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22 reasons he keeps you around when he doesn’t want a relationship

You’ve done just about everything that “serious” couples do. You’ve traveled together, hung out with each other’s friends, and maybe even met each other’s families.

But despite all this, you’re still stuck in that limbo between relationship and courtship.

Although there are many reasons why a guy might not want to fully commit to a relationship, it typically falls into two categories: 1) it might be about him; 2) it might be something that you’re doing.

Learning to decode the difference between the two will save a ton of heartbreak not just from this guy, but all the other men you’ll be dating in the future.

Does he want you, but not a relationship with you?

There’s nothing more frustrating than not knowing where you stand in someone else’s eyes, especially when you are madly in love with that someone else.

Many women find themselves in this endless tango with a man who isn’t really their boyfriend, but who isn’t really “just a friend”.

So does your man want you, but not want a relationship with you?

If you have experienced any of the following, this may be exactly the case:

  • He cancels plans last minute with some unexpected excuse
  • He doesn’t treat you with the kindness or love that you think you deserve
  • He acts like a different person sometimes, especially when other people are around
  • He doesn’t show you off on his social media accounts
  • He hasn’t taken the time to introduce you to his close friends or family
  • He doesn’t really plan things with you, and just expects you to be ready whenever
  • He loves it when you guys “get physical” but acts distant otherwise

Testing him: How to find out that he doesn’t really want a relationship without asking

It can be awkward asking someone if they want to be in a relationship with you, or why they don’t want it in the first place.

But the good thing is that you don’t have to ask at all; in many cases the signs are obviously telegraphed, and all you need to do is put them to the test.

Here are some easy tests you can perform to see if your man is really “your man”:

1. Talk about the future

Whether you’re in a relationship with someone or just dating them, there’s nothing wrong with talking about the future.

This doesn’t mean trying to plan out the next 20 years with your guy; it can be something as innocent as planning a “serious” vacation or trip abroad in a few months or sometime next year.

If he wants you… he’ll react positively and enthusiastically, and he’ll love the idea of a trip and love the fact that you’re not only thinking about spending more time with him, but thinking of keeping him involved in your life for the long-term.

If he doesn’t want you… he’ll react negatively and standoffish, because he’ll be bothered by the fact that you are planning to keep him in your life for that long, while he probably assumes that you won’t still be seeing each other in a few months.

2. Add friends (and family) to the mix

No relationship exists in a vacuum, because no individual exists in a vacuum. We’re made up by the people who fill our lives, from our best friends to our siblings and parents.

So introducing your “special friend” to your friends and family isn’t something that should feel completely out of place; it’s a natural step in the growth of a real relationship.

If he wants you… he might be intimidated or shy towards the idea of meeting other people in your life, but he’ll want to score points with you and he should be open to the idea of it.

If he doesn’t want you… he knows that getting to know your friends and family will make him more of a jerk when he eventually disappoints you, so he will try to pull every lame excuse from the book to squeeze out of the possible meet-up.

3. Try to get him to open up

No matter how reserved and introverted your guy might be, he still has emotions and like anyone, he’s looking for the right person to share those emotions with.

It may take some prodding and pushing, but you can help him open up by opening up emotionally yourself, and showing him parts of your personality that no one else gets to see.

If he wants you… he will understand that this is his opportunity to truly connect with not just another person, but with another person who deeply cares about him.

Even if he’s never had the chance to open up before, he will fall into the habit of treating you like his confidante.

If he doesn’t want you… he won’t want to commit to you and reveal the inner parts of himself to you.

It will always feel like there’s a part of him that is hidden from you, and he’s doing that intentionally so that when he ultimately leaves, he won’t feel as guilty about it.

4. Get his full attention, and see how long you can keep it

The person you are dating or hanging out with should give you the respect of their full attention, at least sometimes.

This means that they are actively engaged in the conversation, that they are fully present in the activities you’re doing together, and that they aren’t always on their phone or coming up with reasons or excuses to explain their absent-mindedness.

If he wants you… then there should be no difficulty in getting his full attention, because he wants your full attention. He’s eager and charismatic and loves the fact that you want him as much as he wants you.

If he doesn’t want you… then he’s always thinking about, “What am I doing after this?” You’re always just a period of time to him, a chunk of his day. You’re never the reason why he gets out of bed; you’re just another item he checks off the list.

