What to Do When They Say They Don’t Want A Relationship But Act Like It

By ReGain Editorial Team|Updated June 21, 2022
CheckedMedically Reviewed By Lisa Cooper, MSW, LCSW

Are you involved with someone that has clearly explained that they don’t want to be in a relationship but act as if they do? They continuously call, ask you out, physically engage you, and treat you as if you’re their partner throughout the entire time. When a person says that they don’t want a relationship but act like it, it can send mixed signals.

Are You In A Relationship Where You Feel Like You're Being Used?
This website is owned and operated by BetterHelp, who receives all fees associated with the platform.

Being involved in a dynamic like this can trigger a variety of questions that are difficult to answer. You’ll want to know the answer to the following questions and many more.

  • Why are they acting this way towards me?
  • Why are they acting like we’re in a relationship?
  • Why do they consistently call or text me?
  • Will they change their mind after a while?
  • Why do they act as if they are my partner?
  • How do we define what we have?

All the above are sensible questions in a scenario such as this. The longer the situation remains, the more confused you may begin to feel. Your confusion is valid, and all the questions you’re asking yourself are fair and necessary. You may begin to feel that the person is using you, manipulating you, or not being honest with you for some reason. You may not identify the reasoning behind their approach, but you have to choose whether to stay or leave this situation.

It’s natural to want to know why a person continues to engage you or spend time with you if they don’t want a relationship, but the first question you should ask yourself is why you allow it to go on? Why do you stay in this type of situation? While you may be confused and sad about this situation, the other person isn’t entirely blamed. You also play an important role in what is going on. Since you allow things to continue in this manner, they may believe that you want the same or are okay with maintaining a relationship with these conditions.

The Reasons

There are various reasons why a person may say they don’t want a relationship but act like it. Here are a few of the most common reasons:

  • Convenience: If a person says that they are not interested in a relationship with you but always acts as if you’re in a relationship, it could be because it’s convenient. If you act as if you’re okay with things being the way they are, it’s convenient for the other person to continue this way because they sense that you both have the same goal. It’s convenient for a person to continuously engage in a non-defined relationship if you allow them to do so.
  • They Are Free to Do Their Own Thing. If a person tells you that they don’t want to be in a relationship, they’re opening the door for other opportunities. They have the opportunity to date other people, see other people, and be intimate with other people without betraying you. It’s not considered betrayal if they’ve made their feelings or intentions clear from the start.
  • They’re Using You. Unfortunately, you may have one or more things that the person wants, and they continuously come around to have access to that one thing. However, they make it clear that there is no desire for a relationship. They may like the physical intimacy that exists between the two of you but feels nothing more. You may be an ego booster for them or enhance their appearance of personality. They may be trying to get over their ex and using you to do so. In some cases, they may be using you to make someone else jealous, which could end badly. Some instances are common where the person uses you for money and has no intention of pursuing anything more with you.
  • You Allow It to Happen. This is the most common denominator that can coexist with any of the above reasons. If a person tells you that they don’t want a relationship but act as if they do, it’s up to you to allow or not allow it to go on. You understand your feelings and know what you want. Allowing yourself to remain in a situation like this is only setting yourself up for hurt if you truly want a long-term commitment.

How To Know If You’re Being Used

If you’re involved in a relationship where the person says they don’t want a relationship but acts like it, they may be using you. It’s important to identify the classic signs of being taken advantage of in a relationship.

These are the most common signs that appear when a person is manipulating or using you.

  1. You Haven’t Met Their Friends or Family. If you’re involved with a person who avoids introducing you or taking you around family or friends, they may not be that into you and may never want a relationship with you. There is usually one goal or mission that this person has in mind regarding you, and it’s probably not a relationship. If the person is close to their family, especially their parents, they will keep you away if they aren’t planning on taking the relationship to a higher level.

Be mindful that just because a person doesn’t introduce you to their family doesn’t always mean that they don’t want more with you eventually, as it could just be at the moment. Some people only take people around their family if they are in love or sure they want to have a serious relationship with them. Some people prefer being single. Regardless, it is important to listen to your intuition about any red flags you notice and not gloss over them.

  1. There is no balance in intimacy. If they only think of or consider their own physical or sexual needs, they may be taking advantage of you. This may signify that you should step away from the relationship because the person isn’t concerned with satisfying your needs, only their own. However, before making a final decision,  communicate that you feel like your needs are not being considered or met. Be clear about what you need from them moving forward. If they make an honest effort to change, there is hope, and all of this may have been a misunderstanding. On the contrary, if nothing changes, you might consider cutting ties.
  2. They Refuse to Discuss the Future of the Relationship. When people are afraid or intimidated by commitment, they will rarely want to discuss the relationship’s future. In most cases, if you bring plans up, they will avoid this discussion. If there is never a desire to discuss plans, the person likely has no interest in advancing the relationship to anything more serious. If you’re providing attention, affection, and other kind deeds, they are likely to manipulate you or use you for their advances.
  3. They Look to You for Financial Gain. Are you always picking up the tab when you go out for dinner? Do they ask to borrow money and fail to repay you? Sometimes a person may be struggling financially and need a little help; this is understandable. However, taking advantage of a person for financial gain is not acceptable. If you’re left to pay for everything and usually do so without complaining, it can become stressful and lead you to second-guess your relationship’s standards or quality.
  4. You’re Consistently Giving, and They’re Always Talking. Relationships should be a proportional share of giving and take. If you find yourself consistently on the giving end, there’s a reason to believe that you’re being taken advantage of by someone. It’s common to want to do nice things for the person you care about, but if you’re the only one doing these things, you may want to re-evaluate the value they place on you and your presence in the relationship.


Are You In A Relationship Where You Feel Like You're Being Used?

There are a variety of ways to determine if a person is taking advantage of you. It’s extremely important that you pay attention to the red flags and not create something that doesn’t exist. If someone says that they don’t want a relationship but acts like it, it’s up to you to walk away. It’s not deception if they’re upfront with you from the start. Actions may speak louder than words, but you should listen closely when used to define a person’s intention clearly.

If you are in a relationship and feel that you’re being used, talk to the person about your feelings. Allow them the chance to alter their behavior. However, if your concerns are disregarded, it may be time to move on. Moving on may be difficult if you’re emotionally invested in a relationship. Low self-esteem can make it difficult to leave a relationship, even if it is unhealthy or unfulfilling. Professional counseling can help you cope with the challenges you have in relationships and life. Talking with someone is a positive step towards self-healing and the preservation of your emotional and mental well-being.

Counselor Reviews

“Sessions with Natalie are very insightful and give practical advice on implementing new habits and changes. Be prepared to engage and be challenged to think differently. I know that my partner and I can already see improvements in our relationship and feel more positive about working through our issues together.”

“Lakesha was amazing! She helped me find myself and realize my self-worth in such a short period! I highly recommend her services. She is FRESH and has amazing insight!”

Helpful resources for relationships & more in your inbox
For Additional Help & Support With Your Concerns
Speak With A Licensed Therapist
This website is owned and operated by BetterHelp, who receives all fees associated with the platform.
The information on this page is not intended to be a substitution for diagnosis, treatment, or informed professional advice. You should not take any action or avoid taking any action without consulting with a qualified mental health professional. For more information, please read our terms of use.