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Dating Labels: Why Won’t He Call Me His Girlfriend?

Why won't he call me his girlfriend
Why won't he call me his girlfriend

Dating labels for relationships mean more to a woman than they do to a man. It can be awkward when the guy you’re dating goes to introduce you to friends or business associates and doesn’t know whether to call you’re his girlfriend or not. Instead he’ll call you his friend in public, or will tell his friends that he’s been “hanging out with you,” even when he knows and shows you that his feelings are deeper for you.

To a guy, the label of girlfriend makes him think of additional responsibilities, which may include financial, legal, or even taking the walk down the aisle, which he isn’t just ready for yet. To make matters worse, to a guy, once the label is inked, he’s thinking his options are no longer open to find someone else, or even look back to the one who got away.

So the question is, if he acts like your boyfriend, takes down his dating profile, calls you daily, texts you daily, spends almost every night with you, says you’re exclusive, and is affectionate in public, why won’t he call you his girlfriend? It’s obvious that you’re an important part of his life, or otherwise he’d be out with his drinking buddies instead of holding you in his arms every night.

Do Dating Labels Matter?

First of all, don’t get overemotional about it yet. You might wonder if you should give him the big ultimatum about your relationship status, let it slide, or have a conversation about mutual respect and expectations in a relationship. These are questions that you need to ask yourself. Before you go having the relationship talk and cause an explosion or breakup prematurely, look at these signs to determine where you fit on his relationship totem pole.

There are many reasons why he’s afraid to attach the label of “girlfriend.”

  • He looks at you as temporary.
  • He likes the friends-with-benefits arrangement and regular sleepovers.
  • He isn’t over his ex.
  • He thinks he’s falling in love with you, but hasn’t said, “I love you” yet.
  • He’s quite comfortable with the way things are and casual works fine for him.
  • He’s looking for other options.
  • He’s not sure if you’re “the one.”
  • He’s not sure about your feelings for him and doesn’t want to jump the gun.
  • He likes moving at a slower pace than you do.
  • His feelings for you are fluctuating and he might be in conflict between being in a relationship and being single guy.
  • He’s just not that into you and doesn’t see you in his future.
  • Labels just don’t matter to him

My suggestion is, after a reasonable amount of time together,  have a calm conversation with your guy. Ask him if it’s a good time to talk about something that’s on your mind. If he cares about you, he’ll know there’s something wrong and will want to fix it.

Acknowledge both your feelings about the label and his. Chances are, he won’t even realize there’s anything wrong with your relationship. He might have work pressures or other issues on his mind and be completely happy with the way your relationship is heading. Express why it’s important to you to acknowledge your status as a girlfriend in public and how you value the relationship. Take a moment and listen to what he says instead of getting overemotional and rambling on with nervousness.

Be prepared to leave the relationship if the answer isn’t what you want to hear. If he says you mean the world to him but still doesn’t assign a label to your relationship, believe him at his word. He might not be ready to change his Facebook relationship status or go ring shopping, but you might be on the track to falling in love.

Read: Are We Dating or Just Hanging Out

Know that if a man wants you to be his girlfriend and doesn’t want anyone else dating you or sleeping with you, he’ll do whatever it takes to make sure you’re his girlfriend and will be happy and proud to let the world know. He’ll show you from his actions how important you are to him.  He’ll make sure his friends and family know that you’re his girl. If he downplays the relationship as just casual and doesn’t talk about his long-term relationship goals, he just might not be the one for you. It may be time to start dating others and ditch the sleepovers to maintain your dignity.

One thing I know for sure,  a man will move mountains for the woman he wants to be with and there won’t be any uncertainty about your relationship status. Remember, King Edward VIII gave up the British throne when he fell in love with Wallis Simpson.

As soon as he realizes what a prize you are, he won’t want to let you go.

Do relationship labels matter to you? Your comments are welcome.

Julie Spira is America’s Top Online Dating Expert and Digital Matchmaker. She coaches singles on the dating scene and helps them find love online and IRL. For more dating advice, follow @JulieSpira on Twitter and sign up for the free Digital Flirt newsletter.

Julie Spira is America's Top Online Dating Expert. She's an award-winning dating coach who's been helping singles find love online for 25+ years. Follow @JulieSpira on IG.

16 thoughts on “Dating Labels: Why Won’t He Call Me His Girlfriend?”

  1. A guy I have been dating for 4 months asked me to be exclusive last night. I said yes.. BUT then he said, “Let’s not worry about facebook and changing our status. I think that whole this is a bit public. I know I would get lots of comments and questions. So let’s not do that, okay?”

