10 Clear Signs a Guy Doesn’t Know What He Wants

If the guy you’re seeing won’t define the relationship, spends more time with his friends than he does with you, or he’s still seeing other women, you’re dating a man who doesn’t know what he wants.

You’ve been seeing a guy for a few months, he’s nice, you like him a lot, and if it were up to you, you’d have progressed to defining the relationship by now. But he’s not taking any action in moving forward, and you don’t know where you stand.

Unfortunately, there are some guys who don’t know what they want, and they’ll string you along until they either find what they want or have the guts to tell you, you’re not what they want.

If you want some clarity on your relationship status, keep reading to find out the ten signs a guy doesn’t know what he wants and what you can do about it. 

10 Signs a Guy Doesn’t Know What He Wants

Dating a guy who doesn’t know what he wants is frustrating. He spends time with you, so he’s interested, but he’s acting distant, and you’re not sure why.

There are several signs that will tell you he doesn’t know what he wants including not defining the relationship, he’s always out with his friends and he’s still dating other women.

If you want some more insight into things men do when they don’t know what they want, keep reading. 

Reading Suggestion: 19 Signs He Doesn’t Care About The Relationship Anymore

10 Signs a Guy Doesn't Know What He Wants

#1 He Won’t Define Your Relationship

You’ve been seeing each other for a few months, but he doesn’t want a serious relationship.

You haven’t had sex yet, but you’ve kissed, and you spend time together. He doesn’t refer to you as a friend or a lover; he avoids the conversation when you bring it up. 

Reading Suggestion: When a Guy Has a Crush On You He Always Says These Words

He doesn’t want a serious relationship because he doesn’t know what he wants.

As far as he’s concerned, putting a label on what you’ve got going on will tie him down to something he’s not sure he wants.

To avoid giving you false hope, he leaves things just like they are.  

#2 He’s Always Out With His Friends

He’s a guy’s guy, and there’s always something going on with his friends.

Whether it’s a vacation, a stag do, or a night out on the town. He very rarely has time to fit you into his schedule.

He makes it pretty clear that his friends are his number one priority. The problem is all his friends are single, and you know full well what goes on when a bunch of rowdy single guys hit the town! 

The reason he’s always out with his friends is that he doesn’t know what he wants, and he’s still looking for it. 

#3 He’s Still Dating Other Women

His dating profiles are still up, his social media profiles say he’s single, and he goes on dates with other women.

He doesn’t hide it either; if you try and arrange something and he can’t make it because he’s got a date, he’ll tell you about it. The next time you speak, he may even talk about how the date went. 

This guy is keeping his options open because he hasn’t made up his mind about you.

The good news is that you’re dealing with an honest guy. He might not know what he wants out of a relationship, but he’s not lying to you about seeing other women either. 

Reading Suggestion: 15 Warning Signs of a Player

#4 He Keeps You a Secret

Even though you’ve been seeing him for the past six months, you are his best-kept secret.

If a friend or family member calls when you’re together, he’ll leave the room to speak to them, or he’ll shush you.

When they ask what he’s up to, his response might be something like, “nothing much, just chilling.” 

Don’t get offended by this; your first instinct will be to assume he’s acting this way because he’s ashamed of you.

But what he’s doing is ensuring he doesn’t give you the wrong signals about the relationship.

It’s insensitive, I know; why can’t he just come out and say it? But that’s another issue in itself. 

#5 He Doesn’t Expect Anything From You

He seems unbothered about everything you do. He doesn’t mind if you go on dates with other guys; in fact, he actively encourages it.

He doesn’t want to meet any of your friends or family members, he seems content and very comfortable with the way things are, and it doesn’t look like he wants things to change any time soon. 

Reading Suggestion: 20 Honest Signs He Doesn’t Love You Enough!

He can’t put any expectations on you because he doesn’t want you to put expectations on him.

He can’t expect you to stop dating and introduce you to his friends and family if he hasn’t defined the relationship. The moment he expects that of you, you’ll expect it of him too. 

