Deciphering: I’m Not Looking For A Relationship

Dear Lisa,

I’ve encountered the phrase “I’m not looking for a relationship right now” many times from men, and like many women, proceeded to hop in bed with the guy anyways. The results of having sex is as you would expect: they still don’t want to date you even after you put months of time hanging out and sleeping together!

So my question is this. When a man says “I’m not looking for a relationship right now,” I feel like he is actually saying “I want to have sex with you. I like being around you, I like to flirt and have fun with you, but I want to still be free to find a better suited woman for me than you”. What is your experience around this?

–Free Milk ( ♀ Nanaimo)


Dear Free Milk,

I think you are right on the money with the phrase ‘but I still want to be free to find a better suited woman for me than you’. While ‘I’m not looking for a relationship right now’ might be the honest answer from someone who is legitimately taking time out from being in a relationship to focus their energies elsewhere… it’s rare (read: unheard of). Practically speaking, it is the only way to keep hanging out with someone with whom you don’t see a future, without guilt.

Men do use the term more than women, probably because they hate to see a woman cry, and because they are typically more connected to their carnal needs than women – they know that if they say no-no-nothing, that before they find Ms. Right, they’re going to want the benefits of Ms. Right Now. And, if they frame it with the caveat that they aren’t looking for anything serious, they can have their cake and eat it too.

The point though, is not that it would be better for him to say ‘You aren’t what I’m looking for right now’, because that wouldn’t exactly be true either. The point is interpretation. More often than not, you are not just a sex toy to these men, especially if you are enjoying time out of bed together. You are more likely just not the one he wants to commit to. It’s a spectrum, see? But it is easy to ride the pendulum all the way from ‘I’m not his one and only’ to ‘I’m a slutty whore’. Bottom line with the interpretation: there is lots of space between for mutually enjoying the moment for what it is.

However, it sounds like staying with these guys breaks your heart a little more every time, and leads to you reinforcing the belief that you aren’t worth a man’s full and dedicated attention. My advice: the moment this line is uttered, remember that you are looking for a relationship, and accept a different date pronto. Then, if he’s likes you and legitimately isn’t ready for you yet, he’ll feel respected and do everything he can to find you when he’s sorted himself out.


– Lisa



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