What a guy really means when he says “he doesn’t know what he wants”

“I don’t know what I want”.

Is your man saying these words?

Let me go out on a limb here and guess that you’ve been seeing a guy for a while and you know you want to have a relationship with him.

The problem?

You have no idea what he wants.

You even chatted to him about it and he pretty much told you (maybe not these exact words) that “he doesn’t know what he wants”.

It is possible that he’s being honest and he genuinely doesn’t know what he wants for his life.

Or perhaps he’s just not sure that you’re the right girl for him.

And now you’re confused. After all, you thought that you were a great match for each other.

You get along. There’s undeniable chemistry. The sex is passionate. He’s a good person. You’re a good person. So why in the hell aren’t you making it official?!

It’s a confusing scenario.

I’m sure you’re now wondering whether you should wait for him to make up his mind or whether you should move on and find someone new.

Look. I’m a guy, and I’ve been in this situation before.

I’ve dated a lot of girls casually, and I arrived at the “I have no idea what I want” moment more than a few times.

So yes, I know exactly what he is thinking at this moment, and I’m going to go through it all with you in the article below.

We have a lot to cover so let’s get started.

What is he truly feeling?

Before we start, the unfortunate truth is that there might not be a straight answer for you.

After all, the phrase “I don’t know what I want” can mean many different things.

He might know that he doesn’t like you, but he finds it hard to be honest with you.

On the other hand, he might really like you, but he thinks that you don’t like him so he is trying to save face.

So from my experience, here are some of the reasons he might be saying, “I don’t know what I want”.

1) He is scared of his feelings

This is a huge reason a man will have no idea what he wants.

We can all agree that love is a powerful emotion. And if your man has started to get the feels for you, then it could be making him uncertain and confused.

Feelings aren’t easy to process for men.

I’ve been there. When you don’t expect to fall for someone so quickly, it can take you by surprise.

You’d think love is nothing but a positive emotion, and in most cases, that is certainly the case.

But think about it from his perspective.

What if he had his life figured out?

He knew what he wanted to do in the future.

He had his goals. His work. His buddies to drink with.

Now that he has met you? Everything has changed.

He knows he really likes you, and it’s making him less certain about everything.

Love is becoming his main priority in life and he doesn’t know how to deal with it.

And honestly, he might actually find a relationship with you as highly appealing, but it’s just going to take him time to process his emotions.

That’s why he is confused right now. And that is why he is telling you that he doesn’t know what he wants.

The good news?

If the feeling of love has taken him by surprise, then eventually he is going to come around.

And that means that eventually, you’ll be in a solidified relationship with him.

Your job now is to give him space to process those emotions. Don’t pressure him too much.

And then everything will work out.

2) He’s not into you

This is probably the one that you don’t want to hear. And I’m sorry to break it to you, but unfortunately, it could be a strong possibility.

He might be telling you that he doesn’t know what he wants because he wants to let you down gently.

He doesn’t want to be direct and tell you flat out: “I just don’t like you enough to be a committed relationship.”

Nope. This man tells you that he doesn’t know what he wants because he hasn’t got the balls to be direct with you.

Or this is his strategy to keep you around until someone else comes along.

Whichever it is, it isn’t good and you’re being strung along.

If you’ve got strong feelings for this guy, then it definitely sucks, but consider this:

Do you really want to be with a guy that isn’t being upfront and honest with you, anyway?

How could you ever have a healthy relationship if you’d never understand what he is thinking and feeling?

Instead of viewing this as a loss, see it as dodging a bullet!

3) He is terrible at expressing his emotions

The main problem could be that he just doesn’t know how to communicate his emotions.

Most men struggle to talk about their feelings. I know I’m the same. It just isn’t natural.

So maybe he does like you, or perhaps he is afraid of commitment.

It could be anything, but he is just struggling to put it into words. It’s definitely tough to figure out what a guy wants.

In fact, I’d go as far as to say that is a pretty common scenario. It may be a stereotype that men don’t talk about their feelings, but it’s true.

If this is the case, then it’s just going to take a bit of time to communicate what he wants to communicate. He might need to feel more trust with you to be more open.

