First, the bad news: There are a lot (and I mean a lot) of guys out there in their twenties and thirties who have no idea what they want out of a relationship. I’m not blaming them exactly, but these confused, nomadic men have proliferated in our generation, making today’s dating scene all the more complicated.
But there is good news, too. In my vast dating experience, these men are easy to identify. If you open the lines of honest communication and apply some practical thinking—trust me, his tangled heart and dysfunctional compass will reveal itself. And unless you’re just as confused as he is, you’ll probably want to cut him loose, like, tomorrow.
Here are the signs you might be dating a guy who has no idea what he’s looking for in love.
01. He makes you work around his schedule.
Always beware of a guy who doesn’t seem to value your time. The “my schedule or not at all” availability often goes hand in hand with having limited emotional availability. I’m talking about the guy who likes to make last-minute plans or has only one night a week he can squeeze you in. If he dictates the terms of every plan you make, he’s in control. He can keep himself from investing real feelings, keep you at arm’s length, and keep that “Sorry, I’ve been really busy with work” excuse in his back pocket. Sure, he likes you and sees your potential as a partner, but he’s not sure he wants to be in a relationship right now. And while he’s off figuring himself out, he’d like to have you around sometimes. This guy clearly isn’t boyfriend material right now—and waiting around won’t change his mind anytime soon, unfortunately. So, if you’re looking for someone more reliable, it might be a good idea to let him go before you’re in too deep.
02. When he talks about past relationships, he won’t admit any fault in the breakup.
Watch out for a man who won’t take responsibility for the part he played in past relationships. When past relationships surface in conversation and he seems to put all the blame on her, you can glean two things. First, he’s probably not over it. Second, his emotional intelligence might have some growing up to do. Generally, a guy who is unwilling to analyze his own role in the end of a relationship does not have clarity on what he’s looking for in the present or the future. This isn’t to say he doesn’t like you or maybe even love you. But in my experience, he’s not capable of a healthy and stable relationship until he’s willing to open up the wounds of his past, let them heal, and realize where he’s culpable, too.
03. He’s hesitant to make plans too far in the future.
Guys who don’t know what they are looking for in love are usually also commitment-phobic, which makes sense. If you’re dating a guy who avoids conversations about the future or seems incapable of imagining your relationship several months down the road, there’s a good chance he’s unsure if he can see himself committed to you in the long term.
To confirm, try and start a gentle and exploratory conversation about the future without making him feel pressured or giving him an ultimatum. See what he does when you plan a date several weeks out or ask him where he hopes to see you both in the next few months. If he’s truly commitment-phobic, he will most likely avoid emotionally vulnerable situations at all costs—but don’t let him off the hook. Ultimately, if you don’t hear him express a level of emotional investment that’s equal to yours, there’s a good chance you never will.
04. He’s constantly comparing his relationship status to that of his friends.
Have you ever dated that guy who’s the last single one in his group of friends? Or how about the guy whose friends are all single and show no signs of settling down? While none of us can really control the romantic journeys of our friends, there’s no denying that they have an effect on us. Guys who are constantly comparing your relationship to the status of their friends’ relationships usually don’t know what they want—and are looking for assurances and clues in the behavior of their peers. You want a man who knows his own mind and doesn’t rely on his friends to dictate his “readiness” for a relationship.
05. He’s vocal about his confusion in other aspects of his life.
Any of the following sound familiar?
“I might move . . . I don’t know if this city is for me.”
“I’m sort of looking for a new job, but I don’t know.”
“I think I want to travel for a while. Maybe.”
I think these kinds of statements are the most common sign that a man is not sure what he wants out of a relationship. While women tend to be great at compartmentalizing the development of their career, personal life, family, and financial goals—many men cannot. Men feel a tremendous amount of societal pressure to succeed financially and to be providers—sure, even if they’re OK with you being a breadwinner, too—and as a result, they feel they must have all their ducks in a row before they’re “ready” for a relationship. If they don’t perceive themselves as fully formed, steady, and capable of supporting a family and a lifestyle, they’ll often avoid going all in for a woman or a relationship.
Wouldn’t it be simple if we could blame “lost boys” for all the emotional confusion in our relationships? Ah, alas. This type of guy is only a part of the dating landscape. Not to mention the “lost girls” who are out there, too (and you might even be one of them). But, take it from a dating pro, if you’re a woman who is looking for something solid and steady—and any of this sounds familiar—you might want to let Peter Pan fly away, at least until he comes back from Neverland.