April 2, 2015

Phrases We'd Like To Stab In The Face: "I'm Not Looking For A Relationship Right Now"

Sometimes I think that there must be an underground secret society where guys rack up points by saying this phrase to me. Maybe it's like skee-ball where they earn tickets for saying it and they can redeem the tickets for, I don't know, a baseball hat or a stuffed animal or some shit. In other words, guys say this to me. A LOT.

Personally, I've never looked for a relationship. Usually it's something I'm compelled to do against my better judgement like spending a sunny afternoon indoors watching a mini-marathon of MTV's True Life or ordering a shitton of tank tops online from Old Navy because they're on sale. No, I fall into relationships. It's like how Indiana Jones fell into that pit of snakes; similarly, there's a lot of trapdoors and dim lighting involved.

I know he's probably just trying to spare my feelings when what he really wants to say is that he doesn't wanna hear my opinions on "Mob Wives" anymore (they're not in the mob and most of them aren't married; it's a misnomer!). Maybe I'm too tall for him and he's sick of everyone staring at us when we walk in a room together but he doesn't know how to say that without sounding like an insecure dick.

Or maybe he really doesn't wanna be in a relationship with anyone, which I can respect even though it's the dumbest thing I've ever heard because I'd make a great girlfriend! I send funny text messages. I'll scratch his back anytime he wants me to. I own two seasons of "Mr. Show" on DVD. If that doesn't make for a perfect relationship, then I don't know what does.

No, I understand why he'd say this phrase to me. Relationships take a lot of work and sometimes a person's just not up for the challenge. It's not anyone's fault. I get that but it doesn't make it suck any less to hear him say it.


Anonymous said...

The thing that REALLY makes this suck is his hidden presumption that he needs to say this because, clearly, you are desperate for a relationship with anybody who talks to you for more than 15 seconds. It's just like when a man is having a nice conversation with a lady, and she feels the sudden need to slip a useless reference to her boyfriend / husband / fuckbuddy in.

Steve said...

Usually when guys say this, it's just a codeword for "I don't want to be accountable to you for anything, but we can still hook up." Like you point out, it comes from the rather ignorant position that assumes every woman is looking for the exact same thing. I'm sure some guys are like "Whoa, my last girlfriend was really needy, she called me 3x a day and was planning our wedding after 3 weeks of dating. I'm totally not looking for another relationship now." No, you're just not looking for that kind of relationship again.

Instead of using this cringe-inducing blanket statement, I find it better to have a more pro-active conversation within the first few dates about "what are you looking for?" More often than not, girls I date will likewise not be looking to rush into any serious commitment. Maybe the last guy they dated was super possessive, jealous of all her male friends, and totally insecure. And maybe as a result of that "she's not looking for a relationship right now" while she still deals with the baggage left over from the last one. Doesn't mean we can't still line up what we do both want and still have a good time.

Corie said...

"It's just like when a man is having a nice conversation with a lady, and she feels the sudden need to slip a useless reference to her boyfriend"

I've always thought that that was the only polite way to make sure a gentleman doesn't accidentally embarrass himself. We can continue to have a nice conversation and you can have the clarity that I'm not desperate for a relationship with YOU.

Anonymous said...

@Corie, I can see where that might be the intention. That's not really the way it comes across, usually. Then again, the presumption that the man might "accidentally embarrass himself" without her help is right up there with the presumption that she is desperate for a relationship.

Jacquelyn said...

Story of my life too, Anna. That is one of the worst/most annoying phrases to hear, but I would much prefer that conversation to happen pretty close to the beginning of the "hanging out." You're less emotionally invested that way, and it's up to you whether you want to see what happens from there. Recently, I was dating someone for about 4 months, and anyone could see it was obviously heading in the relationship direction. Great guy, he met all of my friends, and he even met my family for dinner at my house (willingly). He JUST now decided to tell me that he wasn't looking for a relationship. And now I just think he's a DICK.

Jacquelyn said...

Oh, and one phrase he used was "I don't want to have to include you in my summer plans." First of all, WTF does that mean. Second of all, hahahaha.

Anna said...

Jacquelyn, that sucks! It's so hard not to be jaded after something like that happens too. When the last guy did this to me (after dating for almost three months and him already telling me that he loved me), I didn't date anyone seriously for over a year and I didn't trust guys for a super long time afterwards. I feel ya, girl!

Solo4114 said...

It goes in both directions, though. I've had a girl tell me -- after four months of dating, meeting my friends, yadda, etc. -- that she was just too freaked out to be in a serious relationship.