#6 He Doesn’t Make an Effort With You

He doesn’t make any effort whatsoever with you. Your birthday came and went; you reminded him several times and dropped hints about what you wanted. However, on your birthday, you didn’t even receive a text.

When you spoke to him the next day, he dared to ask how your birthday went!

So he’s letting you know that he knew it was your birthday, but he chose not to acknowledge it. When you asked him why he didn’t send you any birthday wishes, his response was, “I didn’t know I had to.” You’re blown away by his attitude, but to make matters worse, you gave him a card and a cupcake for his birthday! 

Reading Suggestion: How To Be High Value When He Pulls Away?

It was a really sweet gesture to give him a card and a cupcake for his birthday; he didn’t ask for it, hint at it, or imply you should do anything for his birthday. The only reason you knew it was his birthday was that you asked.

Again, just because a guy doesn’t know what he wants doesn’t mean he’s ignorant about what’s going on between you.

He’s not acting subconsciously; everything he’s doing is intentional because he doesn’t want you to think there’s more going on than he’s willing to give. 

#7 He Keeps Trying to Change You

Some men are so confused about what they want they’ve labeled every woman as their ideal type! In terms of looks, he finds all types attractive, curly hair, straight hair, brunettes, and blondes.

Reading Suggestion: Why Does my Boyfriend Hate Me?

He likes curvy women and slim women, and he likes bold and timid women, outlandish and modest dressing. Because he doesn’t know what he wants, he keeps trying to change you into what he thinks he wants. 

One minute he’s hinting he wants you to dye your hair blonde. Next, you’re too skinny, and it would be best if you put on some weight.

One day you’re too quiet, you take it up a notch, and now you’re too loud! You can’t win; although he’s requesting the changes, he’s never happy no matter what you do.

#8 He Makes No Plans With You

As mentioned, he’s always doing stuff with his friends, and you’re never invited.

You’ve never been on a date; you only spend time together at your or his apartment.

His plans don’t involve you; when he talks about his life goals or things he’s planning, he always says, ‘I’ and never ‘we.’ I mean, he doesn’t even talk about wanting to go to the movies with you to see a film that’s coming out in a couple of weeks. 

Including you in his plans would indicate that he sees you as a long-term partner. Since he’s not sure what he wants, he can’t place you in his future, so he doesn’t.

#9 He’s Got Too Many Issues

Whether it’s family, work, friends, or anything else, he’s always got some drama going on in his life that he needs to resolve.

He doesn’t have the headspace to think about a relationship. He can’t sit; still, he’s always running off somewhere to fix something.

He’ll be at your apartment, he gets a phone call, and he’s got to leave because one of his friends has relationship issues.

Reading Suggestion: 25 Bad Signs He Doesn’t Want a Relationship With You

Too much stress in a person’s life causes instability. He’s not rooted and grounded in anything; he’s all over the place and very unstable. When your life is up in the air, being specific about what you want is difficult.  

#10 He’s Always Busy

You understand that he’s got other commitments, but he makes very little time for you.

When you see each other, he never puts his feet up and chills. He’s always on the edge of his seat, ready to go.

His diary is always fully booked, and in the six months you’ve seen each other, you’ve seen him no more than three times! 

When a man doesn’t know what he wants in a relationship, he won’t prioritize the woman and make space for her in his life either. 

What Does it Mean When a Guy Doesn’t Know What He Wants?

When a guy doesn’t know what he wants, it can mean several things including you’re not what he wants, he doesn’t know what he needs, or his gut feelings scare him.

If you want a better understanding of what it means when a guy doesn’t know what he wants, keep reading.  

What Does it Mean When a Guy Doesn't Know What He Wants?

Explanation #1 You’re Not What He Wants

I thought I’d first start with the harshest answer and take the edge off things. This is a low blow, but it’s the reality of the situation. Sometimes, when it appears a guy doesn’t know what he wants, it’s because he knows he doesn’t want you.