    At first I was okay with it, but I haven’t slept thinking about the situation. He has lots of single women on his facebook, as well as lots of family. Is he keeping us quiet to avoid questions? Or to keep his options open? He knows i love him and won’t cheat. Is he wanting his cake and eating it too?

    Please help!

  2. Are labels important? Of course they are… if he is calling you his friend in stead of his girlfriend when introducing you to his friends he is saying he’s not serious about you at all. If you are sleeping with this person his actions here speak volumes.

    If he is telling your that he loves you & you are the love of his life – but isn’t publicly acknowledging you.. Has kept his dating status the same … Where he was once flirting with you on face book, he is now limiting what he is liking and appears to be being careful of what he likes. For instance you play this game that points him out as the perfect match for you and he doesn’t acknowledge it. Your the love of his life? Right? He’s been on line but hasn’t taken the time to even say good morning or Good Night. It is enough to make the most trusting of people to wonder.

  3. Labels are not important for men, as you pointed out. We are more into what the relationship does for me, and we are not socialized to “catch a guy” and marry “in the happiest day of my life.” So we just chug along and try to maintain our options open. If you are worried about the label and being “the” girlfriend, learn what makes a guy happy, not what “should” make him happy. We are different species for example when women express their displeasure about something we do or we dont, instead of hearing that you want to fix a problem, we read that we are not making you happy, which is really, really bad for a man’s psyche. So instead of fixing the problem, we look for somebody else that will not give us that complaint about our behavior. Retarded, if you like, that is the way we are.

  4. Thanks for your comment Nancy. Yes, labels are more important for women. A man knows how he feels when he’s with a woman. If he’s introducing you as his “girlfriend,” he’s made it known to friends and family that you’re the one he wants to be with. Let these labels come naturally. If after a long period of time, you haven’t been elevated to the girlfriend status, ask him how he’d like to introduce you and listen to what he says.

    Wishing you much love and joy in cyberspace, or wherever you may roam. xo


  5. Hey, Carole. I am a man. I would not worry about what is his intention behind his not wanting to change his status on Facebook. Suppose that, in the best of worlds for you, he is just not wanting to be bothered with questions about your relationship. So what? We men change our feelings about women according to how happy we feel in the relationship. Certainly there are lots of other people out there. But if you are the one that makes him feel accepted and special, he will stay with you. I would worry about that. I would be a good listener instead of worry sleepless about his fidelity. Admire him, do not try to make him “better”, listen, really listen; do not, in any way, show him he does not make you happy, and you will have him eating from the palm of your hand. Best.

  6. I’ve been seeing a guy for almost 5 months. We do everything together and with our kids. I know everything about him down to ssn# & bank account #.
    On weekends we don’t have our kids he’ll stay the night but not if we have them. Most of the time we take turn paying when we go places, I think I pay more. He knows that I want to take this to the next level and be his girlfriend I’ve brought in up several times in the last 2 months and he says he really likes me and knows I’d make a great girlfriend but doesn’t know why he won’t take it to next level. He’s also never called me things like babe or honey. He does show some affection but not a lot. I asked about ex’s he’s had 3 serious relationships and all 3 broke up with him stating he isn’t relationship material. I can see it in him sometimes and other times feel I’m wasting my time. Please help!!

  7. Lauren, honey, you are wasting your time! Those are red flags, take it from me, my ex was exactly like that…it turns out he wasn’t that into me and didn’t really love me (he confessed it months later). If he is not investing his time, energy, money and affection into you, he doesn’t feel that strongly about you. And is that really someone you want to be with? His exes left him for a reason. And remember you can’t change people. There are so many good men out there. Don’t deprive your dream man your love. He is out there waiting for you! I hope you do what is right for you. The answer is right in front of you.

  8. My advice it to leave him !!!! People do not change. Find a man that treats as you want to be treated.

  9. My advice to Lauren is to stop paying for stuff — you are taking on the man’s role when you do that. You can’t feel sorry for a guy when it comes to money. If he can’t afford to take you out, then sit at home. This goes into psyche and the type of things that people can’t explain but they feel and know. Paying for half of anything means – I’m not worth it – and the guy will not see the challenge in you or think you respect yourself. Sometimes things like this already destroy the relationship and there is no going back – attraction once lost is hard to restore – but maybe there is hope for you…

