This article is an answer to a reader’s question about what to do when he says he’s not ready for a relationship (still behaves like he wants you in his life).
The reader asks, “Should I stick around and wait or leave him alone?” I provide step-by-step guidance on how to approach difficult decisions:
I met a nice guy on Tinder .
For the first few months, I kind of pushed him to the side (we still didn’t know each other) and responded to other guys.
Two months later and we decided to meet.
We have a lot in common, he’s amazing.
I met his friends, and his brother, and he met my friends.
We act like a couple when we’re together.
He is getting divorced and has been living separately since January (we met in person in April).
They have two kids, he has the house, and the divorce will be finalized soon.
I haven’t met the kids yet.
We talk daily.
There hasn’t been a day that we haven’t spoken.
He recently told me that he realizes he’s not ready for a relationship but wants to keep talking to me (he thought he was ready and realized he’s not).
He wants to be friends and refuses to let me go.
He is very hot and cold.
I can’t believe he’s seeing other women as he works six days a week and has children half the week.
I’m just confused.
He told me it would probably hurt to see me with someone else, but he can’t tell me not to date other guys just because he’s not ready.
I Know He Has Feelings, But Wait?
I raised our position too much and put too much pressure on him.
I realize it now.
He told me I pushed him away, but he likes to talk to me.
How Do I Stop Being So Insecure?
I like him a lot.
He’s been nothing but respectful, he’s so sweet, and I could see a future with him when he’s ready.
I’m freaking out, trying to figure out if I’m recovering and should I let him go, or stay here.
I feel your frustration.
You are not alone in your struggle with this issue.
Should you stick with him and wait until he’s ready for a real relationship or do you cut your losses and walk away?
It’s a difficult dilemma.
And it makes it even more confusing when he’s sweet and respectful and awesome, but he’s sending mixed messages at the same time.
But here’s my opinion: when he says he’s not ready for a relationship, take his word for it.
In fact, him admitting his sense of readiness is one of the best scenarios, because then you don’t have to guess, he’s coming out and saying it.
He’s warning you that because he’s not ready for a relationship, he won’t be able to meet the needs, requirements, or expectations you might have in a relationship.
(And by the way, there is nothing wrong with having relationship needs, requirements or expectations; we all have and are needed so that we are aware, so that we know what makes us happy and satisfied in a relationship)
What mixed messages really mean
But it can make your head hurt when he says he’s not ready for a relationship, but his demeanor seems to say he doesn’t want to let it go.
What do you do if he says he’s not ready but still “wants to be friends”, wants to “keep talking” or still wants to see you?
It’s all very confusing.
And yet it is a very common scenario .
When guys send mixed messages, it means they don’t know what they want and are unintentionally holding you back along the journey (because ultimately, they don’t want to be alone or without the “girlfriend experience”). or they don’t know what they want and are intentionally screwing you because they don’t want to be alone or without the “girlfriend experience”.
In most cases, he is not aware of what he wants or fully aware of his availability for a long-term committed relationship.
In many cases, he just does it day by day, week by week, doing what’s good or what’s right for him at the moment (like wanting to call you, wanting to see you, asking you to come or stay… having told him he’s not ready for a relationship) without being conscious and intentional about whether it really makes sense for him and them both in the long run.
We feel insecure when we are on shaky ground.
And being in a relationship with a separated man who is getting divorced will, by default, be shaky ground because your life and your entire family are going through a tremendous amount of transition.
And he’s having to adjust to other new arrangements, especially if he’s now a recently divorced or separated single parent.
He could be struggling with a vengeful ex-wife, or dealing with kids who are very upset about the divorce, along with all the other tensions that come with dividing assets and dividing parental duties.
And in some cases, he may not even be sure he wants a divorce.
It’s all very volatile.
So if you’re in a relationship with someone whose life is going through a lot of transition, chances are you’ll also experience a lot of volatility unless you take some steps to protect your emotional well-being.
So, do you wait?
First, ask yourself: what do you need to know to decide whether to wait?
What do you need to know to decide?
