
      The Gullible Me

      This is the first time I`m doing this online. I guess I snapped! So please listen to me. Her story is basically same as mine only that we hang out I can say almost everyday. I know how it feels and I know how cowardly I still am now.. I walked away but the problem we worked in the same office and stayed friends without benefits. And now I am watching him do the same thing to his new pet! Trust me you deserve better. get an answer from him. Make him choose! you deserve that much. Even my first boyfriend introduced me to his family. And yet it turns out when I met him he already have 3 girl friends whom he introduced to his family as well. I don`t know what to believe about guys anymore … sorry .. I am at my weakest point ..

    2. 2.2
      W S Willow

      its definitely for approval-yet he’s still shopping around. Not a bad thing to do, yet mothers can say anything sweet about you, but ultimately he will make a choice.

      1. 2.2.1

        He introduced you to his mom because he’s deceiving her too! He’s trying to show her that he’s in a relationship with a nice woman. ….so he used you for that deception. Get outta dodge. deserve better! Z88

    3. 2.3

      I agree that life would be simpler if men would be more clear of their intentions. However, let’s be honest here. Haven’t we all done this same thing to men in our past? We were dating, and things seemed cool, but t the time, we weren’t sure, or were dating other guys at the same time. I also have many guy friends and see them go through this very same thing. Some I see get very excited over a girl, only to have her suddenly get flaky on him. I try to tell them that this is a sure sign that she is seeing somebody she is into more than him. Sometimes they meet this new guy after they started seeing the first guy. Well, what do we do as women? We compare and contrast the guys, and then try to get the one we feel is better to commit, while also trying to keep the other guy around until we know what the better guy is going to do.

      Seriously, how many of the women here, complaining about what a jerk men are for doing this, have actually done the same thing to men who were head over heals for her, but she was not sure she wanted to settle on him, or cut him loose? I know way too many men who have this happen to them a lot, so it is clear that many women do this.

      A common theme of men who confide in me is that women often act like a girlfriend, and things seem great, and then one day he can feel that something is off, and sure enough, he finds out she is seeing another guy. When he confronts her, she will say that she was never his girlfriend. She will say that they were just dating, but she never agreed to be exclusive.

      My point here is that we must be intellectually honest. We women aren’t the dating saints we like to fool ourselves into thinking we are. We too break a lot of hearts, are downright cruel to men who approach us that we aren’t attracted to, bail on a guy who has been great to us, because a hotter guy appears and shows interest, etc… Let’s not pretend that we are all saints, and men are all jerks. It would also help our dilemma if we actually rewarded men for being nice, and punished men for being cold hearted.

      This article in fact would show that men in fact are looking for a nice woman, but we women tend to rebuff men who are nice, and chase after men who act noncommittal. If we respond more positively to men who are noncommittal, should we be surprised when many men turn out to in fact, be noncommittal?

      This is a small quote from the article. “Again, the men in the study thought responsive and attentive women were more attractive as potential partners, while women found men with those same traits to be less desirable.”

      So the question is, why would we complain about this when many women reward the noncommittal men, while rebuffing those who are responsive?

      1. 2.3.1

        Well said….

    4. 2.4

      This is where I go wrong too. I get mixed messages. In my case, we hang oit every day, he talks about future things but he isn’t enotionally available as’s confusing. I feel like he wants me in his life at times but then changes his mind almost or says something contradictory. I feel like it’s mind games.

      1. 2.4.1

        Interpret mixed messages as a “no.” Don’t respond if he again starts talking about the future, or better yet, be gone.

  3. 3

    Excellent response, you are right on.
    Love your site and all your work- especially from a male perspective.

  4. 4

    I think Ive dated your boyfriend before.

  5. 5

    LA Story: He introduces her to his mom and occasionally throws her a bone that suggests forward motion because he instinctively understands the value of “intermittent positive reinforcement.” Read your B.F. Skinner. Guys like this know they stand a much better chance of getting the “good for now” girl to stick around so they don’t get lonely while looking for their dreamgirl if they give “GFN” a tiny glimmer of hope to cling to when they sense she’s starting to waver. Standard Operating Procedure among men who are ambivalent for whatever reason. This explains the phenomenon of noncommittal men who limp along in a relationship with some very frustrated woman for five years, then six months after he finally dumps her he suddenly marries some new Ms. Right he’s just met.

