Why do men keep dating if they don’t want a relationship?

“So where do we stand?” is a crucial question in a relationship. The early days (or months) of romance are exciting. Getting to know someone intimately and enjoying strong attraction, great sex and the joys of honeymoon is all part of the fun!

At some point, however, uncertainty or fear may arise. You may be longing for more clarity or the elusive “label” as a sign of commitment. So why invest so much time and energy in something that goes nowhere?

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Asking someone you see regularly where you both stand takes courage. If you are genuinely interested in the relationship, there is hope that the answer will be positive, leading to a higher or deeper level of intimacy. But what if the answer isn’t what you want? What if you get the dreaded “I’m not ready for a relationship”? Answer? Then again, what if he still wants to spend more Time with you, but still don’t want to commit?

Trying to figure this out can drive you crazy. Luckily, there are common reasons he keeps you around when he doesn’t want a relationship. Once you understand them, you can decide what to do next.

1. You are friends and he doesn’t want to lose you

Couple sitting on a bench overlooking the mountains

It’s confusing when someone says they don’t want a relationship even though they enjoy the time together. One of the main reasons this could happen is the person you are looking at does Enjoying and appreciating your time together but not sure if you are the person they want to fully commit to as a romantic partner. Sure, you may have fun, share hobbies, and be compatible in many ways, but could it be that the relationship lacks chemistry or spark?

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This reason has positive intentions. Even the most mature couples can find it difficult to stay in touch after a breakup, and it’s normal to fear losing someone completely when the nature of the relationship changes. But when someone knows you’re just a friend or a friend with benefits, they have to be willing to have a difficult conversation so you both can find someone who’s a better match.

Ironically, the short-term discomfort of this conversation is exactly what it takes for the relationship to grow into a friendship. The longer the dishonesty persists, the harder it is to build trust or end things on good terms. A true friend would know this and have the willingness to make things right.

2. He’s afraid to commit


Even when the spark is there, not everyone finds it easy to put in the work required to turn the spark into a roaring or lasting fire. Unfortunately, we live in a culture where many people fear attachment for a variety of reasons.

Perhaps he has unhealed wounds that prevent him from fully opening his heart. Perhaps he is overcoming a difficult relationship from the past. Maybe he has other priorities and is afraid that if he commits, he won’t have the same time and energy that he had when he was single or in a casual relationship situation.

If this is the case, your role is to recognize how much tolerance you have for a delayed commitment. Over time, the need to commit increases. This doesn’t have to be rushed or pressured, but it is part of the natural progression of a loving, trusting relationship.

Honor yourself as you consider whether the fear of commitment can be overcome or whether it is too much of a barrier.

3. He sees potential but isn’t ready yet

Man and woman on a date outside

It’s tempting to lump attachment issues and readiness together, but in reality they are independent of each other. Attachment issues tend to run deep, a regular pattern of behavior that crops up across multiple relationships. The root cause requires inner work to overcome in addition to clear communication and a desire to work through these issues as part of a relationship. However, readiness is a matter of timing.

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When someone communicates that they’re not ready for a relationship, they may have a valid reason. It pays to understand more. Aren’t they ready because they prefer to engage in relationships when they’re all-in, knowing they don’t have that ability but will in the future? Is there something important in your life, such as the approaching end of college, a period of job insecurity, or an illness in the family that could make timing difficult? If someone keeps seeing you and has a valid reason, they may see potential but need more time.

4. He doesn’t want to be alone

Man sitting alone on wooden panel overlooking ocean

While the previous reasons might have genuine romantic intentions, this enters territory that isn’t as pure. Many people lack the honesty and courage to say they don’t want a relationship and to end things cleanly.

For some, the fear of being single or alone outweighs any intuition that the relationship isn’t right. In other words, he keeps you around because he enjoys the comforts of the relationship and the benefits of having someone to spend time with without the added commitment of a full relationship.

Many people develop codependent traits, and some “relationship addicts” would rather be in an unfulfilling couple than be alone because being alone would lead them to confront feelings of unworthiness or even emptiness that arise in loneliness.

It goes without saying that if the person you are dating is in this situation, you would do much better to find someone who sees your worth. And they’d do better to find themselves without looking for someone else to fill the gap.

5. He’s waiting for a better option

Man in suit and sunglasses leaning against wall by Kazi Mizan on Unsplash
Photo by Kazi Mizan on Unsplash

The fear of being alone is forgivable – for many people it is an unconscious process. People don’t always know why they act the way they do and avoid difficult truths without investigation. But what if he keeps you close knowing he never wants a relationship to pass the time before he finds someone new? That’s disrespectful to say the least. A person with this mindset is likely to use relationships to avoid looking inward and treat romantic interests as commodities. Avoiding this type of dynamic can be a blessing in disguise.

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Not only that, but there is a risk of, shall we say, “crossover” with other women, either by starting a new relationship without saying anything or by abruptly ending the relationship you have. If you suspect this to be the case, always remember that there are many, many people who see your worth and will choose you not as the better option, but as the better option only Possibility.

What does it mean if he doesn’t want a relationship?

couple is talking

For the reasons above, the next step is to create an environment where you can have an open and honest conversation. Do you own your desire for a serious relationship and speak directly about it? If so, do they take responsibility and share their true intentions? Or do they avoid the topic with ambiguous statements, saying they are not ready without a reasonable explanation?

Just because someone isn’t ready for a serious relationship doesn’t mean the relationship has to end. People move at different speeds. Taking the decision into your own hands means finding the balance between allowing yourself to be carried away and ending a relationship that would thrive with patience. Give him the benefit of the doubt without overwhelming yourself or betraying yourself.

It’s normal to feel vulnerable in the early stages of a romance. When someone you like tells you they don’t want a relationship, your first reaction might be to think you did something wrong. That they are ready when you change. But the reason someone isn’t ready for a serious relationship isn’t always personal. This is especially true if the person decides to keep seeing you. Much is out of your control in these situations, including their feelings, their behavior, and their beliefs.

The power you have, the control you can take, depends on how you react.


How to End a Relationship: A 5-Step Guide to Break Up, Let Go, and Move On

https://www.goalcast.com/why-boyfriends-stay-in-disappointing-relationships/ Why do men keep dating if they don’t want a relationship?

Sarah Y. Kim

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