Today’s article is in response to a question from a reader (via Ask Melissa!) about whether she should wait for her boyfriend to commit if he doesn’t feel ready to commit right now, or if she should leave the relationship. In my response, I provide guidance on what commitment really is, what it means for your relationship if you have differing levels of commitment, whether you should wait and what to do if your heart and mind disagree.
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. Are there any other solutions besides leaving each other?
Him and I have been friends for a very long time. At the time we were friends, I was dating someone else long distance (for around five years). Eventually, he stepped out of his comfort zone and confessed to me, and I broke up with my five-year boyfriend to be with him (also because I saw no hopes for us ever meeting in real life again).
My online ex-boyfriend and I did not stop being friends while I was dating the new boyfriend. This became a huge problem in my new relationship that dragged down all the way until the recent break up. Eventually, my online ex-boyfriend and I stopped being friends for once because I realized my mistake and the online ex-boyfriend was not up to “being a supportive friend” anymore.
Either way, my recent ex-boyfriend broke up with me for other reasons, too. 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 could have been. 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 to break up, but he did not. He explained himself further and said that it will be really 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 in good terms.
At first I was rather 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 crawling into 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 something regarding to whether it was ok for friends to have sex with each other or not and he was not agreeing with me 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 with my opinion and made me get really upset as well. He then came over to my house to apologize, and it somehow ended up being us having sex.
The weeks following that were on and offs of us having sex. I have asked him several times if he was calling me for the sake of pure sex. He assured me that it was not because he would never do this kind of things with any other girl. I believe him and don’t think he is lying because he is a really busy bee and only considers me as his sexual partner. 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”.
However, a few days ago, we got into a fight again due to a small thing. We had different opinions on the matter and he didn’t seem to want to accept my opinion on the issue, and said that I was being very stubborn on his opinion (despite how I told him multiple times that he could think what he wants as long as he is completely fine with that and I understand his point of view).
A few days later he apologized for being aggressive over text. A few days later, he called me and apologized, and later came over to my house to apologize again.
Throughout these days, I have been thinking over if it really is worth it to put effort into waiting for him. However, 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 needs fixing.
I asked what he would want to do, and he suggested to go no contact. I asked if the other way would work and he said, not with how he is right now. While my brain agrees, my heart doesn’t want to be apart from him.
Dear Confused Goat,
I hear your concerns about wondering whether you should stay together or breakup, especially if he is not ready to commit.
Part of you wants to stay together and wait for him because you don’t want to risk losing him as a boyfriend.
But the other part of you is tired of the relationship problems, tired of waiting and just wants out!
Which part do you listen to?
It’s a very personal decision.
Every situation is different and you have to choose based on what you know is right for you.
But if long-term happiness in a committed relationship is what you want, you want to listen to the path that’s ultimately going to support your long-term relationship happiness.
When You Have Different Levels of Commitment
He’s made it clear that he doesn’t want a commitment right now.
And you’ve made it clear to him that you want a committed relationship.
But 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.
It sounds like he wants a recreational relationship right now where you just get together and hook up.
Nothing wrong with that.
But if he is saying that he’s not ready for commitment but waffling between sometimes acting committed and then going back to dating recreationally, I know that can be really confusing.
It sounds like you want a deeper level of connection and commitment where you’re not just getting together to have sex.
But the conflict is happening because both of you want different kinds of relationships: recreational versus committed.
And 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 right now because you don’t want the same things, you’re not on the same path.
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 your needs and relationship requirements?
Knowing what you really want will help guide your choices when you’re faced with whether you should stay or go.
Should You Wait for Him to Come Around?
I encourage you to weigh the costs and benefits of waiting for him.
If you stay, it may mean that you won’t be getting your needs met for a while while he’s still in recreational dating mode and not interested in a committed relationship.
How do you benefit 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.
If you do move on, you do risk losing contact with him.
But leaving a relationship that is not meeting your needs also frees you to be available for a relationship that will meet your needs and that might be a better fit for your long-term happiness.
You could also wait and take that chance that he will change his mind and that things will improve.
