When You’re Tired of Waiting on His Promises

When You’re Tired of Waiting on His PromisesHas this ever happened to you?

He swears he’s in love with you. He wants you to have a future together. He makes a promise to you.


He’ll delays telling his friends you’re his girlfriend, promising to do so when the timing is better.

He’ll find a place for the two of you to live together as soon as his lease runs out. He’ll propose as soon as he has the money for a ring.

So many promises. So much hope.

Weeks pass. You mention his promises. He swears to you that he’s onto it. You just have to be patient.

Months pass. You mention his promises. He tells you to stop nagging him. You need to trust him.

A year passes. You stop mentioning his promises. Somewhere deep inside, you know the truth. He never intended to live up to his word.

When you’re in that situation, it’s hard to know what to do. You want to believe him so much. This is the man you want a future with, after all.

But you can’t deny the evidence. You can see that he’s done nothing.

Living in limbo is painful. You want to move forward, but he’s holding back. You don’t know why, and you’re not sure if you want to know why. You may learn something you wish you’d never learned.

When a man’s words don’t match his actions, you have a few options:

  1. You can give him the benefit of the doubt. Maybe he’s being honest with you about the timing not being right, or not having the money. You can be the better person. You can be patient.
  2. You can push a little harder. Maybe he’s procrastinating. Maybe he’s forgotten about the promise he made. Surely he’ll appreciate a little reminder. Or two. Or three.
  3. You can apply a little leverage. You can give him some space and see if that lights a fire under him. Or you can issue an ultimatum: either he lives up to his promises or he loses you.
  4. You can put the truth on the line. You don’t know why he’s not taking action on what he promised you. So ask him. Tell him your fears. Tell him you’re worried that he made that promise just to make you happy. Watch his face closely. Ask your gut what it thinks.

Here’s what I think of each of those options. I’ll finish by telling you what I’d recommend, and why it will bring you closer than ever.

Option #1 has its pros and cons.

Giving your loved one the benefit of the doubt is a good idea. It’s one of the qualities that make relationships last. Couples who don’t automatically assume the worst of each other do better than couples who jump to conclusions about each other’s motives.

But, when you’re in a new relationship, you don’t actually know what his motives are. You don’t know him well enough yet. So you might do well to be cautious.

Option #2 is problematic. If he’s promised to do something to move your relationship forward, then it’s not your responsibility to remind him. Nagging him can backfire. He might feel that you don’t think he can do it by himself. He’ll dig his heels in even further.

Option #3 can work in some circumstances, but I don’t recommend it. If there’s one person you don’t want to have to play games with, it’s your future husband.

This is a very popular strategy, though. It gives you a feeling of power. It satisfies the part of you that thinks he should pay for not following through on his promises. Some experts recommend it as a one-time thing. If the threat of losing you gets him to finally “put a ring on it,” then surely it can’t be too bad.

My view is that:

The way you start a relationship should be the way you mean to continue.

That’s why I recommend Option #4, talking to him about it.

When You’re Tired of Waiting on His PromisesHonesty takes guts. It’s scary to ask your loved one a question when you’re afraid to hear his answer. But if you can summon up the courage to ask, and the courage to listen non-judgmentally to what he has to say, then you are so far ahead of most couples.

That’s how successful teams work. They don’t blame each other for not moving the project forward. They don’t play games. They use frank, honest talk to get clear about what needs to be done and what’s holding it back.

He’s on your team. Talk to him.

Be honest about what’s at stake for you. Find out what’s at stake for him. Give him permission to be truthful with you. You’ll be building skills you’ll use for a lifetime to come.

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12 thoughts on “When You’re Tired of Waiting on His Promises

