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Advice

He said he doesn’t want a relationship – so why is he acting like my boyfriend?

  • Author: Wayne and Wanda
  • Updated: May 19
  • Published May 19

Dear Wayne and Wanda,

There's this guy I've been hooking up with for a while now. In the beginning I told him I wanted more and he would just avoid it. Then one day, I decided I wouldn't let him avoid my feelings any longer, and I told him I wanted to know if he wanted a relationship with me. He told me he wasn't ready for or looking for a relationship at that point.

Well, that was two to three months back and we have still continued to have a physical but no-strings-attached relationship. When I asked for more from him, he said if I wanted more, I should move on and we should end things, and stay friends. Maybe I should have taken him up on that, but instead I kept seeing him.

Things seem to have changed though. Now he stays at my house at least a couple of nights a week. It's starting to feel like a relationship and I'm confused. I don't mean to get down to details but the sex has become a lot more intimate and he says things to me that sound loving and even possessive, suggesting he doesn't want anyone else to be with me, and vice versa. I don't know what to do. I'm afraid to say anything, because I don't want things between us to end. But I'm afraid if I don't say anything he might not realize how much I still care and he might think I don't want him like that anymore.

Please help me! I'm conflicted. Does he really want a relationship and is afraid, or what's the deal?

Wanda says: 

Usually, guys say what they think and ask for what they want. As a species, dudes are generally too basic for game-playing, and so literal that there's rarely much to read between the lines. I don't mean to suggest they're over-simplified creatures; anyone who's tried to date a man knows that's far from the truth. What I mean is, they generally are pretty straightforward. When we try to guess what they're really thinking, we often forget they've already told us their thoughts; when we try to read intention into their behaviors, we forget they've already explained their position.

Your man-friend told you a couple months ago he doesn't want a relationship, and I totally get why the sleepovers and sexy talk are causing bewilderment. But anchor back to his original words and his original intent: he doesn't want a serious relationship right now.

I know that sucks to hear and I know you wish it was different. I've been there, and I'm betting most people have. The most likely scenario here is that you've found a guy who was super stoked that even after he admitted he didn't want commitment, the cool girl he was hanging with not only hasn't booted him, but has let him take up increasing space in her life. It's a win-win for him — all the benefits of the girlfriend experience without having to actually have a girlfriend. Ugh.

Yes, there's of course a chance he's had a change of heart, and if you've really hit a wall here, you could lob one last Hail Mary and tell him again how you feel. It could be the push he needs to take the relationship plunge — or the words that push him away. I understand how scary that decision is, but remember, your most important relationship and commitments are with yourself. You sound like a really nice and compassionate person whose current situation is bringing confusion, not comfort, and who isn't having her needs fulfilled. Are you really OK with that?

Wayne says:

Grunt! Groan! Wayne want tacos! And football! And partner who read Wayne's simple mind! … Oh, thanks for clarifying that we men aren't complete communication cavemen, Wanda. No offense to cavemen. Especially those Geico cavemen. Excellent spokespeople.

Two more great communicators: our letter-writer, who once upon a time clearly expressed a desire for a committed relationship; and the man without strings who clearly replied that he didn't want to be tied down. OK, not the response we were hoping for, but at least everyone was honest.

A few months of sex go by and our letter-writer expressed their relationship requirements again. And their friend with benefits again explained that his benefits package still does not include a committed relationship clause and that further inquiries about his FWB package could result in FWB termination.

After a few more months of sex, of course everyone's feeling more comfortable and intimate – the two of you are practically living together! And this is what he's continually said he's in this for — sex, fun and no commitment.

My question to you, letter-writer: Why are you now asking us what he wants? Ask him! He'll tell you exactly what he wants. He always does. The real issue is that you don't let his honesty and rejection keep you from ending things and chasing what you really want: a boyfriend, not a bed buddy.

Don't ever stop communicating your needs, with him or anyone else. Just don't be shocked if he tells you, for like the millionth time, that he doesn't want a relationship. I truly hope that he suddenly does, but if not I suggest you both live your respective truths and move on.

Want to respond to a recent column, point out a dating trend, or ask Wanda and Wayne for wisdom regarding your love life? Give them a shout at wanda@adn.com.

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