From the Guys, Guest Post: Is Saying “I’m Busy” the Easiest Way to Weasel Out of A Commitment?

2009 November 5
by Grace Boyle

Note: This is the third in a series of guest posts, “From The Guys,” written by two of my friends who blog at Simon and Cole. Over the course of the next few months they will be discussing common misconceptions women have about men and telling stories about relationships and dating from the honest and upfront, dude’s perspective. This third one is from Simon.

For nearly two years now, I’ve been a single guy. I find myself devoting all my time and energy to Simon and Simon’s needs only. It’s great to be selfish at a young age when the only things I want to do when I get home from work are personal, meaning they don’t pertain to other people.  You can let your mind run wild with the possibilities, although they’re mostly G-rated and include both active and inactive solutions to the monotony of a 40-hour workweek. You might even say I’m a pretty “busy” guy.

I typically strain myself to keep my best friends close, which keeps me remarkably organized but also unbearably busy. Very few of those friends are females. The few that I do have are girls that I’ve never been interested in and vice versa. I think we’d all agree on the fact that friendships work a lot better when there is no chance of sex occurring.  These are all girls that I don’t feel an obligation to. For example, I’d rush to end a phone conversation with them in a second if one of the self-advocacy things I mentioned above were to come up.  (In other words, I treat them like my other guy friends).

With a girlfriend or someone whom I am interested in, I wouldn’t do that. I’d go through the drudgery if I got to hear her voice just for a few minutes. Anyone who has fallen for someone knows that it’s worth it. The downside is that when it’s not worth all that time and energy there’s always that moment where you have to break apart and go your own way.

How do these short-lived pursuits play themselves out?  Guys like to say “I’m busy” or “I just don’t have time for a girlfriend right now and I’d rather focus on school or my career.” For some, it’s simply a coping mechanism that masks an inability to stay focused on one girl.  It’s not that they are actually busy; they just aren’t interested. The fact is, if guys like the girl they go through the everyday mundane commitments in order to pursue a happy relationship.

This isn’t exactly demonic behavior, though. In most cases when guys tell girls that they are busy, they are not being mean (necessarily). They have simply made the mistake of acting upon what would be most pleasurable for that moment and rushed into things with no agenda.  This, in fact, may be as simple as a fundamental difference between the way men and women approach dating: men think physical pleasure and don’t prepare for the future, whereas women tend to think rationally and predict what might happen down the road (I can’t tell you how much I envy women for this quality).

Recently, when I was faced with the difficult task of treading lightly with a girl that I hardly knew and had kissed (and only kissed) the night before, I panicked. I knew that the easy way out would be to tell her that I’m busy and that I truly didn’t want a girlfriend. This isn’t the whole picture, however. The fact is, I simply don’t like this girl. She is vibrant, interesting, (and hell, even beautiful!) but she’s just not for me. Without using terse language, I find this phenomenon to be extremely unsettling. Luckily, I get the feeling she feels the same way. There are one or two things about me that don’t settle right in her stomach, and that’s fine. What’s not really okay is lying in order to avoid saying “I don’t like you.”

In the end, we both extricated ourselves from the situation and didn’t tell each other the truth.  The lesson here, as always, is to be forthright.

Have you pulled the “I’m busy,” card with someone you really didn’t want to see? How do you approach dating when the chance of meeting someone you don’t like is highly likely? How much honesty do you exercise?

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  • Jon

    I'm caught in the middle of this right now. One girl has been trying to hang out with me for several months now and I'm really not interested for several reason. So I've basically just been throwing around “I'm busy with work” like it's my job.

    Now an old interest from school is back in the area and suddenly I have all the time in the world.

    I think the truth in this case is worse than the lie. I don't like the other girl because she is spoiled and treats her family like shit, which I can't stand. So it's just a lot easier to say I am busy than to say I don't like who you are.

    I guess if I start dating this new girl I'll have some splanin' to do and maybe that's when the harsh truth comes out.

