They say relationships are complicated, but non-relationships can be just as complicated — if not more so. Are you still hoping that your friend with benefits or recent hook-up will ask you to be his girlfriend? His motives might be a mystery, but there are some obvious clues that you should look out for. If you’re wondering if your guy will ever officially become your guy, we’ve come up with a list of seven signs that say he might never commit.
1. He has a reputation for being a player.
“He avoided telling me where he was going and what he was doing,” says Soniya*, a junior at Carnegie Mellon University, who later found out that her friend with benefits was also busy wooing another girl while hooking up with her. “I should have guessed he was with someone else and that was why our hook-ups always took place at random times, like Sunday afternoons or Tuesday nights.”
Dr. Carole Lieberman, author of Bad Boys: Why We Love Them, How to Live with Them & When to Leave Them, warns us to stay far away from a player — no matter how hot he is.
“If you think you’ll be the one to tame a guy who has a reputation for being a player, think again,” she says. “These guys hide deep-seated psychological reasons for not committing to one girl — such as insecurities about their desirability — that only a therapist could change.”
2. He only wants to hook up and he’s not interested in getting to know you.
Looking back in hindsight, Soniya noticed a few signs she should have paid attention to when she started hooking up with her best guy friend. One of the signs was that the whole relationship (or non-relationship in this case) revolved around hooking up.
“As soon as we started, it was like our friendship disappeared,” Soniya says, “We no longer talked about anything of substance, only talked about when we were free to get it on. For me, I was starting to like someone I had been close to, but for him I was an easy hook-up.”
If he only seems interested in sex, he’s likely not looking for more. “If he only calls you to hook up, it’s a clear sign he’s using you,” Dr. Lieberman says. “He doesn’t want to get to know you, care about you, or be a real ‘boyfriend’. He knows that you’ll eventually catch on and throw him out of bed, as other girls have done before. But, in the meantime he’ll use you for sex as long as he can.”
3. He doesn’t make you a priority.
He’s all over you when you’re together (in bed, that is), but he doesn’t seem too bothered when you go days without seeing each other. He doesn’t respond to your texts with much enthusiasm and you might even get the impression that he’s forgotten all about you — that is, until the next booty call.
“With one guy, he would always leave me waiting,” says Stacey*, a junior at Vanderbilt University. “He seemed really hesitant about hanging out with me sometimes. I always chalked that up to him wanting to focus on his studies. Clearly, that was not the case.”
Mariah*, a sophomore at Virginia State University, says that if she’s clearing her schedule for a guy and he doesn’t reciprocate, there’s no excuse. “I hear the same excuses all the time,” she says. “He says, ‘I have to focus on work, I’m sorry, I wouldn’t have time for you.’ Blah, blah, blah. I feel like if you have time to text me for what you want, you should have time for me.”
If you’re experiencing any of these situations, this is where the caution lights start to flash.
“You want a guy who’s thinking about you all the time, looking forward to the next time you’ll get together, and planning how to make it special,” says Dr. Lieberman. “A guy who always calls you at the last minute is either narcissistic — only wanting to be with you when it suits his whim — or is calling you only after the girl he really wanted to be with cancelled on him.”
If you constantly get stood up or he cancels on you last minute and offers up no good reasons, look at how it relates to the bigger picture. “A guy who’s flaky can’t commit to anything in life, including a girlfriend,” Dr. Lieberman warns.
4. He doesn’t introduce you to his friends or family.
He keeps you at arm’s length, emotionally, and part of that is keeping you from getting too close to the people nearest to him. Does he avoid mentioning his friends? Does he change the subject every time you bring up his family? If the answer is yes, he might be avoiding it because he doesn’t think it’ll be worth meeting the people closest to him if he doesn’t plan on keeping you around for long.
“To be blatantly honest, if we aren’t chasing you to see if you want to hang out, we’re probably flat out not that interested,” Devon*, a recent graduate of the University of Pittsburgh, says.
“At the beginning of a relationship, it’s natural for a guy to want you all to himself. But after a while, if it becomes obvious that he’s avoiding introducing you to his friends, it’s a red flag,” says Dr. Lieberman. “It may mean that he’s embarrassed by something about you, like your looks, or that his guy friends know he has another girlfriend he’s more serious about and he’s afraid it will accidentally come out.”
5. He’s not over his ex.
Does he seem preoccupied with his ex? Whether he’s continually singing her praises or spewing hatred ad nauseam — he’s obsessed.
Stacey was involved with a guy who would constantly badmouth his ex. “Of course, I later found out that she was so obsessed with him because he would still hang out with her and hook up with her when I wasn’t around,” she says. “He told her that I was the one who sucked, that I was ugly and terrible and definitely not a serious entity in his life.”
If he constantly talks about the poor experiences he’s had in past relationships and shows signs of having trust issues, he might be too damaged to commit.
After getting out of two long-term relationships that ended badly (being lied to, led on and cheated on), Simon* from Merrimack College, a self-proclaimed relationship guy, got into a non-relationship with what he describes as “an incredible girl” — definitely girlfriend material.
“I thought I was ready to take our relationship from good friends hooking up and commit to something serious, [but] every time I tried, I freaked out and without logical explanation, couldn’t do it,” says Simon. “It’s not her fault. It’s really probably based on my past experience and the fact that I’m not mentally or emotionally ready to handle that, even though I was sure I could.”
If he’s been badly hurt by an ex, don’t take it upon yourself to try to fix him — let alone get him to commit. He has to deal with his issues before he can be a good boyfriend.
Look out for signs that he’s still holding on to a past relationship. If he constantly talks about an ex, bringing up old memories or comparing you to her (whether good or bad), there might be some unresolved feelings there. He can’t commit to you properly if he’s still hung up on someone else.
6. He avoids commitment-related conversations.
The topic always seems to change when you try to define the relationship. He might even try to distract you with his hands or his mouth, hoping you’ll forget about DTRing (defining the relationship) altogether.
“Whenever the topic falls on relationships for conversation, pay attention to his demeanor,” advises Devon, who confesses to being guilty of avoiding relationship conversations when not interested. “If he shies away from you or becomes suddenly quiet, that’s not a good sign he’ll commit.”
“A guy who steers clear of any commitment-related conversation is hiding something — usually his lack of any intention to commit to you,” says Dr. Lieberman. “He wants to avoid those hard questions because he knows you won’t like the true answers.”
7. He doesn’t make references to your future together.
You may be fantasizing about your potential future together, but is he? Whenever he makes plans with you, it’s always short-term and last minute. If he excludes you from any future plans or makes no mention of being with you down the road, take that as a clue that he has no intentions of being with you for the long-term.
If you’re hoping for a relationship and you see these signs, don’t make excuses for him. “It’s okay to give a guy some time because relationships can be scary and confusing,” says Dr. Lieberman. “But, if he keeps repeating these patterns and doesn’t seem to want to get any closer, beware the red flags and break out of your denial.”
*Names have been changed to protect identities.