The Flipside: When He is not Ready to Take the Relationship to the Next Level

A little while ago, I wrote a piece titled “When You Ask Her Out (or Propose) and She Says She is Not Ready”

It was mainly to the fellas…helping them manage that response and so on. You should read it. (Link is at the bottom)

Lately though…I have been getting questions from ladies about men who are not taking the relationship to the next level. Men who are saying:
“It was nice getting to know you but…”
“I really like you…but…”
For many ladies I have spoken to, this is really devastating. It knocks the wind out of them pretty bad and I totally understand. On a fundamental level, no matter how logical the reasons are, it will hurt when someone you like and want to be with, does not want to be with you.

How do you simultaneously allow yourself to feel your hurt and yet not allow your hurt to hurt you?
This piece will hopefully give you some help in managing that space and working out your heart.
Now I have to warn you though…this is one of those ones. Its one of those ones where the mirror will be held so close, you’ll feel like you’re in your own personal space.

For context, it is important to say that I am not talking about a situation where a man breaks your heart by cheating or doing things in a committed relationship to hurt you or violate your trust.
I am speaking of a situation where a good man you were “talking to” or even “seeing” makes a decision to end the relationship because he doesn’t see you as the forever person…and actually has a conversation with you about it.

I know your head is spinning and you feel like someone sucker punched you…but as you go through this, remember:

1. He is allowed to have feelings and pursue the path that HE feels is best for him….just like you do.

Iknow it’s the last thing you want to hear right now and I am not saying it doesn’t hurt…but think about it. Typically, when a woman breaks up with a man, the general impression is that HE did something wrong. When a man breaks up with a woman, the general impression is ….the same thing: HE did something wrong.
I know that it hurts, but you cannot see him as a terrible person simply because he has chosen not to be with you.
I speak of a context outside of marriage of course.

If you were in his shoes and you felt (for whatever reasons) that he was not the one for you, you wouldn’t want to feel demonized for making a decision to move on. You would want to be understood. You would want people to see your point of view and even if they didn’t, you’d want them to respect your decision.

Just because he doesn’t want to be with you doesn’t make him a player or a terrible person Because…

2.You are not a perfect person.

When God looked down on mankind in Genesis 6 and saw their wickedness and how they had turned from him, he was deeply troubled. God was upset…and regretted even making mankind. BUT guess what? HE had the right to feel that way because HE is perfect. You are not.

Again, I am not talking about when a man violates your trust or anything like that.

The point here is, I often get a reaction of SHOCK. Like…how could he do “this”?
So I have spent some time listening and thinking about that. I have been asking what that “THIS” is.

Here is what I seem to be running into (and some advice as to how to manage those as well:

a)How could he “make me like him” and then not want to be with me anymore?

I know you are hurt…but careful. Because even if you are not using these exact words, if you are allowing this thought to sit, what you are saying is that “He was not worth liking before. He was beneath you and not good for you, but he did something to pull it out of you…and become unlike yourself and therefore he must commit to the impression you have of where you want the relationship to go.”

If that were true, then you would be just as guilty of “making” HIM like you. Making him see what was not really there and getting him to prematurely commit until he was “delivered by some revelation that you were not the one he thought he saw”.

The point?

We like who we like…and when someone APPEARS to have the traits WE have predetermined we want, we ALLOW ourselves to fall for them. We are always active participants in the relationships we pursue and enter. 

b) How could he “make me expect more from the relationship when he knew it wasn’t going anywhere?” In other words, how could he lead me on?

If this is actually what happened, it’s terrible…and I am sorry. It’s never good to do that to people.

You see, it would probably be unfair to assume that just because someone doesn’t want to be with you now, they must have had evil intentions all along. There are many men who have great intentions when it all begins. He is not automatically a player just because he doesn’t want to be with you. You need to leave space for the fact that it just didn’t work out.

c) You are hurt…I know…but from the outside looking in, pride is alive and well here. If you are not taking any responsibility for parts of this, it is pride talking. (This is not easy. I know)

3.He said something! He didn’t just “ghost” you!

Believe it or not, it takes a lot of courage and strength for most men (especially good ones)  to actually break up with you and have a conversation about it? To be there to answer questions and explain himself? I know it is easier to see it from the angle that “he is weak for not wanting to stay and put up with/work out (Insert whatever). However, you miss the courage he showed in saying something to you NOW…before (Insert – engagement – wedding – 4 children – whatever)

The fact that he DID say something means that there is at least a part of him that does not want to lead you on beyond “this point”.

He didn’t just disappear. He didn’t just evaporate like many men do. He shared his heart with you and was honest with you.

I need to tell you that when men don’t say something…when they are freaked out by the thought of how freakout you will be, and decide to bottle up their frustrations & unhappiness; when they feel they will lose their “credibility as a good man” by breaking up with you; when they feel like they will be demonized by ending the courtship and he stays, well…you and I already know how that movie ends.

4. You don’t stop being the woman that God created you to be simply because a man didn’t feel he should be with you.

I am not just saying that to make you feel better. How a man behaves to you does not change Gods plan for your life. You don’t become less for this. This is true for men too (Most of whom have been going through heart-wrenching, blatant rejection since puberty…in ways that most will never admit has affected them.)

Don’t accumulate distrust in your heart by handling this situation wrong because the very thing you are afraid of, will increase in likelihood of happening. PROTECT YOURSELF FROM YOURSELF.
Stay lovable. Stay light.

