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When a guy says “he doesn’t know what he wants” (6 most common meanings)

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There’s a guy you’ve been seeing. A guy you’ve really started to like and can see yourself in a relationship with. There’s real potential for a future together, in your eyes.

But whilst you’re clear about that, he really isn’t.

You’ve already had “the chat” about where things are going between you, and all he’s said is that he just doesn’t know what he wants.

He’s not sure what he’s looking for, and that means he’s not sure about you, either.

And quite frankly, you’re a bit confused. What exactly is he trying to express? What’s he trying to imply?

You don’t know how to interpret what he’s telling you, and you’re definitely not sure about where you should go from here. Should you wait for him to make up his mind? For how long? Is he even right for you?

Every guy is, of course, very different. But if you’re trying to decode his cryptic message and figure out what your next step should be, then read on.

Speak to a certified relationship counselor about this issue. Why? Because they have the training and experience to help you deal with a guy who doesn’t know what he wants. You may want to try speaking to someone via for practical advice that is tailored to your exact circumstances.

What’s he trying to tell you?

Unfortunately, there’s no single, straight answer for you here. If he’s telling you that he doesn’t know what he wants, it could be his way of trying to express any number of things.

Or, trying to avoid being honest about any number of things.

He might not be sure what’s going on in his brain… but he might also have a pretty good idea and just not feel willing or able to share it with you.

These are a few of the underlying causes that might explain this, frankly, rather frustrating behavior.

1. He’s not ready for a relationship.

He might be trying to say that, deep down, he’s just not ready. That could be for lots of different reasons.

Maybe he’s fresh out of another relationship. Or maybe he’s had some problems with work, family, or his mental health, and just isn’t in the right headspace to be able to start a new relationship right now.

Whatever it is, he doesn’t know how to express that to you. 

2. He’s just not that into you.

Sometimes, this is a tactic that a guy will use if they just don’t like you that much. They like you enough to keep you around until someone else comes along, but they’re not feeling the feels enough to want things to progress.

So, if you’ve asked them where things are going between you, this might be their displacement tactic, so that they still have your company whilst it suits them and don’t have to admit that they’re not feeling it.

3. He’s scared of commitment.

The issue might be that he’s scared of committing himself to you. This is no reflection on you; it’s just a reflection on his stage of life.

Lots of people, of all genders, struggle with the idea of committing to just one person, whether that’s because they don’t want to be tied down, they’re scared of letting their guard down, or they fear they might let the other person down.

If he’s telling you he’s not sure, it might be that he hasn’t realized he’s got commitment issues.

4. He’s scared of his feelings.

Him telling you that he’s not sure want he wants might not necessarily mean that he isn’t excited about you or considering the prospect of a relationship.

It could be that he actually really, really likes you, and he’s a bit overwhelmed. Maybe he’s never felt this feeling before, and doesn’t know what to do with it or how to express it to you.

5. He’s terrible at expressing his emotions.

The problem could be that he’s just really bad at expressing what he’s feeling full stop.

Maybe he likes you, or maybe he’s scared, or maybe he’s a lot of things. Whatever it is, he just really struggles to find the words.

Sure, it’s a stereotype, but men are, in general, less open with their feelings.

6. He really doesn’t know what he wants.

And last but not least, guess what? He might be telling the truth.

I’m sure that, in the past, you haven’t been able to decide what you want either.

You try, but you just can’t make your mind up, going to bed thinking one thing, then waking up the next morning having completely changed your mind.

Maybe he really just isn’t sure what he wants, from you and out of life in general.

What should you do about it?

It is a good idea to seek professional help from one of the experts at Relationship Hero as counseling can be highly effective in helping you to figure out what to do in this tricky situation.

Hopefully, when you read the above, one of the options jumped out at you, and you were able to put your finger on the most likely reason why he’s telling you he’s not sure what he wants.

But now, the time has come to decide what you’re going to do about it.

If he’s being indecisive, then you’re probably going to have to take the reins and start making some decisions yourself.

Here are some ideas for how you should move forwards.

1. Think about what your priorities are – be selfish.

Right now, he’s thinking about himself and his own feelings. So, you need to do the same.

If he’s umming and ahing, it’s your perfect opportunity to get clear about your own feelings and what you’re looking for in a relationship.

Do you really, genuinely like this guy? Could you see a future with him?

Are you looking for a serious relationship? Do you see yourself with a long-term partner, or do you enjoy life on your own?

In a relationship, what’s important to you? Are you okay with taking it slowly and seeing how things go, or do you want someone who’s clear about how they feel?

Take some time to reflect on your feelings and your priorities, and whether this guy really fits in with them.

2. Trust your gut.

Sometimes, our gut feelings can be spectacularly off the mark. But often they’re right on the money.

What does your instinct tell you? Put the answer you want to hear out of your mind and trust what your gut is trying to tell you.

Is there really hope that he’ll decide you’re the one for him? Or is he just playing with your feelings? 

Could the two of you really have a future, or is it just a matter of time before things end between you?

3. If you’re unsure, give him some time.

So you’ve taken some time to reflect on how you feel, and you’ve got an inkling of what he’s trying to tell you when he says he’s not sure what he wants.

But, to be honest, you’re still not entirely convinced of whether he could be right for you.

In this case, it’s absolutely fine to just be patient, go with it, and see what happens.

As the weeks pass and you spend more time together, your feelings will become clear, and hopefully his will too.

But it’s probably best not to put all your eggs in his basket at this point. Don’t close yourself off to other, potentially exciting romantic possibilities for his sake until he’s prepared to be up front with you about his feelings.

4. If you’re clear about what you want, give him an ultimatum.

On the other hand, you might decide that you are pretty sure about what you want.

You want a relationship, and you want someone who’s clear about their feelings. You really like this guy, but you’re not prepared to wait around for him to make up his mind.

In this case, it’s ultimatum time. If he realizes that you aren’t just going to wait patiently whilst he figures things out, then he’ll give you an answer, one way or the other.

Be true to yourself and kind to yourself, and you can’t go too far wrong.

Still not sure what to do about the lack of clarity coming from the guy you’re seeing? It’s not an easy situation to be in, and it might be all the more difficult if you don’t have anyone to talk to about it. Talking to someone is a great way to get your thoughts and your worries out of your head so you can work through them.

Speak to an experienced relationship expert about it. Why? Because they are trained to help people in situations like yours. They can be the ear to listen to you and the voice of reason to help you consider all the options available to you rather than waiting aimlessly to see what this guy does next.

Relationship Hero is a website where you can connect with a relationship counselor via phone, video, or instant message.

While you can try to work through this situation yourself or as a couple, it may be a bigger issue than self-help can fix. And if it is affecting your mental well-being, it is a significant thing that needs to be resolved.

Too many people – both couples and individuals – try to muddle through and do their best to solve problems that they never really get to grips with. If it’s at all possible in your circumstances, speaking to a relationship expert is 100% the best way forward.

Here’s that link again if you’d like to learn more about the service Relationship Hero provide and the process of getting started.

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About The Author

Katie is a writer and translator with a focus on travel, self-care and sustainability. She's based between a cave house in Granada, Spain, and the coast of beautiful Cornwall, England. She spends her free time hiking, exploring, eating vegan tapas and volunteering for a local dog shelter.