5. See how reliable he is

A relationship isn’t just about pleasing each other and making each other happy. We commit to each other and help our partners through their struggles, both big and small.

Whether that means helping them move their furniture into a new apartment, or being the shoulder to cry on when they lose their job or experience a tragedy, the partner should be there to fill that need.

So you need to see exactly how reliable your man is, and whether there’s always a perfect excuse for his unreliability.

If he wants you… there will be very few things that can keep him away from you in your time of need.

When you need him, he will make sure that he can be of service, because he values you so much that a part of him is worried that another guy will see how amazing you are and do the job he should be doing.

If he doesn’t want you… then your needs won’t really matter to him. You’re a stop-gap for him at best, and he only wants the “pleasing” part of the relationship, none of the work.

There will always be a perfect excuse to get him out of things, from dates that you planned together, to anything else.

22 reasons he is keeping you around without wanting a relationship

If a guy is keeping you around but doesn’t want a relationship, it’s obvious that he doesn’t know what he wants. Thankfully, with these 22 signs, you can see the true reason they’re keeping you around.

1. You’re not triggering his hero instinct

Have you heard of the hero instinct?

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

Simply put, men want to be your hero. And if you’re not letting him be one, he will stay lukewarm towards you and eventually seek out someone who does.

The hero instinct is a legitimate concept in relationship psychology that I personally believe has a lot of truth to it.

Let’s face it: Men and women are different. So, trying to treat your man like one of your friends is not going to work.

Deep inside, we crave different things…

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

Men want to step up to the plate for the woman he cares about. And if you’re not letting him do this, then 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.

In the video, James reveals the exact phrases you can say, texts you can send, and little requests you can make to trigger this instinct.

Some ideas are life changing. And for relationships, I think this is one of them.

Here’s a link to the video again.

2. Things go from intense to nothing

Do you feel like he is constantly hot and cold? Sometimes, things are hot and heavy. Other times, there’s nothing. You feel like you’re being pulled back and forth. Confusing, right?

This is one of the top signs that a guy doesn’t know what he wants. One moment, he thinks that you’re everything. And the next moment, he’s ghosting you. Think about all the people that you really like. You want to talk to them all the time.

Shouldn’t they be the same? A study showed that those who are truly interested are communicating with their romantic interest nearly every day. Only 7% of people who weren’t interested and kept women on the side were talking to their side-woman every day.

3. Cancels last minute

Maybe when the two of you are together, it’s the best thing. You’re constantly connecting and show each other that through touch, communication, and appreciation. 

But, the problem is you hardly ever see each other. That’s because when you’re about to get together, they cancel last minute.

Even when you think you’re going to get together, it doesn’t happen. 

This isn’t normal.

Someone who wants to build a relationship should be there every step of the way. They won’t cancel last minute more than a few times.

Sure, life happens. But many times, the excuses aren’t genuine.

It doesn’t matter how great things are when the two of you are together—if he’s canceling often, he doesn’t know what he wants. Or if he does, it isn’t you.

4. You haven’t met anyone important

Does it seem like every time the two of you are together, you stay behind at your house or go to non-popular areas? 

If you haven’t met any of his family or friends, I hate to break it to you, but that’s not a good sign. The guys who know what they want will show you off to their loved ones. They want their opinion, which is why you meet family and friends.

But if he’s going out of his way to make sure you’re not meeting anyone he knows, it’s clear he’s not ready for a relationship and doesn’t know what he wants.

5. He puts his dreams first

Look, putting your dreams first isn’t a bad thing. But men and women are different. Men usually have a checklist of things they want to accomplish before they step into a serious relationship.

So, he may like you. But it could be he isn’t ready for a relationship yet because he hasn’t reached all his personal accomplishments.

That’s not to say you aren’t amazing (you are), but he’s focused on something else. No matter what you do, you’re not going to change his mind to want a relationship if he’s focused on his dreams.

So, he does know what he wants—he just doesn’t know what he wants in his love life.

6. He doesn’t spend much time with you

If you’re in bed the majority of the time the two of you are together, this isn’t a good sign. It could be a classic friends with benefits thing, so you can expect that he’s really not interested in a relationship.

He may have someone else he’s interested in, or he may not. But he doesn’t know whether he wants to change the current predicament the two of you are in. 