  10. OK so I am still technically married and so is the guy I’ve been seeing. We have both been separated. I have been separated for a year and he has been separated for a little over 7 months. We also all know each other. Me and my soon to be ex husband and he and his soon to be ex wife all were mutual acquaintances… Can’t say we were friends but we know each other. He doesn’t want people to talk about how we aren’t even divorced and we are already dating each other. He did make it a point on Valentine’s day to stress how much he wanted to spend time with me. He asked me if I wanted to be his girl once we got our situations handled. He told a mutual friend of ours that we were together. He took my son to get his haircut and told the barber to cut it like his. He told me he can see himself with me and would like to be with me seriously. He also told me that he would like to have a child with me. I am in love with him. He keeps telling me to take things slowly and I get that. I am in no way trying to rush things. He jokes with his friends saying he’s already thinking about getting remarried. He talks about bringing his drag car to my house to keep it in my garage to save the money he spends on the storage unit and it will be more secure. I go over to his place and cook for him and pack his lunch for the next day. He texts me before I text him everyday. Yet, there was someone else he was talking to before I came along who keeps texting him and he answers and one of his answers today really bothered me and made me jealous. He says that he dislikes jealousy BC it means there is no trust. I don’t see it that way and he said don’t pay any mind to that. If I was hiding something or feeling something for her I wouldn’t have told you. Yes I get that… But how would he feel if some guy texted me that I was special to them and that they care about me and I say I care for you too… I get that maybe he didn’t mean it as other than I care about you as a person or human being and if there was a malicious intent he wouldn’t have showed me or told me. But it still bothers me. He also tells most people I’m his friend… But send pics of us to his sisters, brothers and mother.

    What is his plan? What can I do with what I feel for him? How can I get passed this???

  11. Hi Stephanie,

    Thanks for writing in.

    So let’s get started here. He’s technically married and so are you.

    Neither of you are legally or even emotionally available, so I really don’t know his plan, and most likely neither does he.

    It’s apparent that you have feelings for each other and are fulfilling a need within each other, but most couples who are separated, jump into rebound relationships, or find a transition person, or are trying to figure out what they want when they become completely available.

    My best advice is to let him know you care, stop with the jealousy, and make a conscious decision to decide what to do if and when both of you are legally unmarried.

    I say this from my heart, because while I was going through my divorce many years ago, I ended up getting engaged to another man whom I met a year after my separation. I thought I wanted to be with this man, but in reality, it took a while to get divorced and during that time, I and we realized we weren’t a fit once the dust was cleared and I was legally divorced.

    So dump the jealousy, stop making future plans, and see how he treats you. He said he wanted to make Valentine’s Day special for you and that’s huge for a guy. Guys know Valentine’s Day is important to the women and when they take the time to show the woman how much they care on the biggest love day of the year, it’s really a big deal.

    Do what you can to finalize your separation/divorce and see how the two of you feel when you’re truly available.

    Wishing you much love and joy.


  12. I’m a little confused myself. I am dating a man that I’ve known ever since I was 18. We didn’t see each other for like 10 years and somehow got to talking again. He came to see me which means he lives 3 hours away and we’ve been seeing each other every other weekend for a year now. I was okay with this but now not so much.

    I feel like I am just a booty call and I’m nothing to him. He says I am and he loves me. He tells me that it’s a really hard time in his life going through a custody battle and just doesn’t want to hurt me. He says he trying to prevent me having to deal with his drama in his life. He now is moving to be closer to his daughter which would make him 5 to 6 hours away.

    I told him that it bothered me that he was moving even further away. He is now considering staying closer to me. Now he is still considering the move, just not as soon as he was going to.

    I just don’t understand.

  13. Hi Kathy,

    I’m sorry you’re feeling confused.

    It appears your guy who lives three hours away who you are seeing twice a month isn’t interested in something serious.

    If you feel like it’s a booty call, chances are your feelings and intuition are telling you the truth. Trust them. As women, we have to go with our gut. It’s very powerful.

    Often men say they love women if they think it’s what they want to hear, or if sex is involved.

    If he says he’s going through a hard time now, believe him. His priority as a dad should be for his children and you can’t compete with that, along with the distance.

    At some point, he’ll be moving and you will have invested more time in a relationship that doesn’t seem to have “future” listed on it.

    Allow him to be a great dad and start dating others. Long distance relationships are very challenging. Add in parental duties and you’re going to feel like you’re not a priority in his life.

    You deserve to find someone who lives near you who isn’t bringing a lot of drama to the relationship.

    My recommendation is to stop sleeping with him. If you’re friends, become friends without the benefits and find an available man who’s ready for the kind of relationship you really want.

    Wishing you much love and joy.


