Why Does He Keep You Around If He Doesn’t Want You?

Navigating romantic relationships in the 2020s is like walking backward through a minefield wearing noise-canceling headphones. You often have to take that next step on faith, having no idea if it is the right move with the right person at the right time. 

When you take that leap of faith and try to form a romantic relationship with someone, it can be hurtful if they make you feel like they don't want one as well. And especially if they give off all the "I want you" signals, but can't seem to take that final step toward commitment. 

Do you find yourself in this situation? Do you wonder why he keeps you around if he doesn't want a relationship with you? Here are eight reasons he might be behaving that way.couple looking at eachother

Reasons Why He Keeps You Around if He Doesn't Want a Relationship


1. Avoidant Attachment Style

Why does he keep you around if he doesn't want a relationship? It could be that he has an avoidant attachment style (sometimes referred to as the avoidant-dismissive attachment style). The avoidant attachment style is a condition in which someone is stunted in their ability to form healthy emotional attachments with other people. Take a closer look. 

What Is "Attachment?"

In his book John Bowlby and Attachment Theory, psychiatrist Jeremy Holmes states, "A person's attachment status is a fundamental determinant of their relationships, and this is reflected in the way they feel about themselves and others." 

In psychology, attachment theory posits that humans are born with a powerful need to form tight bonds, or relationships, with others. In particular, how you bond with your caregiver in the first six months after birth determines how well you will form emotional bonds in relationships throughout your lifetime. 

If you don't form healthy bonds with people early in life, it stands to reason you will struggle with forming such bonds later when they are much more complex.people hoding hands

Avoidant Attachment Style in Adult Relationships

This attachment style may be the reason someone values independence to the extreme. When you show them your own need for intimacy, they entirely withdraw and go into self-preservation mode.

Sometimes people are cruel in how they withdraw. They may diminish your feelings or hide things from you. If they get married, people with an avoidant attachment style are apt to have extramarital affairs. 

This type of treatment can feel like you're being strung along. If the guy shuts you down any time you want to share your feelings, or if he checks out any time the relationship starts to gain depth, he may be incapable of tolerating true intimacy.

If he wants to form a relationship but doesn't seem to be able to do so, he could try therapy. If he has never been to therapy, he may not realize his challenges around forming natural relationship bonds. Since bonding is necessary to build a healthy, committed relationship, he may struggle without understanding why. Otherwise, you will need to keep it casual or consider moving on in this situation. 

2. Commitment Issues

His commitment issues could be due to his avoidant attachment style, but it could also be good old-fashioned fear of what a relationship means in his life. Some people form attachments but fear what it may change for them. This can manifest as avoidance of the topic of commitment purposefully dating people with whom you're not compatible, or actively sabotaging relationships before they have the chance to bloom.

If you're wondering why he keeps you around if he doesn't want a relationship, or you suspect he might be having commitment issues, keep an eye out for some of the following signs:

  • He fails to commit to any plans and only wants to spend time with you in the spur of the moment.

  • He avoids the conversation or changes the topic when you bring up the idea of a future together. 

  • He might even show visible discomfort when you give hints you want more. 

These signs could indicate he is avoiding a deep relationship due to commitment issues. If these don't apply to your situation, perhaps he is showing signs of something else, like insecurity.

3. Insecurity

One possible reason he keeps you around even if he doesn't want a relationship could be his insecurity. The root of insecurity is a lack of confidence, which can manifest in several ways.

It can be difficult for anyone entering a relationship to meld together separate lives and identities into a healthy one. If he already feels a lack of fulfillment in his life, he might carry that into his relationships, which could cause more difficulty. Even though insecurity in relationships can manifest as codependency, it can also have the opposite effect. Someone suffering from insecurity might react with withdrawal, dismissal, or distrust.

It can often feel like he doesn't trust you and your feelings even though the doubt is all in his head. That can take a severe toll on you and the relationship (such as it is). Even if you know about his insecurities, it can send you into a spiral trying to figure out his true feelings or questioning your own self worth. His constant doubts about the validity or sincerity of your feelings for him could cause you to doubt them yourself.couple on couch

4. Fear of Commitment

Could his resistance to forming a relationship with you be a fear of commitment instead?

You hear about "commitment phobia" all the time — and especially in men. Whether in movies, television shows, books, or those Cosmopolitan articles that make women feel poorly about themselves, the topic is everywhere.  Unfortunately, it gets misused when referring to men who simply don't want a committed relationship. There is a big difference in not wanting to commit and being actually, truly fearful of commitment.

There exists a very real phobia about commitment, which is not the same thing as "commitment issues." This phobia is a mental condition which has a profound and damaging impact. Choosing not to commit is one thing, but feeling paralyzing anxiety when you attempt to do so is another thing altogether.

Phobias of any sort are considered anxiety disorders. Anxiety disorders are more than the average, everyday anxiety or nervousness that everyone experiences. Anxiety disorders involve frequent and intense worry and/or fear so extreme that it can impair one's ability to lead a normal life.

The clinical name for the most common commitment phobia is gamophobia. Gamophobia is the intense fear of long-term relationships, including marriage. It can be treated like any other anxiety disorder, so don't despair if you or your guy suffers from it.

Some symptoms of gamophobia include:

  • The inability to talk about the future

  • Refusal to apply a label to a relationship

  • Defensiveness or agitation when you attempt to understand their emotions about the relationship

  • Always pulling conversations into casual topics whenever feelings are brought up

If your guy is trying to overcome commitment fears or gamophobia, he must start by learning to love himself. The next step is acknowledging that he wants to form a healthy relationship. 

