When He Doesn’t Let You In

how to know when to move onJessica dated Kevin for 7 months. In that time, she never met his family. She was never welcomed into his close circle of friends. He was often vague about his schedule. He even avoided deep conversations, especially about the future.

After more than half a year, in spite of the fact that she still cared for him, Jessica did something about it. She dumped him.

“I didn’t see it going anywhere,” she explains. “He was just closed off to me. There’s no future in that.”

Sadly, she’s right. If a man won’t really let you into his life, that’s usually a sign he doesn’t see the relationship as a lasting thing.

Of course, guys don’t tend to open up as quickly as women.

When a guy is slow to enter into state-of-the-relationship talks, that doesn’t necessarily mean he views what you have as a fling. Many men keep their inner thoughts and feelings heavily guarded and may need some coaxing and patience to open up. There’s no need to bail at the first sign of a wall.

But if he keeps putting up walls? If he shows no indication of ever letting you in?

In that case, you have a tough decision to make.

But before we get to that, here’s what you should not do. You shouldn’t tell yourself that he’ll get there eventually (assuming you’ve already given him feedback and time to change). Holding out hope when he’s clearly shown he’s not looking for something serious will only leave you more disappointed later. Instead, accept that he’s not thinking long-term.

And don’t assume it’s about you! More than likely, it’s about him. If he’s not ready, he’s not ready. That’s not a criticism of you.

That leaves you with two options. First, you can decide to meet him on his ground. Accept the relationship for the short-term fling it is, and enjoy it. This requires you to do a real gut check. If you know your heart is already committed, it may be hard to pull this off. If, on the other hand, you’re totally okay with dating purely for fun, this is a viable option.

The key here is in knowing yourself and guarding your own heart. Avoid the temptation to tell yourself that you’re okay with a lack of commitment if you’re really not.

The second option is the one Jessica took–move on.

how to know when to move onWhen you know you want more, but there’s no sign of a future in your current relationship, the very best thing you can do is be honest about that. Both with yourself and with him. If the two of you are at different places and wanting different things, there’s really no bad guy. It’s just not a good match.

Tell him you’re looking for something more long-term, and you think it would be best for you to part ways.

The great thing about this option is that it truly is for the best. No one enjoys being pressured or manipulated into commitment. That rarely ends well. And wanting a commitment you can’t have? That’s torture. It’s so much better to learn from the experience and move forward.

Get clear about what you want from the relationship you’re in. Set yourself up for success by assuming the best at first. Give things time to grow and develop with the understanding that intimacy doesn’t bloom overnight.

If you’ve done all of that and a committed connection still isn’t there, either accept the relationship for what it is, or take care of yourself by moving on.


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55 thoughts on “When He Doesn’t Let You In

  1. NGH said:

    Hi James,
    I want your opinion on polite, effective lies to keep the peace.

    I’ve been married for 30 years to a wonderful man who is 10 years younger than
    I am. Now that I’m in my mid 70’s, I find that I’m feeling “old” and much more
    “elderly” than he is feeling. One of the things that reinforces my sense of getting old
    is looking at pictures of myself that look increasingly like my late mother. I look in the mirror and see my mother, which might be OK except that I never had a good
    relationship with her and both photos and mirrors remind me of this. My husband
    and I are close and he is well aware of this.

    Our recent Christmas was ruined by an incident that made him go ice cold and distant for five days. Specifically, he gave me a coffee mug with 3 photos on it: two of us as a couple and one of just me in which I look exactly like my mother. When I opened the gift, my face fell and no matter what I said, he knew that I didn’t like it. (It didn’t matter that I liked the other two.) Even though I was tactful, he could see in my eyes and body language that I didn’t appreciate his creative effort. Since he could see that I was not pleased, I decided not to lie but to be honest. In a gentle, non-aggressive manner I tried to explain how I felt. I was tactful but it made no difference. I tried humor. I tried self criticism. I tried to be loving and showing appreciation but nothing could change his disappointment. He sulked for four days and ruined our holiday.

    In a recent conversation about the incident, he said that I should have lied; that I should have been an actress and acted like I loved this coffee mug that he spent several hours creating. Now our discussion is about authenticity and the pros and cons of telling lies.

    • Lena said:

      Dear NGH,
      I think he is wrong about saying it to you. Lie is never good and ruins the relationship. There is a way to be polite, of course, to say that you did not like the gift in a soft way. Or not saying it at all. Lying to your loved one to make him feel good sounds very wrong to me. Please don’t go this way, it is a dead end. Saying like “I feel awkward to receive this present” and “would you please explain me the meaning of this gift?” sounds not so harsh to me, but at the same time shows that you are not so happy to have it.
      If you start discussing with him what is good about lying, it will open the door for a bigger lie for him, allowing your husband even having an affair, unless this is not a big deal for you. I know a woman who was ok with that situation. However this is not a healthy relationship (accepting a lie or acting like you are not aware of the truth) and sooner or later it will come to its end.

  2. Jenny lomas said:

    Hi I’ve been with someone 18 months now & still not been introduced to his family & friends ..I blow hot & cold about this but it doesn’t seem to bother him.& new years eve he spent it with his son & his mates!!
    Xmas eve & Xmas day was spent with his family too..I think it’s time I should be moving on…?

  3. Dom said:

    Hello James
    I met a man a year ago, ans felt a strong and shared connection straight away.
    After 2 month, he tolds me he did not want to be involved in a romantic relationship with me but would rather explore the path of friendship.
    Because I was in love and could not imagine to let it go, I continued to see him, and over a year, the warmth, the connection, the trust etc.. grew but still no desire of romantic involvement.
    The point is I would like more, but I am also happy with this great friendship as I have never been so friend with any one in my life , including with girls- I am 50-, as it is still fantastic to share thoughts, stories of life, movies etc.
    He recently told me that it was unhealthy for me because I was expecting thing he will never give me and that we should see each other less because he wanted me to be safe, and I don’t want to because at least I have this friendship.
    Do you think I could have a great friendship with someone I am in love with, that is trying to see him in another way? Thanks for you help

    • James Bauer said:

      It is possible, but only if you seal off the possibility of romantic connection in your mind. The reason he is backing off is that he can likely sense that you hope for more in those moments of silence as you make eye contact. He cares about you as a friend and does not want to hurt you. Hence his suggestion that you start seeing other people so your romantic energy can flow elsewhere.

      However, some women experience deep friendship with a man in a way that is as good or even better than romance. The problem lies in the possibility that everything might change the moment some other woman walks into his life. Then jealousy reveals that the friendship was really a romantic relationship for you, bringing hurt and pain unless you had truly sealed his role in your life as nothing but a friend.

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