What To Do With That Guy Who Won’t Commit But Also Won’t Let You Go

Perhaps even worse than a toxic, misogynistic guy is a wishy-washy, non-committal, yet ever-present guy.

By Keelia Clarkson3 min read
Shutterstock/Jacob Lund

I peered into my friend’s tear-stained eyes as she relayed the latest details of her relationship with a guy she really liked: “I just don’t get it… when we’re together, it’s like he’s my boyfriend. He calls me pretty, asks me to spend the night, says he didn’t expect he’d like me this much… but then the moment I even broach the ‘what are we’ subject, he gets weird. He takes forever to text back, and I promise myself I won’t spend another week in this relationship limbo… but then he asks to hang out again, and I forget all about that.” 

It’s unfortunate that she’s not the only one to experience this kind of treatment, the uncertainty of a half-romantic, half-casual relationship weighing on her, with each interaction only causing more confusion. With the rise of hookup culture and dating apps, it’s only a natural progression to find ourselves in an ambiguous relationship where we’re left wanting more, but he just won’t commit to more than a casual relationship.

Does He Just Want To Keep You Around?

Maybe he does all the boyfriend things when you’re with him — maybe he takes you out to movies, pays for your meal, holds your hand, sings with you in the car, invites you to stay over… But the moment you leave his place, it'll be a while before you talk because he has a habit of waiting a day or two to text back. Even worse, a friend of yours tells you she matched with him on Tinder, and he messaged her.

Or maybe he says all the things you want to hear — how gorgeous you are, that he didn’t expect you’d be such an incredible person, that he loves spending time with you… But as soon as you ask for exclusivity, he bristles and says he’s simply not ready for a relationship, not after the breakup he went through right before he met you. Nevertheless, he continues to string you along.

We think we’ll be able to change his mind, once he gets to know us. But the truth is, he won’t.

It’s not always easy to admit when we’ve fallen into this trap, but the signs are clear: Guys who play boyfriend while dodging the actual responsibilities of a boyfriend — like offering emotional support, being responsive and initiating plans, and committing to us exclusively — are some of the most emotionally damaging, manipulative, dangerous guys to get involved with because they really don’t seem like a bad guy, just an emotionally confused guy whose mind we hope to change.

Why Some Guys Play Boyfriend with No Intention of Committing

Upon first glance, it doesn’t make sense for a guy to be investing time and effort into a relationship he doesn’t really want. Why bother taking a girl out week after week if he’s not interested in calling her his girlfriend, right? So why do some guys play this game?

He’s far more interested in having his own needs met on his own terms.

More often than not, his continued pursuit of keeping us just close enough points to his own selfishness and immaturity. When a guy keeps a girl in his back pocket, all while knowing she wants commitment, it’s safe to say he’s far more interested in having his own needs met on his own terms, whether those needs are social (wanting someone to go to a party with), emotional (desiring the feeling of commitment without the responsibility), or sexual (which in turn leads women to feel more attached). To put it frankly, guys like this are content to use women for their own purposes, with little to no concern for our needs, desires, and emotional wellbeing.

The Only Thing To Do Is Walk Away

The worst part of a guy like this is that he offers us just enough of a taste of being his girlfriend that it’s hard to walk away. Once he sees how well we click with him, what a great partner we’d be, that we stuck around, he’ll change his mind, right? Sadly, that’s not likely.

If he’s disregarded our feelings thus far, what will keep him from treating them carelessly again?

It’s not up to us to change a guy or to prove our worth to him. If he’s had no problem disregarding our feelings thus far, what would keep him from treating them carelessly again? The only way we can deal with a guy like this is by moving on. It’s easier said than done, and not always what our heart is telling us to do, but it’s also the healthiest, most mature, emotionally advantageous option. We’re worth more than the effort he’ll put in — we’re worth commitment.

Closing Thoughts

It’s not always easy to admit the guy we’re seeing is just keeping us around. More often than not, we think we’ll be able to change his mind, once he really gets to know us. But the truth is, he’s not going to. Plus, why waste our time trying to convince someone of our inherent worth?