Men see a committed relationship as an investment. That means he’s got to put his time, effort, and finances into a woman. He may have thought you were hot initially, but after a couple of dates, he’s decided you’re not for him. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with him coming to this conclusion.

Reading Suggestion: Why do guys come back when you ignore them?

He’s allowed to like who he likes. The problem is, he’s not being honest. He’s left you in limbo and keeps telling you he doesn’t know what he wants because he’s not brave enough to tell you the truth.

A man like this is not very self-aware as it’s counterproductive to keep stringing you along.

The time and effort he didn’t want to invest in a loving relationship, he’s investing in prolonging telling you the truth. 

Explanation #2 He Doesn’t Know What He Needs

Some men don’t know what they want because they don’t know what they need.

Let me explain…Have you ever dated a guy, broke up with him, and then a month later heard he was getting married? It sounds extreme, but it happens.

That’s because he didn’t know what he needed until he got it. Men have an innate desire to want more than sex or love when it comes to their love life.

It’s why a guy can have what appears to be the perfect girlfriend, but he’s still not happy.

It’s the reason he can go from dating someone who looked like they’d just stepped off the front cover of a magazine to a ‘plain Jane.’

The apparent downgrade is because men have a natural desire to feel important, needed, and to provide.

If the ‘plain Jane’ gives him what he instinctively needs, he’ll settle down with her.

Relationship psychologist James Bauer refers to this as the ‘hero instinct.’ He states society overcomplicates men’s desires; they’re simple creatures, they’re just misunderstood. 

When the woman he’s dating doesn’t trigger his hero instinct, he’ll be miserable, and he won’t commit. He won’t feel a sense of purpose or meaning, which will make him pull away.

Explanation #3 His Strong Feelings Scare Him

It’s human nature to run from what you fear. If things have accelerated quickly between you, there are several reasons he might not be comfortable with this. Here are four of them:


Reading Suggestion: 15 Things What a Guy Is Thinking When He Kisses You


#1 His Parents Are Divorced

As much as the media plays a role in molding and shaping our beliefs, the relationships we see during our childhood years have the strongest influence on us.

Suppose your partner’s parents raised him in a household where they either argued all the time and then got divorced.

Or they modeled the perfect relationship throughout his childhood only to discover they were faking it because of the kids, and now they’re divorced.

He’s going to have a jacked-up perspective about current and previous relationships.

So the moment he starts catching feelings for you, he’ll run because he doesn’t want to end up like his parents. 

#2 He’s Been Hurt in the Past

A hurt man will run when he feels vulnerable because he wants to protect himself.

When a guy falls in love for the first time, he goes all out in most cases. He flows with his feelings and doesn’t hold back.

But when a guy is dumped in a previous relationship that leaves him with a broken heart. After this, he puts sky-high walls up and refuses to let another woman in.

He experienced those same feelings of vulnerability as his first girlfriend when you came along.

Psychologically, those feelings are now associated with rejection, so to prevent it from happening again, he keeps you at arms’ length.

#3 He Keeps His Feelings to Himself

Society conditions men not to express their emotions. Little boys are told to man up when they cry and get chastised when talking about their feelings.

One of the consequences is they become emotionally distant in a relationship. Instead of speaking about their feelings, they pull away. 

#4 His Dreams Are Important to Him

Forget Hollywood! The media continuously bombards us with images of unrealistic relationships; we then seek out these ideals and get disappointed when we don’t find them.

The reality is that relationships take work, and a man who understands this will run into a dilemma when it comes to commitment.

A man who has a vision for his life knows exactly where he wants to go. He has a dream, and he’s actively working towards achieving it.

Turning that dream into a reality takes commitment. A dream takes time and financial resources to ensure the dream doesn’t remain a dream.

Reading Suggestion: How to say I Miss You Without Sounding Needy

He might like you, but after a couple of dates, he realizes you’re taking up too much of his time, and now he feels torn.