Someone who wants to be in a relationship is going to spend time getting to know you—outside of the bedroom. He should want to know your likes, dislikes, dreams, and desires. 

7. He doesn’t feel essential

For a man, feeling essential to a woman is often what separates “like” from “love”.

Don’t get me wrong, no doubt your guy loves your strength and abilities to be independent. But he still wants to feel wanted and useful — not dispensable!

This is because men have a built in desire for something “greater” that goes beyond love or sex. It’s why men who seemingly have the “perfect girlfriend” are still unhappy and find themselves constantly searching for something else —  or worst of all, someone else.

Simply put, men have a biological drive to feel needed, to feel important, and to provide for the woman he cares about.

Relationship psychologist James Bauer calls it the hero instinct. I talked briefly about this concept above.

As James argues, male desires are not complicated, just misunderstood. Instincts are powerful drivers of human behavior and this is especially true for how men approach their relationships.

So, when the hero instinct isn’t triggered, men are unlikely to commit to a relationship with any woman. He holds back because being in a relationship is a serious investment for him. And he won’t fully “invest” in you unless you give him a sense of meaning and purpose and make him feel essential.

How do you trigger this instinct in him, and give him this sense of meaning and purpose?

You don’t need to pretend to be anyone you’re not or play the “damsel in distress”. You don’t have to dilute your strength or independence in any way, shape or form.

In an authentic way, you simply have to show your man what you need and allow him to step up to fulfill it.

In his new video, James Bauer outlines several things you can. He reveals phrases, texts and little requests that you can use right now to make him feel more essential to you.

Watch his unique video here.

By triggering this very natural male instinct, you’ll not only give him greater satisfaction but it will also help to rocket your relationship to the next level.

8. He shows no effort

You’re the one putting in all the effort and planning. And when you do, he seems okay with it all. But when you don’t put in effort, you don’t hear from him.

He’s probably not that into you if he isn’t showing effort.

As much as you’d like to be in a relationship with him, he clearly isn’t sure whether he wants to or not if he isn’t putting in the effort.

It could be that the situation you have on hand is too easy. He likes the arrangement and doesn’t want to put a label on it all.

9. He is seeing other people

This should be one of the largest red flags. If they aren’t sure what they want, they’re probably seeing other people.

While dating around isn’t something to be ashamed of, it’s going to hurt you in the long run if you want a relationship and they don’t.

If you find out that the person you’re interested in is seeing other people, you should take it as a sign that they’re not quite sure what they want from you.

10. He avoids the talk

Have you tried to talk to them about defining the relationship? Are they avoiding it like the plague?

You should definitely know that this is a bad sign. They don’t want to have the talk about defining the relationship because they aren’t sure what they want.

(Article continues below…)

If your love life is also a "train wreck", read this...

After a lifetime of failure, Hack Spirit writer Pearch Nash is currently in the most secure and passionate relationship of her life.

How?

Because she set out to learn more about how men really think. In doing so, she discovered this one “secret” about men.

Read about her search for a solution to her “train wreck” love life…

… and the fascinating insight into male psychology she learned along the way.

11. He is scared of commitment

A guy who doesn’t know what he wants is probably scared of commitment. There are multiple reasons that this could have happened to them, but commitment-phobes hardly ever know what they want.

Though they want to be around you and they like you, they’re scared of starting a relationship with you.

So, they’ll show that they like you through small things—like being all in when they’re around you. But then they pull away or even say things that may hurt.

This indecisiveness can leave you confused and anxious about the relationship.

12. He doesn’t know what he wants because he doesn’t want you

As hard as it is to accept, the guy you’re interested in may just not want you. Even if you feel good about the time you guys spend together, if he’s not putting in effort and trying harder in getting to know you, he probably doesn’t want you.

This sucks. But at the same time, all of these signs just show how much he has no idea what it is that he wants.

It all comes down to one simple thing: If you’re questioning whether or not he wants you, he probably doesn’t.

13. He doesn’t want to hurt you

He may like you and he may even love you, but he might just not want to be in a relationship with you for one reason or another, but he won’t tell you the truth because he cares about you too much to hurt you.

He knows in his heart that the longer this goes on, the more hurt you will be when it eventually ends, but he doesn’t know how to take the steps to have that final, decisive conversation with you.

