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The biggest coward is a man who awakens a woman’s love with no intention of loving her.
– Bob Marley

Anyone who is bordering on my age (that’s 45! I’m getting used to saying that!) who has thrown their hat into the dating arena in the past few years may have come across a pretender.

I’m not talking about the recently single guy who is just dipping his toe tentatively into the dating pool, trying to figure out what he wants and needs. No.

I’m talking about that guy. The one who starts off being elusive or mysterious but then somehow becomes intertwined in your life – pretending he’s going to be great relationship material when in fact he’s a career single. His mantra is “I’m not going down that path again – I’m single and determined to stay that way”.

We’ve all met that dude – or one very similar, right? Ugh. One of my dear friends recently walked away from one of this ilk. She had given him a great run. A huge amount of time and many opportunities to step up. She had been patient and undemanding, kind and considerate. It takes courage to walk away from someone you care about, when you have invested so much of yourself into what you believed would become more.

I’m incredibly proud of her for finding the courage to do so. In the end her own self worth wouldn’t let her continue on the roller coaster of uncertainty. Never sacrifice your dignity for your destiny, right?

He liked spending time with her which was obvious. Why wouldn’t he? She’s just good people! A great sense of humour, attractive, supportive, encouraging and knows her way around the kitchen.

But here’s the thing about the pretender. While he was fully present when he was with her (engaging, affectionate and sharing in-jokes), I suspect the moment he was out the door he was self absorbed and consumed by other things.

This particular pretender was hauling a huge amount of luggage behind him actually. Luggage he refused to put in storage or donate to good will! (And by that of course I mean he simply buried it rather than dealt with it).

Some people like to hold on to the baggage, I’m convinced. As if somehow being a victim of your past experiences keeps you safe from growth and happiness. It keeps him safe from being vulnerable…and stepping into anything new and worthwhile.

The thing though that makes them a pretender is not the “I don’t want a relationship” stance. (There are a lot of commitment phobic men out there who are honest about their single status). That’s their prerogative. It’s the letting someone else have hope in the belief that there’s a possibility you will step in.

Dude, that’s just not cool! It’s just poor form. It’s playing with someone else’s heart. It’s hurtful and disrespectful.

If you don’t want to be in a relationship, why pretend you could and might go down that path? We are all grown ups. If you just want it to be about sex then say so. Not everyone is going to be happy with being your friend with benefits, true, but at least you’d have integrity and the other person could make an informed choice.

While you are investing of yourself, waiting for the phone to ring or hoping to see him, the pretender is leaving himself wide open to other possibilities and opportunities.

Here’s the kicker. It has nothing to do with you. You, my dear, are enough. He simply doesn’t want a relationship regardless of how amazing you are. He will refuse to see the possibilities, limited by his beliefs that singledom is the way to go.

It’s easy to believe the pretender wants a relationship. Deep down I’m sure they want you to believe it. They like the idea of you being monogamous with them, even if they are not with you. Of course.

They like the perks of having you care for them and the fact that you will stroke their ego. They love the awesome sex. They love the effort you put in. They love knowing you are there for them, and they can confide in you. All the perks of a relationship without actually having a relationship.

But the thing is dude-pretender – you’re just not all that. You’re just a shadow of who you could be if you were able to be open and real, and let someone else into your life. The face you show the world is not your authentic self and there’s something quite sad and lonely about a person who can’t let anyone else in.

In the end, they are not committing and nor do they have any intention of doing so. It’s not you, it’s them! All that baggage leaves little room for someone else to get close, lest you trip over all the suitcases.

Move on I say! Don’t waste your valuable time and energy on pretenders. It’s not easy to meet the right one, granted, but hanging out with a pretender isn’t the answer either. The pretender simply stands in the way of other brilliant people out there who might just be looking for someone like you. You are worth so much more.