1) The Almost Boyfriend

Almost Boyfriends are an enigma—they often create distance with semireasonable excuses, but they're tantalizing because they're selectively receptive. They stay in touch—but not too often. They want to keep tabs on you because they maybe-sorta want to be your boyfriend down the road. You know. When they're "ready."

Signs You've Met an Almost Boyfriend
  • You have a natural rapport. He feels like your friend first—and any physical benefits are secondary, often innocent. You may briefly share that sort of connection, but then you transition into a weird spot in the friend zone.
  • He will take you out on date-like activities, like out to dinner or to a play, but won't hint that these activities are in fact actual dates. He'll flirt with you only subtly at best—as in, sometimes you ask yourself, "Was he flirting with me?"
  • He'll also do "couples things" with you, like going to Whole Foods or putting Ikea furniture together—or even, dare I say, cuddling. And sometimes he'll drop everything to spend time with you. But whenever he feels too close to the cusp of a real relationship, he'll ignore texts and phone calls, or blow off get-togethers, hinting about how busy he is at work.
  • He may act like your boyfriend, to the point that your friends mistake you for a couple. You have to tell a million people that, no, you're not dating.

Will things ever take a turn for the romantic? It's possible, over the long haul. But for now, you need to chill and keep him in the friendship zone or you'll drive yourself crazy.

2) The Disappearing Act

Although an Almost Boyfriend will remain in your life (at a safe distance), a Disappearing Act will decide he needs to completely cut off contact.

After a Disappearing Act bounces, there are tons of signs you may look back on and think, "Yeah, my gut knew before my head processed it."

Signs You've Met a Disappearing Act
  • He puts up walls by holding back or bottling up emotions. He's sometimes evasive.
  • You know he's about to make a major life change, like moving to a new place or switching careers or building a business—or maybe he just made the change. He keeps discussing how it may affect your relationship.
  • He struggles to be happy for your successes, but he's frustrated that he's not moving toward his own goals.

This guy won't always give you an explanation before he flees. He might think he isn't ready for a mind-blowing connection, or he might be intimidated and not feel worthy of you. For whatever reason, he doesn't think it will work. And he's right. Delete him from your social media and move on.

3) Mr. All That But the Bag of Chips

Mr. All That But the Bag of Chips is another guy you can easily see a future with. He's your best friend, lover and confidant, and the connection with him is so rare and different that you know: This is it. The crazy thing is that whether he says it or not, you can usually tell he senses it too. He is looking for a partnership, a merging of minds. He's reasonably confident in where he's headed in life. But...

Somewhere along the way, he realizes he hasn't lived enough. He doesn't feel ready for a forever relationship. He may not say it, but he might secretly want to play the field (especially if you've had more experiences than he has).

Signs You've Met a Mr. All That But the Bag of Chips
  • He tries to see how much he can get away with while still keeping you around, like insisting that a label not be applied to the relationship (i.e., he's not "your boyfriend"), or he asks for an open relationship where you're both allowed to date others.
  • He initiates a breakup but wants to remain "best friends." He means it: He'll check in from time to time—or even suffocate you with communication so you don't forget about him.

Most women have the worst time setting boundaries in this situation. They know what they feel—and their man feels it too. But Mr. All That But the Bag of Chips cannot fully engage in the relationship. He just isn't ready. Giant sigh. It could be the connection, but timing matters—and in this case, terrible timing thwarts the whole deal.

The Love Gap This is an adapted excerpt from the book The Love Gap: A Radical Plan to Win in Life and Love, by Jenna Birch. Copyright © 2018 by Jenna Birch. Reprinted with permission of Grand Central Life & Style. All rights reserved.

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