  14. So I moved into university halls back in October and got together with my flatmate, both of us in final year. We both didn’t really want anything at the start as we didn’t want to risk ruining the living situation for the flat if something bad were to happen but over time, we got to know each other more and I couldn’t help but get feelings for him and I could tell he had feelings for me too. At first we took it slow, I’d go to his room at night and we’d just watch some TV and then I’d go back to my own room but on nights out, we would make out. One month in, we went on a night out and I lost my virginity to him, I still don’t regret that, it felt right and there was no one I’d rather have done it with. Over time, we hung out more, I starting sleeping over and went on cute little dates. At that point I was fine with casual, knowing it would probably end after university and it would be okay…I was prepared to say goodbye in June.

    As the months went on, I could feel myself growing big feelings for him (I don’t think it’s love because surely you would know right?) and I would do anything for him, buying him stuff like snacks he’d like even if he didn’t ask, going into town especially for him to get him some treats or help him with anything he needed.

    We started to go on more dates to restaurants and the cinema, still on a casual basis. Even in May we sorta discussed it and I said how much it’d suck leaving him in June but he said unfortunately it’s inevitable. After my exams, it came to his birthday and I think I spent like £50 on a surprise for him, made him a cake from scratch and booked a nice restaurant which he paid for since he felt he owed me..he absolutely loved it and just knowing that he was happy made my heart skip a beat!

    But he never really made much effort with my friends, I mean they’ve only met a couple times at pre-drinks and once we all went on a night out..they always mentioned him as shy and preferred my other two flatmates who made an effort. When I said that to him, he just sorta shrugged it off and said it didn’t bother him..that sorta annoyed me. He can be a little rude at times too, its quite rare but when he does, he’ll say a hurtful comment and when I’m upset he tends to go quiet. But he will apologize within a couple of minutes.
    I remember one time he said something hurtful and I was crying in front of him and he had no emotion, saying he didn’t understand why I was crying…he eventually did apologize later saying he does care and he was so sorry for handling it badly and that he cared for me a lot. Whenever we have a problem, we get it solved fast..I can’t stand long arguments.

    I think it all really changed in June when we went to London for a couple nights, he was just more affectionate in public (he isn’t usually an affectionate person in public, more just when it’s us two), he was caring and it was perfect. He even said he’s not usually weird in front of others and that actually made me feel happy, knowing that he was opening himself up to me and acting like his real self. I noticed over the ten months he did begin to open himself up to me!

    A couple days later we both had to move back home, he is now 3 hours away from me 🙁 Before we said we weren’t going to pursue anything after uni but he said he wanted to see how things go and at least try so I agreed, saying ‘I feel like if it doesn’t work out then at least we’ll have tried, it seems stupid to not even do that’. I guess I was just more scared of trying and it ending, I don’t want it to end to be honest, but I’m not in love, I don’t know what it is! I don’t think about him all the time like how I used too but I sometimes find myself annoyed if he takes long to respond (as some of us girls tend to do ha ha).

    When I messaged him later that day asking what we actually are, he said he doesn’t think putting a label on it is important yet and, ‘If we see it through then I’d be happy to put a label on it’. What does that mean? If we get through summer, he’s willing to make it official?

    When I questioned him whether this meant he wasn’t serious about us he just replied with, ‘Yeah ofc, I don’t understand why so many questions lol’. I mean I like this guy, he likes me but clearly not enough because he’s not defining it…my friend is saying he’s keeping his options open and it does appear that way.

    Long distance is hard and I know this summer we won’t be seeing each other much if at all so how do I get through it? He’ll be moving to a place only an hour away from me in October if I defer my uni place for next year but if I don’t then we’ll be 4 hours away again..I really do care about this guy but am I just opening myself to more pain in the future?

    It’s easy to say I can cut him off but it’s hard because I do want to see it through and apparently so does he but I can’t get a definitive answer I guess.

    Also when we went to London, we had drinks with his best friend and his girlfriend..When I asked him later who he’d told them he’d be meeting them with, he just said a flatmate. That was a bit upsetting.. I don’t know I’m so conflicted and am kinda glad I can just get it all out here ha ha.

    We’ve gone from living together for 10 months to living apart and the prospect of not seeing each other nearly as much yet we want to see it through..well I definitely do.

    It’s all so confusing 🙁 I don’t know what to do, whether to just cut my losses or see what happens.

  15. Thanks for your message.

    When people live in close quarters, it’s easy to get involved and attached.

    The only reason someone won’t put a label on a relationship, is because they aren’t interested in defining the relationship.

    When you were in school, it was a new relationship, but one of convenience. Now you live far apart and don’t know if you’ll make it through the summer.

    Don’t get too hung up on someone who won’t make the effort to be with you and call you his girlfriend.

    You’re young and have many opportunities to meet someone who will adore you enough to put a label on it.

    Have a great summer.

    Wishing you much love and joy.


    Twitter @JulieSpira

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