Today’s article is in response to a question from a reader (via Ask Melissa!) about what to do when a guy says he’s not ready to commit but you’re in love with him AND he still wants to see you! In my response, I provide guidance on how to cut through the confusion, whether you should wait for him to be ready for a commitment, and what to do when your heart conflicts with your head.
My boyfriend and I recently broke up. He basically told me we were not meant to be together because we had too many differences that he could not bear with, and that such differences were making the relationship harder than it should be. I admit that I had been unreasonable at times, so I accepted the break up.
A few days after the break up, he contacts me again wanting to talk. I was hoping that he was going to regret his decision, but he did not. He explained himself further and said that it will be hard for us to work out as a couple in the future.
Here is where the weird part comes in.
After the talk, he decides to ask me if I could still be his girlfriend for the rest of the day. His reasoning was that he still wanted to be friends with me (apparently because I am a “very unique person” and it “would be a shame for him to lose someone like me”), and if we had a date “we could break up on good terms.”
At first, I was reluctant because I felt that I had made some progress with the break up and had gotten emotionally stronger to keep on with my daily deeds instead of staying in bed. But then I figured that if I was feeling ok, I could probably bear with it.
Of course, it was not like this, and the “date” somehow lasted for three days. We had more fun than we ever did, and shared many more jokes and laughs than we ever did.
Two weeks after we said goodbye on our long date, he contacts me again. We started discussing whether it was ok for friends to have sex with each other or not and he was not agreeing with my opinion (which was that it was ok).
I guess my mind was still hoping for some sort of connection with him, which is why I said something that was against my own moral principles. He then got frustrated at my opinion and made me get really upset as well. He then came over to my house to apologize, and we ended up having sex.
In the weeks following, we were on and off having sex. I asked him several times if he was calling me just for sex. He assured me that he was not because he would “never do this kind of thing with any other girl.”
I believe him and don’t think he is lying. We often also go on dates and hold hands. What we have now is pretty much what I would call, in more informal terms, “a couple in denial.”
Throughout, I have been thinking if it really is worth it to put effort into waiting for him to be ready and willing to commit. I really love him and I am willing to work things out. I believe he really wants things to work out too and he realizes that he has a lot of problems that need to be fixed.
He is not ready to commit because he realizes he is immature. But I am ready to commit and help him through. We have talked about cutting contact, but I don’t think we will manage if we did that. Are there any other solutions besides leaving each other?
Thank you for reaching out. I hear your concerns about wondering whether you should stay together or breakup, especially if he is not ready to commit.
The short answer is, because you’re at different levels of readiness for commitment, it’s going to be really difficult for both of you to be happy in the relationship long-term because you don’t want the same things.
The visions you each have for your relationship do not align.
So, it’s going to be really challenging, if not impossible, to co-create a relationship that makes you both happy.
When you don’t SHARE a vision for the kind of relationship that you both want, it’s like you’re on two different roads going to different destinations.
How to Cut Through the Confusion
But I understand why it’s confusing.
He says he doesn’t want commitment, but he still wants to see you and sleep with you.
In other words, he wants the BENEFITS of a relationship you—the connection, the fun, the sex—without a commitment.
The thing you have to ask yourself is:
Is that what YOU want?
You mentioned that what you really want is a relationship with him (you said you were hoping he had regretted breaking up with you)—you said you want a connection with him—not just be a warm body he can have fun with whenever he feels like it.
Even though he said it’s not just about sex for him – and that may be true – what’s important to pay attention to are his ACTIONS and the way he is treating you and, ultimately, how YOU FEEL.
I encourage you to pay attention to your real LIVED experience.
Not the experience that you are HOPING to have.
Not the fantasies that you hold inside of you about the relationship that you REALLY want.
But be present to what’s happening HERE and NOW.
What’s the REALITY of your experience in this relationship?
And is THAT experience what you really want?
He’s actually being very clear: he wants sex and fun without the commitment.
But sometimes our attraction to someone and our hopes and fantasies about the relationship can cloud our judgement of the messages we’re receiving.
When we’re really attracted to someone, it’s really easy to focus on and get attached to how we HOPE the relationship will turn out.
And this can often lead to us CHASING our love interest, or even clinging to him, leaving us feeling confused and insecure because our love isn’t being reciprocated.