I believed her, actually, based on her behavior. I think she WAS freaked out by it. What bothered me, though, was that (A) I had to pry this information out of her (on Valentine's Day, no less), and (B) that she apparently so lacked insight into herself to figure this shit out somewhere around, oh, month...1.5? 2? Date 4?

I think a lot of this stuff boils down to people not knowing themselves particularly well, and/or not knowing what exactly the want, and/or lacking the guts to then make a decision and deal with the consequences.

If you're, like, 2-3 dates in and someone says this, ok, then they're just laying down some ground rules and you play it by ear. In that case it probably means "Let's just have sex now and then with no expectations of anything further...k?" But when you've been dating for a little while and this comes up, I think it's just someone who is clueless about themselves, what they want, and socially graceful ways of communicating it once (if) they do figure it out.

Hambone said...

I've always assumed this phrase was one of those 'cover' reasons for breaking up or expressing a lack of interest?

Like, "I've found someone else more attractive or need to clear the field to do so but don't want to seem like a jerk so let's just say I'm not, uh, ready, for an... ummm... relationship? That sentence makes grammatical sense so I'll go with it, huzzah!"

Because besides, how does one get ready for a relationship? Is there a test? Do I have to run up the rocky steps with a stopwatch? Should we wait until the next full moon? Plus I feel that should [insert name of pretty actress here]/Ryan Gosling show up with flowers, anybody would be plenty ready for that relationship.

Anyway, It's a phrase that deserves to be stabbed not just in the face, but in the eye, with a fork.

Solo4114 said...

In some cases, though, I think it's real.

For example, someone who got out of a serious relationship, say, three months prior. Initially, they THINK they're ready to "get back out there." And maybe they are. But they also THINK they're ready to find another good relationship and...yeah, they just aren't.

After trying to convince themselves to get into/stay in a relationship, it finally dawns on them that they aren't ready, and out comes the phrase.

Or, they date you, like you fine, and can recognize that in an abstract sense you're what they "ought" to want, or you're what they claim/thought they wanted. Except they don't. Why? After thinking about, they realize perhaps that, even though everything's "perfect" or what they "should" want, they don't want it...so the only reasonable assumption is that they don't want a relationship.

In my experience, that's when the phrase is deployed later in the game. When it's said right up front, it means "I like you, I like spending time with you, and I DEFINITELY want to have sex with you. But I don't want to be exclusive about any of this or at least I don't want to limit my options even if I'm basically only going to see you."

Anonymous said...

Could not agree with you more.

I especially loved hearing the "I'm not looking for a relationship right now" while out to dinner with a guy I met through an online dating website. While his profile listed him as interested in a long-term relationship, his primary goal was to "rail me at a time and place of my choosing."

Um, no thanks.

kate b said...

girl you are preachin' to the choir. I can understand it being put out there in the beginning of the courtship, but my frustration comes from the guy feeling the need to mention it every single time we see each other. this has happened to me more than once with different guys. one guy said it more than once within a date at a point. i completely understood it wasn't a serious thing, but good lord, he didn't need to remind me of it every 5 seconds! it was like he was trying to make sure i was aware he didn't care about me THAT much.

i've since realized he has a defense mechanism of making me feel like shit every time he feels feelings about me. needless to say, he's been kicked to the curb.

Jubeee said...

Its a nice way to say he doesn't want a relationship, with you. Everyone wants a relationship, that doesn't mean that everyone you meet will be the one you end up with. Its better to know now than two years later.

Solo4114 said...


It could just be that the guy thinks he's "doing the right thing" by telling you up front (and frequently thereafter), because he doesn't want to send mixed signals. Maybe someone accused him of doing so in the past and he's trying to avoid that in an admittedly ham-handed way.

Or it could be that he was conflicted. Guys get conflicted too sometimes. Maybe he was digging you and got scared, so he's saying it as much to remind himself as he is to remind you. Or maybe he's of two minds: wants more....but doesn't want more.

It could also be that, like many guys, he's been in a position where he THOUGHT he was being clear about his intentions, only to have a girl act as if he blindsided her (especially after sex). I've found this happens less frequently with women as they get more experienced, but if he's a guy who's not entirely comfortable being a cad, then maybe it rattled him and left him doubting the sincerity of a girl's reassurances, so now he's overcompensating.

Not saying any of this IS the case, just offering possible explanations.

Multifamily Properties said...

Well ignore him. And he will be running after you. Believe me. It works.

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