  1. Pingback: The Fate of the World Depends on Getting Him to Commit | Your Brilliance

  2. Yeliz said:

    I was with a guy leb that i really thought wasnt good enough 4 for me. but as it went through he’s kind of became a guy that had the same likes and same aspect of life as me. we did have our fights like normal couples do. but with our fights he would have this thing where he would want a break but then at the end of it he would be the one coming back and saying sorry about everything. for that had my maturity and I thought ok he’s a guy we’ve only human. I guess we can fix everything back up. his family loves me and his mum loved me so much. but the thing is we ended up breaking up because I guess I was giving him too much love and affection and also feeling that he wouldn’t give me enough love and affection because he wanted things to be mature ,not too much lovey dovey. I ended up going out with another guy because I couldn’t handle waiting for him after we had broken up. this other guy was horrendous. he was the opposite of what my lebo ex was but he was too much of what I thought I wanted my ex to be. And as a coincidence my lebo ex ends up calling me and we end up talking with each other me and my ex and kind of made it out like we wanted to try something out again.we met up with each other I was holding my distance with him but we could see it in each other’s eyes that we actually still have that love for each other and we went to the pools together and we ended up to see but we both made it clear to each other are we still have that affection for each other. Then he holds back after a mnth .he has not been calling me as much as he does. hasn’t been asking if I want to go anywhere anything. I ended up calling him so many times because I got so frustrated that he wasn’t calling. then he ended up picking up or for the 15 millionth time after I call him and saying “well you’re not actually my misses at the moment so we’re just friends at the moment. what are you getting worried about? why you calling me so much?”
    this hit my heart so hard.. so much and at the moment I’m going through so much depression because a guy that doesn’t think of someone with Love or anything doesn’t take them out.. doesn’t call them then Mrs around their friends and everything.. I was actually getting very close to him and then just hearing that was such a heartbreaker.
    I really want to do this kind of method and try and get him back because I know it’s inside of him but he’s just trying everything to keep himself as the stronger person and for me not to see him fall for me again

  3. Cynthia ann Byrd said:

    Hi, I have been with my ..well..boyfriend…I guess..I’m not really sure what to call him because at the moment he has left me..agan…for 3 and a half years. We met and it was love from the moment he smiled. We did all we cold to make time together. Love has never been an issue. We talked about marriae, we moved into a house together and our kids got along when we all got together. Then one day, he left. Me and my daughter at the time. He never talked to me about anything goes that bothered him really, and I kw there has never been an issue that we could not work through because we share so much love for each other. I had to move and settle in with my little girl and he had actually moved into an apt down the road in which he had actually put a deposit on in cash 4 months before he left, which I found out later. We have found it alost unbearable to be apart so he would come back and things are wonderful until there is any sort of conflict. The next thing I kow he is gone and he blocks me from any communication. He tells me he feels like he can’t make me happy when I am the happiest I can ever be together, not apart. Telling me how I geel, isn’t fair because it isn’t true. I purchased your ebook what men really want and it gave me a lot of info about him as a man. And I have still had to deal with him coming and going. Without my voice being heard. Without a choice. I have been forced to live apart from him when we could be working things out and moving forward. The last time was 3 months. He didn’t communicate with me. I started seeing someone else but the guy knew I wasn’t into it whole heartedly because I had to be honest, I still am very much in love with my bf. He came back after 3 months. Came t me at work and told me he loves me and he understands my passion for him and the pain he has caused me. He sobbed when I was honest with him about the other guy but I love him and wanted to believe that he was gong to do the right thing. It only took about 8 days or so and 3 arguments for him to be very cold and cruel and leave again. He hates conflict but issues don’t just disappear and trust and security for me had been torn. I needed to take it all in and readjust my heart and mind all over. And when I felt insecure still or questioned him about anything at all, he said he cold handle the conflict and that he refused to fight with me and that be the rest of his life. But the fighting isn’t about our love, it is about my need to trust and his need to be trusted. He thinks if he comes back I should just ..know better… this has happened so many times. I have waited and waited. Cried everyday sometimes. This last time he was so cold and mean. And I am so torn to pieces because I kow we love each other, and I want to be with him so badly. And I kow that he suffers too when we are apart but he chooses it. It has nothing going to do with me being happy when he leaves. That’s when he hurts me. I love him so much. He is a good man. And I don’t know what to do at this point. How do you hold him to his broken promises when he won’t even give himself time to not break them…my heart aches and I wish I could just stop feeling. But it is a part of me. Loving this man. He says if I do this or if I do that I will get whatever I want from him. But it is never enough. There is always something else. And all I want is his time, love and affection. And to stay and not run when there is conflict. I am lost at this point. I don’t want to see anyone else. I didn’t really want to before but I thought it would help me heal. And I think he will not get over it. He says he would have never been with anyone else. But he left me. In a very fragile state as well. I need help. I don’t know how to even go a day without hoping I will hear from him. I love him so much. But I am so tired of feeling this pain. It consumes my whole heart. And I tell him that it’s the leaving that hurts, not the relationship together. Why does this man who says he loves me and is miserable without me leave me? Knowing that we are both broken hearted without each other? Please help me understand. I can’t go on so broken like this. I can’t take the pain. What am I doing wrong? Please help me..