He can either compromise on his dream or compromise on his relationship. 

How Do You Tell If a Man is Confused About His Feelings For You?

How Do You Tell If a Man is Confused About His Feelings For You?

There are many reasons a man would be confused about his feelings for you, and his actions will make it obvious that’s the case.

Here are three signs the guy you’re seeing is confused about his feelings for you: 

He Keeps Pulling Away

A man who doesn’t know what he wants will be all over you one minute and stone-cold the next.

He’ll call you every day for a few weeks; then you won’t hear from him at all.

When you call him, he’ll call you back two days later; he won’t text back when you text him.

He will cancel plans with no valid excuse, and if you do meet up, the energy will be off.

It won’t take long before you’re more confused than he is, and you’ll be left wondering whether he even likes you at all. 

Hasn’t Asked You Out on a Date

Although he always wants to spend time with you, he’s never asked you out on a date.

He comes over to yours, and you go over to his, but you’re not sure if he’s into you because he doesn’t act like it.

He knows he’s attracted to you, but he wants to know you a bit better before deciding whether he wants to take you out.

He may even invite you to hang out with a group of his male and female friends to see how you interact with them.

You might find this slightly uncomfortable, but some guys let their pals decide if a girl is right for them.

Since he’s confused about his feelings for you, he’d rather get the green or red light from the people who know him the best. 

He’s Emotionally Unavailable

The foundation of a healthy relationship is trust, mutual respect, openness, and honesty.

But when a man is emotionally unavailable, it’s impossible to make a connection with him.

One of the most common signs you’re dealing with an emotionally unavailable man is he avoids talking about how he feels.

You give him plenty of safe space to open up to you, but he keeps his walls fully erect.

Reading Suggestion: 31 Signs Your Ex Will Eventually Come Back

He doesn’t just avoid discussing his feelings for you; it’s in general.

He won’t talk about problems at work or with friends or family. On the surface, it seems he’s just a happy-go-lucky kind of guy, but he’s emotionally unavailable. 

Do you also notice he gets uncomfortable when you get emotional? When you express your feelings, he withdraws, won’t say much, and acts detached and slightly frustrated.

Emotionally unavailable men get frustrated when confronted with emotions because they don’t know how to manage their own or anyone else’s.

If you’re discussing something over the phone, he’ll find an excuse to hang up. If you’re talking face to face, he’ll find a reason to leave.

How to Deal With a Guy Who Doesn’t Know What He Wants?

How to Deal With a Guy Who Doesn't Know What He Wants?

Don’t waste your time! I wish I could tell you to wait it out, and he’ll eventually realize you’re the woman of his dreams. But I can’t lie to you because it might not happen.

There are several things you can do when dealing with a guy who doesn’t know what he wants including, defining what you want, having a casual conversation with him, and triggering his hero instinct.

I’m not here to tell you what to do, but in my experience, a man who doesn’t know what he wants isn’t going to figure it out any time soon, and you’ll end up with a broken heart because he’ll never commit.

But if you don’t want to give up just yet, here are some tips on how to deal with a guy who doesn’t know what he wants: 


Reading Suggestion: Why Did He Stop Talking To Me?


Define What You Want

Before you approach him, ask yourself what you want out of a relationship.

What is your ideal man? How would he treat you? What are his values? Does he live by them? Is he stable in his career?

Whether you know or don’t know what you want out of a relationship, sit down with a pen and paper and write it out.

Now, there’s no such thing as the perfect man; he doesn’t exist, so you can compromise.

But my advice to you is don’t compromise on the majors; compromise on the minors.

You need to know the character traits your man MUST have before you can get into a serious relationship with him.

The minors are the character traits you can compromise. Once you’ve defined what you want, ask yourself whether the guy you’re pining over is your ideal man, or are you just settling because you haven’t met anyone else?

If he’s your ideal man, then move on to number two…if not, move on to another man! 