Here are some guidelines on how you can make that decision:
Know What You Want
Dating a recently divorced or separated man, especially a father with school-age children, is more complex and has other considerations than dating a guy who doesn’t have children or isn’t getting divorced.
To help you make a relationship decision about whether to stay or leave, it’s important to make his status clear: where is he in the divorce process?
Are the documents really archived?
Do they go to court or mediation?
Is his ex walking away?
Did they make custody arrangements and split the assets?
There’s never an easy way to tell how long it’s going to take this transition.
But knowing his status will give you valuable information about his readiness for a relationship and how available he is to meet your needs.
Be Clear About What You Need to Be Happy and Fulfilled in a Relationship
Relationship conflicts happen when our relationship needs or requirements are not met.
We all have relationship needs and requirements.
Needs are the things we know need to occur in a relationship for us to be happy and feel loved.
And relationship requirements are the things that must happen in a relationship, otherwise, the relationship would NOT work for you!
Therefore, your feeling of frustration or confusion is pointing to an unmet need.
Maybe you need your man to be blunt and clear in his words and actions.
Whatever your needs, it is crucial to clarify what those needs are.
What are your relationship needs, relationship requirements, and your desired life vision; how do you want your life to be to be happy and fulfilled?
It is important to know because this awareness will help you determine whether you will be happy to be with this person in the long run.
Determine Your Choices, Benefits, and Risks
You may have learned this in your high school economics class: with every choice, there is an opportunity cost.
How much does it cost you to stay in the relationship?
How much would it cost if you left the relationship?
What would it mean if you were “just friends” (what would it look like and feel in action in your relationship)?
And what are the benefits and costs of being “just friends”?
What risks do you take if you stay in the relationship?
And what risks do you take if you leave the relationship?
He may have told you that you pushed him away, but I encourage you not to blame yourself or take ownership of your choices.
He decided to walk away because he said he wasn’t ready.
This was a choice he made.
You didn’t “make” him do anything; people are responsible for their own choices.
If you have questions about the status of the relationship or you have doubts about his intentions, then you have every right to ask these questions if you are in a relationship with each other and if you are considering a long-term commitment.
These are important questions to ask because they help you determine if he’s a good long-term partner or if you’re wasting your time.
And if he doesn’t come up with the answers to the questions you care about, that‘s valuable information for you too.
It could be that his relationship intentions are not in line with your intentions.
So part of making tough decisions is clarifying what your choices are.
We always have a choice.
Ask Yourself The Hard Questions
Once you have an idea of what you are potentially dealing with and know what your needs are and what options you have in front of you, ask yourself: what do I want to do now?
What risks are you willing to take?
Or are you not willing to run?
These are tough questions, but decision-making is less daunting when you are clear about what you potentially expect, what your needs are, and what options you have.
And with that clarity, know that you can always choose which path you want to take.
You have the power to choose your life and your relationships – always.
The antidote to fear and insecurity
To answer your question about “how do I stop being so insecure?”… we feel insecure when we’re on shaky ground and unsure about what’s going to happen next.
Insecurity can appear as guilt/shame, lack of self-confidence, or a feeling of being out of control.
Desiring security is a natural desire.
The problem happens when we rely on others to validate our sense of security.
We will never feel safe if we rely on something outside of our control to make us feel safe.
We can stop feeling insecure when we manage to get our sense of security from within.
And the antidote to fear and insecurity is clarity.
It starts with being clear about what you need to be happy and fulfilled in a relationship.
A strong sense of self – knowing what you want and what really matters to you in your long-term life – makes for a strong sense of self-confidence.
When you know what you want, it’s easier to make decisions, such as difficult relationship decisions, with more confidence.
So where can you find, develop and strengthen your sense of self-confidence?
When your heart speaks, what does it say?
About what do you want?
About what do you need?
About the dreams you have for your life?
Connect to THIS.
Bring to light your dreams, your desires, your vision.
Because when we hold onto our needs, our vision, and our dreams, we cultivate a sense of inner security, rather than a sense of security that we expect others to give us.
And when it comes from within, no one can take it away from us.
And we can summon that feeling of self-confidence at any time.