    • James Bauer said:

      Hi Cindi. You know how to love fiercely, and that is a rare thing. So many people just love when it’s convenient. But you love even through the heartache and emotional pain. That makes you a wonderful partner for the right kind of man. But it also makes you vulnerable. I say that because I’ve observed that when one person is willing to do anything and everything, it sometimes makes the other partner lazy. They take it for granted that you are the one who has to change and they fail to look inside and consider deeply how they may be contributing to the recurring problems that surface in the relationship.

      It’s not always the right way to go, but sometimes, in situations like this, you can restore balance to a relationship by being a bit more selfish. To say exactly what you want from him and ask him to figure out what he needs to do on his side to make this relationship work.

      It’s not guaranteed to work, because it really depends on how he responds. But if he doesn’t change something, gain new insight or discover a better way to express what he needs, the relationship does not seem to have much chance of succeeding. You have done your best, and that’s all anyone can ask of you. Maybe it’s time for you to ask for what you want.

      Your situation appears to be complex, so it would be best if you invited him to private relationship counseling. A professional counselor can hold his feet to the fire and discourage him from running when conflict arises. Wishing you the best no matter what!


  4. CC said:

    When is an ultimatum not manipulation?
    Thanks. 🌸

    • Lorna (LaLa) said:

      An ultimatum is about setting clear boundaries, not manipulation. As I see it, issuing an ultimatum says that your boundaries have been well and truly threatened and you will not allow them to be breached. But if you issue an ultimatum, you have to MEAN it and stick to it – therefore be careful, as you are skating on thin ice, since it should be a one-off threat, and if they don’t give in to it, you are pretty well stuck. It is a bit like punishing a child for wrong-doing then letting him get away with the same thing next time. Or threatening punishment, but not carrying it out. Your boundaries have been pushed to the limit, but you are demonstrating that if they keep pushing, they will wear you down and they’ll get away with it. Therefore, you weaken your bargaining power. That’s my opinion, anyway. Hope it helps. Lorna

  5. Valerie said:

    Reading Lorna’s story hit home for me. I had a similar situation with a man with a drinking problem, as well as pharmaceutical drug abuse. I finally left for good, after 9 years! I realized that I couldn’t help him, he had to figure out his own fears and come to terms with his childhood abuse and problems with other woman and commitment, as well.

    It is always sad to say goodbye after giving it all that you have and being patient and kind. You just have to be honest with the man and honest with yourself. What can you live with and what can you live without. The roller coaster ride is not the way to live. We all have to look within to see why we are addicted to their behavior patterns. It was way too much drama for me, and being alone for awhile has been a great healing process.

    I found that we have to be whole and happy within ourselves, and then the right man will feel our positive energy and won’t have a problem with commitment.

    • Lorna (LaLa) said:

      Valerie, Thank you for your response, and I am pleased for you if you have moved on and found happiness elsewhere. Unfortunaltely, at my age now (69) I very much doubt if I will find anyone who “fts the bill” for me. It is not just a case of grabbing the first available man that comes along. There are lots of them (some of whom are already married!!), but don’t always tick the right boxes. Sadly, the man with the drink problem, who I have recently lost, ticked lots and lots of boxes for me, but his dependence on drink was just too great for us to overcome. For a while, we loved each other very much, and I will always be grateful for that, even though it did not work out. I have lovely memories, as well as all the nasty memories of the high drama our relationship turned into. As you say, that is not easy to cope with – especially if there is no end in sight. I am trying to get on with my life alone. I’ve put my house on the market and have seen a shop in a beautiful litlle village by the sea that I would dearly love to buy. So I’m putting all my energy into trying to make that happen. It stops me from being lonely, at least. Best wishes to you for a wonderful future. Lorna

  6. Lorna (LaLa) said:

    Oh, James, I agree with you whole-heartedly on this one. BUT – as you say, it is scary – absolutely terrifying, actually, to “take the bull by the horns” and launch into trying to talk to him. We all, as women, know how difficult that is Yes, he may talk ’til the cows come home to his girl “friends” in the office/pub, or his mother or sister and get their advice on the relationship, but it usually has an edge to it, somehow, as they will mostly have an agenda of their own regarding him, which has been my experience – but get him to open up and talk to YOU, is another matter altogether. How can you do that without it seeming to be criticizing and escalating into an almghty row? I have read your advice now for years, and know to some extent how to do this, but still made a cock-up of it – so for the benefit of others who are just new to this forum, can you explain what is the best way to approach this delicate subject, please? In my experience, men immediately go into flight/fight/freeze mode if they feel threatened in any way. In my case, when I said I want to know where I stand (after 5 years of being messed about), he went into freeze first (denial), then fight (“I want you out of here!!”) then flight as he took to his heels and ran out of the door to his apartment, when I tried to talk to him – telling me to bang it behind me when I left. He then went back into fight as he rang me a couple of days later when he was drunk, then freeze again when I got angry with him, as he has now blocked my numbers, so that I can’t contact him. Admittedly, he is different, as he is an alcoholic and suffers from anxiety and depression, and is finding it difficult to give up the booze (which I wanted to help him to do – and he agreed to do), but I wonder how many other men would have a similar reaction to feeling they are “trapped”? Not everything is straight-forward by any means. Lorna

