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 (152 Comments).
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  1. 41

    one more thing I wanted to add, these women are obviously interested in doing better, in learning more, are CURIOUS. They deserve kudos for that! They may not have heard what they wanted to hear, they heard the truth, but hopefully they will be open minded to continue their journey, it will be a much happier one if they do!

  2. 42
    Karl R

    runa said: (#36)
    “It is really unhealthy and makes me miserable all the time but i can t let it go.”

    As Bill said, (#38) you choose not to let go of your toxic pseudo-relationship. Being single is a lot better than what you’re voluntarily putting yourself through.

    runa said: (#36)
    “The thought of living the rest of my life without him is destroying me.”

    Reality check
    That’s like an amputee saying the thought of living the rest of his life without his arm/leg is destroying him. In either case, you don’t get a choice. You don’t have your ex any longer. Getting him back is not an option. Your attempts to keep him around are like that theoretical amputee carrying around his gangrenous limb with him. (Yeah, it’s that unattractive to everyone else.)

    You have two choices:
    1. Live without your ex.
    2. Die.
    I recommend option 1, but ultimately it’s your choice.

    runa said: (#36)
    “i wish i could as strong as the women that walked out on guys like this.”

    It doesn’t take strength. You just avoid him. You stop calling, texting, emailing and visiting him. All you need to get over him is time and space, but you rob yourself of that each time you impulsively text him. (He’s not even initiating the contact.)

    Make that impulse harder to follow. Delete him from you phone and your address book. Delete his old emails and texts and all the ones you sent to him  (without reading any of  them first).

    Whenever you get the impulse to contact your ex, distract yourself by engaging in some healthy activity instead (exercise, take a shower, read a book, wash the dishes). That way you can let the impulse pass without acting on it.

    If your ex initiates contact, keep your reply polite and brief. Don’t say anything that would invite him to respond further (i.e. don’t ask him any questions).

    Furthermore, you need to go out and do other things. Have a life that doesn’t involve your ex.

    1. 42.1

      Karl, I love it and I love Evan’s answer too.   Once upon a time, I met a man whom I thought was very handsome.   I was also very young.   We went on a date, and before I even got a taste of my drink, he said textually “you know, I’m not into commitment”.

      So I got up, left the drink, and said well then goodbye (I was young, right?)

      Somehow, I think that I used to be a real cool lady! And he ran after me for ages after that! (And the one who didn’t want to commit with him was me).


  3. 43

    My ex husband is a very “nice” non committal man and we dated for 3+ years. I told him I loved him first. I was always available when he came in from out of town so as to prove I was faithful to our relationship. I was the one who finally said, “So are we going to get married or what?” To which he said, “Well, I guess we could do that.” Six months later we were married. Fast forward several years, he discloses that he didn’t love me when we got married, but had grown to love me. So what did his love look like? I did everything. He was unavailable emotionally. He didn’t want to spend his leisure time with me. He never took my side in any problem. He was not interested in parenting our children. He was always looking for help in his endeavors because he knew I would always be available to make him look good. No phone calls to check in when he went out of town on trips, often for a week at a time. Worked long hours and often 7 days a week, no time for me or the kids. But, he was such a nice guy, pleasant personality, just unavailable emotionally and non committal. So three children and 30 years later I left him. A year of counseling, self and couple, my lesson is love cannot change a person who isn’t motivated to change. What a man is a man is. I’m moving on and will be loving myself first and hope to find a man who will want to share in that love and commit to the relationship. Thanks for all the comments in this thread. It has reinforced all I have experienced and now believe. Thank you for sharing!

  4. 44

    The whole story is really familiar except that my relationship is over a year. We get on brilliantly, have mutual friends and enjoy each others company. I got taken to weddings and met some extended family and thought we were both interested in a serious relationship. Eventually after a row about him refusing to meet my parents which took me completely by surprise it became clear that he was a non-committer! I had read all those signals wrong, I think ultimately it was about him liking to have someone about to take to events so he didnt have to go alone, to have someone to call on whenever it suited him and fitted into his schedule, he was rarely interested in meeting up with my friends. I said I loved him, he said he “cared” about me and didnt want to break up but that I was trying to move things too fast. After a year that is really just an excuse. I gave him 4 more months and nothing changed. I do all the running, he never makes plans. I have finally seen sense and am getting out of this mess. I figure he’ll be upset when I dump him but he’ll not try to get me back in any serious way and that will confirm what I already know – he’s just not that into me.