    Here’s a handy glossary that will help women decide, “Do I stay or go?” Just add the words “to me” or “with me” or “about me” to the following all-too-common bon mots:

    He told me that he’s not emotionally in a place in his life for a serious relationship… WITH ME.

    He admitted that he didn’t know where he’d be in the future, but right now, this is all he has to give… TO ME.

    He said he’s not ready to get married/make a commitment… TO ME.

    He’s got too much going on in his life right now to spend more than one night a week… WITH ME.

    He’s not sure how he feels… ABOUT ME.

    He needs some space… FROM ME.

    Yes, it hurts to realize this… but it will hurt a lot less and be a lot easier to get over than if she hangs on for another six months praying for a few more crumbs from this particular guy’s banquet table.

    1. 5.1

      Nice one, Beenthru… going to use the “with me’s” from now on.   When I used in my situation, it gave me a twang, but made things pretty clear.   Thank you!

    2. 5.2

      Dear BeenThruTheWars,

      Wow this really resonated with me.  Wise words, and with so much clarity. Thank you, really needed this today.

  6. 6

    It’s so hard to just walk-out from a relationship even if it isn’t. So if this situation happens to me, I’d still go on with the so called relationship but this time I will be looking around, opening my doors & windows if need be, not taking things seriously(with the present relationship). It’s like I’m slowly trying to adjust, accepting the fact that there never was a relationship.

    No matter what “method” one uses, accepting the truth no matter how much it hurts will give you rest. Guess there is no short cut either. One has to go through “the phase” of getting hurt, acceptance and next you’re free!

    1. 6.1
      maurine machugh

      Nope. Because   you deserve better, and you’re teaching yourself to accept less, if you stay, once you know it’s going nowhere. You’re better off taking that time to volunteer, learn to play a musical instrument, build up your   friendships – and look for someone emotionally available.

      1. 6.1.1
        Thela Pieters

        Well said, Maurine .

    2. 6.2

      Dear Stell

      This is exactly what I will do, use him as he use me, I cried my eyes off until I recovered and get back on my feet   I will open all of my doors even my windows   until I found a honest man and caring man   “……..It’s so hard to just walk-out from a relationship even if it isn’t. So if this situation happens to me, I’d still go on with the so called relationship but this time I will be looking around, opening my doors & windows if need be, not taking things seriously(with the present relationship). It’s like I’m slowly trying to adjust, accepting the fact that there never was a relationship.

  7. 7

    Thank you for the bad news, but it was exactly what I needed to hear & have reaffirmed. I’m in my 50’s, in the exact same situation as Jill, in love with a man who knows I am willing to commit to him, because I’ve flat out told him. While he’s “sorry” and would hate to lose me, he knows I need and even “deserve” better. Hey, what a concept. We see each other about once a week & am not included in the rest of his life. Of course, he’s a great & giving lover, but days go by with no word whatsoever from him…and — sorry — no one is THAT busy, no one. Understand that he has a wealth of excuses as to why he simply cannot commit to a serious, exclusive relationship with me. And many of those excuses sound very reasonable and, at my age, I keep telling myself I don’t need an exclusive relationship. Except that I do. So, what it comes down to is this: if he were to make the same commitment proposal to me, I would commit in a heartbeat. So why do I accept less from him? I know he’s going to let me walk and I know he won’t pursue me, and, yea, that’s sad and sucks and hurts. I know that having my integrity in tact doesn’t offer a lot of comfort in the late night hours when I’m badly craving his companionship, but I can confirm from experience that hanging in there in order to have those limited amounts of time with him (albeit they are great times) and accepting him on his terms while he refuses to accept me on mine, eventually just erodes my sense of self-worth. And having come this far in life and realizing the value of my self-worth & how critical it is for my healthy survival, I know the only answer is to continue my search for someone who meets my standard. My standards are reasonable, they are not wild and wacky. I already know I’m flexible and willing to compromise on many things. But when I do the honest math, and it comes down to his 25% to my 75%, then it’s time for me to leave him & his great excuses behind, for better or worse. And for the record, he does do little things that “suggest forward motion,” but suggestions are cheap & actions speak.

    1. 7.1

      Wow Zana.   I was reading your post and I could have written myself.   From my age to everything you have and don’t have with this man.   Same for me.   For a moment I wondered if I made a post that I had forgotten about.   I know this man.   I would do anything for him and he knows it.   He also tells me he doesn’t want to lose me, but knows he is risking that.   I think it is beyond risk right now.      Maybe he will follow?   Maybe not?   But I know I have to stop this whole thing or I will end up being here for a very long time.  