14. He’s been hurt in the past

You know he’s a great guy, but he’s slightly emotionally reserved and withdrawn. He keeps a part of himself sheltered away not only from you, but from the rest of the world.

This might be a result of previous important relationships in his life; whether with an ex or with someone else who was close to him who hurt him in the end.

He loves being around you but he’s afraid that this relationship might end up being like his last one, and he doesn’t want to commit before knowing for sure that he won’t experience the same kind of overwhelming heartache.

15. He doesn’t know if you’re serious

He may actually be ready to sit down with you and commit with you right now, but the problem actually isn’t with him; it’s with you.

You may have shown him (without realizing it) that you’re not as serious about the possibility of a relationship with him as he is, and this may have put him off from committing to you.

If this is the case, then it’s time for you to sit down with him and have the talk.

It may be that he misinterpreted you in some way, or he has different standards from you even if the two of you are on the same page.

If he’s a jerk…

16. You’re giving him everything he wants

You’re already giving him the one thing every guy wants, so why should he bother to do more?

If you’re giving him all the rewards and benefits of being in a relationship even before you got into a commitment, then he doesn’t really see the need to lock you down and put a label on it.

17. He doesn’t want anyone else to have you

Some guys have a weird dictatorship complex. This means keeping you around is less about keeping you to himself but more about making sure that other guys don’t get you.

While his possessiveness can be a little flattering, understand that he doesn’t really see you as a partner. He’s not keeping you to himself so he can protect you. You’re there because he sees you as his property.

18. He doesn’t want to pay for your dates

Rewards and benefits come in different forms.

Other guys will keep you around for sex, while others will keep stringing you along because you’re paying for those great dinners and fun trips.

Maybe you’re the independent and strong type and he feels empowered just by being around you.

Either way, when his primal instincts kick in, he’ll do everything to make sure you keep pampering him, even if it means staying in a relationship that he doesn’t really want.

19. He loves playing the field

Maybe the guy you’re into simply hasn’t taken the time to grow up yet.

Unable to commit and make his own decision on which girl to date, he keeps a couple of you in rotation.

When one girl doesn’t answer, he’s sure to have one or two in the reserves. Even if he says you’re the best one, the truth is you’re just another girl on his rotation.

20. He’s made you his backup choice

Romantic safety nets are a thing, even for guys. This is typically the case with exs who can’t seem to make up their minds.

They disappear for months on end and even enter new relationships, but somehow always find themselves coming back to you again.

Is it destiny? Definitely not. This guy is probably scared at the prospect of being alone and keeps you around to save him from solitude after he’s exhausted all his options.

21. He’s afraid of being alone (or bored)

Do you ever feel like you’re only there to fill his time?

Some people (and it’s not just specific to guys) date around because they have nothing better to do with their time.

They use dating to fill up the silences in-between work and waking up. Dating provides a temporary sense of purpose and fulfillment, which people mistake for as actual contentment.

If you feel like your guy is only half-present when you’re hanging out, it could be that he’s just using you as background noise.

He doesn’t really want to be with you; he just doesn’t want to be alone.

22. He doesn’t want things to change

So you’ve been seeing each other for a while but he still won’t have “the talk” with you.

One of the simplest reasons why he still keeps you around even though he doesn’t want a relationship is because he just doesn’t want things to change.

And not in the sensitive and sweet way.

The guy you’re seeing has gotten used to reaping the rewards of dating you and likely worried that taking things to the next level is going to put more pressure on him.

Simply put, he’s not ready to go above and beyond and wants to keep coasting on with you.

How you are accidentally “friendzoning” yourself without realizing it

The notorious friendzone is an abyss many guys find themselves stuck in.

But it’s not just men who can get sucked into this vortex.

Women can also end up in the friend zone even after making their romantic intentions very clear.

Here are some ways you can put yourself in the non-commitment zone without even knowing it:

1. You don’t make him feel needed, just wanted

Men are instinctive creatures and it’s in their DNA to want to protect and be chivalrous.

Again, this hero instinct is inborn.

Even if you shower him with all the attention, that might not be enough to trigger his hero instinct.

Check out this video to understand how to trigger this response from any guy you date.

2. You are ALWAYS around and available

You made things way too easy for him. Now he understands that all he has to do is pick up his phone and text you, and you’ll come running to him without fail.

Guy brains like to “gamify” things. That means, just like in video games, they want things more they feel like they’ve earned through careful leveling.