And it’s because we’re investing physically and emotionally into the relationship based on our fantasies of the relationship instead of reality.
We shouldn’t get stuck focusing on what we think SHOULD happen in our relationship.
We should have AWARENESS of what should happen.
But we can only make relationship decisions on what’s ACTUALLY happening.
If your real, lived experience in this relationship is not matching up with the vision for the kind of relationship that you really want, you’re going to be unhappy.
If he is treating you more like a booty call than a girlfriend, and you don’t want that role, you’re going to be unhappy because your vision for the kind of relationship that you really want isn’t being realized and your needs aren’t being met.
It sounds like you DO want a relationship that’s beyond casual sex and casual dates.
However, you can’t have a committed relationship if one person in the relationship doesn’t want to be committed.
I go into what commitment really means in dating and relationships in another article that you might find helpful.
I encourage you to think through what your vision is for the kind of relationship that you really want.
What does a deeply fulfilling relationship look like for you?
And what are you needs and relationship requirements?
Knowing these things will help guide your choices when you’re faced with whether to stay or go.
Should You Wait for Him to Be Ready for Commitment?
And to your question about whether you should wait for him if he’s not ready for a relationship or not ready to commit…
I only recommend “waiting” if he is actively working to resolve the issues that are preventing him from making a commitment.
In other words, I only recommend staying in the relationship if he is COMMITTED to resolving the issues that are interfering with the success of your relationship.
And not just saying he’s committed or “interested” in resolving the issues, I mean he has to be TAKING MEANINGFUL ACTION toward resolving those issues.
And even in that case, I only recommend “waiting” for a LIMITED time. And you decide how long you want to wait.
But it sounds like the reason he’s not committing to a relationship with you is because he doesn’t feel you two are compatible with each other long-term.
So it doesn’t sound like he’s even open to making this relationship work long term because he doesn’t believe in its viability.
But he is content with having short-term fun with you.
There’s nothing wrong with no-strings fun, if that is what you want.
But if it doesn’t feel good to you — if it confuses you, hurts you, and denies your own needs — it’s not healthy.
I encourage you to weigh the costs and benefits of waiting for him.
What do you gain by waiting for him?
And on the flipside: What does it cost you to wait for him?
And then given those pros and cons, which path feels like the best path for you?
I wrote an article on Should You Wait for Him to Be Ready for a Relationship that you might find helpful and goes deeper into that question.
What to Do When Your Heart Conflicts with Your Head
Also, I feel your concern about when your heart conflicts with your head.
You mentioned that your brain agrees with the idea of having no contact but your heart doesn’t want to be apart from him.
It’s normal to feel this way.
I go into how to balance your heart with your head in my Smart Girl’s Guide to Dating a Divorced (or Divorcing) Man (a free resource that might be helpful to you).
Basically, chemistry and attraction are all very important elements of a relationship, they bring us together.
But we can’t rely on those elements alone if we want long-term happiness in a relationship.
Long term happiness is largely based on having a partner who supports our vision for the kind of life and relationship that we really want (and the same goes for your support of your partner’s vision), and a partner who meets our needs and relationship requirements.
It’s important for long-term happiness to be true to our vision, needs and relationship requirements because when our vision isn’t realized, we feel unfulfilled.
And when our needs and relationship requirements aren’t being met, we experience issues in the relationship that affect our sense of security, happiness, and sense of being loved.
Yes, you are a “very unique person” and it WOULD indeed be a “shame for him to lose you,” but if you’re unhappy and this is not what you really want, it would be a shame for you to deny your own needs and dreams just to stay together even though you’re not really happy.
It would be a shame for you to deny your dream for the kind of relationship that you really want, just to meet his needs so you can hold on to the hope that he’ll one day come around.
Your needs matter.
Your dreams matter.
Your happiness matters.
It’s clear that he isn’t making meaningful strides toward co-creating the relationship that you really want.
So, at this point, there’s no telling how long you’ll have to wait.
By staying together you maintain a connection.
But, again, a question I encourage you to explore is:
What is it COSTING you to stay in this relationship?
I know this is a lot of think about but I hope this provides you with some guidance.
Thanks, again, for reaching out.
Please feel free to reach out if you need any other support!
All the best,
Have a burning relationship question? Send me your question here.