    2. 7.2

      OMG… I could not have written it better myself!!   I just turned 40 and have been going through the same exact thing for the past 3 years now!!!   Although we have made ‘dome’s progress…. We are still not “exclusive”!!! My attempts to walk have lead him to follow but then he returns to his old ways,   and nothing changes!!!!   Reading these comments I feel empowered to make a decision to walk away and not turn around even if he comes chasing!!!!   You definitely deserve more,   and are worthy of having a man in your life all the time. Having one foot in is the same as having one foot out!!!!   Good luck to you.   Stay strong and find yourself a man that sees your self worth!!!  

    3. 7.3

      BTW I walked away, and want to take it all back, because of the same situation, I care about him, etc. etc.   These posts are so motivating and an eye opener. We women need to be strong yet it is so hard to do.  

    4. 7.4
      Patricia Brown

      Zann thanks for your honest and amazingly brave answer and your actions afterwards.I have told my other half that I don’t want a piece of a relationship as I’m worth more than he’s giving me and will continue if I let him.I hope you’ve found someone who has given you what you deserve 100% love and commitment.Thanks again

    5. 7.5

      Dear Zana, I am you…you are me! Exact situation! I am 55 years old and have loved the same guy now for 10 years…he actually left me at the alter! It’s over and I feel awful…but truly hoping I can move on…scary after all this time…feeling stupid. Thank you so much for sharing!

    6. 7.6

      Oh Zann, I know how you feel.   I too am 50 and have just let go a man who has done the push pull thing for a while.   I started holding back as well yet he continued contact but less pursuit.   I finally confronted him and told him I had to let him go and he said he had taken space and to give him more time.   I told him if we were meant to be we would find our way back together.

      I started reading Men Who Can’t Love and the other 2 books related to commitmentphobia.   We are a part of the problem.   We have to shore up our inner selves to be strong enough to walk away.   This man and I became quite close and also hung out with our kids just “as friends” often.   I do miss him and then boys but realize that he DOES NOT have what it takes to be in a committed relationship (by his own admission).   We talked about his issues and I actually sent him the Steven Carter books.   He started reading them and said he was shocked to that they were spot on.   I know it would take a miracle for him to become someone he is not so I am OK with the decision and asked him to give me space   for my feelings for him to change.

      I will not accept a lopsided relationship.   Funny thing is the second I told him I was letting go and hung up from that conversation, I felt so strong (sad later because reality can hurt) but very pleased that I stood up for myself and what I deserved.   That is the first step in getting what you want – not accepting less.   If you had an apartment for rent and the rent was $2,000, would you accept $500 just cause they were nice???   Why do we do this in relationships.   Why not hold out for fullprice??? If you accept less than full price, you cannot blame him……

      Hang in there, be strong, be kind if the person deserves it, and move on with your life.   If he has issues, he has to fix them.   At 50+, “ain’t no fixing nobody”!!

    7. 7.7

      I’m having the same situation but with a female very indecisive also and it hurt so much

  8. 8
    mrs. vee

    Comment #2: “So, why does he introduce her to his mom? Why is he doing some of the things that suggest forward motion?”

    I’d say it’s because, at the time, he felt like introducing her to his mom. Period. I know it’s hard to get the hang of thinking this way, but men really are less inferential than women. Like Evan’s said many times before, men aren’t thinking their actions suggest anything about their relationships. They mostly just go about their day expecting to be taken literally.

    I know it’s super-easy to be seduced by fantasies of longterm commitment just by the slightest encouragement. I know how physical intimacy creates a powerful illusion of togetherness. And I also know how painful the alternative reality can be if you confront the fact that his affections don’t mean more than what they are at the surface.

    Still, ladies, for the sake of your own happiness and self-esteem, please don’t compromise what you want MOST out of a relationship by telling yourself he’ll start being serious about you eventually. Don’t be “just okay” with what you’re getting out of spending time with a partner today. You deserve better than the vague possibility of “someday”.

    Perhaps most importantly, don’t believe you can hook him with sex. Sex is not a tool to catch him or keep him interested. It never works. Most men I know are less inclined to view a woman as longterm material if she’s giving it away without a commitment. I’m not advocating The Rules or any structured timeframe for when to put out. I’m just saying that you have a right to hold off on sex until you feel comfortable that his intentions for you are clear. Even if it means waiting until he spells out where you stand in no uncertain, legalese terminology, that is your prerogative if that’s what you need. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with asking for that.