4) He actually doesn’t know what he wants

Guess what? He might actually be telling you the truth.

We’ve all been there. I’m sure you’ve been at a stage in your life where you just had no idea what you wanted.

And when it comes to relationships, we can all agree that it’s a big decision to commit.

The choice he is about to make has drastic consequences for his future.

Should he stay single and keep his freedom to see any girl he wants?

Or should he commit to a girl that he really likes?

He genuinely and honestly might not know the answer to those questions. It might not just be about you, either. But also with his life.

Just think about it.

I can relate to this because I’ve been in that situation too, where the fog of uncertainty made it difficult to see what I truly desired. 

During those times, I found a fantastic resource that helped me clear the mist: Rudá Iandê’s Love and Intimacy Masterclass

Initially, I thought it was all about working on intimacy issues in a relationship. But soon I understood Rudá’s point — you can’t really build intimacy with someone unless you’ve sorted out your own needs and wants.

A world famous shaman and educator in guiding individuals to better relationships both with themselves and others, Rudá’s guidance really stood out for me.

The exercises provided by the class helped me to feel truly empowered. I did a short self-exploration questionnaire inserted in his masterclass and got clear about what really mattered to me in a relationship. 

So, maybe he honestly doesn’t know what he wants in a relationship. Or what if you haven’t explored your actual needs either?

If you find yourself tangled in a relationship with someone who’s uncertain, maybe it’s time for both of you to dig a little deeper.

Click here to access the free masterclass.

5) He is wondering whether he should put his dreams first

Getting involved in a committed relationship is a big decision.

No matter how you spin it, it’s bound to take up a huge amount of anyone’s time.

And men usually have a checklist of things they want to accomplish before they step into a serious relationship.

So, he may like you. But he is focused on his career and achieving what he wants to achieve.

He doesn’t want to get involved in a relationship before he has reached all his personal accomplishments.

Don’t get me wrong. He probably really likes you, but unfortunately, he wants to focus on something else.

That’s why he’d prefer to keep it casual.

And if you’re pressuring him to be in a serious committed relationship, he really doesn’t know what he wants.

What you need to do is show him that focusing on his dreams is also conducive to being in a relationship with you.

6) He is scared of commitment

This is more common than you think. Some guys really do struggle with the idea of losing their freedom.

I’ve been there, and it’s not an easy fear to get over.

Perhaps your man is young and he wants to test out the fish in the water before getting on a steady boat.

Maybe he finds the courting stage thrilling but the stable relationship phase as boring.

So now that your fling is moving beyond the passionate atttraction stage, he doesn’t know what he wants.

The problem?

It’s common for men to believe that they can’t have the freedom and be in a relationship at the same time.

He might also think that he can’t give you what you want.

But the truth is, if you’re in a healthy relationship, you do have both.

In fact, it’s necessary if the relationship is to survive.

So, what’s the moral of the story here?

Basically, if this is the case for your man (that he is scared of commitment) then you need to make him realize that a relationship with you doesn’t compromise his freedom.

Show that you trust him. Prove to your man that you’re not clingy or needy. You don’t want to be joined at the hip with him.

Make him realize that you want the both of you to live out your own lives as well as creating something beautiful together.

Eventually, he’ll come around and the fear of commitment will slowly wash away.

7) He’s been hurt in the past

If your man has been hurt in the past from previous relationships, then he may be scared about getting into a relationship with you.

Does he have a history with an emotionally abusive ex or an ex that cheated on him?

If so, he might be very cautious about getting into a new relationship.

He tells you that he doesn’t know what he wants, but what he is really trying to say is that he wants to be in a relationship with you but he doesn’t want to put himself through the same hurt again.

This is why his guard might be up, and he is naturally afraid of getting too close to anyone.

So when you triggered those deep feelings of love in him, it may have caused him to be confused and unsure about the way forward.

Don’t panic though.

If this is the case with your man, then you just need to make him realize that he can trust you and that you’re not like the other girls in his past.


When you’re dating a guy who has been hurt in the past by a crazy chick, it’s all about making him feel comfortable and secure in the relationship.

