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Queerty: Is it a good idea to wait for someone who says they’re not ready for a relationship?


Two men on a sofaPosed by models (Photo: Shutterstock)

A recent discussion on the gay subreddit, AskGayBrosOver30 has prompted many comments. Someone asked whether it was ever a good idea to wait for a guy if he says he’s not ready to get into a relationship.

“Maybe it was someone you chased. Maybe it was someone who was not ready. Whatever the circumstances, have you ever waited for another guy to be with you?” he asked.

“If so, how long for and what was the outcome? Also, what is your definition of ‘waiting’ i.e. did you sleep with/date others in the meantime?”

It seems many of us have experienced waiting hopefully for someone to come around to the idea of dating.

However, it turns out that for the majority of people, a happy ending was not forthcoming.

“At different points, I waited for two different guys to figure out we’d be good together. Built friendships with them, did things friends would do, had fun, had lots of interests in common,” replied one man.

“I was not the right type for one of them… he was only into super young twinks. The other one… we didn’t have sexual chemistry and he really didn’t have the backbone to tell me what he wanted. So neither worked. It f*cked with me for a while and made me depressed until I realized neither would have worked. I haven’t talked to either in over three years. Very happily married now, so I don’t give either of them much thought.”

“Disaster”

Another man, now in his 60s, said such experiences had proved a “disaster” for him.

“As time went on I put more into it than what was really there. He wouldn’t say he wasn’t interested, so I took that as a maybe. Dumb.

“Waiting implies an expectation that it will be something. Unless there is a promise in kind, you’re just f*cking with your own head,” he cautioned.

Another respondent also said his head had been messed up by a similar situation.

“There was a guy I dated and really liked. At some point, he backed out for different reasons, but we remained ‘friends’,” he said.

“I chalked it up to not being the right time. Looking back, I tried to hold out for him for two years, but I only made my dating life more difficult because of my not truly moving on.

“Eventually, I got fed up and accepted that he was probably just keeping me on standby or only liking the fact that I still liked him and getting attention. I learned to move on, leave him on read, and invest in the people that truly matter.”

Closet conumdrum

The lesson learned by many was: Devote energy to those who want to spend energy on you.

“It did not end well,” offered another man who’d been burned. “He kept telling me he wasn’t ready for a relationship. We were kinda tight. He ghosted me out of nowhere. I put two and two together and did some detective work. He got into a new relationship around the time he ghosted me.”

Another said he learned a life lesson pretty quickly.

“Waited for about a month. Waste of f**king time, turned out to be a closet case, which I’m sympathetic to, but I’m beyond that point myself. Life is too short to press pause on your own dreams and focus to wait on possibilities.”

However, a handful of people replied that waiting had proved beneficial in the end. There can be genuine reasons why someone is not in the right place to date at any one moment in time. They can be going through some sort of emotional trauma, grieving a past relationship, or dealing with other issues.

Two men lean in to kiss each otherPosed by models (Photo: Shutterstock)

The closet adds an extra complication to gay dating. One man said he wasn’t fully out when his partner first showed interest.

“My now husband waited for me because I was still half in the closet when we met and I wasn’t ready to date yet. But he thought the amount of compatibility we had was worth waiting for. He had to gently kick me in the butt a few times when I was getting too complacent about coming out, but it was honestly helpful to have a reason to get my act together. We’ve been together 15 years and just had our 11th anniversary!”

Valid reasons to not want to date

So what do counsellors have to say on the issue? Michael Dale Kimmel, is a California-licensed psychotherapist.

“I believe people when they say they’re not ready,” Kimmel told Queerty. “Usually, they’re right. They may have a million reasons, but none of them matter. If you’re not available, for whatever reason, then you’re not.

“Personally, I have been on both sides of this and have had clients in the same situation. If you’re the person who’s not ready, it’s pretty subjective. You may think you’re not ready to date, but then you meet someone amazing and you decide to ‘give it a shot’.”

“If you want to date that person, it’s an educated risk: you weigh the pros and cons. I wouldn’t recommend putting your life on hold for someone. Keep seeing other people and checking in with the person you’re interested in,” Kimmel adds.

He also warns against dismissing the idea of being friends with someone if they say they’re not ready to date.

“Don’t you want to be friends first and foremost, if the relationship has potential?

“I recommend friendship with someone who isn’t ready. See where it goes from there.”

What constitutes interest and attraction?

Dr. Boris Thomas is a psychotherapist based in New York City. He agrees that there are many valid reasons why someone may not feel willing or able to date.

“So the question here really is what are you willing to tolerate,” he tells Queerty.

“The best relationships are 50-50 deals, but no relationship is ever or always 50-50. There are moments when it might be 51-49. Or 60-40. But we don’t want to find ourselves in a relationship where it’s 70-30. And when you’re waiting and waiting for somebody,, you might be in the 70-30, or the 80-20 zone. At that point, you might want to think about why you are putting yourself on hold.”

Do guys say they’re not ready to date because they lack the courage to say they’re not interested? Thomas says anyone with experience in dating would hopefully be able to suss out if someone is genuinely interested in them or not.

“You should have some bright lines as to what constitutes this person expressing attraction or interest.

“If you know that you want them to talk to you in a certain way, to reach out to you in a certain way, to hold you in a certain way, then you need to be clear about what you need and seek that out. And if that other person is not providing it for you, you can wait forever, but most likely, it won’t come.”

He said if his clients find themselves in a “waiting” situation, he’d also want to dig a little deeper.

“I’m going to want to understand why you find yourself in this position. Is that tolerating the other person’s absence a dynamic in your life? Is this about their early dynamics of childhood? Was there an absent parent that one was always waiting for?

“There may be something about the waiting that resonates with a past history that needs to be addressed in some format so that you can break free from it.”


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