What He Really Means When He Says He’s Not Looking To “Jump Into A Relationship”

He says he’s not looking for a relationship, but if that's the case, why did he basically already start one with you?

By Keelia Clarkson5 min read
Pexels/Wilson Vitorino

The guy you’ve been seeing is just your type. He’s the Jim to your Pam, the Harry to your Sally, the Luke to your Lorelai. You’re totally physically attracted to him, you find it easy to hang out for hours on end without getting bored or feeling awkward, you share a slew of similar interests, you laugh harder with him than with anyone else in the world, and you truly care about him. You have no doubt that you’d want to call him your boyfriend, if given the choice.

Strangely, though, even though he continues to text you, invite you out, and even hold your hand from time to time, you aren’t exactly sure how he feels about you. It’s no secret that he at least likes you, but you wonder just how much – especially because you’ve been “seeing” each other for a month or two with no indication of the relationship heading into more serious territory anytime soon.

Maybe you’ve been waiting it out for him to bring up the next steps in the relationship, but he hasn’t hinted at any desire to be your boyfriend just yet. Or maybe you decided to take it upon yourself to wade into the often nerve-wracking “what are we?” waters, only to be met with a phrase that caused even more confusion than you were feeling before: “I’m not looking to jump into a relationship right now.”

What does that even mean? Your mind does somersaults, attempting to decode what he could be trying to convey with this phrase. Because while you understand the words he said, they don’t compute with the connection you feel you have with him, much less with what seemed to be the obvious interest he had in you. Why is he shying away from putting an “official” stamp on it?

He Wants To Keep Things Casual but Doesn’t Want To Say It

One reason he might say this? He likes you enough to hook up with you, but not enough to call you his girlfriend. For the “casual dater,” this is one of the oldest tricks in the book: get a girl interested by playing boyfriend, but hem and haw as soon as she asks for commitment. What this guy actually means when he says he doesn’t want to jump into a relationship is that he’d like to keep on having access to your body but doesn’t want to feel any responsibility toward you or restrict his freedom and options.

“If they came out and said ‘I’ll never date you,’ you’ll obviously up and leave. If he says that he wants to be with you but actually doesn’t, then he’s stuck in a relationship and can’t look for someone without it being cheating,” said a Reddit user.

How You’ll Be Able To Tell 

This guy is easy to spot, because even though he tells you he’s not ready for a relationship, he’ll keep on hitting you up, asking you to come over, and pushing physical boundaries – no matter the emotional confusion and pain it might be causing you. He’ll tell you he “really, really likes” you, and then act like you’re crazy for getting upset that he’s still on dating apps, reminding you that he told you he wasn’t looking for a relationship.

You shouldn’t ever have to convince a guy to see you as more than an object.

How Should You Respond?

We get it, it’s tempting to convince a guy that you are girlfriend material. “I can get him to fall for me, to change his mind,” you think to yourself. But we can’t stress this enough: He’s not going to change his mind. He’s perfectly comfortable using you for some fun right now, but he’ll get bored and eventually stop texting you, and you’ll be left wondering if there’s something else you could’ve done to plead your case. Hear this: You shouldn’t ever have to convince a guy to see you as more than an object. So, how should you respond to this guy? Don’t keep on engaging. Forget about him. Block, block, block.

He’s Trying To Kindly Turn You Down

Sometimes, the feeling is not mutual, and that hurts. None of us want to be the one whose feelings aren’t returned, but the reality is, it happens. It’s possible that despite you being interested in pursuing a committed relationship with him, he’s realized that he doesn’t share that interest. And yet, he doesn’t want to come right out and say it. So he opts for another version of the “It’s not you, it’s me” excuse. Rather than explicitly tell you he isn’t interested in you after all, he’ll blame himself so as not to rub salt into the wound of rejection.

“Honestly, I said that as a way of kind of rejecting a girl. I could tell she liked me more than I liked her, and it seemed unfair to begin a relationship like that,” said a guy friend of mine.

