What To Do When You’re In a Relationship Limbo


Relationship limbo – the point where you’ve established that you and your love interest are more than friends but not yet in a relationship. In my single days, I found myself in relationship limbo on numerous occasions. It’s not fun when you don’t know where you stand. The anxiety, the overanalysing of texts and gestures. You think wouldn’t it be great if he/she could just define what this is?!

What Relationship Limbo Looks Like

Here are a couple of scenarios:

  1. You’ve established that you both like each other and one of you isn’t quite ready to define the relationship
  2. One person says they don’t want a relationship because:
  • Both parties want different things
  • One party isn’t ready for a relationship

3. You may share different values

You act like you’re in a relationship. You both have the benefits of a relationship but just not the commitment.

4. There is a lot of ambiguity when someone asks you if you guys are dating

5. No one knows you’re dating

Why Relationships Go Into Limbo

Relationships can go into limbo for so many reasons:

  • One or both parties aren’t sure if the relationship is worth pursuing based on chemistry (or lack thereof)
  • A couple shares different values i.e. religion, politics…Despite what I would love to believe, sometimes love does not conquer all
  • Geographic distance. You both like each other but you know there’s no point in pursuing something serious because he’s moving back home in 3-6 months
  • One or both parties is afraid of committing to the wrong person
  • The option of dating multiple people is still appealing. In relationship limbo, you get all the benefits of a relationship and you can get this from multiple people

What Men Say About Relationship Limbo

“Depends on how you view dating. Some people date for keeps while some date just to have fun. I value relationships as an investment. So I wouldn’t waste time in limbo anyway”, Chris 39.

“It’s pretty simple isn’t it. If you decide not to take things to another level, you’re not really into them”, Matt 38.

“I don’t want to make the wrong decision…”, Albert, 32.

“Usually I’m in limbo because the relationship is good at the time but I can’t see it going any further. So I’m happy to keep things as is as long as she is. Most guys who find themselves in this position tend to do the bare minimal to say in limbo because it’s pretty great. You get all the perks and none of the commitment…”, Josh, 34.

“To me a relationship is just a sign of being locked down or controlled. I don’t want to get into something and not have the option to leave whenever I want. It’s why I don’t believe in marriage rather I believe in short contracts…”, Ed 36.

“There should be a natural progression. If two people are in it for the right reason. You shouldn’t need to have the talk. But making sure that two people are on the same page…that’s the tricky part”, Dan 27.

Where women go oh-so-wrong…

They play nice. They ignore the situation. They wait for the situation to change. They hesitate to ask whether the relationship has any potential to go further because they don’t want to seem clingy or needy. Or they act like a girlfriend to show the guy what a relationship could be like…only they’re not really in a relationship and she isn’t his girlfriend.

I’m using this as an example. Gender wise, this can go both ways.

I explain this in further detail on my Youtube Channel. 

So what do you do?

Take the power back. This isn’t about a power struggle. It’s about empowering yourself. Know that you are always in control of your own situation. 

Don’t act like the girlfriend you’re not

Here’s the thing. When you’e in limbo – a guy is trying to figure out if the relationship is worth pursuing. What many women do is act like the girlfriend to show a guy what they’re missing out on – what life could be like if they made them the girlfriend. But the thing is – people have to earn that status. Relationships are built on foundation. Respect, love, trust – it all has to be built. Stop giving it away.

Stop validating bad behaviour

If you guys aren’t in a relationship then technically the men you date casually don’t have the same obligations as a boyfriend. This means various things – they can date other people, call you occasionally, casually call you every day for a week and then go MIA the next. Doesn’t sound great does it? Yet, how many times have you picked up a call from that guy who hasn’t treated you the best and given him another chance? Every time you say yes to a date, take the itty bitty pieces of affection he gives, compromise on what you really want…you are validating bad behaviour.

Set a timeline. Know what you want

I am all for giving people space so they can think. If the guy you’re seeing says he’s not ready for a serious commitment and needs more time before he makes that decision, let him know that it’s perfect fine to take the space. Let him know that you care about him and that you want his decision to make him happy. But also set a time for you both to revisit the conversation so you aren’t left waiting for an answer you may never get.

Be prepared to move on

When we’re dating one guy, he may seem like our whole world but as I always say: you’re either going to break up with him or marry him.

If you’re stuck in relationship limbo with a guy, know that he is not the ONLY guy you’ll date. If this doesn’t work out, there will be someone else – I promise you. When we act like the guy we’re seeing is our only option, it puts us into a place of scarcity and coming from that place can make the best of us look desperate or needy.

In an age where I hear so many women and men say they’re giving up on dating, it’s especially important to learn about the way women and men view commitment. If more people understood this, they’d know it’s actually not that hard- they just don’t teach it in school.

I’ve created a system to help women understand men and commitment. If you’re interested to get on the waiting list, email me at iona (@) 30everafter.com.

Image via Unsplash


Iona is a Wellness Coach specialising in relationships and dating. She works with single women to write their own love stories.