Why Won’t He Call It A Relationship?

Dear Jess,

I just read your book, WAS IT SOMETHING I SAID. I have been dating a man for 5 months. Right away he told me he wasn’t looking for a committed relationship and I told him I wasn’t either. Honestly, I do want that but I just didn’t want to lose him by telling him. Now it’s been several months and he is still hung up on not wanting a commitment even though we act like a couple. We see each other on a regular basis, spend weekends together, and have even vacationed in Hawaii. I know he is not seeing anyone else. Really, we are in a relationship, but he refuses to really acknowledge it. He texts and emails me everyday to say good morning and good night. There is not a day that goes by that we don’t talk. How do I get him to commit exclusively and call this what it is… a relationship!

Thank you!

Confused in Kentucky

Dear Confused,

Here is the good news. You are correct. You are in a relationship. Here is the bad news. It’s not the kind of relationship you want. If this man is verbally telling you that he doesn’t want to commit to you, then it means he wants to have the ability to walk away whenever he feels like it. It does not matter that he spends all his time with you now, because “the now” is not his concern. The concern is “later”, as in next month, next year, or five years from now. He is happy with you at the moment but unsure how he will feel tomorrow, and that is why he won’t commit. Is that because of you, or is it because he’s just that type of guy? The best way to find out the answer is look at the rest of his life outside his relationship with you. Does he have a problem committing to other people, such as his friends or family? Does he back out of plans often or wait to the last minute to make them? Does he agonize over major purchases because buying a house or a car is a long term commitment in itself? If the answer is yes, you are probably just dealing with a commitment phobic guy that needs more than a little nudge from you to tie the knot. Therapy may help, but many commitment-shy guys never really learn to fully settle down…even if they get married!

If, however, you find that he is solid in other areas and doesn’t have trouble committing to anything else, the problem may be specific to you and your relationship. If that is the case, your only recourse is to have a serious heart to heart with him and discuss what you want and need from him. If you continue to see him, and sleep with him, while still holding your tongue, you will only grown more resentful as time goes by. What’s worse is that you are likely going to put all your time, energy, and heart into someone that won’t stick with you when tough times hit. Do yourself a favor and own up to what you want. You should be more afraid of what will happen if you don’t say something, than if you do!
If you have a question to submit to Jess’ blog, email her at coach@jessmccann.com
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Are you a good-for-now-girlfriend? How to tell if he’s thinking about a future with you.

skepticalI got an email yesterday from a woman in Texas that was wrestling with her relationship. She has been dating a guy for about six months and is becoming increasingly frustrated about where the relationship is going. Here is a exert from her email:

“I can’t figure him out. He tells me that he is not ready for a serious relationship. He tells me that he needs his space, but at the same time he calls me throughout the week and we often spend at least one night together on the weekends. I can’t tell if he is scared of getting hurt, or if he has commitment issues. What he says and what he does are so conflicting that it’s driving me mad. I don’t know what to do and talking to him about this only confuses me more.”

Question. How many women do you know that go on dates just for fun? How many women do you know that continue to see a man that they don’t really like? Probably not many. If you are like most women, chances are the moment a guy asks for your phone number you start wondering, could this guy be the one? We date with a purpose. Or at least most of us do. We date to find that partner for life, that husband to love us, that father for our children. Rarely do we date just to date. Guys on the other hand…

True, there are those men out there that are solely interested in long term commitment right off the bat. There are always exceptions to every rule, so please hear me when I caveat what I’m about to say. Most guys do not go out on a first date and think, could she be the one? More often than not they are thinking about what it would be like to kiss you. They wonder what you are all about and if your personalities will click. They are thinking about what comes next. They don’t daydream ten years down the line. They don’t fantasize about what your children will look like. At least not on a first date.

This is important to keep in mind because going one step further, most women think, “if he’s not interested in marrying me, he’d break it off with me,” and that is just not always the case. Men, as I outlined above, don’t always think the way we do. I’ve known men that have kept women around for years with no intention of marrying them. I’ve had guy friends tell me, “I like her, but she’s not the one.” I can name a hundred different scenarios where men will keep dating someone that they don’t see themselves committing to. I call these women the “good-for-now” girlfriends.

G-F-N girlfriends are just that – good for right now. Maybe the guy is traveling a lot and needs someone to hang out with when he comes back to town. He’s too busy to put too much thought into dating, so he sticks with who’s he’s comfortable with. It’s easy, he likes her, but will he marry her? No. Eventually when she pressures him enough, he’ll crack and break it off. Is this fair? He thinks so. After all, he did tell her upfront he wasn’t ready for a serious relationship.

It would be great if all men and women were honest with their feelings. We’d all probably find our happily ever after a lot faster that way. But the truth is we aren’t always truthful and forthcoming. The truth is we sometimes put our own feelings ahead of the other persons. I experienced this first hand with a relative of mine that was dating a woman he didn’t see a future with. He dated her for three years! Three years with no intention of marrying her or even fully committing to her. How could he do this? How could he waste her time? Very easily, I would say. He told her all along that he was commitment-phobic and unsure about marriage. He told her he liked her very much and wanted to spend time with her, but needed his space. In his eyes he was honest and upfront with her, even though he was seeing her twice a week and spending the holidays with her, he didn’t feel guilty because he told her what to expect.

Scary if you are a woman. Scary to think you could be in a relationship with someone at this very moment and not know what’s going on in your man’s head. Scary to think maybe you are a good-for-now-girlfriend. But just knowing that this is possible, should make you all the more wiser. Just knowing that a man can date you without real purpose, should give you the gumption to walk away if you’re feeling frustrated. You want and deserve to be more than a good-for-nower. You deserve forever.

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