He Says He Doesn't Want a Relationship—Now What?

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A lot of people must face the fact that the person they think is right for them may not return the feeling. No matter what stage your relationship is in up until this point, if you do not share the same view as your potential partner, you will hit an impasse. 

Read on to figure out if this relationship is worth pursuing or if you should leave them to find someone else who is ready to commit to you. 

Signs They Don't Want a Relationship

The most obvious sign a person you are interested doesn't wan't a relationship is when they explicitly say, "I don't want a relationship." Beyond the obvious, generally speaking experts say that if you're always the one to initiate plans, maybe they've met your friends and family but you haven't met theirs, or if you're constantly wondering where you stand in your partnership, you are probably in a one-sided situation. In other words, these are all common signs that maybe she, they, or he, doesn't want a relationship.

Perhaps most telling, however, is whether or not your partner is spending time with you. In today's fast-paced, technologically-driven world, time seems like an increasingly scarce but highly valuable resource. "If your significant other isn't interested in spending time with you then they are probably not looking for a relationship," says relationship expert Rabbi Shlomo Slatkin, M.S., L.C.P.C. "If they don't show that interest, even if they don't tell you explicitly, they probably aren't interested."

Why Don't They Want a Relationship? 

  • They Want to Keep Their Options Open: Some people are just at a stage in their life where they want to meet new people and casually date. Perhaps they're still getting over a breakup and are just dipping their toes into the dating pool, or they prefer to prioritize their career and other interests over a romantic relationship at the moment, which is understandable too—there are many aspects that make up a fulfilling life in addition to a committed relationship, like friends, family, including personal interests like travel and other pursuits that lead to self-discovery and fulfillment.
  • They're Emotionally Unavailable: Painful memories of failed relationships may cloud the judgment of someone in the present. They may also worry about causing disappointment or being unable to keep up with the type of relationship you are looking for. "Sometimes people aren't interested in relationships because they have had insecure attachment in the past. Being in a relationship may not be safe. Commitment is too scary. So they may come close, but when push comes to shove, they don't take the plunge," says Slatkin. According to Slatkin, an individual needs the self-awareness to recognize when they are truly ready to be in a real relationship, which includes being willing to work through past hurts and insecurities.
  • They May Want a Relationship, Just Not With You: The truth is, your partner may be emotionally stable and open to a commitment, though just not with you. "Sometimes people are also so self-absorbed that the idea of giving to someone else is foreign and not on their radar," says Slatkin. Most mature, emotionally intelligent adults are capable of deciding what they are willing and not willing to do, and no amount of convincing from an outside party is going to change that.

Where to Go From Here

If what you want is committed relationship, you've communicated this to your partner and you two still aren't aligned, only you can decide whether your current arrangement works for you or not.

In an interview with Well+Good, continuing to participate might mean you have unresolved issues you need to work through, says Linda Carroll, LMFT. In this case, speaking with a licensed mental health professional may help. Other options include considering putting yourself in the other person's shoes: If you aren't willing to commit to another person fully, from this perspective, 'would this situation still be attractive to you?' asks Carroll. And finally, this situation may instead be an opportunity to work on self-compassion. Explains Carroll, "Ask yourself, what am I doing to myself by being in this?” And ultimately, “Am I holding on to a fantasy?”

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