    If you feel he pressures you to have sex with him, then ask yourself if a guy who cares about you would want to make you uncomfortable. If he makes you feel ashamed or impatient for wanting a full blown relationship first (e.g. “why can’t you just take it day by day?”), then you have your answer right there. No matter how he phrases his reasoning, anything less than a yes is a maybe.

    Rehearse calmly saying this line in your head: “I’m just waiting to make sure we share a common goal.” Then if you have to use it, don’t panic if he gets scared away. The insincere or not-ready ones will inevitably be freaked out. Let those fish swim away. If he really is into you, he’ll stick around and probabaly like you more for your personal integrity.

    Keep that in mind because you have to take responsibility for your choice to have sex. I’ve been that pissed off female who felt duped into having sex with a guy. I’ve been enticed by how conflicted and reluctant a guy seemed when he was basically saying he didn’t want to be my boyfriend. With all said and done, I’d be totally indignant towards him until I replayed the whole turn of events in my head and realized I was the one interpreting his actions as signs of a future together. In hindsight, he’d never made any promises. I really could have known. With all my numerous dating disappointments, I can’t attribute a single one to a man telling me a bald-faced lie. Men may be skilled evaders, good at alluding to promises they can’t keep, but very few of them are outright liars.

    Also (since I’m apparently on a rant ) the more physical you are with a man, the more you’ll like him. Our female natures make us feel emotionally attached to men we get intimate with. From an evolutionary perspective, sperm is cheap, while eggs are expensive. Men have millions spermatazoa in their arsenal at almost any given time, while we average about one egg a …month, is it? We’re basically pre-wired to invest emotionally in the act of sex. Despite the sexual revolution and the glamor of modern thinking, just be honest with yourself about what you really want.

    Well I guess I should end my stream of consciousness rant here. In a nutshell, it’s not that some guys don’t eventually come around; it’s just that there’s no causal relationship between anything you DO and whenever he becomes ready. So do yourselves a favor, and stop analyzing every little thing he says or does for clues to his feelings. Have faith that any guy you fall in love with would make his feelings for you very clear.

    1. 8.1

      I’ve also experienced where men did things that appeared forward motion, and I do feel in the moment that they truly wanted to with no ulterior motive — even if they were riding the fantasy land train when they did it.

      This does appear to be a case of a man who has been incredibly plain speak about where she stands with him. However, she became more emotionally invested, so keeps putting along in hopes that it will improve. At six months, a man that is choosing to only see you once per week, not doing anything for you to be helpful and blowing hot/cold, does not seem to be relationship worthy, if he is indeed calling you his girlfriend. I dated a guy like this and was clear in my communication with him. As we rounded the third month, he was still only interested in casually dating me, had not done anything helpful (I gave a few opportunities related to needing air pressure in my car tires, or bringing boxes upstairs). I broke it off with him. He boomeranged recently. Meh. No thanks, buddy! I am glad that I did not become fully intimate with him, which is what I became implementing after a boyfriend moved away this time last year.

  9. 9
    My LA Story

    BeenThru: Ouch — shit — oh, well. I’ve printed this out and circed to all my friends. :/ THanks!

  10. 10

    Wow…this was a big wake up call for me!! I am/WAS just starting to date a man who is “afraid” of getting hurt and doesn’t have a lot of time for me and wants to go very slow. Thank you for the GREAT advice because it honestly has saved me a big heartache and months of wasting my time on someone that has issues. And yes, us sweet, good girls deserve better!!! I love this site….thank you for sharing your wise thoughts!! It will always amaze me on how when you are involved emotionally, the smart part of your brain is off in la la land!!! =)

  11. 11

    Someday my prince will come…meanwhile my knight keeps me company, not as often as I like…but there’s more knights at the round table where he came from, trust me.
    I’m now gonna make it my goal not to play favorites w/my knights. Yes this is where my broken hearted player frustration has lead me.
    I’m 5 yrs. behind you Zann and feel your pain to my core. Mr.Unavailable heart throb has fed me every single one of those lines you listed plus all the other ones on this whole entire page….believe me he has it down!
    However, after being alone after almost 7yrs. since my husband passed away, and raising my children alone, I’m am tired of deluding my self and holding out for my prince charming to finally arrive.
    A stray knight here or there is needed to fill the void, only often they can be painful reminders of what is missing and leave us wanting.
    Sometimes having more than one around is necessary to compensate for the lack of attention by Mr.Unavailable. If they wish to play, then so can we, as long as everybody is on the same page. I apologize to anyone who might find this repulsive…but the alternative is to stay old and lonely! I’ve had enough!

