Casual relationships have become so common that the term “situationship” was developed to describe these commitment-free dating scenarios. Situationships can be enjoyable — if both parties simply want a friendly, casual romantic relationship with no strings attached. For people whose feelings run deeper, situationships are relationship purgatory.
In fact, you may even be wondering why he keeps you around if he doesn’t want a relationship. He clearly enjoys your company. You have chemistry. You might even seem compatible for the long term. So, why doesn’t he want to make it official?
There are reasons, but none of them will be easy to read. You already know at some level that each of these is likely true. Are you ready to face that truth?
Why Does He Keep Me Around If He Doesn’t Want a Relationship?
He Enjoys the Relationship Benefits
I know this thought has occurred to you because it’s always my first assumption when I end up in a situationship. He may keep you around because he likes sleeping with you, and he doesn’t want to stop. He’s getting all the relationship benefits without actually having to put in relationship energy. It’s an easy way to satisfy his needs without having to do something he doesn’t want to do: commit.
You’re both adults, ideally single ones. He doesn’t see this as an issue. It isn’t one — unless you have feelings for him and want the relationship to progress to a more committed stage.
You may keep him coming around in hopes that he’ll change his mind, but you’re just reinforcing the casual nature of the relationship.
You need to decide if you can live with the physical relationship only. If he’s been clear he doesn’t want more than that, you’ll need to make peace with it rather than trying to convince him you’d be a stellar partner. You can either decide to take what he has to offer, or you can end the relationship because it doesn’t meet your relational needs. If you continue all the while knowing he doesn’t want what you do, you take on the responsibility for this action — and its heartbreaking consequences.
He Doesn’t Want to Be Lonely
According to an article by Dr. Avrum Weiss in Psychology Today, men report experiencing loneliness more often than women, and research shows that loneliness has been linked to heart disease, stroke, and even self-harm. It’s very likely that the person who keeps you around without commitment is filling a need. He doesn’t want to be alone, and he takes comfort in the non-relationship he has with you.
Loneliness can be excruciating, but it can be equally painful to settle for less than you want in a situationship relationship. Is it enough that he wants you around because you make him feel less alone? If you care about him, your first instinct may be a resounding “yes”, but if you have cultivated deeper self-love, you may realize that the “yes” to him is a “no” to you.
Are you willing to suffer the loneliness of the situationship to alleviate his loneliness?
He Needs a Backup Option While He Plays the Field
Some people simply don’t want to settle into one relationship. They like to play the field and keep their options open. He may have even put you on his backup roster in case other potential partners don’t work out.
If you don’t want to be just one of many in his rotation, you may need to take a step back and think about what you’re going to do about it.
If the relationship is noncommittal, he’s not technically doing anything wrong. If he knows you want a relationship and you know he doesn’t, you’re both stubbornly refusing to see the disaster you’re creating for yourselves. While some situationships may evolve into full-blown relationships, more often than not, they don’t become anything more than casual sex.
This likely won’t end well. You can’t make him want a relationship if he doesn’t, and you might not be open to settling for being the backup option. While you can’t control him, you can decide how you’re going to handle the situation. Are you going to stay, knowing it’s less than you deserve? Or are you going to leave even though you’ve caught feelings?
He’s Insecure and Needs the Ego Boost
Insecurity isn’t exclusive to women. Even the most attractive, successful men can be insecure if you’re paying attention to the signs. Sometimes, he keeps you around because it really strokes his ego. You make him feel good — desired, cared for, appreciated. You may even overlook his flaws because you like him that much, and it feels good to him.
Some men are happy to find this non-committal ego boost in one woman, but some tend to keep dating and sourcing that feeling from as many people as they can manage. It’s normal that he wants to feel good, but is it making you feel bad — about the nature of your relationship and yourself?
If this scenario is making you insecure to soothe his insecurities, it may be time to cut and run.
He’s Not Over His Ex
This one is a hard pill to swallow. Does he keep talking about his ex? When he mentions his ex, does he still seem pretty emotional? Even if he acts as if he hates her, that’s just a clue he’s not over her.
That doesn’t mean he wants to rekindle that relationship. In some cases, he just has healing to do so that he’s not sad or angry about the relationship or the way it ended. That also counts as not being over his ex.
On the other hand, you might have noticed the tone he gets in his voice when he would happily run back to her if given the opportunity. Maybe she felt like “The One” for him, and he can’t seem to get over it. Do you want to play second fiddle to the last person he loved?
He might keep you around because he likes you and thinks one day he’ll be ready for more than a casual fling, but for now, he’s still hung up on the ex. Are you willing to wait in hopes that his feelings change?
Are you willing to be the understudy for the woman he really wants in his life?
He Doesn’t Think You’re “It” for Him
This one hurts. He may sincerely enjoy being with you. He may think you’d be an awesome partner in a relationship. He just doesn’t think you’re “The One” for him.
This doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with you. It just means that — for whatever reason — something about the relationship doesn’t seem like a good fit. If you want to try to get to the bottom of it, just know that sometimes it’s not a feeling that can be defined. You know when it’s right, just like you know when something feels slightly off for you.
It’s never fun to be the person they don’t want for a reason you can’t really understand, but we’ve all been on both sides of it. If you’ve ever had a person have a crush on you that you just wouldn’t date, you’ve been there. It’s not personal. The heart wants what the heart wants, right? It just hurts when your heart wants him, but his heart says it’s not right with you.
He may even throw the old “I’m not ready for a relationship” at you, but it really just means “I’m not ready for a relationship … with you”.