  • Grace Boyle

    @Jon You will have some splanin' to do 😉 I always say, honesty is the best policy but I know it's easier said than done. From the girl perspective, if a guy keeps saying he is busy, I'm done. I get it. Some girls are um, more dense than that.

    You know the situation best and maybe, things might even fizzle out with the girl who has been trying to kick it for months now while the old interest from school can take the front burner. Good luck and if something conspires, let us know if honesty or a lie works better.

  • Monica O'Brien

    Disclaimer: I'm married. I'm 25 and just celebrated my 3rd anniversary yesterday.

    But I found this post fascinating. I never went through this with any guys, partially because I married younger, but also because I never gave guys much attention unless they were really, really interested. I made them work so hard for it that the only ones who survived were probably the ones who actually liked me.

    Single life after college is something I've never experienced, so this is a really interesting look at how it works.

  • Grace Boyle

    @Monica Women (for one reason or another) react differently to how they expect men to treat them.

    I'm with you on the “I made them work so hard for it,” approach. That's why I am okay with the time that I am single and am not a serial dater. I know when it works and to save both parties time and effort, if it's just not panning out or the other is definitely disinterested, then I move on or visa versa.

    I don't like to stick around, wonder and wait. My serious boyfriends in the past have always shown they were interested (so have I) and the 'juice was worth the squeeze' which is why the relationship was able to unfold.

    I like your perspective especially as yours is unique to this situation – thanks for weighing in.

  • Tahoe Bill

    “I made them work so hard for it that the only ones who survived were probably the ones who actually liked me.”

    I question how often this truly equates to “really, really interested”. After that much work, I wonder if it is more like “really, really invested”, which seems a lot less healthy to me.

  • Walter

    We men err in taking our love ones for granted. While it may be true that most have lost their feeling with their girl, it is not universal. Oftentimes, we feel that they will always be there and with this we are assurred; so we never make any effort to show affection. I know this is wrong but men should learn to emancipate from this childish attitude. :-)

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  • Grace Boyle

    @Tahoe Bill I understand your concern and how it may seem “less healthy,” but there is a fine line between understanding you're worth it (both parties) and being a pushover. To me, when it's worth it there's no amount of effort that is really too much (give or take). I've experienced that from both ends. That's with the notion that it's a healthy, happy relationship between two people.

  • Grace Boyle

    @Walter It seems like you're talking about once you're with the girl, not before. Different story but also very true. People often get comfortable with what they have, their history, etc. It's funny how we often put a lot of effort in the pre-dating stages, to really prove something and see if it's worth it. Once the relationship has been underway and you're both comfortable, it's also important to not take them for granted.

    Thanks for your insight!

  • Tahoe Bill

    Grace, you want to spend time with someone who is sincere, interested, into you, stuff like that, right? That part sounds good. But I wonder whether the playing hard to get approach actually filters for a guy who is willing to invest a lot of time and energy pursuing someone who is fun and attractive, but who he really knows nothing about. Next thing you know, you're looking at building a relationship with someone whose skill set is geared toward chasing and winning over strangers! For those who want LTR, this seems like a shaky foundation. How can you tell if you are seeing a polished routine or true appreciation?

    Getting back OT, I would not tell someone “busy” if I meant not interested. But sometimes I do get busy and then find that someone I enjoyed spending time with is just not very high on the priority list. That can be tough if they were expecting, say, a full time relationship. Sex definitely complicates the situation. Communication is vital, honest communication is even better.

  • Grace Boyle

    @Tahoe Bill Ah, I didn't include “hard to get” into that mix. Maybe Monica did. I'm so over games. My girlfriends and I always say, “Cut the bullshit.” Being real and honest with who you are, will usually draw that sort of honesty to you from others.

    The “chase” doesn't seem healthy and at some point I would say, “Something's gotta give.” I suppose in the end, I just want to see that it's worth it. That we're both willing to put in the effort. Of course we get busy (for real) but I've definitely put other things aside for someone because I knew they were worth it. Those things I put aside, I never would have if it weren't for that person.

  • thomas

    Actually, honest is NOT always the best way.