  12. 12

    If you’re considering Evan’s sound advice to walk away, but are really just hoping your man comes running after you, take heed. They often do, but for the wrong selfish reasons.

    If shows up again, the following actions do NOT mean he’s committing:

    a) he lets a week go by before calling to just say “What are you up to tonight? Can you come over?”

    b) he shoots you a funny e-mail or one-liner text message out of the blue

    c) he suggests the two of you just “hang out”

    d) you bump into him and he tells you how pretty you look

    e) he says he misses your laugh/cooking/backrubs/

    f) he says he’s sorry for the way things turned out (but doesn’t say he’s willing do it any differently)

    None of this confirms that he actually wants to be your boyfriend. He just wants you to go back to the way things were, when he kept you with little effort on his part. What guy wouldn’t miss a woman mooning over him? It made him feel desirable. If you left, he probably believes he lost his mojo and he’s after you again to prove to himself he’s still got “it”.

    If this guy strung you along by dropping a just a few bits of encouragement your way once in awhile, you’re particularly susceptible to one of his feeble attempts to reel you back into the situation you left behind. So just be cautious if he appears again.

    You made a big decision to walk away from the relationship. If he wants to be back in your life, he needs to treat his return as a significant gesture too. He needs to VERBALIZE that he cares, that he wants to be monogamous, that he wants to work at it, and that he wants to integrate your lives together. Otherwise you’re just punkin’ yourself all over again.

    1. 12.1

      Thank you for this. More than Evan’s article,your comment helped me a lot. This man comes back when I cut the communication but with a little gesture, I just give in which allows him to do the same things over and over again.While feeling confused, I also blame myself for his actions. on saturday, I just told him off because he made me very angry but I told him to get out of my life politically.The day after, he wrote another email saying that I misundertood what he wrote me with an end message “Please don’t respond to this”.I justdid not feel like answering and since saturday I just don’t and it feels good. He needs to really do something big for me to forgive how I felt. If not, this time is for me to heal. He can go and enjoy himself. Who cares?!

      I went through it nearly 2,5 years .Please all women here,do yourselves   a favor and even if you go back, like sheseizereason says “go back to him for the right reasons.Reasons that make you happy and complete,not his.

      Good luck everybody!  

    2. 12.2

      You are the first to address this issue. Thank you. I still left when he did this. I was in a two year “Relationship” that led to nowhere. I deserved better.  

    3. 12.3

      Ding. ding. ding.
      Spot on. Completely agree. In my beginning stages of dating post divorce, I recognized similar patterns. I fell into those, as I became emotionally invested too early on (just not having any dating experience in my adult life). All are very true.

    4. 12.4

      I married and divorced this guy. Everytime I was fed up and ready to leave, he would just give me enough with just enough vagueness to what he was willing to offer. I ended up divorcing after spending 12 years (20 – 32 yrs old). All my youth, gone. Wasted on someone who was never going to be able to truly commit to me because of who?! His MOM! He was married to her and married me and tried to impregnate me for her so she could have grandkids. RUN! My face turned white when I asked him why he was not finishing and he said he was. We were talking about kids but he kept going back and forth. Apparently he made the decision for us both. Now when I encounter guys like this..I walk away.

    5. 12.5

      There is another side to this that nobody talks about. It’s easy to just dumb things down into a sound bite, or bumper slogan sized synopsis, and especially so if you can just blame the man. But, what blame do women hold in this? You see, I know for a fact that the prevailing attitude among a lot of young me is that you always have to stay disconnected. You have to hold back. They say they learned this from women, because the second they are fully invested, the women begin losing interest, and or, begin taking him for granted. In short, it goes to the old, “Women want what they can’t have…or don’t have.” Men fear becoming the guy at home, who is now considered to be boring, while she is out with her friends, getting turned on by some new, exciting stranger.

      This cannot simply be dismissed. While looking up YouTube videos on Korea, in the side bar for a video I was watching, a video appeared. It was by some guy who was involved in hookup culture. I don’t know who he was, but he was an American who was now living in South Korea. He was somewhere between 28 and 32. The gist of the video was that he noticed a difference between western women, and Asian women that was causing him troubles with dating Korean women.