If you felt right for him, he’d likely jump at the chance to make it official because he wouldn’t want to lose you. But he might not tell you that he doesn’t want that with you because he thinks he’s protecting your feelings.
It’s Just Too Early
Of course, it might just be too early in the relationship for him to upgrade the status to something more. Research has shown that it takes around 6 months for people to know if the one they’re with is marriage material. Even if you’re not interested in getting married, this information indicates that it could take a few months to decide if the relationship is headed in a serious direction.
If you’ve only been together a month or two, you might want to adjust your expectations. The one you’re with may not want to be Facebook-official before they’re sure the relationship could actually last. After all, no one really wants to have to keep updating their relationship status from single to in a relationship more times than necessary.
It’s possible that it’s just too early for him to make the move to an official relationship.
If your non-relationship situationship has been going on for years, this isn’t the case. But if it’s early days, don’t feel like something’s wrong just because it’s not reached official status.
He Has Intimacy Issues
He could be great in the bedroom and still have intimacy (and commitment) issues. Intimacy is so much more than sex. It’s being vulnerable with another human being. That kind of vulnerability takes courage, and he can be brave in every other aspect of his life and still hesitate in this one.
He could rush into burning buildings to save people and still be reluctant to be vulnerable with a partner.
There could be a past trauma that explains his issues. After all, we’ve all been hurt by previous relationships. You can choose to be patient and wait it out but ask yourself this.
- Is he self-aware enough to know that he has intimacy issues?
- If he’s aware of the problem, is he actively working to heal and learn to be intimate?
If the answer to either of these questions is no, your patience could be wasted. You can’t make him realize his issues, and you can’t make him work on them. You can only decide what it is you’re going to do next. Do you stay with him and accept that he might never take this vulnerable step and enter a relationship with you, or do you leave, heal, and find someone who’s emotionally available to join you as a partner in a relationship?
Because He Can
One of the reasons he can keep you around is simply because he can. After all, you keep making yourself available to him. Even if you say you’re not going to see him anymore, you always do. He knows he can depend on you to be there even if he doesn’t show up for you in all the ways you need. He does it because he can — because it’s human nature to accept what is being freely offered.
You might be disappointed with him or even angry, but the truth is that you are an active participant in the relationship you’re having.
If it’s casual and you don’t want casual, then what actions are you taking to get what you want? Waiting around for him to change his mind is a passive action, but it’s still a choice you’re making. Trying to convince him to see you in a different light is another way you participate in the relationship. Can you really get mad about him keeping you around when you’re doing everything you can to keep him there?
What To Do When You Find Yourself in a Situationship
Be Honest with Yourself
You might want to start by asking yourself this: Why do you stay around when he can’t give you what you need? You might find that some of your reasons look like some of his.
- You enjoy the relationship benefits.
- You don’t want to be lonely.
- You’re insecure, and he makes you feel good (except when he makes you feel bad because he won’t commit).
- You’re not over your ex — and he can tell.
- You have past trauma and intimacy issues and choose emotionally unavailable people to partner.
- Because you can — because he keeps giving you that option and your boundaries aren’t strong enough to say no.
There’s a reason you stay in the situationship, just as there’s a reason he keeps coming around even though he’s been clear that he doesn’t want a relationship with you.
Are you willing to get honest with yourself about why it is you stay? You may find you’ve got some healing to do before you’re ready for a relationship.
Be Gentle with Yourself
Maybe you know your issues already, but you just aren’t ready to call it quits. Be kind to yourself. If you’re attached to him, it’s going to be hard to let him go. The only other alternative is to make peace — real peace, not just saying it’s okay when it’s not — with the noncommittal aspect of your situation. Just don’t beat yourself up if you’re just not ready to let go yet.
But remember — you might never really be ready. You might think that a last time will give you a sense of closure, but it rarely does. If you’re waiting to feel ready to let go, it might never happen.
Sometimes, you have to do what’s best for you even if it hurts. It’s hurting anyway, isn’t it?
Self-Care Your Way to Healing
This is such a brutal situation to be in, but as Glennon Doyle says — You can do hard things. You really can, you know.
You just might have to self-care and self-love your way to healing. As you take better care of yourself, you’re going to want someone in your life who takes equally good care of you, of your feelings, and of your needs. Start showing up for yourself and see what happens. Practice saying no when it feels right. Enjoy spending time alone and experiencing it as indulgent, luxurious solitude rather than loneliness.
Make friends with yourself.
Then, give yourself the advice you’d give your best friend. You already know what you’d say. You’ve probably said it before. Now, say it to YOU.
Begin practicing acceptance. Accept what he wants without judgment. Accept what you want without judgment. Then, see that these things are not the same. Accept the fact that wanting different relationships makes you incompatible even if you are compatible in every other way.
When you practice acceptance, you remove the element of judgment.
He doesn’t want to keep it casual because he’s a selfish, narcissistic person. He wants a casual situationship, and you want commitment. It’s easier to blame him than to own up to your participation and accept the basic fact that it’s just not a good fit, but it’s far more mature to stop taking it personally and just accept the reality.
When you grieve the end, you’re going to get angry. And feel hurt. And experience denial. You’ll move through all these stages of grief, and if you’re truly healing, you will — eventually — land at acceptance. This is where you’ll find peace. It just takes a while to get there. You can be angry and disappointed and still realize that it’s not personal when you want different things.
He keeps you around for many reasons. Ask him some time, and he may even be able to articulate them.
Does it really matter though? You know that he doesn’t want what you do.
The question is this: How brave can you be? Are you brave enough to accept what is, and if you are, what will you do about it?
Originally published on The Truly Charming