  5. 45

    Evan,   I am so thankful for this post.   Glad I came across it as I am going through a process of grieving and being hurt.   Ultimately, the guy I was doing LDR is a commitment phobe.   He wants to get married within a year of getting to know the girl but yet in our time together, he never did anything of substance to progress forward.   He has an issue with commitment.   He said he doesn’t want to lose my friendship because it means a lot to him. Well, if he had done the right thing by me and things did not work out, we could have parted amicably.  

    He said our line of communication has turned into a “buddy-buddy/penpal” relationship and not into a proper man-to-woman relationship, I shot back telling him that the biggest mistake he ever did is not committing in meeting up with me.   What was I to do?   I even gave him several options to meet up with me on neutral grounds but he didn’t want that over the course of the year.   All I can say is that he is selfish, insecure man who is unsure of what makes a solid long-term relationship works.   Communication aside, what you shared about friendship is so true.   I didn’t see the buddy-buddy relationship as being a bad thing but just as a solid foundation on which a good LTR can be built upon if that is where we both want to take it when we meet.
    Sorry of the spill.   I just want to thank you for your work; educating women about what it means to be in a healthy relationship.   Also that it is NOT always our fault.   He is a commitment phobe.   I am looking forward to a more beautiful future with a man who will cherish and adore me.   Thank you, Evan.

  6. 46
    Eyes Wide Open

    I know this post is old but it is still so very relevant. I was fortunate enough to find EMK and read Why He Disappeared and his blog daily to be able to put closure to my nice non commital guy. Suffice it to say I ended it with dignity. Although I miss him I am happy to know I recognized that he just wasn’t that into me. I am still on and see that he is as well (yes I have looked). I avoided his once a week empty messages to keep things alive even after it ended Memorial Day and  a mutual function we ended at together that he was so charming at and begged me to spend time  at his suite ( I declined). It has been a full two weeks and  I finally think he got the hint by my non response.  I don’t hate him but hated the games that I truly believe he hasn’t done anything wrong. But I remain energized today reading this thread.   Thanks so  much

  7. 47

    I am angry, hurt, overwhelmed, empty, sad, lonely, in shock, in disbelief, and in denial. I broke it off w/ my bf 10 days ago and I can’t say that the days are getting any easier. I can’t believe this has happened to us! To toot my own horn, I think I’m a real catch; I have a lot of things going for me & I wonder what the hell is wrong with him.
    Yes, I heard the, “You’re a wonderful woman, you deserve a man who can tell you he loves you, I never meant to hurt you…” blah, blah, blah. This ordeal HAS been a slow emotional death as one poster said. Days started to go w/o conversation when at one time we texted throughout the day & spoke at bedtime (ours was a LDR…I see that’s common, too).
    He was so supportive of my academic endeavors, my children, my life. He has never been married nor had children (hello red flag!?) but said he wanted to settle down. He was my high school sweetheart 28 yrs ago & broke my heart then.
    Abt 10 mos into the relationship we discussed him moving to my city. When it came time for the decision to be made, he turned into a man I didn’t know.

    I’m bewildered & heartbroken. He dedicated so much of himself to me but couldn’t give me what I wanted the most: to hear I Love You and Want You With Me Forever More.
    I appreciate everyone’s posts–I don’t feel like the biggest FOOL in the world now. In my heart of hearts, I wish he would magically realize what he lost & come running to ask me back. HA!!!

    Why do we women do this to ourselves? It’s not the men’s fault, it’s ours.

