She Said, He Said: ‘Not right now’ really means ‘no time ever’

Lori Ann Kret and Jeff Cole
She Said, He Said

Dear Jeff and Lori,

I’ve been dating a guy on and off for almost a year. I’m ready for a committed relationship, but every time I bring up being exclusive, he tells me it’s just not the right time. I love him and he says he cares about me. I’m always the person he comes to and confides in when he’s having a hard time, so I don’t understand why he doesn’t want to take our relationship to the next level. He keeps saying his life is too busy right now and he’s always got something going on that makes it difficult for us to spend time together. How do I get him past his resistance to commitment?


Tired of Waiting

Dear ToW,

Lori and Jeff: Waiting around and trying to change him hasn’t worked for the past year. What makes you think there is anything you can do to change him now? It’s obvious that you love him and have probably spent more time than you would like to admit dreaming about a future with him. We’ve all been there, doodling our fantasy initials on the back of a notebook, envisioning the perfect house, dog and seaside vacations together. It’s time to bring you back to reality. He’s just not that into you.

Lori: It saddens me when I hear about a good woman who doesn’t know her worth. It’s clear that you’re a thoughtful, caring and giving partner. So my question is why are you putting up with his bull? Do you not believe you deserve more? You’ve elevated him onto a pedestal that places him so high that you’re bending over backward trying to get him to really see you. Stop with the tricks. Stop the sitting, staying and coming when called. You’ve given him a year. If he still doesn’t appreciate you enough to want to be with you, it’s time to set yourself free for someone who will. He’s not the one — not the love of your life. If he were, he would be as into you as you are him. He would get you, love you and be fantasizing about lying in beach chairs together. You deserve love but you’re going to have to do some work on yourself before you can find it. It’s time to shed the insecurities that are keeping you begging and connect to your true power and confidence.

Jeff: There’s another layer to all of this. If he hasn’t committed to being with you exclusively, there’s a very good chance he’s not showing you all of his cards. You may be in love with the edited version of this guy, not having seen all of him — only a selective slice. It’s possible that there are things he’s not revealing that actually might make you think twice about taking it to the next level. People like him often keep people like you “on the hook,” meaning that they love having you around to talk to, have sex with and get support from but when it comes to a commitment, it’s always one-sided.

You also may be in love with his unavailability. Sometimes not knowing everything about someone allows us to create whatever story we want about them. It’s often a fairytale version of the story, helping to convince ourselves that we’ve finally found the perfect mate. This synopsis keeps us hooked, desperately wanting more — a deeper connection and stronger commitment. These types of relationships don’t usually end well — the less available player never commits and can become increasingly annoyed as the commitment requests intensify, or the more available player gives up and moves on. For you, another outcome might be that he eventually commits and you realize he’s not the guy you thought he was.

Lori and Jeff: If you ever hear someone say they’re really into you but can’t be with you “right now,” followed by the promise of a magical future when everything will work out for your relationship, you need to get yourself off the hook. It’s time to move on and find someone who treats you the way you deserve to be treated — with kindness and respect.

Lori and Jeff are married, licensed psychotherapists and couple-to-couple coaches at Aspen Relationship Institute. Submit your relationship questions to and your query may be selected for a future column.


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