Waiting for a guy who doesn’t know what he wants can be a frustrating experience.
As someone who, at several different times in my life, hasn’t had a clue what I want, I’ve been in this situation before.
That being said, I’d like to apologize to everyone I’ve been in a relationship with and not known what I’ve wanted. It wasn’t fair for me to keep them waiting around until I figured my life out.
The good news is that I’ve learned a lot from those experiences; I’ve since been able to understand both sides of this situation — both why a guy has this indecision and how you can best deal with it. That in essence is what this article is about.
It’s designed to help you understand his perspective and deduce why he doesn’t know what he wants.
Afterward, I’ll help you decide what you need to do next — primarily for yourself but also for the relationship.
I’ll do that by going through 15 things you should consider when you’re waiting for a guy who doesn’t know what he wants. So, let’s get started.
15 things to consider
The first step in this process is doing what you can to understand his perspective as fully as possible.
Of course, that’s not to take away your agency or importance in the relationship but understanding him will help inform your decisions, and give you satisfying answers to your worries.
With that in mind, then, the first thing you can do is find a baseline: get as complete of a picture of the situation as you can. Here are a few questions to ask yourself.
1) What’s going on in his life right now?
Understanding the specific circumstances of his life will help you immensely in waiting for a guy who doesn’t know what he wants.
For instance, is he really focused on his career right now? Or is he between jobs? What is his family life like? He could also still be recovering from an old breakup or some kind of trauma that he’s still trying to heal from.
Just remember: it takes time to heal and the amount of time it takes an individual is almost always different from the next.
All of these things have a bearing on how he thinks and what’s on his mind most. Any of these circumstances could lead to him being unsure about what he wants from his relationship with you.
When you better understand this about him, you’ll be better able to know what comes next, for him and for you.
2) How long have the two of you been in a relationship?
If you’re near the beginning of a relationship, there’s always a lot of questions around how to move forward, if it’s too early or late, and so on. There can be fear, hesitation, and worry that things won’t end well.
Here’s the thing: people progress at different rates in a relationship. Sometimes one person is ready for something more serious sooner than the other. There’s no specific amount of time it takes to fall in love.
So if your relationship is still green, it could be that he’s thinking about taking things to the next step but it might yet be too soon.
On the other hand, if you’ve been together for quite a while and the subject of “taking things to the next step” is an awkward one, perhaps even avoided entirely, it points to something else.
It’s a little clearer that he is struggling with something in regards to your relationship and you’re right to wonder and worry.
If you’re unsure of his level of affection, here’s a look at 18 signs he’s falling deeply in love with you.
3) What did his last relationship look like?
This is an important one because it can give you a lot of relevant information and clue you into his state of mind regarding your relationship. How so?
For instance, if his last relationship ended with him really getting hurt, it might be difficult for him to commit again. That kind of mindset would likely lead to hesitation when it comes to taking your relationship to the next step.
If it seems like things ended for different reasons, it could point to a bigger issue with his mentality, maturity, and ability to be in a healthy relationship. He has no clue what he wants, or how to handle being in a more serious relationship.
In this way, it’s really important to understand, at least a little bit, how his past relationships have gone. The same goes for him with you, honestly.
If you’re wondering if he’s over an ex or not, here’s a good look at 15 giveaway signs.
4) What drives him to reach his goals?
This is an important one. Why?
Well, each person is responsible for reaching and attaining their own goals and dreams. We can’t rely on other people to do that for us.
So in that way, understanding how your guy feels about his motivations will clue you in on the seriousness behind why he doesn’t know what he wants.
It could be that he’s at a crossroads and it’s something that he’s been thinking about a lot lately and is doing his best to figure out how to move forward. Giving him a little patience might be the solution.
On the contrary, though, it could be that he lacks the motivation to move forward with his life, and is content to keep everything the same. In that case, you’re essentially enabling him at your own expense.
Understanding where on the spectrum your guy is will help you decide if waiting longer is fair for you or if he’s wasting both his time and yours. Thinking about these questions will help you establish a baseline.
From here, you’ll have a little bit more knowledge behind what drives him, where he is in his life, and what his outlook for the future is. Next, you can start to figure out why exactly he doesn’t know what he wants.