3. You became “too familiar” too fast

Have you ever liked a guy so much you wanted to be completely honest with him? The truth is, honesty isn’t always the best policy.

People need time to get accustomed to each other’s quirks and personalities.

If he already knows everything about you before even having the chance to fall in love, he won’t see your less desirable qualities as a unique part of who you are.

If anything, he’ll just use them as reasons not to be with you.

4. You hurt him without realizing it

We don’t all have the same sensibilities, and you might be turning him off without realizing it with little things that you do.

Whether it’s being overly critical, clingy, or judgmental, there’s something about you that he doesn’t like and is keeping him from fully committing with you.

5. The relationship exists more in your head than it does

The simplest explanation of it all: he simply doesn’t want a relationship.

No games, no mystery. It might be that all this romance is just in your head, or maybe he’s set his cards on the table regarding this relationship and you choose to ignore it.

At the end of the day, you can’t force a person to be in a relationship he clearly doesn’t want.

What do you do now? Move on or help your man out?

The answer is specific to you and the guy you’re dating. We’ve equipped you with the signs to self-diagnose your relationship and understand where you stand.

At the end of the day, it’s still up to you (and your man), and whether or not this relationship is worth working on.

A checklist of questions you need to ask yourself before you decide to move on or keep helping your man realize that you are his perfect partner.

  • Have you talked to him? Does he know how you feel?
  • Have you given him enough time to process everything?
  • Is he honest with you, or at least, does he try to be?
  • Do you feel that you are wasting your time and you deserve more?
  • Is he holding back your growth as a person?
  • Are you trying to force something that nobody else believes in?
  • How much of this dilemma comes from him, and how much comes from you?
  • Have you given yourself too much of him?

If you’ve been open and supportive to him and he still doesn’t want a relationship, then take it a sign that he simply isn’t the commitment type.

At this point, there’s nothing you can do but move on and find a better relationship elsewhere.

Remember: there’s only so much you can do to help out your man. At the very least, he has to want to work things with you.

You can only support this relationship to a certain extent. If he’s not doing anything to make things work, pack your bags and leave this non-relationship immediately.

You deserve better

Here’s the thing…

You deserve better. So much better.

When a guy doesn’t know what he wants but keeps you around anyway, you don’t deserve that. You deserve someone who will love you, want to get to know you, and who is willing to put in the effort.

A man who keeps you around but doesn’t want a relationship isn’t going to worth the time and effort. He can always come back around when he’s ready for a relationship. But in the meantime, you shouldn’t wait around. Because truthfully, it doesn’t happen very often.

It’s obviously bothering you, as it should.

So, it’s probably time to cut ties.

Have a conversation with the guy you’re dating. If he steps up and wants to begin a relationship, then you have your answer.

If he avoids defining the relationship or beats around the bush, it’s time to cut ties.

As much as that sucks, it will make you happier. You don’t need a relationship to feel good about yourself, and a man that’s half-in is only going to make you feel worse. 

You shouldn’t have to ask why he’s keeping you around if he doesn’t want a relationship. Nothing good comes from that question.

It’s a hard conversation to have, and you may be scared to do so. But, you truly do deserve better. You’ll find a guy that’s all-in and ready to start a relationship. It may take time, but it will be worth cutting ties with the guy that’s keeping you on the side.

In saying that…

Although kicking him to the curb is definitely an option, here’s another one for you:

Try to get inside his head and understand what he’s thinking.

If a guy won’t commit, especially if he seems happy with you, there’s always a reason. If you really like him, maybe it’s on you to figure out what it is?

In my experience, the missing link in any relationship is never sex, communication or a lack of romantic dates. All these things are important, but they are rarely deal breakers when it comes to the success of a relationship.

The missing link is this:

You actually have to understand what your guy is thinking at a deep level.

And relationship psychologist James Bauer offers one of the best ways to do this. Watch his free online video here where he reveals what really makes men tick in a relationship—and the type of woman they fall in love with.

New video: He reveals the truth about chasing emotionally unavailable men (hint: don’t do it!)

Jess Carpenter

Jess Carpenter

I studied at The University of Utah where I earned both my B.S. and M.S. and am a Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES certified). My favorite spot to write is wherever I can see my toddlers to ensure they aren’t jumping from the second story or coloring on the walls.
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