Suppose he can do those two things through hard work, support from people who care, and perhaps professional therapy. In that case, commitment issues can be overcome, allowing you both to reap all the rewards of a committed relationship.

5. Loneliness

The above are a bit on the clinical side.; however, his reasons for keeping you hanging on without wanting a committed relationship might be more superficial. Perhaps he is simply trying to avoid loneliness in his life. 

He could like you well enough, realize you're not "the one," but keep hanging out with you anyway. If this is the case, he might be prolonging his time with you to stave off his own feelings of loneliness.

Some people live their best lives outside of romantic relationships, but others feel lost if they don't have someone they can always depend on to spend time with. If he's looking for the right person but hasn't found them yet, hanging on to you might be a way to avoid lonliness until the "right" person comes into his life.

This is a pretty selfish way to handle matters of the heart — especially if you feel more intimate feelings for him and he's not being open about his intentions. If you feel you're being strung along to fulfill some temporary hole in his life, it might be best to tell him it is just friends or nothing with you from now on. You must think of your own well-being.man on bench

6. Friends With Benefits (FWB)

If he keeps you around but doesn't want a relationship, he might want a friends-with-benefits (FWB) setup. For people who are not in nor wish to be in a committed relationship, FWB can be a fantastic way to still feel connected to someone while keeping things casual. It only works, however, if the arrangement is explicitly discussed and you both agree to the terms of such a relationship. 

Casual sex isn't as taboo as it once was. For some people, casual sex can only be possible if they know and like the other person. Trust is key when you share something so intimate without the safety net of commitment. Not everyone can have casual sex in the forms of one-night stands or hook-ups with strangers. If you have fun with him and trust him enough, you could consider just going with the flow and having a good time.

Some of the ways you can ensure a FWB arrangement is safe and fun for you both are to set expectations from the start. Don't be in an FWB sitation with someone with whom you already have romantic feelings. Don't expect anything more than you would from any other friend in this arrangement, and be transparent with each other.

If, however, he isn't open and honest about his intentions, this is also a selfish approach on his part. It requires that you are both comfortable with the arrangement. If your feelings grow more intense once you start sleeping with your friend, even if you initially agree to a FWB arrangement, it will always leave you feeling unfulfilled

7. Keeping His Options Open

Dating is hard. Dating to find a committed relationship is even more challenging. He may casually date more than one person until he finds the perfect match. 

Some guys like to date several people at a time, waiting until they are sure they've found someone compatible who makes them happy before embarking on an exclusive long-term relationship.

Dating around or playing the field isn't inherently wrong as long as he is respectful and honest with you. It is best to assume the guy you're spending time with isn't exclusively seeing you until you've talked to him about it and both agree to take the relationship to the monogamous level. 

If he leads you to believe he's exclusively spending time with you but is still pursuing other women, then you'll need to clarify your boundaries with him. Even if you're comfortable with a casual relationship, he shouldn't mislead you.

Ask him what he wants from you and determine if that matches what you're looking for from him. If he wants to keep things casual but you want an exclusive relationship with him, it will cause friction and hurt feelings.woman pointing to phone

8. He Has a Girlfriend or Wife

If you find he's avoiding committing to you, it might be because he's already in a relationship. He could be in an open relationship, in which both parties see other people. If he;s an open relationship, he should be honest about it. If he is not upfront with you about this, however, chances are high that he is cheating.

If you suspect he is already in a relationship, ask him outright but understand that he may very well lie to you. If he is cheating on someone and didn't tell you about the relationship before, he will likely lie to you about it now.

If you confirm that he is in a relationship with someone else, you'll then need to decide if he is a guy you want around or not. Are you okay with being with a guy in an open relationship with someone else? If he isn't in an open relationship and is cheating on his partner, are you comfortable with that?

Should You Stay or Should You Go?

Regardless of why he's keeping you around but not committing to a relationship, it all comes down to whether or not the guy is a positive or negative presence in your life. You have valid reasons for ending things if he is using you, lying to you, or indicating that he doesn't care about your needs and feelings.

If he is a good guy and stays honest with you about his intentions and needs, you might be able to keep him around if that is what you want. If you both agree on the status of the relationship, there is no harm in keeping a casual fling or FWB situation going while you each pursue your individual long-term goals. 

Most importantly, you will need to explore your own intentions and where this guy fits into them to be sure you're choosing the best option for you. 


  • Do you enjoy spending time with him even when you know he is not interested in more from you?

  • Do you worry that even knowing the limitations, your attachment to him might grow and leave you at risk of a broken heart in the future?

  • Would keeping the status quo with him make it harder for you to find the healthy relationship you're ultimately seeking?

  • Is he open and honest with you when you have questions? 

The answers to these questions will lead you to make the best decision. The bottom line thing is that you maintain open, honest communication. Each of you should share what you think it means to be in a committed relationship and indicate whether or not you want that from the other person. girl walking away

If you decide trying the casual thing sounds good, revisit these questions from time to time. Periodically open a dialogue with him to ensure this is still a healthy situation for both of you. If there are any indications that the arrangement is harmful to either party, be the one to make the tough decision to end things, or at least modify the arrangement to minimize any risks.

Women are under a lot of pressure from society, family, peers, and social media to find that perfect guy, marry the best husband, and have kids. Thankfully, those standards are not as common in the 2020s, and women are  realizing that sex and relationships don't always need to lead to a long-term relationship. It is okay to have casual relationships just for fun. 

If a guy indicates that he wants something casual, there's no harm in joining in the fun if that interests you. Making the healthiest and safest choices for yourself is key to navigating today's romantic landscape. Remember: Not every relationship has to be a stepping stone to long-term commitment. Letting yourself relax and enjoy the moment could turn that minefield you once walked through into a peaceful meadow.

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