18 signs he isn’t ready for a relationship (even though he likes you)

You really like this guy, but there’s a catch. Although you know he likes you too, you’re worried that he’s just not ready for a relationship.

I’m guessing that if you feel this way, there have already been a few red flags.

This article will share the big warning signs that he isn’t going to commit to you, even though he likes you.

18 signs he isn’t ready for a relationship (even though he likes you)

1) He tells you

I know it’s an obvious sign to start with. But the reason I am putting it first is that often guys will tell us they’re not looking for a relationship, but we don’t want to hear it.

I know I’ve been guilty of this…more than once.

A guy directly tells you he’s not looking for a girlfriend, or he indirectly tells you by saying something along the lines of:

“I’m not looking for anything serious right now”.

But because we like him we deep down hope he’s going to change his mind.

We think that if we’re patient enough things will naturally progress. 

Or we think that somehow it will be different with us than with other girls. That he will like us enough to change his mind and decide that he does want a relationship after all.

‘He says he likes me but is not ready for a relationship’ can be one of the most infuriating things to hear because it gives you just enough hope to cling to.

But sadly, 9 times out of ten, this wishful thinking means that you end up breaking your own heart.

Research has shown that commitment readiness heavily impacts the relationship outcome. So when someone says they aren’t ready for a relationship, do yourself a favor and believe them!

2) He has a history of casual connections

Whilst it’s perhaps unfair to solely judge someone based on their past, the fact remains that previous behavior is a strong indicator of future behavior.

If this guy’s past is littered with short-term flings then his behavior up until now suggests he isn’t relationship material.

Perhaps he has a bit of a reputation as a womanizer or player. If he has never once had a real relationship, then you might ask yourself why?

Perhaps it’s because he doesn’t really want one, and is still enjoying his “freedom” or perhaps it’s because he doesn’t yet have the maturity and emotional tools needed to make a long-term connection work.

Either way, guys who have never had a girlfriend before may be less ready for a relationship. 

3) He’s all about the “fun”

Ok, let me explain:

Of course, we all want to be with a guy who is fun. But at some stage, things need to go deeper.

If you have a good time whenever you’re together, but you never have any deep conversations, it’s a sign that the connection is still quite shallow.

For a relationship to blossom, you need to be able to scratch below the surface and get to know the real person beneath.

That requires vulnerability.

You both have to be prepared to reveal the good and the bad. You can’t go around wearing a mask, or trying to keep things light and fun all the time.

Maybe he dodges any serious questions about what you two are exactly. Or he talks about ‘just living in the moment’ and enjoying each other’s company.

If so, it sounds like he is trying to avoid the serious side of a relationship. And that is a surefire sign he isn’t ready for one.

4) He doesn’t feel reliable

Real relationships aren’t built on fireworks and butterflies.

Sure, that can draw you together in the beginning. But the glue that holds people together needs to be much stronger than attraction alone.

Reliability is one of these important elements because it builds trust and respect. And the truth is that when a man is ready to commit to a relationship, he is reliable.

But if he’s holding back and you’re unsure why, it could help to speak to a professional.

Relationship Hero is a site where you can easily get in touch with a relationship coach. These guys have experience and training in exactly these types of situations – especially when it comes to working out what’s going on when a guy isn’t ready to commit! 

Usually, there’s something under the surface that stops a man from getting into a relationship when he likes the girl. A coach can help you figure out what this is, but crucially, how to work through it. 

They’ll give you the tools you need to help make him relationship ready and committed. 

Take the free quiz and get matched with a coach.

5) He seems emotionally unavailable

We hear this expression banded around quite a lot these days. But what does it actually mean to be emotionally unavailable?

In a nutshell, it’s how open and responsive you are to a wide range of needs and emotions.

Someone who is emotionally unavailable may struggle to show their true emotions or be able to deal with yours.

They prefer to keep you at arm’s length, and this obviously makes it difficult to form close bonds.

It’s not that he doesn’t like you, it’s that he doesn’t want to let you get too close.

If he is emotionally unavailable you might notice:

  • He seems distant
  • He can’t handle conflict
  • He doesn’t know how to deal with emotions
  • You put in more effort than him
  • He’s uncomfortable with relationship “labels”
  • He blows hot and cold

6) He never talks about the future with you

You don’t expect to be planning a vacation together after your first date. But if you’ve been dating for a while you would expect to look to the future together.

When things are progressing, you start to make plans further in advance.

This reflects your growing confidence that you’ll still be in each other’s lives one month from now, so you can go ahead and book those concert tickets.

If he is still only planning one date at a time, and never talks about the future, then he may not be ready for a relationship.

Discussing future plans together is an important part of a relationship. It shows that you are committed and intend to stick around.