      He basically said that what worked in the West, did not work there, and what did not work in the West, did work there. He said that while the PUA culture teaches to NOT use the direct approach, and maintain that throughout the relationship, he said that it was 180 degrees different in Korea.

      With Western women, he was successful in dating by allowing, and in fact, making the women do the pursuing. Be interested, but not too much. Always play it cool. Be just a bit aloof. Do not just lay all your cards on the table.

      He said that until he realized his mistake, he had no problems getting first dates, but rarely got a second, and never a third. Korean women want the man to be direct, to the point, and honest. Want to impress her, you have to go all out, and pursue her, and convince her that you are head over heals for her, and only her. In short, use the direct approach.

      While I was living in California, and going through the Navy Seal training…I got injured and didn’t finish…anyway, my friend and classmate started dating this very cute, very sweet Asian girl. She was born overseas and moved there as a young girl. Anyway, I asked how they met one day, as he had not told me. She got a big smile, and said he was so cute. She said that while she was working, he walked up to her with a pen and paper, and asked for her phone number, and wouldn’t take no for an answers, telling her that he could not leave without it and that he just had to take her out on a date. She went on and on about how he was so insistent that he was smitten with her, and just had to get to know her.

      This just doesn’t normally work here in the west. You would be seen as creepy, and desperate. But that’s what they want…for the man to be desperate for her.

      I read an article by a Western woman that was transferred to an office in Asia, and how the men directly, and openly, pursued her, and that it was overwhelming to her, and didn’t stop until she made it known, openly and publicly, that she was there just to work, and did not want to date anyone.

      So the moral of the story is that it should come as no surprise in the West, when many men seem to be emotionally unavailable, when holding back their true feelings is exactly how you get a woman…in the West.

      Add to this the hookup culture, and men have even less incentive to fully commit.

  13. 13

    Every single thing I’ve read here has been helpful and well-put. I do want to add one more thing in response to what Michelle wrote & what is sort of the personal code I live by now. I was married for 20 years and remained loyal to my husband all those years, and it wasn’t because I never had the opportunity. I worked full time throughout my entire marriage while raising two kids, and for the majority of that time was the major breadwinner — the one with health insurance. My husband strayed at least once in our marriage but I stayed with him out of sheer fear of being alone and busting up our family. At the 20 year point, he decided he needed to “find himself” & we divorced. Since then I’ve been in several relationships of various lengths & depths. I watch and listen to the experiences of my single women peers and their struggle through the quest for a permanent relationship with The One decent man. But some of them harbor the same moral code that was drilled into our heads in high school: If you put out, then don’t expect the guy to respect you. Or, put another way, if you hold out, he’ll respect you and eventually see you have value as a person and have a lightbulb appear over his head & realize you are a woman “worth waiting for.” Well, I don’t know about you, but in my world, that’s proven to be magical thinking. My view, at my age, is that relating sex between consenting mature adults to morals is just flat out wrong. As I tell my friends, it is not possible for me to be a slut. I declare myself slut-proof. Now, if you want to call me one, it’s fine with me, but make sure you note that I’m an Ethical Slut. I have self-respect and I respect others. If I want to have skin-to-skin with a man, I will. And I won’t assume he loves me or that it has much of anything to do with love. I’m sure there are a few men of character out there who might want me to restrict my sexual contact to them exclusively. But, as of this date, I have not met him. I take responsibility for my sexual life just like I do for all other aspects of my life. No one supports me financially, I’m under my own roof, always. If I want to have sex with a man I’m attracted to for no other reason than that I want some frickin’ human sexual contact, I will. It’s nobody’s business but my own. I keep myself informed and practice safe, responsible sex with the understanding that there is no method of sex which is 100% safe other than no sex at all. Yes, the time in our culture has come where I am conducting myself like a man in this regard. Sex means sex and nothing more until it IS something more & I’ll know that because we will make it mutually clear to each other. And for now this works for me. But if I grow close to a man (and I agree that more physical contact does increase feelings of intimacy for me, but not necessarily for him) and I realize that what we have is restricted to a casual sexual relationship & that it’s not going to proceed beyond that, then I make a conscious decision regarding whether I want to continue a sexual relationship. I know weight the consequences, the risks, and make an informed decision. If I choose to “hang in there,” it’s with my eyes wide open and it’s for my sexual pleasure and the in-the-moment, day-at-a-time pleasure it brings me. But I don’t stop looking elsewhere for the relationship I ultimately want and deserve. The men I’m intimate with always know what page we’re on, and the majority of them are a-okay with that. This came as a surprise to me at first, but the truth is most men my age do not have qualms about non-monogamy, at least not with me & not with many of the other single women I know. But I’ve tried both ways. Being alone and waiting through long dry spells, having spelled out my bottom line and having man after man bow out when it’s revealed that I want more…OR having a couple of men friends with whom I am also sexually intimate. I understand fully that they are not my “men,” we are not a couple. I understand that it isn’t Love. I may have loving feelings about them, but that’s my business and my pleasure, actually. What they feel is up to them. I’ve learned so much about myself and how I contributed in every relationship I’ve been in, including not getting my needs met and “settling” for disrespectful behavior. And I try very hard not to repeat those old patterns. I’m a healthy, independent, attractive woman with a lot to give, and as one woman I know put it, “It’s not my fault the men I meet don’t see my value.” Exactly. I know women who sit around & whine that they have no man and haven’t had sexual contact with a man for years, and yet they make no effort whatsoever to go on line or do anything whatsoever to meet men. If they were happy in their solitude, I’d be happy for them. In fact, I would applaud them. But they’re miserable and I’m not very patient with them anymore. but I’m too proactive to allow myself to passively sit by and have no male contact. I’m still alive and kicking, and I am a sexual being. I like male attention, even if it’s “just casual.” I’m not seeking a Prince, just a good, honest, humorous, energetic man to whom I feel attraction. I don’t need completion, I simply crave and enjoy adult intimacy. So, to Michelle I say (excuse the cliche): “You. Just. Go. Girl.” We’re grownups now and we’ve all paid our dues. We answer only to ourselves, and if we want to put out, we should. If we don’t, we won’t. The rest is nobody’s business. Thank you for this venue to air what I so badly have been needing to say.