How You’ll Be Able To Tell

If his reason has to do with simply not being interested in you, he’ll have slowly started to pull away before he tells you he’s not looking for a relationship. He’ll come up with excuses not to hang out, he’ll opt to hang out with his buddies over you, and he’ll stop initiating contact, whether through text or physical touch. You’ll feel a tangible lack of interest from him.

How Should You Respond?

Ironically, it’s rough to be on the receiving end of the gentle letdown. It’s embarrassing, perplexing, and hurtful. But the best thing you can do is accept his lack of interest and move on. Be gracious and polite, and don’t feel the need to ask for a redo. The sooner you let go of him, the sooner you’ll come across a guy who, the more he sees you, the more he likes you.

He Doesn’t Think You’re Ready for a Relationship

Maybe he really does like you, but he can tell that you aren’t quite ready for a committed relationship and he thinks it’s wiser for both of you not to get involved right now. Whether you recently got out of a long relationship, have some growing to do, or could better use your time going to counseling to work on a few issues, there’s a chance that he’d use the “I’m not looking for a relationship” card in order to break things off without causing you to feel shame or unlovable. What he’s really saying is: “I’m not looking to be in a relationship with you as you are right now, even though there are things that I like about you. I wish things were different.”

This was the case for a guy friend of mine. He told me, “I liked her right off the bat, but I could also tell that she wasn’t in a healthy place. She had a lot of problems to work out. She drank too much, she seemed to crave attention from anyone she could get it from, she was pretty hotheaded. But I didn’t want to make her feel bad because I really did like her, so I told her I wasn’t wanting to move too quickly. All the while, though, I kept on trying to throw her lifelines.”

He likes you and wants to be with you, but there are red flags popping up that cause him to rethink things. 

How You’ll Be Able To Tell

He might try to “save” you for a little while. He might suggest you pick up a self-help book, or journal regularly, or see a therapist. It will be clear that he likes you, but he’ll vacillate between getting close to you and pushing you away. He likes you and wants to be with you, but there are red flags popping up that cause him to rethink things. 

How Should You Respond?

It’s understandable to get defensive at the thought that a guy wouldn’t want to get involved with us because we’re not in the right place for a relationship, but it’s also wise to do some self-reflection. Are there reasons you might not be ready for a relationship right now? Are there ways that you can mature? Are there issues that need to be worked through before you can truly love another person? The best way to respond to this is by taking his thoughts seriously and considering what you can do to become healthier.

He’s Being Honest and Upfront

Sure, there’s often subtext to decode whenever a guy utters this phrase, but that’s not always the case. Sometimes, no decoding is necessary, and he’s just being honest – he’s really not ready for a relationship right now. Maybe he just broke things off with a long-term girlfriend and thought he was ready to move on but isn’t, or maybe there are totally unrelated issues (like problems with his family or his mental health) that are keeping him from being able to give a romantic relationship with you the attention it deserves. And so, he makes the difficult decision to end things – or at least pump the brakes – even though he doesn’t necessarily want to. 

“I have had a couple of terrible relationships that genuinely made [me] not want to date again for a while. Sometimes people really just want to focus on themselves and not be too seriously involved with another person,” said a Reddit user on the subject.

How You’ll Be Able To Tell

He won’t be the type of guy who plays games. He wouldn’t have left you guessing what he was feeling or not texted you back for three days or kept on swiping on Bumble. His interest in you will feel genuine – going much further than just your body. But he’ll have obvious ghosts in both his past and his present. He’ll show sadness that things didn’t work out, and might even throw in a “For now, I can’t be in a relationship, but maybe one day…” 

How Should You Respond?

This one is hard. It’s very much a “right person, wrong time” sort of situation. We recommend giving him the space he’s asking for and taking time to reflect on your own life and what you desire in a partner. Try not to immediately run into a different man’s arms so as to forget about him, especially if you think there’s a chance that you could revisit the relationship at a later date.

Closing Thoughts

There are a few things a guy might mean when he says he’s not looking to jump into a relationship. Often enough, though, his intention will be revealed through his behavior. We suggest paying less attention to his words and more attention to his actions.

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