Of course, each person is different, but here are some really good clues to help you figure out why he doesn’t know what he wants.
Reasons he doesn’t know what he wants
5) He’s not crazy about you
This might be a hard pill to swallow but the reason he’s procrastinating moving things forward in your relationship might have to do with how much he actually likes you.
Now, it’s not to say that he doesn’t love you, or care for you. It could just mean that he has reservations regarding taking things to the next step.
If he’s not crazy about you, then it might be difficult for him to move things forward. But, because he cares about you, he might not want to break up with you.
Meanwhile, you’re stuck in limbo. It’s honestly kind of a dick move.
He could show signs of being less affectionate than he used to be, inattentive, or often busy when you’re supposed to hang out. These could all point to the fact that he isn’t exactly head over heels for you.
It’s possible he might just want friendship and is too afraid to say that. Here’s a look at some key reasons why he might just want friendship with you, even if he’s involved romantically.
6) He’s not ready for a serious relationship
A lot of people get involved in relationships with the mindset that they’re “not looking for anything serious”.
It’s important to be straight up about this from the beginning but sometimes that doesn’t always happen. Casual dating can often be a blur and before long you find yourself wrapped up with someone without having truly defined the relationship.
Here’s the thing: that often ends up being unfair for both people. It’s especially unfortunate for the person who might be looking for something more serious.
In that case, then, it’s a good idea to figure out if your guy is ready for something more than casual. If he’s showing signs that he doesn’t know what he wants, this could be the reason.
Don’t be afraid to ask him what he’s looking for in a relationship or if he’s content with things the way they are. You don’t have to change anything right away, but it will give you good information when you do make a decision.
7) He’s scared of commitment
It’s fairly common for men to be afraid of commitment; there’s a number of reasons why.
For instance, the need to still heal from a previous damaging relationship can have an effect, which we’ll talk about in the next point.
But, here’s something to consider: his fear of commitment might go even deeper.
A lot of childhood trauma will surface in a committed relationship and so something like fear of abandonment might come into play, especially the more serious your relationship gets. These underlying issues can surface as any number of attachment problems.
To avoid having to deal with these uncomfortable feelings, he might just shy away from commitment entirely. That way it’s easier to avoid confronting those deep-seated fears.
What that translates to for you can be any number of relationship issues, including his hesitation to take things more seriously or decide what he wants. If it feels like he’s stringing you along and unable to figure out what he wants, this could be a key reason.
If you’re wondering why men pull away before they commit, here’s a list of some big reasons.
8) He’s afraid he’ll get hurt again
No one likes getting hurt. However, it’s an unfortunate side effect of living in a world of contingency.
This is especially true in intimate relationships. But, here’s the thing: we all make mistakes and do things that hurt other people.
So if your man’s been hurt badly from a previous relationship, it’s only natural for him to be hesitant to commit fully to a new one. There’s no faulting him for that — though it is inconsiderate of him to not be upfront about his circumstances at first.
This is where understanding him and having patience could come into play: as he heals he might prove himself able to commit or figure out what exactly he wants.
In any case, though, remember to put yourself, your mental health, and well-being foremost.
9) He really just doesn’t know
This one’s tough because there’s not much behind the reason and there’s not much to excuse his behavior. It’s pretty simple, straightforward, and clear.
He doesn’t know what he’s doing with his life. Then you pay the price by being strung along by someone who doesn’t have a clue.
I’ve been here before, I know how it feels to be lost in life. In fact, we’ve all floundered at one point or another in our lives. It’s unfortunate when that indecision directly affects someone really close to us.
Here’s the thing: he doesn’t know what’s going to come next for him so he’ll be hesitant to commit to anything serious with you. That ends up with you being strung along for an unknown length of time.
Here’s where it’s important to figure out and understand exactly what it is that you want. Once that’s clear, you can make a decision about how to move forward.
Because let’s be honest: we all know he won’t.
10) He doesn’t know how to break up with you
This one might be a painful one to consider, especially when you care about someone a lot and you don’t want to see things end.
The fact is, though, that some guys are just really bad at breaking up. They’d rather put the issue aside and keep you in the dark about how they’re really feeling, instead of fessing up and ending things. That’s really unfair for you.