Have a Casual Conversation With Him

According to dating expert and author Andrea Syrtash, men don’t like being put under pressure when it comes to relationships.

So don’t make out like you want to have a serious discussion with him about his inability to decide whether he wants to be with you.

The conversation should go something like this: “Hey, so, I deleted my dating apps today; I’m not on the prowl anymore.” If he responds, “do you think that was a good idea?” He’s telling you to keep your options open because he might be gone soon.

Reading Suggestion: 13 Thoughts what he thinks when you don’t text him back

But if he has a positive response and says something like, “I was thinking about doing the same.”

Now the door is open to discuss whether he wants to take things further. If you don’t get the response you wanted, you can walk or move on to number three.

Trigger His Hero Instinct

If you know you haven’t triggered his hero instinct, start now. When women hear the word ‘hero,’ the assumption is you’ve got to relinquish your independence and strength and act like a damsel in distress so he can come and rescue you.

That’s not the case at all. You can remain your authentic self and still make him feel like a hero by making a few simple adjustments. 

Ask His Help

Every so often, even if you think you don’t need his help, ask for it anyway.

A great way to do this is to write down a list of everything you don’t like doing. It could be mowing the lawn, putting gas in the tank, carrying shopping bags, or changing light bulbs.

By asking for his help, you’re killing two birds with one stone. You’re making him feel needed, and you’re relieving yourself of the stress associated with doing the things you don’t like. 

Tell him your appreciation

Let him know you appreciate him. When he does these things for you, tell him how much you appreciate him for doing them. Do something like buy tickets to watch his favorite sports team and tell him you’re grateful to have him around because of all the help he gives you.

You can also thank him for being who he is, write a thank you note, send a thank you text, or tell him face to face. When he feels appreciated, it will motivate him to continue doing these things for you. 

Encourage him

Encourage him to become a better man. Achieving your goals is tricky; some setbacks and disappointments will make you want to give up on your dreams.

But if you’ve got a partner who always encourages you to keep pushing, it will energize you to continue.

Why do you think sports teams have cheerleaders? It’s because people need encouragement.

If you pay attention to a cheerleading team, they cheer the hardest when they aren’t doing too well. Why? Because that’s when the players need it the most. 

Give Him Time to Think About Things

Give him some alone time instead of calling and texting him every five minutes to determine whether he’s made his mind up about what he wants.

If you can sense that he likes you, and you feel the relationship could work once he gets it together, give him time to think about it.

Remember, it takes men longer to process their emotions, so leave him to it. You don’t need to tell him he needs space; tell him you need space to decide what you want.

You pulling away will bring his emotions to the surface in one of two ways.

He’ll either feel terrible without you or want to know why you need space. Or he’ll feel relieved and let you get on with it. If he comes back, you’ll know he’s ready for a commitment. 

Two Can Play That Game

If all else fails, start acting just as undecided as him, and it might help him make his mind up. Keep your options open by going on dates with other guys.

Act as if he’s expendable, and you’re in high demand. When he calls you and says he wants to meet up, say you can’t because you’re going on a date.

Pay attention to his reaction; if he gets jealous and starts questioning you about the date, remind him you’re not exclusive, and you can go on dates if you want.

At this point, he’ll walk, or he’ll decide he wants to make things exclusive. 

Final Thoughts

Life is too short to sit around waiting for a guy to figure out what he wants. If you know what you want, go out and find it. As I’ve said, a man who doesn’t know what he wants is going to do one of three things.

String you along until he either decides he wants you or decides he doesn’t want you.

He might be nice enough to admit he doesn’t know what he wants in some cases.

By hanging around, you’re either going to waste your time or end up in a relationship with him.

The decision is yours to make; choose wisely. 

Last Updated on May 30, 2022 by Alexander Burgemeester

Photo of author

Alexander Burgemeester

Alexander Burgemeester has a Master in Neuropsychology. He studied at the University of Amsterdam and has a bachelor's in Clinical Psychology. Want to know more?

Leave a Comment