Feel your pain. But don’t let your pain steal from you by “stEEling” you to the point where you become colder and where fear and self-preservation becomes the space you operate from (I know this is not easy)

5) Fight the urge to totally victimize yourself and use him & the situation to gain attention:

One thing that God blessed women with, is the ability to be a great support system to/for each other. The problem is that like everything good God does, if not managed right, can create problems for us:

Now your girlfriends are coming over, everyone is comforting you…everyone is hugging you and there is an abundance of well-intentioned words that (if not careful) could actually be pride-inducing, victim enforcing, and bubble creating words…. “he is stupid for leaving you” “Its him not you” “All men are like that” “He is weak for not wanting to be with you” “I’m surprised you lasted this long with him anyway” “He was terrible for you”.

Two girlfriends are taking you to lunch this week and another has organized a sleepover. Everyone in your life is working overtime to make you feel better and convince you there is nothing wrong with you. Only him. That there could be no good reason for this and that he does not deserve any respect no matter how good he has been to you prior to the breakup.

And there you are, soaking it all in…enjoying the attention…and allowing your friends to kill him with their words after he may be prayerfully broke things off.

Am I saying don’t enjoy the support of people around you? of course not. Just don’t let that support affirm things in your subconscious that will be unproductive (in fact obstructive) to your dating and marital future.

6) Remember that God is not just interested in giving you a “good” man

(Based on what you can see on the outside and your perception about what you think you need)
He is interested in giving you the RIGHT man. So if this one is not working out, thank God that it happened now, and leave space for the fact that even though a good one is getting away, the right one has not. Not on your father’s watch.

7) Work REALLY HARD not to think about “what people will say or think of you now”.

-What will my mum say?
-What will my friends say?
-OMGosh (insert “shade” master’s name) will have more shade subjects to use
-What will happen to my Instagram page? It’s full of “Bae” pictures
-NoNoNoNo…church…I gotta leave that church cos I can’t stand if everyone starts asking…

For many women, this whole thing is made harder when this thought finds a way to settle in the mind. Don’t let it. It makes the pain worse and even creates more pain than there was before.

Don’t let the PR optics drive your pain.

I am not saying don’t feel your pain. In fact, you must. But hopefully, these points help ground you a bit and help you manage the season a bit better.

There you have it.

The long and short of this:

You are not less because this is not working out…but leave space to remember that in the context we are talking about here, neither is he.

I wish you Joy…real satisfaction. I pray for you…that God will guard your heart and that a deep inexplicable peace will be yours when it comes to matters of the heart. I pray that you will find a man in whom you can plant the seed of love that God gave you. Stay strong.

Sade said it best…In Another Time.

So….any of the points jump out at you? Anyone of them you have struggled with or think you will struggle with? Questions? Put it all in comments below.

And by the way, once you are done with your comment, here is the link to “When You Ask Her Out (or Propose) and She Says She is Not Ready”

  • Ugbeh Nneka Nora

    My 2 years relationship ended about three months ago. He ended it. Honestly, he was always saying prior to the breakup that if the relationship were to end, it would be my fault. He was preparing me for the breakup but i was too weak to walk away. I kept feeling like there was something i could do better and differently to change his mind (i did try). Apparently, his mind was already made up.

    My points and the lessons i learnt are:
    1. There is a place of compromise and totally changing yourself for the other person. I think if a person cant cope with you now, marriage wont change that feeling.
    2. Know when to walk away. Especially when you feel your self worth dwindling or when your relationship with God is threatened. No one should make you feel bad about yourself. Such relationship is toxic.
    3. Its not always easy to embrace a new relationship but its not impossible. Open yourself up but do not forget to seek God’s direction in the matter of relationships. Else you rush in and rush out.
    4. Stay positive, stay productive and most importantly, stay prayerful while you wait for the “right” person for you.

    PS: Thank you so much for this write-up. I believe you wrote it specifically for me. God bless you. Amen.

  • Mez

    Yeah point number 2 is a big one. Sometimes the guy does lead you on with lies, pretending to be looking for a relationship when it’s a till-I-find-something-better-ship, dates etc. Other times, he just changed his mind and he’s allowed to lose interest in the early days just as much as we ladies are. Discerning the difference, healing and moving on takes skill and perspective: he doesn’t like me does not me another man won’t like the full package.

    I have had guys change their mind, and women have egos too. It stings, but ultimately you have to say to yourself “I want someone who really likes me as a full package, not parts of me or who feels pressured to stay with me rather than choosing to be with me because he wants to”. It sucks, but on the other hand, you want someone who is mutually crazy about you as you are over them. A one way relationship would be worse than an unreturned crush.

    On the other hand, I was led on a few months ago. After almost 3 months of flirting daily (and publically in front of mutual friends/acquaintances, they all knew we were an item), dates, asking all the right questions to pursue a relationship, planning future dates, etc. the guy suddenly says “I was only seeing you because you were ‘there’, sorry”. Ouch, did that hurt, but I thanked God in the pain because I reflected and realized that this guy put little things that were important to me down subtly and frequently. He did me a favor calling it quits before I fell in love so that is something that I am grateful for and helped with recovering from the pain realizing it could be much worse if he had continued for a year or more. It could have easily turned into a situation-ship where I was in a relationship and he was waiting till something ‘better’ came along. So yes, I was glad he broke it off before things got serious, but he had led me on to thinking he was seriously seeking a relationship before he changed gears.