If you suspect that he’s too cowardly to break up with you, don’t do anything rash right away. Just know that something needs to change, and soon.
These are just a few of the signs that he doesn’t know what he wants. If you’re seeing these signs, they’re clear evidence to that fact.
But that’s not the whole story, is it?
Because it’s pretty clear that he doesn’t know what he wants. What’s less clear, though, is what you should do about it.
This might be the most important section of the article, and where you’ll be able to find the most helpful information in moving forward.
Figuring out what comes next
11) Figure out what you want and need, then stick to it
One of the first keys to establishing and maintaining healthy relationships is to put your own mental health and well-being first. Not in a selfish way, of course — but once you’re in a good mental space, you’ll be well equipped to keep your relationships healthy.
In a relationship with a man who doesn’t know what he wants, the same holds true. How so?
Think about what you want and need from a relationship. Are those needs being met?
Understanding that things aren’t working in your favor is the first step in having healthy boundaries.
In addition, have a clear picture of your plans for the future — which ties into your wants and needs. When you understand where you’re going, you’ll be able to better understand the disparity between the two of you. That will help you if and when you decide to breach the subject with him
12) Talk about your own fears to see if he opens up
A great way to start a line of communication between the two of you regarding intimacy fears and commitment is to be open about your own fears first.
Don’t be afraid to start a conversation with him about what makes you afraid to be intimate and serious in a relationship. Tell him about how you’ve been hurt, how your childhood might affect aspects of intimacy in your relationship with him.
If he’s genuine and honest, he’ll open up too. And even if he doesn’t right away, he’ll most probably be thinking about it for a long time after your discussion. That little push might be just enough for him to make a decision regarding his wants.
In other words, it’s a great, non-confrontational way to get the ball rolling.
If he seems really hesitant to open up to you, it could be a sign that he’s been hurt emotionally. Here’s a list of some other signs that point to emotional damage.
13) Quiz him about his dreams
By quiz, I don’t mean drilling him with tons of questions.
But here’s the thing: everyone loves talking about their dreams. So don’t be afraid to be a little bit curious.
Try to learn more about what his dreams are, what he aspires to, if he has a plan, and so on.
Doing so will not only give you information about how dedicated he is but also inspire him to try harder to reach them.
Make sure he knows you’re rooting for him and want him to succeed. It will allay his doubts and encourage him to achieve his goals.
14) Talk about your needs (and his)
Once you’ve figured out your needs from the relationship and then understand how they aren’t being met, it’s probably time to bring it up with him.
Find a good time and place to have this discussion, as it’s something pretty serious; both of you need to be in a good headspace.
Let him know, without accusing him, that your needs aren’t being met as things stand. Explain how and why and maybe some ways to move forward. It’s a good time to ask him what his needs are too.
What is he really looking for in a relationship? Is he ready for something more serious? If not, how long until he is, or is that not a possibility at all?
Be prepared for his answers, whatever they may be, and remember to keep your goals and needs clear. Doing so will help you both to come to some sort of agreement.
15) Give him a clear timeline (not an ultimatum)
When dealing with a guy who doesn’t know what he wants, the biggest issue is time. That’s the big question mark.
How long can you put your needs and wants and dreams aside while you wait on him to figure his life out?
It’s not fair for you and there comes a point when enough is just enough.
So set a deadline, a goal, or some sort of timeline. After that point in time, you’ll have to make a change — whether that’s breaking up with him, separating for a while, or adjusting so you can achieve your personal goals.
This isn’t giving him an ultimatum, an unfair demand for your needs “or else”. Why is that?
Because here’s the bottom line: Your needs have to be met. If they’re not being met, you have to leave or make a change. And that’s genuine, straightforward, and authentic. It’s not manipulation.
At the end of the day, being with someone who doesn’t know what they want won’t end well. That indecision and lack of direction will inevitably lead to problems, tensions, and needs going unmet.
We are the designers of our own stories, there’s no reason to let indecision and incompatibility hold us back. By putting yourself first, being genuine, clear, and straightforward, who knows what will happen next.
Staying true to yourself and making sure your needs are being met will only bring you closer to achieving personal happiness and satisfaction.
The real reason why men pull away
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