Caitlyn Strom

3 Signs He Doesn't Know What He Wants In A Relationship

When someone is ambiguous about what they want in a relationship, it doesn't mean they don't want to be with you. But they also don't know what they want from you. In a relationship, it's easy to ignore the signs he doesn't know what he wants, because people who do not know what they want still have affection for you. But as long as he doesn't have to figure out what he wants, he gets all of the benefits of a relationship while still sitting on the fence.

It's frustrating to be seeing someone who doesn't know what they want in a relationship, particularly because their ambiguity can so easily feel like a personal slight. But it isn't. Sometimes, people need to mature in order to figure out why they want to be in a relationship — and what they can bring to it.

Even if their ambiguity is not about you, it does have an effect on you. They might pull away from the relationship, or think that it will take care of itself on its own. If you are certain of why you are with them, you're probably pouring a lot of love into someone who doesn't even know why they want it in the first place.

If one of these signs rings true, then your partner either needs to make up their mind about why they want to be with you, or they're going to lose you. The only thing you have to lose is time:

1. They Avoid Talking About “Where This Is Going”

When you are in a relationship with someone who doesn't know what they want out of it, then it means that they don't want to know what they want. If they did, they would have already taken the time to practice some introspection. They would have known what they're bringing to the relationship, and what they want to get out of it.

Because they don't want to know what they want, they aren't going to engage in conversations with you about the future. They will probably avoid those conversations through deflection, providing an ambiguous answer (“Let's just see what happens!”) or by simply stating that they don't know.

If they aren't going to talk to you about “where this is going,” then the best approach — and I'm speaking from experience — is to evaluate where you think it is going. Not where you want it to go, but what the evidence laid out before you suggests. Unless your partner finds a direction, the relationship is probably going nowhere. But you don't have to stick around to find out.

2. They Send Mixed Signals

When someone doesn't know what they want out of a relationship but doesn't want to lose your love, they will feed you enough breadcrumbs to keep you around. They initiate texts (sometimes), they accept your invitations to hang out, they're sweet and loving and probably enjoy talking to you. Their ambiguity about the relationship is not because they don't love you.

But they will also be someone who pulls back. You might not hear from him for days or weeks at a time. You probably won't be willing to take time out of your schedule for them, and even though you are in a relationship, you might hesitate to introduce them to your parents or include them in your life in more concrete ways. If you don't know where the relationship is going or why you are together, then what is keeping you from breaking up?

This push-pull dynamic probably makes your time together hotter, but it also probably makes you anxious and uncertain. Ambiguity is not a great foundation for a trusting relationship. And if someone doesn't know why they want to be in a relationship, then they won't be able to be there for you when you really need them. You deserve more than uncertainty.

3. They Flirt With Or Continue To See Other People

The biggest sign that someone doesn't know what they want in a relationship is when they continue to see other people while they are also dating you. (Don't be fooled by the guy who claims to be polyamorous but won't commit: Ethical polyamory involves a lot of commitment, with multiple people. It's not an excuse to sleep around with whoever.)

Continuing to see other women while he doesn't know what he wants in a relationship with you means that he is keeping his options open. He doesn't know he wants, so he is getting everything he might possibly want. If you are uncomfortable with his behavior but think it is possessive to ask him to stop, then it means you are prioritizing his emotions over yours. If you think that you are going to lose him by saying that you want to be exclusive, then that means you are willing to accept pain in order to be with someone who isn't even respectful of your time.

I've seen far too many of my friends talk themselves into giving everything to men who don't know why they want to be with them. I've done it too. The more you give, the more you think that you are going to prove your worth to them. The power dynamic is all kinds of messed up.

But hear this: If you were happy and supported, you would have nothing to prove.

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