7) He loves the party life

Some guys aren’t ready for a relationship because they aren’t ready to grow up yet.

There are different stages and phases of life. We all reach these stages at different times.

Neither is it always a linear progression.

For example, a guy in his 40s might seemingly ‘regress’ to a more youthful phase if he leaves a long-term relationship and suddenly feels like he has got his freedom back.

If a guy is still attached to his single lifestyle, then he is less ready for a relationship, no matter how much he may like you.

That’s because the party lifestyle is pretty incompatible with a relationship.

If he is still out in the club until 5 am most weekends, then don’t be surprised if he doesn’t want to give it up.

Because the truth is we need to be ready to grow out of a phase before we meet someone.

If he isn’t ready to give it up, he’ll likely end up resenting you or feeling like he is sacrificing the lifestyle he truly wants.

8) He doesn’t prioritize you

You can still like someone but not prioritize them.

But when we like someone enough to want to be in a relationship with them, they are usually high on our priority list.

If he drops you as soon as he gets a better offer, then he clearly isn’t ready for a relationship with you.

It’s perfectly natural for priorities to shift slightly. Sometimes work, study, family, friends, or other commitments do have to come first.

But if they consistently come first, and you fall to the bottom of his list, it’s a really bad sign.

The bottom line is that a guy who is ready for a relationship with you will make you feel like you are a priority in his life.

9) He doesn’t want to make things exclusive

I’m going to show my age now, but when I was younger it felt like not as many people were ‘playing the field’.

I’m not pretending it was the “good old days”. You still had your heart broken. Relationships were still complex and often messy. But it did feel like people were less prone to keeping their options open.

As dating apps and social media became the most common way to meet a partner, things changed.

All of a sudden choice overload seemed to make people less inclined to commit.

At the beginning that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It’s fine to get to know someone slowly, rather than rush into a relationship.

But if months down the line you still haven’t had the “what are we” conversation, then it could suggest he isn’t ready for a relationship.

If he avoids labels and is still dating (or messaging) other women then he’s not thinking about commitment any time soon.

10) You feel more like you’re in a situationship than a relationship

I mentioned earlier how plenty of times I’ve clung to the fantasy that a guy will change his mind and suddenly want a relationship with me.

One time in particular I really liked a guy. We got on great, and I knew he liked me too.

He was complimentary. There was mutual chemistry and physical attraction. We had fun together, but we also had deep talks as well. It felt like all the elements were there.

But no matter how great we were together, he definitely didn’t treat it like a relationship.

And I never felt secure.

I always wondered where I stood. And for every step forward we would make, eventually, we would take two steps backward.

Yep, I was firmly in ‘situationship’ territory.

Every confusing and conflicting action he took or words he spoke seemed to make the water muddier rather than clearer.

For example, he’d refer to me as his “friend” even when we had been dating and sleeping together for months.

If you’re not sure whether you’re in a sitationship, here’s a quick way to tell:

Situationships breed confusion. Relationships feel secure.

11) He’s vague about his intentions

If you feel confused about where you stand, there’s a good chance it’s because he is being vague about his intentions.

You don’t know what he is looking for and he has never told you.

To be fair, this one should take joint responsibility. Because often we don’t ask someone outright what it is they want.

We’re scared we will come on too strong and scare someone away by admitting we want something serious.

So we decide to keep it to ourselves and cross our fingers that he wants the same thing.

If you have asked him what he is looking for, but he talks around in circles or gives you a very vague answer about ‘seeing what happens’, maybe he’s being intentionally non-comital.

12) He doesn’t want you to meet his friends

One of the big differences between dating someone and being in a relationship with them is how much your lives merge.

When you are casually dating you are more likely to lead very separate lives. When you are in a relationship you also share a certain amount of your life with your partner.

That means meeting their friends, and eventually their family.

It’s a compliment when we start to bring someone into our inner circle. It shows trust and commitment.

If he still doesn’t want you to meet his friends, it might be because he isn’t envisaging you being around for the long term.

13) Most of your communication is through technology

Social media has been a tool for connection that has revolutionized the way we stay in touch with each other.

But when it comes to dating, it’s also brought with it a lazy way to date.

You can keep someone on the periphery of your life, without ever making the effort to connect in person.

Technology should be an addition to seeing each other in real life, not the only way you communicate.

If a guy is ready for a relationship with you, he wants to see you in person.

So if 90% of your time is spent talking through apps, text, and on social media, it is unlikely the connection runs deep enough for him to take things any further.

14) He gives you just enough attention to keep you hanging on

I mentioned earlier that hope can be a dangerous thing when dealing with a guy who isn’t ready for a relationship.

I doubt there are many of us who haven’t experienced breadcrumbing at some point. In fact, for most of us, it’s probably happened plenty of times.