  8. 48

    I read MOST of the posts and they all say the same thing.   However, while there are no RULES of dating, there certainly are expectations even at ANY age!   If you have personally set a time frame (say, 6 months) then go with it.   I have dated the same man on/off for 6 years.   WHY?   Because he never promised anything and I kept seeing him following an abusive marriage I had, so I do blame myself for misreading the messages.   I thought he wanted exclusive and future, and he didn’t.   He just enjoyed being with me “and” others, like a very strange attachment to an ex wife!   Of course, I put up the “not going there wall” and he came back.   I can honestly say that he doesn’t have sex with any others due to what I know about him personally.   But his obsessive co-dependence with his ex is a deal breaker.   SAD because I do like him personally.
    I gave him what he wanted and nothing in return was my gift.   SO, on that note, my wake up calls (many)taught me a lot and I did move on and dated others.   Believe me, if I met “the one” who has the whole package, I wouldn’t have even bothered with Mr. On/Off.   We were very compatible physically and intellectually as buddies, you’ll say.   Because in the process, I had my physical needs met while growing up, now knowing myself WHAT I WANT (or not) and how this man fit into MY life, not vice versa.   My counselor says “stepping stone” and that is a good way to put it.   Now, I am much more independent.   As I write this, he hasn’t called in four days and I’m not freaking out because I have a REAL date with someone I met at a volunteer function who seems to enjoy my company and actually invited me (not ASSUMED I’d be around this weekend!)   Since Mr. On/Off has never committed, it’s not cheating in the dating sense to keep my options open.   I’m kind of excited about this new person, in fact!

  9. 49

    Drama queen. A guy who was interested and wanted a commitment would bore her. She needs this drama, otherwise she’d be unhappy.

  10. 50

    This is my story too. Only in my case it lasted 4 years and half. Too, too long and sad.
    And the worst part are those bits of “positive reinforcement”, these men are treating us like donkeys, tying a carrot to our head so we will just keep trying to get it, they are so cruel.
    Without realizing it, I headed straight to the worst heartbreak of my entire life, because my now ex was also my trainer at the gym and I stopped going. I stopped seeing every day my so beloved group of friends of the last 7 years of my life, because I don’t  want to see him. I feel so sad.

  11. 51

    will tell u what a wise person said to me ones …” don’t ever take advice from people who have no stake in the consequences “…

  12. 52

    Regarding post 37: men thrive on the thrill of the chase.

    I call total BS on that. I DESPISE chasing women,  and I guarantee you millions and millions olf men despise it too. But since women – who are perfectly capable  adults, not children –  by and large refuse to make the first move, my gender has two choices: ask women out, and usually get kicked in the face for it, or quit and be alone all  the time.

    Where is  the good option?        

  13. 53

    @Michelle and @Zann…Thank you. I’m in the same boat. I have a couple of friends who I care about where we can be intimate. But I know their situation, their personalities enough to know it would never go anywhere…so for that reason, I don’t expect it. But I’m thankful to these men for making me feel alive once again…I thought I couldn’t feel those desires again. For this reason, I’m appreciating it for what it is, and feel okay with it. Because it’s not something you talk much about with people, because it’s seen as bold, and because people don’t always understand, I thought I was on my own. But thanks to Michelle and Zann, I feel that much more okay with what I’ve chosen to do, until I meet the right man for me. I do agree with Michelle that having feelings is a risk. It’s happened to me before, so I know full well how it can happen. Even recently I’ve found myself having feelings for one of them. It came out of left field thinking I could handle it. It was very difficult. But I’ve regrouped, and just remind myself to see the way things are….and to appreciate ‘my knights’ for what they give me now.

  14. 54

    I met my guy 7 years ago, and we have been on and off since. I was never incorporated into his life. It was like he had his life, and then he had me and never the two shall come together. I was kept at bay, and in the dark. I didn’t know his friends, his family, nor his co-workers. He would always come to my house, and in the 7 years I only went to his house 3 times. I kept asking him about the status of the relationship and what he wants and where it was going. I either got the run-around or he just skirted the issue. He came around when he felt like, I would ask and try to set up and arrange weekend and days trips with him, and he is usually busy or just not up to it. I kept going back, hoping that each time would be different and that he would change. Let me into his life, but nothing. I have never known one person to be filled with so many excuses as to why, this or that hasn’t happened. I was so frustrated. After a while I just started not to care anymore. I was with him, but I wasn’t with him. I stopped factoring him in. Once I would think of him whenever I wanted to go somewhere, but because he kept disappointing me, I stopped asking. I just started doing my own thing without even realising it.