    Have you seen the invention of lying, its a fairly new movie. It shows you a world where everyone simply said what is on their mind.

    What I got from the movie is that telling the truth all the time makes life boring because there is no challenge or lesson to be learned.

    Look at it this way, how do you learn a lesson better, by doing it and failing or by reading about it or being told? Obviously by doing it. So how it say someone telling you how to do it any good?

  • Grace Boyle

    @Thomas I haven't seen The Invention of Lying, but I want to now!

    In my mind, there is no way life could be boring (regardless of lying or not). There are too many factors. I'm a firm believer in honesty and being upfront, however, I see your point about learning a lesson by doing it. There's also a way to be tactfully honest in this sense, which is important to me. I'm just not a fan of lying and I don't think it gets anyone anywhere, especially because the truth always happens to come out. I do think it depends on the receiver and how close I am to that person (he.g. ow the lie might affect them, etc.)

  • Grace Boyle

    @Thomas I haven't seen The Invention of Lying, but I want to now!

    In my mind, there is no way life could be boring (regardless of lying or not). There are too many factors. I'm a firm believer in honesty and being upfront, however, I see your point about learning a lesson by doing it. There's also a way to be tactfully honest in this sense, which is important to me. I'm just not a fan of lying and I don't think it gets anyone anywhere, especially because the truth always happens to come out. I do think it depends on the receiver and how close I am to that person (he.g. ow the lie might affect them, etc.)

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  • Jim Russell

    The “I'm busy & we'll get together soon”.
    I feel sad that women & men cannot be truthful with their feelings. The world would be a better place if we can say what we feel without fear of rejection.
    Communication or lack of communications is obviously the biggest problem in relationships.
    I was going through a painful divorce & a women I use to go to school with befriended me online.
    She said she wanted to get together for dinner some time. Well, four months later after having numerous phone conversations she always came up with a excuse not to meet.
    “I'm so busy I don't have time”. that was always her story. The last time she said that to me…I deleted her number from my phone. Why waste your time with someone who is not interested in you. The funny thing is she always said how she enjoyed our conversations & how she was looking forward to going out……women can be really strange sometimes. She even had the guts to tell me t i was good looking. I guess I was she was trying to boost my self-esteem.

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  • Roman

     Even though this was posted over 2 years ago, I’m gonna share my point of view :-)

    Interesting. I must say, that this blog entry got me puzzled. Puzzled within me. I’d like to think I’m honest guy, sometimes way to much. But as honest I can be with myself, I must admit I’m not always that way with others.

    And I guess it’s easy to understand why. People are different, everyone’s at a different psychological level of thinking and thus not everyone should be told straight truth. That is, I believe, until you understand and feel comfortable with life on more complex basis.

    The thing is, if you like to think of things and life on more detailed level, how one thing relate to another, what emotions they create under which circumstances etc… someone’s who’s thinking of life in a much simpler way, will never comprehend your explanation, or telling the truth. And it will backfire, oh boy, and can I tell how much damage it can do onto yourself.

    Ever heard something similar to ”why are you always thinking of thing so much”, or been looked down at by others ? All sunshine’s gone when it happens to you and you ain’t ready to handle such response from others and you might spend a few weeks, months or even years living your life below its potential. But I’m getting somewhere else.

    My point is, different people needs to be told things differently. And since I’m self-loving man (I would never say I’m selfish), I’m want my life to be the best it can for me. I do feel really bad when I say white lie, even if nobody’s gonna find out, so I opt for not telling full truth.

    I save my complete honesty for that one special person that will come until to my life one day and will have, for lack of a better words (since my English sucks), ”brain capacity” comprehend what I’m saying when being 100% honest. I guess I met only two people like that in my life. They both were students of psychology though, and unfortunately guys =)

    Just my 2 cents,

  • Lauren

    Yes I have but it’s because I didn’t want to be friends with the person they had hurt me and after something happens like that a girl doesn’t want to even be friends with the guy sorry to be mean boys but not every girl is going to take rejection well or at all so if you reject a girl don’t push her to be your friend