A guy breadcrumbs you when he sends out flirty messages or shows you attention — but never actually makes any real commitment to take it any further.

Even if a guy seems to like you, he isn’t putting in enough effort to be with you.

As licensed marriage and family therapist Dana McNeil told insider:

“Breadcrumbing is a behavior in which one partner essentially gives the other partner just enough energy, time, attention, affection, or words of affirmation that provide some of the elements of being in a romantic relationship. However, the other partner is left still wanting,”.

If he is all talk and not enough action, fails to follow through or stick to his word, then he isn’t ready for a relationship.

15) He disappears and then reappears

Any guy who does a disappearing act is not ready for a relationship.

To build trust and security you have to feel confident that he’s going to stick around. If you don’t hear from him for a while only for him to pop back up again — run the other way.

Inconsistency with communication is a huge red flag that signals to you that you are not a priority, he isn’t that invested in you, and isn’t looking for a relationship.

It’s super simple, if he genuinely likes you enough, you will hear from him consistantly.

16) You feel like a booty call

It can be easy to confuse love and sex.

After all, sex and physical affection are intimate acts. But if he only wants you for your body, there are signs.

Things like:

  • He only wants to see you late at night
  • He only compliments your looks and never your personality
  • He never spends the night
  • All your dates are “Netflix and chill”

There is nothing wrong with a purely physical connection if that’s what you both want.

But if you are hoping it will turn into a relationship, you might be left disappointed if he is treating it as just friends with benefits.

17) He’s secretive

We’re all entitled to privacy. Independence and autonomy are important for any relationship. But there’s a big difference between privacy and secrecy.

For example, not letting you read his messages is respecting his privacy. Guarding his phone like a top-secret document starts to feel more secretive.

Maybe he takes all his calls out of your earshot. He never leaves his phone unattended. He is always vague about where he has been or who he was with.

In order to be intimate with someone we have to feel like they are being open with us.

These types of behavior seem suspicious because it sounds like there are parts of his life that he would rather keep hidden from you.

If he has nothing to hide, he wouldn’t need to be secretive.

18) Your gut tells you

Romance can be incredibly confusing, there’s no doubt about it. But most of the time we do get a strong gut feeling when something isn’t right.

Pretty much every time I’ve fallen for a guy who isn’t ready for a relationship, deep down I’ve known it. Even when I wanted to kid myself that wasn’t the case.

Your instincts are powerful. Below the surface, your subconscious picks up on way more nonverbal cues and signals than your conscious mind is cable of processing.

It stores all these pieces of information like some sort of vast warehouse in your brain.

That alarm bell that goes off, or a deep sense of knowing in your gut is actually your subconscious brain bringing something to your attention.

The tricky part is that we can let both fear and wishful thinking cloud our gut feelings. So we’re left unsure which voice is actually speaking to us.

That’s why when you are unsure where you stand, or can’t read the signs clearly, getting an impartial expert’s take on it all can be really useful.

Speaking to a relationship coach at Relationship Hero can help give you the clarity and guidance you need.

They not only listen, but they can give you tailor-made advice depending on your unique situation.

Whether you want to know where you stand or are looking for tips to get a guy to commit — their highly trained professionals can help.

Take the free quiz and get matched with the perfect coach for your problem. 

To conclude: What to do if he likes you but isn’t ready for a relationship

After checking out the signs, you suspect that although he likes you, he probably isn’t ready for a relationship — but what should you do next?

Let’s start with what NOT to do (and I speak from experience!). Don’t hope he will change his mind eventually. Don’t try to make even more effort to make up for his lack of effort.

Sadly this doesn’t work.

What you need to do instead is:

  • Talk to him about what he’s looking for. If you haven’t asked him, have an open conversation about what he wants from you.
  • Be clear about your needs and wants. Be brave enough to say what you’re looking for too. Even if you worry it will “scare him off”, if you want a relationship, he needs to know.
  • Set clear boundaries. Don’t sell yourself short. If his behavior is falling short of what you expect then don’t let him get away with it. He won’t respect you if he feels like he can get away with anything and walk all over you.
  • Be prepared to walk away. If you aren’t looking for the same things then you need to find the strength to walk away. This becomes an exercise in self-esteem and self-respect. He may not be ready for a relationship, but there are plenty of guys out there who are. The longer you spend waiting around for him, the more you are only wasting your own time.

Pearl Nash

Pearl Nash has years of experience writing relationship articles for single females looking for love. After being single for years with no hope of meeting Mr. Right, she finally managed to get married to the love of her life. Now that she’s settled down and happier than she’s ever been in her life, she's passionate about sharing all the wisdom she's learned over the journey. Pearl is also an accredited astrologer and publishes Hack Spirit's daily horoscope.

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