When he understands he can trust you, it will alleviate his worries about falling for someone that could potentially hurt him.

What should you do about it?

I’m sure that as you were reading this article one or two points made sense to you that explain his confusing behavior.

So now you need to work out what you’re going to do about it.

If he is continuing to not give you a straight answer, then you need to start thinking about yourself.

Here are some ideas for how you can move your life forward, with this man or in spite of him.

1) What do you want?

We’ve spent this whole article talking about this guy and what he might be thinking.

But you need to stop thinking about him, and you need to think about yourself.

What are you feeling?

Do you like this guy? Do you want a genuine relationship with him? Can you see a beautiful future with him?

Do you even love yourself enough to be able to move forwards in a healthy relationship?

Really think about it.

And if you need some help in finding the right questions to ask yourself, try out Rudá’s free Self-Love Quiz.

The idea that you need to be so self-confident and in love with yourself is outdated, but trying to form a healthy relationship when there are likely barriers holding you back will also make things ten times more challenging. 

Keeping this guy in mind, ask yourself the questions he poses regarding your relationship with this man and with yourself.

And once you’re done, have a good think about the following:

Do you want to be with a guy that is so indecisive?

Or do you know in your heart that you get along like a house on fire and a relationship between the two of you will definitely work out?

You may want to write down what you’re thinking as well as any answers you takeaway from the quiz, as writing has a way of slowing down your thoughts so you can structure them properly in your head.

Click here to access the free self-love quiz.

2) Trust your gut

Despite what some people say, gut feelings are generally spot-on.

So take a moment to sit with yourself and work out what your instinct is telling you.

Do you really think that he genuinely likes you and he is just taking time to process his feelings?

Or is he really just stringing you along and playing with your feelings?

Would a future between the two of you work? Or is it likely going to eventually end?

How does your gut answer these questions?

Chances are, it’s spot on the money.

3) Give him space

This is going to be a tough one to hear, but if your instinct told you that he does truly like you, then you need to give him some space.

His confused mind is not going to be solved by desperately pulling him back in.

If he needs time to process his feelings, then that is what you are going to have to give him.

If you give him the necessary space and time, then he’ll be more likely to come around you and eventually commit to you.

Remember, guys take longer to process their emotions. So give him that time.

If you feel like you’ve tried everything and your man is still pulling away, it’s probably because his fears of commitment are so deep-rooted in his subconscious, even he’s not aware of them. 

And unfortunately, unless you can get inside his mind and understand how the male psyche works, nothing you do will make him see you as “the one”. 

4) If you’re clear about what you want, then now it’s time to tell him

On the other hand, if you’re sick of waiting around and you already know what you want, then perhaps it’s time to give him an ultimatum.

You know you like this guy, but his confusion is getting ridiculous.

You need to let him know that you’re not going to wait around patiently while he figures things out himself.

Tell him that you want a relationship. And if he doesn’t want to commit, then it’s time to part ways.

How to get him to commit

Isn’t it frustrating when you’re ready for a relationship and he still can’t work out what he wants?

You know the two of you have something special that could go somewhere, but he’s still trying to work things out.

But as I said above, it’s possible that he really doesn’t know what he wants in a relationship.

So, whenever he utters those words, “I don’t know what I want”, you don’t have to be stuck in limbo waiting for his decision.

Instead, why don’t you try to help him figure out what he really wants?

The free Love and Intimacy Masterclass from the shaman Rudá Iandê that I mentioned above can indeed help you both figure out what you truly want in a relationship. 

Just wait until you reach the self-exploration questionnaire, and I’m sure, just like it helped me gain clarity, it will also offer you valuable insights into your inner desires.

Here’s the link to the masterclass again.



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Lachlan Brown

I’m Lachlan Brown, the founder, and editor of Hack Spirit. I love writing practical articles that help others live a mindful and better life. I have a graduate degree in Psychology and I’ve spent the last 15 years reading and studying all I can about human psychology and practical ways to hack our mindsets. Check out my latest book on the Hidden Secrets of Buddhism and How it Saved My Life. If you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Facebook or Twitter.

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