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

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“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) Want advice specific to your situation?

While this article explores what it could mean when a guy says he doesn’t know what he wants, it can be helpful to speak to a relationship coach about your situation.

With a professional relationship coach, you can get advice specific to your life and your experiences…

Relationship Hero is a site where highly trained relationship coaches help people through complicated and difficult love situations, like where you stand with a guy. They’re a very popular resource for people facing this sort of challenge.

How do I know?

Well, I reached out to them a few months ago when I was going through a tough patch in my own relationship. After being lost in my thoughts for so long, they gave me a unique insight into the dynamics of my relationship and how to get it back on track.

I was blown away by how kind, empathetic, and genuinely helpful my coach was.

In just a few minutes you can connect with a certified relationship coach and get tailor-made advice for your situation.

Click here to get started.

4) 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.

5) 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 want.

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.

6) You’re not triggering his hero instinct

Have you heard of the hero instinct?

It’s a fascinating new psychology concept generating a huge amount of buzz at the moment.

What does it mean?

Simply put, men have a biological drive to be your hero.

And if you’re not allowing him to step up to the plate to be your hero, then he’ll remain unsure about whether he wants to be in a relationship with you.

The hero instinct is actually a legitimate concept in relationship psychology, and I can personally vouch that it’s what men look for.

It’s important to remember that men and women are different.

If you try to treat this man like a friend of yours, then it’s not going to work.

Men and women crave different things.

Just like how women have the urge to nurture those they really care about, men have the urge to provide and protect.

Ask any man:

He wants to step up to the plate to be the hero for the woman he adores.

And if you’re not allowing him to do this, then that could be a reason that he is telling you that “he doesn’t know what he wants”.

After all, you’re failing to satisfy a basic biological urge he can’t control but is definitely there.

If you want to learn more about the hero instinct, check out this free video by relationship psychologist James Bauer (James Bauer actually coined the term “hero instinct”).

In the video, James reveals tips and tricks and little requests you can make to trigger this instinct in men.

Some ideas are life-changing. And for relationships, this is definitely one of them.

Here is a link to the video again.

7) 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.

8) 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.

9) 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?

Really think about it.

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. Writing has a way of slowing down your thoughts so you can structure them properly in your head.

After you spend 30 minutes writing about what’s in your heart, you’ll have a clearer idea of what you’re truly feeling.

2) Trigger his hero instinct

If you want your man to commit to you, then you need to trigger his hero instinct.

I mentioned this concept above.

The hero instinct is a new concept in relationship psychology that goes to the heart of why some men commit completely to a relationship while others pull away.

I know it sounds kind of silly. Women don’t need a hero in their lives. They don’t need someone to rescue them.

But here’s the ironic truth.

Men still need to feel like a hero. Because it’s built into their DNA to step up for a woman and be there for her.

The best way to learn how to trigger the hero instinct in your man is to watch this free online video.

You’ll learn exactly what you can do today to trigger this very natural male instinct.

Here’s a link to the video again.

3) 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.

4) 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”. 

That’s where we come in.

We’ve created the ultimate free quiz based on Sigmund Freud’s revolutionary theories, so you can finally understand what’s holding your man back. 

No more trying to be the perfect woman. No more nights wondering how to repair the relationship. 

With just a few questions, you’ll know exactly why he’s pulling away, and most importantly, what you can do to avoid losing him for good. 

Take our great new quiz here.

5) 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.

You now know exactly what he means when he utters those words, “I don’t know what I want”. But that doesn’t make it any less frustrating.

If you’ve gone through all the tips in the article and feel passionately that your feelings for him are worth exploring, then it’s time to trigger his hero instinct.

I touched on this concept twice in this article already, because it’s the one sure way to make a guy who doesn’t know what he wants…know exactly what he wants.

Men have a biological drive to be your hero.

No, you don’t have to sit back and play damsel in distress while waiting for him to save the day. But you do need to allow him to step up to the plate and be your everyday hero.

Once he feels like he’s earned your respect, he will know exactly what he wants…you.

If you want to learn more about the hero instinct, check out this free video by relationship psychologist James Bauer, who first coined this term.

In the video, James reveals tips and tricks and little requests you can make to trigger this instinct in men.

Some ideas are life-changing. And for relationships, this is definitely one of them.

Here is a link to the video 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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