    1. 13.1
      Ciara O Reilly

      Absolutely on the nail…well said. I bet your dream man comes galloping along – I love your attitude.   As you say, we are not victims of someone elses behaviour in a relationship. .we particate in the dynamic too.  

  14. 14

    WOW! Zann My hat is off to you woman… you said it all and then some!!!
    It’s just sad we women feel we have to give ourselves permission to have what we need or want. Or that we have to defend ourselves and our motives in this manner, (especially to other women;usually the ones who choose to stay miserable).
    I choose to be responsible for my own happiness. I will not judge anyone’s misery as long as they keep their nose out of my happiness!
    I’m copying and saving what you wrote Zann-Thanks! Have a blessed life!!

  15. 15

    For me, sleeping with a man who hadn’t made a commitment to me AT LEAST at the level of asking me to be his exclusive, monogamous girlfriend always, always, always led to my getting hurt — sometimes devastated. See, there are these pesky hormones that start messing with me big time once I start getting addicted to someone’s skin. In order to hold onto a guy who was noncommittal even in the face of this wonderful gift I’d given him, I found myself saying and doing and being things I NEVER would have said/done/been if I’d kept my sanity, which for me is impossible in the face of oxytocin and other various and sundry emotional superglues.

    That’s why this last time I was a free agent (2003-2004), I tried a different approach since the old one had only led to misery and disillusionment. I took John Gray’s advice and “dated around without sleeping around.” I made the acquaintance of Mr. Vibrator, vowed not to accept crumbs from ANYONE this time around, and got out there on the scene even when I didn’t feel like it, because finding a committed relationship was a priority to me. After being divorced for ten years, I wasn’t kidding around this time! Until I heard the words, “Will you be my girlfriend, I love you, I want to make a commitment to you” from the man I’m now married to, we didn’t do anything beyond kissing. Yes, I’m in my forties, and no, I’m not kidding, and boy oh boy, do I recommend this approach to anyone who’s sick and tired of getting her heart ripped out on a regular basis. Hey, if it doesn’t work, you can always go back to the old way… right?

    1. 15.1
      Krystiana Bonheur

      This is great advice…..I’m Def going to try it…  

  16. 16
    mrs. vee

    Thankfully gone are the days of Hester Prynne and her scarlet A. I think it’s a wonderful thing that the sexual revolution took place so that women today have a choice to have sex when they want and with whom. They also must accept the responsibilities of that freedom.

    Zann and Michelle sound like two strong, self-aware women who have made the conscious decision to have casual sex. I couldn’t possibly judge them, having enjoyed my share of bananas from the fruit basket myself before settling down with my sweetie. As they both pointed out, it’s really important to avoid confusing sexual contact with a bona fide relationship.

