It happens to the best of us, we finally meet someone single, who checks a lot of boxes in our lists, and makes us feel like we are walking on clouds.
You talk like a couple, act like a couple, and even have memorable nights together. But you are not a couple. You or your partner-err special friend, has no desire to be in a relationship.
It is confusing the thoughts and feelings of one partner. While the other stands firm on their belief of “I don’t want a relationship,” even if for all intents and purposes, they are already in one.
Why would some people claim that “I don’t like being in relationships” while they clearly engage in one or more of them?
Reasons not to be in a relationship
There are valid reasons for not wanting a relationship.
They may be at a critical juncture of their life
Reviewing for the Law board exam, preparing to migrate, or raising an infant alone. They could also be busy starting a business or involved in something dangerous (like the military).
They want to focus their efforts on their current priority and do not want additional commitments that can hinder it. A lot of people would guess that people who are afraid of relationships just fear commitment.
This is obviously wrong. A person on the verge of earning a law/medical degree or risking their lives for their country obviously can and will commit. They just won’t commit to a relationship with a particular person.
One would think that’s not fair. But if you think about it, you wouldn’t commit to anybody else either. You probably know hundreds of people, but in, or were, in a relationship with only a handful.
People, including you, only engage in relationships by choice
It’s that simple.
When your “special friend” does not want to commit, it’s because they don’t want a long-term relationship with you.
But they respect you enough, not to say it to your face. It is important to check what kind of person your “special friend” is; if they are the responsible type or just someone who avoids responsibilities as a whole.
If they are someone who isn’t responsible in other aspects of his life, then you, like everything else, is just a game. Something fun to pass the time. Walk away.
It gets complicated if they are someone who can take on adult responsibilities and shine at it.
Dealing with Peter Pan Syndrome and “Attachment Avoidant”
If your partner is Peter Pan insistent on “I don’t want a relationship”, you have two choices.
Don’t take the relationship seriously either and have fun. Be open to other relationships, you could end up as good friends down the line.
A lot of good male-female friendships start this way. Harry met Sally explains this perfectly. But they are wrong, in this day and age, you can get the sex out of the way.
Walk away, gracefully. You don’t need their permission. You don’t even need to tell them why. You don’t owe them an explanation. It will only hurt their ego and activate a dozen or so defense mechanisms that will just ruin your day. You don’t need that kind of mess in your life.
If your special friend is the “I don’t want a relationship right now type,” but successful in other aspects of their life that proves they are not a “commitment-phobe,” then it’s more complicated.
The first two-choices of the Peter Pan syndrome still apply.
You can get the sex out of the way, then end up as friends, or you can walk away.
Both cases will still work when dealing with this kind of “I don’t want a relationship right now” person. But there are two more choices.
The first is a confrontational ultimatum.
This will never work with Peter Pans because those types have fight or flight defense mechanisms always set at maximum.
They need it to protect their childish ego. If you use this on them, you will almost always get an immature reaction that would lead to an annoying situation. Whether they run or fight, it won’t end well.
However, when dealing with mature people who experienced a measure of success, they know the value of diplomacy and negotiation.
Opening up to them seriously and getting down to the business of discussing your issues, can work, maybe.
In the end, you can make sure you tell that you are giving them the “space” they always wanted, and you will welcome them back once they figure things out, maybe.
The last option is to continue to date and hope that one day they will transcend from “I don’t want a relationship” to “ I want to be in a happy and lasting relationship with you.”
Love them will all that you can and hope someday they change their mind. Their life situation could also change that would make it more conducive to be in a relationship. You are most likely headed for a toxic relationship, maybe.
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.
Rachael Pace is a noted relationship writer associated with Marriage.com. She provides inspiration, support, and empowerment in the form of motivational articles and essays. Rachael enjoys studying the evolution of loving partnerships and is passionate about writing on them. She believes that everyone should make room for love in their lives and encourages couples to work on overcoming their challenges together.