  15. 55

    Hi guys
    You proberbly remember reading my earlier postadjust under 2 years ago? Abouthow I was dating a non committal bloke who I broke up with after the 1st 6 duels due to the fact he said he couldn’t find the time to see me more than once ortwo we a week, I went back to him and my earlier post was about how do I cope now it was 3 months in, well, this is me nearly 2 years later, still pining over the said same bloke. It’s been the most miserable time of my life!!! So desperately in love with him that I’ve accepted the crumbs he gave me, I’ve lost count of the times I’ve cried, sobbed on my best friends shoulder yet still continued to see him. Essentially I was his FB, I’m 43, he’s 47, I should know better after escaping a cruel and loveless 20 year marriage. It’s all come to a head now. In feb I ended things, regretted it and contacted him. We started seeing each other again in march, the latest now is that after a ‘crisis’ with his daughter, he kinda phased me out. I was reduced to 1 txt a day instead of 4-4, his fav way of communicating by the way, so I decided to stop the texts. 5 torturous days later he txt, said thanks and least he knew now who he could rely on and ……. Who are in it just for themselves!! I nearly fell off my chair in shock, omg the cheek! I said loads like how dare he, hephased me out etc andSahara the hell is going on? He replied we are on hold if anything and that he ‘cares’ about me. Long story short, I told him we are done and do t bother contacting me. He’s a heartless cold fish, and thinking a out it now, quite narcissistic. Its time to heal now, to get back to the real shaz, the one who smiles, who is fun to be with, whose bright, funny and downright bloody gorgeous and any man would be proud to have her! No more crumbs cos this babe can and will have the whole biscuit. Yea I cry, I feel despair but I know I will have contentment one day, it’s been 2 weeks now, he’s out of my life and I’m looking forward to a better future with someone who deserves ME. All this has taught me one thing, exactly what I don’t want in a relationship! All you gorgeolairs dies out there putting up with part timers, get rid, don’t leave it till all your self esteem seeps away,foodluck and lots of love xxxx  

  16. 56

    Strong lady…. Your guy n my ex could be related cos they sound exactly the same. Good riddance to crappy relationships and I say relationship very loosely. Good luck xx  

  17. 57

    Sometimes things get complicated, and usually in my experience from sonmeone not having been honest when they aught to have been.  

    Over 4 years for me of being crazy about someone I never even met in person and had to leave and said a lot of things in anger I regret becasue partly my terrible past blended in and made what he was doing even worse on my end.

    But I have to say.. after years of bitterness and being a hermit.. and even ending it with him now.. I really learned a lot from the experince, I want to blame 1/2 way and yes he was dangling a carrot in some way’s and allowing me to feel too much with the suggestions and hints, then the major blows of oh now he is dating over there etc ect ..

    But I had to deal with a lot of pain.. so much pain it was unbearable.. so much feeling worthless that a funny thing happens.

    ” You just realize there is no way in hell you could be that bad, as bad as your feeling it’s just not really possible to be that damn bad off.”

    Even when these guys are players – I mean it is up to us to allow it and to allow those negative thoughts and more.

    Luckily with him I always spoke my mind, so this time at least and as always with him klet him know what I think, and that was a HUGE jump from just clamming up as I had always typically done and held it all in and then whinned to a girlfreind about it.

    You can if you want take it as an opportunity to get better with yourself, your life, let him go and not be so bitter for once.

    It’s like I was somehow “trained” to be bitter just becasue something didn’t go the way I hoped it would witha gut, and I realize that is really NOT any answer, nothing to drag along like a wet sock with me.

    So even in leaving a jerk, a commitment phobe, an egomaniac, etc as    at least this one was a freind to the point where I see he is just really messed up right now.

    I do not think they all plan to do as much dmage as they do.. They cannot live our history either and see it our way – they only see they are afriad sometines, or just can’t be there even if they want to… Maybe they do that to all wormn for a while becasue they are not ready and maybe even sense your not ready.

    God knows I want things I am not ready for sometimes so badly.. but honestly I am not even ready fro some of thge things I want just yet, But the passion to get them sure as hell exist.  