    Zann and Michelle represent one perfectly reasonable option for us girls. Sex is a pleasure not just reserved for those in chaste relationships.

    Still, we women do have an automatic emotional response to the stimulus of “doing it”. It takes a lot of inner strength to cope with the feelings that arise from the act. I found it took a lot of work to keep my feelings after just-for-fun sex in perspective.

    I worry mostly for the ones who use the language of sexual liberation (“I’m just having fun”/”if men can do it, why can’t we?”) to either a) mask their motives of securing a longterm commitment from their sexual partner or b) suppress any emotional hollowness or pain may result from casual encounters.

    Casual sex has complex psychological repercussions (I speak from personal experience). I just hope that by talking about it, women realize it shouldn’t be entered into lightly.

    And to bring this topic back to full circle, if one is involved with a man who won’t commit, aren’t 99% of these relationships essentially casually sexual ones?

    1. 16.1

      I like that you say that we must take responsibility for the inevitable consequences of casual sex. One of Evan’s blog posts, no…two of them talk about this subject, and I agree with them. Casual sex does not help women find a lasting relationship, it makes it harder. While there are exceptions, men tend to be the gatekeepers of marriage, while women are the gatekeepers of marriage. For this reason, men had to develop good moral qualities, if they wanted to find a sexual partner. By giving away the key to the gate, men no longer have to do that to have sex. In fact, the men who exhibit bad qualities often find it easier to get sex. As a consequence, it makes finding a good quality man, and marriage with one, much much harder.

      The truth is, this is just human nature. People tend to work as hard as the bar is set for them, and no harder. Lower the bar, and the will not work as hard as they did before.

      This reminds me of how when I first attended college, most professors didn’t put up with tardiness. While there was not one set way of holding students accountable, there was almost always some way of making students pay for being tardy. Some professors locked the door, some deducted points from an attendance grade, some made you do something embarrassing in front of the class. One made you dance for two minutes to a song he chose. You could dance, or leave the class for the day, your choice. As a result, it was rare that my peers were ever late to class. But now, most professors don’t do this, so when I took some classes recently, it was not uncommon for students to stream in whenever they felt like getting there. One girl, I kid you not, was 30 to 40 minutes late every single class. So, as I said, people will only try as hard as the bar you set for them. Have casual sex if you want, but don’t be surprised when this makes it harder to find a good quality man. Not impossible, but definitely harder.

  17. 18

    I’m not sure if I buy those “boyfriend tests”. I don’t need my (hypothetical) boyfriend to call every day. I’m happy with every 2-3 because I like MY independence. Yes, I compartmentalize. In fact, I’ve been the girl and the guy in that scenario (I’m female).

    That said, I suspect that the guy I’ve been seeing for the last month – not at the boyfriend stage yet- is going to “break up” with me later (or maybe he just wants to see me during our mutual spare time between other plans) and that “boyfriend test” point makes me think. I can’t decide if it’s intuition or paranoia based on experience. The guy apologizes for not calling me “in awhile” when I haven’t heard from him in two days, but in those two days I haven’t called him either. That’s another point: Why does the guy have to call daily?

    Enough about me. Back to Jill: 6 months is long enough! As the saying goes, shit or get off the toilet.

    Here’s a question that I’m asking for myself and Jill: Is there a magic period of time that must pass before it becomes a relationship? I don’t think so because I think that people should do things on their own time, when comfortable, but I’ve heard six weeks of dating is good before it becomes a relationship. I also want to think that the best time to bring up relationship status is when it feels right but at the same time, when is too soon? You don’t want to bring it up in the first couple of weeks, but is there an accepted time frame?

    Some people are lucky to mutually fall in love immediately and just know. It would be so much easier.

  18. 19

    Great column, to the point and written with kindess; and amazing responses. I am learning a lot, thank you.

  19. 20

    Hi there….I had commented earlier stating that this article was a big wake up call for me. Shortly after reading it I let my “scared of getting hurt” guy know that I’m moving on because I deserve someone who does want more than just sex and who has time to call/see me often and get to know me and who is open for a committed relationship. A week later he was calling because he missed me and we have been together ever since!! Don’t let your attraction or feelings for a man change what you want for YOU!! Don’t settle. Hold on to the respect you have for yourself and what you want; eventually it will be there for you!! Good luck ladies!!!

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