What It Really Means When A Guy Says He Doesn’t Like Labels

What It Really Means When A Guy Says He Doesn’t Like Labels ©iStock/NKS_Imagery

He acts like you’re in an exclusive relationship and seems like he’s really into you, but when it comes to actually calling him your boyfriend (or him calling you his girlfriend), he says he doesn’t like relationship labels. What’s up with that?? Sadly, this is often anything but innocent.

  1. He’s happy with how things are. Perhaps things have been going really well, so he figures he wants to keep the status quo for as long as possible. By labeling you as his girlfriend now, things will feel much more serious and committed, which he fears could wreck the casual, carefree vibe. But if a guy really wants you, he’ll be eager to snap you up. Period.
  2. He’s keeping his options open. If he doesn’t like relationship labels, he obviously wouldn’t be cool with mentioning your relationship status on Facebook. By keeping labels under wraps, he can keep his options open instead of limiting himself to one relationship too soon. But you’re a priority, not an option —and he should start acting like it if he wants you to stick around.
  3. He’s not sure if you’re the right one for him. There’s always the harsh possibility that he’s stalling with the labels because he’s still figuring out if you’re the right one for him. If you suspect this could be the case, such as if he’s wishy-washy about including you in his future plans, you should have the “Where are we going?” chat, especially if you’ve been dating for about three months or more. You shouldn’t waste your time on someone who isn’t sure after that long.
  4. He’s not looking for commitment. If he said he doesn’t like labels, keep your ears open for signs that he doesn’t want to commit in general. Don’t worry, you won’t be able to miss them. For instance, he might say that he knows things become weird when relationships are too serious, and that freaks him out. Grab your bag and run.
  5. He’s scared of expectations. There’s no doubt that being in an exclusive relationship can make guys feel pressure. When you become his official girlfriend, he’s going to be expected to do certain things to be your boyfriend, like take you to a Taylor Swift concert even though he’d rather go watch sports with his mates. He’ll have to make you meet his friends and his folks. But what about the pros of being in a relationship? Has he considered any of those?
  6. He’s dating other women. This could be the case if he keeps avoiding calling you his girlfriend. Um, have you actually had the “Are we exclusive?” chat? If he keeps introducing you to people by name so he can skip the girlfriend title, then it’s time to sit down and figure out if you’re the only one in his life. You deserve to know.
  7. He’s on a different page than you. You might think you’re heading to Relationship Land, meanwhile, he’s still in the Casual Fun department. No wonder he’s not keen on relationship labels — it would mean an end to his fun. But the question is, do you wait around, hoping he’ll catch up with you or do you drive straight on into Splitsville? It depends. How much do you want to continue hanging out in Casual Fun, feeling like you’re just a booty call or official bed warmer?
  8. He doesn’t have to make the effort. You make yourself too available to him so he doesn’t really have to put in work to make things official. Basically, you’ve given him a “get out of an exclusive relationship free” card. You sleep with him, spend time with him, don’t mind if he doesn’t hold your hand in public… He’ll milk this for as long as he can so he can continue having his cake and eating it too. Screw that. Stop making an effort if he’s not meeting you halfway.
  9. He’s not over his ex. If he got with you shortly after his previous relationship crashed and burned, you might have the sneaking suspicion that he’s not over his ex or hasn’t worked through issues left over from that breakup. Perhaps he doesn’t want to make anything official if he’s still got emotional baggage to deal with. But then you shouldn’t be waiting around for him to deal with his crap on your time.
  10. He’s not quite ready to ditch the single life. He’s got one foot in your relationship and the other one’s at the bar with his friends. This tends to happen if your relationship was a bit of a whirlwind romance. Once the dust has settled and you’ve put your clothes back on, he might start missing features of his single life and wondering if he’s ready to leave it all behind. He should be grown up enough to know that he can still have his boys’ nights out without having to be single – unless what he’s really going to miss are other elements of singledom, such as getting to date lots of women. It’s time he made his choice.
Giulia Simolo is a writer from Johannesburg, South Africa with a degree in English Language and Literature. She has been working as a journalist for more than a decade, writing for sites including AskMen, Native Interiors, and Live Eco. You can find out more about her on Facebook and LinkedIn, or follow her on Twitter @GiuliaSimolo.