Someone telling you that he or she is looking for a relationship isn’t the same thing as really and truly wanting one. Anyone can utter the right words, but words often aren’t matched by behavior. At the end of the day, it shouldn’t matter what your date says about wanting a relationship; what matters is their behavior. If the relationship is going to work, that individual is going to keep their word about plans, be honest with you, and make an ongoing commitment to spend time with you. First, let’s review what it means if someone says they want a relationship but they aren’t actually looking for one.
Two possible scenarios:
A. Your date consciously knows that they don’t want a relationship, but they say they do anyway.
These individuals who are aware of the fact that they don’t truly want a committed relationship but say so anyway are lying. They lie because they want to feel “normal” and they feel like having a relationship is what everyone is supposed to do; they need attention or don’t like to be alone; or they are narcissists who like to see how many conquests they can charm and ensnare.
B. Your date is not self-aware and is not consciously aware of the fact that they say they want a relationship but don’t truly want one.
Men and women in this scenario are out of touch with their feelings. They are in denial of their true thoughts and feelings, and they have beliefs about relationships they aren’t even aware of. These men and women go through the motions and try to date, but they get in relationships and later realize that they are with the wrong type of person; they feel bored or resentful; and they feel misunderstood. Sadly, these men and women don’t have enough self-awareness to know how hesitant they actually are about settling down and committing. They go through the motions, feeling unhappy and unsatisfied, but don’t know why.
The signs that someone doesn’t actually want a committed relationship: Please note that I will use male and female examples of these behaviors interchangeably because both men and women are guilty of similar unhealthy relationship behaviors.
He says he will call on a certain day but the call never comes when promised.
This behavior is one of the most telling signs that you have met someone who either doesn’t want a committed relationship with anyone or doesn’t want one with you. Which case applies to your situation doesn’t matter because, either way, you’re not going to have a successful relationship with this person. (Reality check: time to set your sights on someone else). If someone has met you and feels like you might be good relationship material, he ought to seize that opportunity by reaching out to you and keeping promises about contacting you when he said he would.
She resists kissing or other physical play.
Perhaps the woman you are seeing acts like she likes you and says all the right things, but if she resists touching you or having any kind of physical contact with you, she probably isn’t interested in having an actual relationship with you.
He seems to prefer hanging out with his group of friends rather than hanging out alone with you.
When a man is ready to have a relationship, he will also be willing to give up a part of his previous social life with his friends. Caveat: I am not suggesting that a person should stop seeing their friends when they find a relationship, but I am saying that a relationship isn’t usually going to work if the person you want to settle down with prefers to spend Saturday nights with their friends and then have a mimosa-filled brunch the next morning with the same group.
She acts nervous or hesitates when you talk about future things you could do together.
Too much talk early in dating about the future – “We have to do this together; we have to do that” – isn’t healthy because you shouldn’t force a relationship, but some future talk is natural. In the first few weeks of dating, it’s perfectly normal to suggest one or two things you would like to do together in the future. But if you suggest something and they look nervous or hesitate, it’s a sign that this person feels anxious about the idea of you expecting things from them. Be careful, because these men and women often feel nervous and conflicted about settling down, and they often have a dysfunctional default pattern where they feel trapped easily.
How to tell the difference between someone who wants a relationship and someone who doesn’t
Someone who wants a relationship is straightforward about wanting to get to know you; he calls when he says he will; she makes plans and keeps them; he introduces you to family or good friends; and she is physically affectionate. Someone who doesn’t truly want a relationship gets nervous when talking about the future; they say one thing but then do something that contradicts that; they put off making plans; they resist spending alone time where the two of you could be physically affectionate; and they either have a past relationship that still haunts them or they aren’t sure they really want to settle down at this point in their life.
As you get to know someone, trust your instincts and you will see the signs about whether your date wants a relationship or doesn’t as long as you pay close attention to the behavior – not their words.
About the Author:
Dr. Seth is a licensed clinical psychologist, author, Psychology Today blogger, and TV guest expert. He practices in Los Angeles and treats a wide range of issues and disorders and specializes in relationships, parenting, and addiction. He has had extensive training in conducting couples therapy and is the author of Dr. Seth’s Love Prescription: Overcome Relationship Repetition Syndrome and Find the Love You Deserve.