    Maybe sometimes they are to us creul in our eyes, but in their own eyes maybe they feel lacking for their own selves, Maybe often times taking it so personal is not really the answer.

    Leaveing them alone yes when you are more able and more feeling is the right thing to do, they may not be on the same level maturity wise and readiness wise perhaps.. Maybe they are afriad of being alone and your better than not being alone, still it’s a problem with HIM and NOT you.. that is where women I think and know from experience bash themselves and wonder too much what is wrong with me?

    Maybe there is nothing wrong with you, Yes maybe he is wasting your time then leave, But maybe it is kinda sad he is that afraid of being alone on the other as well.

    Feelings are over rated, I found myself saying the stupidest things from feelings then later regretting that – But yes they need to know before you move on why they are doing something wrong at least from your point of view.

    We teach them it’s okay I think not saying anything – somethimes they really are clueless that it even is pain inducing to be honest. And you gotta look at how many women nodays are jumping in the sack and things just for a good time, you really have to let it be known what you want and early.

    If it scares them off that you want commitmnet one-day the sooner they run the better.

    I do not think it is wrong when your just getting to know someone to let them know you would like to one-day get married at all.. I think it is a “trick” to them if you do not let them know, mentioning it don’t mean it has to be THEM – but I really think we as women that want these things need to make it clear what we want too.

    Things can get complex, there are always two sides to the strory, yes some people are just players and will string you along carelessly and have no deapth, NOT enough depth for you.

    So my thinking right now is really when things do not work, are not working out – then leave, suffer for a few days some pain and heartache whatever, You can even care and need to leave sometimes yes.

    But I think hanging on to anger is not the answer anymore, I think it just keeps you into getting the wrong things again, keeps you with an it’s US against THEM mentality which is not going to work in a PARTNERSHIP.

  18. 58

    I feel sad reading most of the comments here. Most women are emotional and sentimental creatures and we really need to develop a  strong self to become happy. The biggest mistake most women make is to vehemently believe that a man, a committed relationship, or a marriage  will give them happiness. Nothing could be farther from the truth. And she keep heading into the same  situation (basically unhappiness) because she is banging her head into a wall, she thinks will make her happy. Wow!! Lets get our fundamentals right here. Nobody in this world, not in the least a man, can make one happy unless she  strives to squeeze  (yes) it out from within herself.

    Ask yourself these questions: are you  polishing your self daily (character), do you challenge youself every moment (strength), have you found it yet – ur true calling, what you love doing, and that gives you joy not stress (mission),  are you prepared to face the moment  when the worst might happen (not break up, worse stuff) (courage)?? The day one is  satisfied with the answers, she will stop hurting herself and before she knows it, she will have her best relationship (with herself first).

    And  to cut the long story short, I have been in a non-committal relationship for four years now.  But I am with someone who has taught me so much about life through his own life that I can’t ever breakup with him even if I wanted to (say if if go off to pluto with another man :)) coz he will be in my life always.  And I do not see my relationship as a waste.

    To end, a woman I admire once said, “be happy first, do not marry to be happy.” Cheers.

  19. 59

    I have been on/off with the same guy for almost 4 yrs. we never really in a relationship but more the a booty call. He would give me just enough to hang on. sound familiar? We never spent holidhas, bdays , vacations together. somehow I always make excusea for him and wonder what is wrong with me. I have a new bf who is amazing to me. somehow I still keep in on and off again contact with mr non committal and we live 3k miles away. I moved when to be closer to my family and still he gives me false hope. yes I have a new bf but still can’t completely move on. It’s scrwed up. He just can’t leave me alone but doesn’t really want me. It’s my fault but I keep thinking maybe one day … I need to cut off all contact before I waste whts left of my thirties.

  20. 60

    Yes cut off all contact before you screw it up with your new boyfriend if you haven’t already.
    The reason these on-off “relationships” are so compelling is because we like drama, are too stubborn to admit defeat or are hooked on dysfunctional sex.   It’s not worth another hour of your time.   Four years is a long time to wait for the goose to lay the golden egg.   Geese don’t lay golden eggs. Especially not male one.

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