    • James Bauer said:

      Hi Lorna. You are so patient and kind with this man in your life. I wish he had the same level of patience and steadfast loyalty that you seem to have for him.

      I see what you mean about his fight or flight reactions, and the intervening freeze mode that seems to thwart his productive response when you try to discuss how things could be better between the two of you.

      The truth is, you can only do your 50% in a relationship. When you talk to him, you’re giving him an amazing opportunity to see inside your mind, to understand what you need and want from the relationship. Then it’s up to him if he wants to rise to the occasion, be your hero, and meet the needs you have expressed.

      Course, that’s the real key. So I would ask you to think back about the interaction and make sure you laid out your needs in a way that caused him to believe he had the power to meet them. Ensure you lay out your desires in a way that inspires him to want to meet those desires. It certainly is an art. Because people can read unspoken the emotional tension as a threat, even if the words we choose our honey sweet.

      Sometimes the key is state management. Meaning, communicating in ways that evoke the right emotional state from him. And that starts with asking yourself what he likely believes about himself, about you, and about his ability to meet your needs in ways that bolster his own happiness in the process. I wonder if he does not believe in himself to the extent that you do.

      Wishing you the best,


      • Lorna (LaLa) said:

        Thank you James for your lengthy, very supportive reply. I really appreciate it. You are right in that he does not believe in himself. Even when I said how proud I was of him, he said it was patronizing!! (Can’t do right for doing wrong!!). And I AM so proud of him, he has so much to offer the world – he is a beautiful, talented musician, which is a real God-given gift not everyone has. We have never really managed to talk freely and openly about difficult things, which has been the problem all along. He very often just hits the roof and tells me to leave, rather than talk. And unfortunately, I often lose my temper, too, when he is abusive, and say things I shouldn’t, as I will not be treated that way. I am not a saint and not always as patient as you think – although I do try very hard! I also suspect he may have ADHD, because he seems to have so many problems relating to this – anxiety; impulsivness; difficulty with money; obsessions; inability to know the “rules” and to read people; too trusting at times – “nice” and over-helpful; unable to say “No” when appropriate – he gets taken advantage of. I really wanted to comment now to this new article of yours, thinking perhaps it would help other ladies to understand how (some) men can be. He has hinted that he may have been sexually abused at his boarding school by one of the tutors. He has never opened up about this, but stated recently that a lot of the masters were paedophiles. I had wondered, but found it difficult to broach the subject. It is very much in the media nowadays, and more and more incidents from the past are coming to light. It was never talked about before – I wonder if it has triggered things in him from the past. I did ask if there was anything going on with the other boys in the school, but he said not in his dorm. He certainly has extreme hang-ups about sex, and finds it difficult to handle his emotions. I am reading a very distressing novel at the moment which could be written by me, regarding a man who was sexually abused as a child having severe emotional hang-ups and finding it very difficult to have a “normal” relationship. I certainly think the man I have been involved with could benefit from some counselling, but he does not think that is necessary. I expect it is too painful to go there – he prefers to block things out with copious amounts of booze. Anyway, all that being said, it looks as though I may never see him again, as he has blocked me out of his life at the moment, which is a real shame, as I know we did really love each other. I did write to him asking if we could try again to sort his excessive drinking out, and that I will always be there for him, day or night, if he needs to talk, but got no response. I think he really believes he can’t give it up, and feels desperately ashamed. Maybe I’ll leave it a while and try again. I know that January and February are usually his worst months. However, I have now completed my training course to become a counsellor on a 24/7 telephone helpline for alcoholics and drug addicts, and attended AA Meetings, so maybe I can use some of the experience I have had this last five years by helping others with their own problems. We are able to refer callers on to free therapy and detox/rehab. So if I can do something to save just one poor soul, all the heartache I have had for these last few years will not be in vain. Thank you, too, James for your articles which have helped me enormously to see more clearly into a man’s mind. I will continue to read them. Keep up the good work – you reach so many needy, hurting people. Lorna xx .

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