But if you’re in a relationship where your need for commitment isn’t getting met, chances are you’re going to feel less than happy and feel like you’re settling in the relationship.
It depends on what really matters to you and whether or not you’re willing to wait.
When Your Heart and Mind Disagree
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.
And 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).
Chemistry and attraction are both 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 being in a relationship that meets our needs and relationship requirements and having a partner who supports our vision for the kind of life and relationship that we really want.
It’s important for long-term happiness to really balance our head with our heart and pay attention 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.
I encourage you to have an honest talk with him about where your heart is, what needs aren’t being met in your relationship and what you want to do.
Maybe you can negotiate together on how your needs can be met.
He needs to know why commitment is meaningful to you.
But if he is unwilling to grow and change in the areas that he needs to in order to feel ready for commitment, then you have to decide whether it’s worth it to you to stay or to move on.
How to Bring Him Closer and Turn Your Relationship Around
Craving reassurance from him? Or obsessing over your relationship?
Two things may be happening.
You may have an anxious attachment style.
And/or you may be in an anxious-avoidant relationship.
Are any of these issues below coming up for you right now?
- Getting mixed messages or confusing signals about his feelings and/or his commitment toward you (and you’re left feeling rejected)
- Unsure where you stand in the relationship, and it leaves you feeling insecure
- Craving reassurance from him about the relationship, at the same time worrying about whether you’re being “too needy,” clingy, or sensitive
- Your relationship feels like an emotional roller coaster…. he’s super romantic and connected at times, but it feels short-lived
- You feel like this dynamic seems to happen over and over again in your relationships with men
If any of these issues are coming up for you, you may be in what’s called a “pursuer-distancer dance” or an “anxious-avoidant relationship.”
It’s basically the situation where you’re trying to get closer to him (make progress in your relationship), but (on some level), he seems to be resisting that closeness/commitment, or the relationship feels stalled.
And so, it leaves you feeling insecure and unsure where you stand with him.
Or…if you’re with a guy who’s really there for you, but you still find yourself obsessing and worrying, you may have an anxious attachment style and your insecurities are unconsciously pushing him away.
I’m hearing from some clients and readers that they need more support in this area.
So I’m hosting a free webinar in a few days where I’ll show you how to identify and finally free yourself from anxious attachment or heal an “anxious-avoidant relationship” so you can have the fulfilling committed relationship you really want.
JOIN MY FREE WEBINAR
The 3 Keys to Healing Anxious Attachment
How to Finally End the Worry, Confusion, and Insecurity and Have a Healthy, Loving, Committed Relationship That Lasts
Thursday, October 21, 3PM PT / 6PM ET
- The two reasons why he pulls away, acts distant, or sends mixed messages, and how to get clarity and find out his true intentions
- Four steps to knowing when to give him a chance or call it quits—so you can avoid wasting your precious time in a potentially dead-end relationship
- Why smart, strong women like you, who’ve been doing the “inner work” for a while, can still get trapped in the pursuer-distancer cycle and how to stop the emotional rollercoaster for good
- The 3 biggest misconceptions about love and attachment keeping you stuck in this painful cycle, and what to focus on instead
- The simplest way to bring your avoidant man closer and turn your relationship around and how to attract a man who is ready for commitment and eager to meet your needs
👇👇👇 REGISTER TO SAVE YOUR SPOT NOW 👇👇👇
How to Decide if He’s Right for You
Whatever the issues are in your relationship, if you find yourself agonizing over questions like…
Is this relationship worth it??
Should I give him a chance or walk away??
I totally get you. I felt the same way when I was dating, which is why I created a free guide to help you get clarity.
In my free guide you’ll discover:
- 30 questions to ask yourself to help you decide if you should give him a chance or if you’re wasting your time
- 22 red flags you should be aware of if you want to avoid heartbreak and painful surprises
- How to assess your compatibility with your partner to know if your relationship has long-term potential
Want to avoid wasting your precious time? I hear you! Download my free guide Should You Stay or Go? Relationship Choice Assessment ↴