What To Do When He Refuses to Commit But Won’t Let Go

attractive young man on couhch tattoos

The Dilemma

Dear Jack,

I’ve been seeing this guy for a year. Sometimes, it’s hard to believe he’s even interested in me. We hang out, we text, we go for coffee, we hook up, but he won’t commit to me. What the heck am I doing wrong?

-Afraid he won’t commit

The Solution

Dear Afraid,

Just to help clarify, when you say this guy won’t commit, what do you mean exactly? Has he threatened to ghost you if you change your relationship status on Facebook? Has he signed a legal document saying he’ll never buy you a birthday present? Does he have a cray-cray reaction to the idea of keeping a toothbrush at your place?

I’m assuming the answer to these questions is no. I’m also thinking that when you say “He won’t commit,” you mean that he’s implied – in some way – that he’s not down with being exclusive and you haven’t raised much of a protest in response.

More: 7 signs he’s not gay relationship ready

To my mind, you haven’t really made a stand. When he said that commitment didn’t entirely appeal to him, you let the subject go. And you kept going along with the kind of relationship he wants verses the relationship you want.

And it’s all good – ya know. The sex is good. The conversations are easy. You laugh a lot. You’re proud that people see you out in public as an item.

But secretly – below the radar – you’re conflicted about what exactly is going on. You’re fantasizing about vacations together, about the fashionable apartment you could have, even, wait for it – marriage.

The problem is fantasy and reality are very different things.

Meanwhile, you have to deal with the fact that he may be seeing other men — maybe you’re having freak-outs about whatever goateed d-bag is also seeing him undressed. But you put up with this. You don’t tell him, ever, that he has to get serious or move on.

Now, as wimpy as this is, I completely get it. Seriously, I do. You don’t want to scare him off, because you don’t want to lose him. You want to be chillaxed, or low-key, or no-drama, or whatever other synonym for “whatever” the kids are using these days. You’re worried that if you come on too strong, this hot guy will run for the hills. Maybe, it’s even happened before with other men?

As a way of coping, you’ve settled on the current with an eye on the long game. This is the plan where you’re just going to keep your non-relationship going, until, someday (magically) he notices that you are husband material, at which point a full-blown romance will suddenly bloom.

But here is the thing – this kind of long game isn’t going to work. Moreover, it’s a slow, gradual path to more and more misery.

And here’s why: You’re showing him that he doesn’t need to take your desires seriously. That he can get everything he wants, while paying very little attention to your needs.

That you were totally down with the fact that you showed him your heart, and he, in response, asked if you wanted checkout a movie on Hulu.

Obviously, the way you treat someone affects what they think of you. If you take a man out for fancy dinners, he’ll assume you have cash. If you text a guy in all-caps, he’ll assume you’re a jerk. And if you act like a doormat, well, he’ll assume you’re a doormat.

So, you’re continuously reinforcing this concept — the impression that you’re a pushover — every time you answer this guy’s text at 2 am, and every time you play it cool when he calls some other dude when you’re out together, and every time he flakes on already agreed upon plans.

And so, every day, it becomes less and less likely that he’ll actually be your boyfriend someday.

Stop doing this. Don’t teach somebody that you’re a feeble person, if you don’t want to be one. Instead, act like you mean it. Tell him that the “casual thing” has been fun but you can’t take it anymore. Tell him he’s great, but if he won’t date you for real, someone else will.

There is one caveat:

When you do this, you have to accept the unpleasant reality that he might bolt. Maybe he actually doesn’t value you enough to be a long-term partner. There’s a chance that, in his mind, everything you have to offer isn’t worth it — the dinners, the amazing home, the financial stability – oh, and your heart.

Embrace it. If he feels this way, you should know sooner rather than later. It’s been a year.  If he doesn’t want you, you shouldn’t want him.

I realize going back on Tinder, OK Cupid and the like might suck. But it’s better than compromising your dignity. So, tell him that you won’t do that anymore. For his mental health and for yours.

Need some dating help? Email Jack, the Gay Dating Coach at: [email protected]

About Jack

Jack is a wise but mysterious figure whose exact whereabouts and identifying details remain unknown. What we do know is that he's really, really good at gay dating. He’s been on more dates than you can shake a stick at, and he’s here to help other gay men step up their game.