Does Too Busy Always Mean Not Interested?

Name: student in italy | Location: Rome , Italy |Question: So I went on what I think was a great first date with this guy here in Italy. A little less than 5 min after we parted ways on the 1st date, he sent me a text saying how much of a great time he had and hoped to see me again soon. I replied telling him that I had a great time too and that it would be great to see each other again.

Two days later he texted me and told me that he would like to see me again, asking if I was free on Wednesday. I told him that I was and to let me know what time we should meet. But I never got a reply to that text! So that Wed morning I texted him asking him if we were still on for that night. He replied saying, “Hey! I actually don’t know yet if I’ll be able to get off work in time tonight b/c we’re having a really busy day at work. Can I let you know in a couple hours? Hope thats okay!”

Couple hours later he texted again: “Damn it, I won’t be outta here in time..I’m sorry. I hope I didn’t cause a problem for you this evening!” (I did reply to that text but just said “ah that’s okay”).  This happened 3 days ago and I haven’t heard from him since. I found it so strange that he showed all the usual signs of interest right after the 1st date but now all of a sudden he just seems so disinterested. He didn’t even ask if I was free some other day!

Now, would it be stupid/too forward for ME to text him sometime in the next few days? Or should I just wait for him to contact me (if he ever even does that is).  How does a guy even go from acting all interested to the complete opposite in a matter of 4 days? |Age: 21


I found it so strange that he showed all the usual signs of interest right after the 1st date but now all of a sudden he just seems so disinterested.

I wouldn’t say it’s a case of him being disinterested. Just a case of him not being interested enough. Given your age, I’ll assume he’s in his early twenties as well. At that age, many of us were self-absorbed. This guy probably didn’t even realize that he was holding you up from making plans. He was too focused on himself. All of us can be like that at times, even us “Olds.” Sometimes we’re just more concerned with ourselves, our careers, our lives, our wants. We’re our top priority. Anyone else is lucky to come in second or third.

It could be that he didn’t ask you our again because he realized he wouldn’t have the time. Or because he was embarrassed. Or because he just wasn’t as interested as he originally thought. Who knows? You can shoot him a text and suggest a night to get together and see what he says. But if he replies back with the same “I’m not sure of my schedule/Don’t know” then leave it be. Either he’s just far too busy and/or self-absorbed to date anyone seriously or he’s not interested.

Get rid of this idea that you’re being forward by following up or showing initiative. You’re not. You’re asserting the same amount of power that he asserted. It wasn’t forward when he did it, was it? You’re showing interest. That’s perfectly acceptable.

Believe it or not, people’s lives can change on a dime. It’s totally possible that 3 days after this date he met someone else, or found out he needed extra money for something and took on more shifts. Or decided that he didn’t want to be dating anyone. Don’t assume it has to do with you.

The lack of timely replies to his texts make me think he’s just too self-absorbed or busy right now to be dating anyone. That’s not necessarily about you. That’s about him. Right now, he’s caught up in his thing. Which doesn’t make him a bad person. Just “bad” for you in terms of what he can contribute to a relationship.

On the topic of people who are too busy to date, I wanted to share something that a friend of mine said to me via email last week.

I am concerned by some of the traits these guys continually seem to exhibit – this crazy busy-ness that fills their lives to the point that they don’t want/need/care about a relationship. They seem content with going out, spending money, getting laid, moving on. Is it possible (treading lightly here..) that this is a big-city phenomenon and that this is super-urban type A behavior? I mean, I look at divorced guys who are suburban types (maybe dads?) who are less crazy-driven and more comfortable with the settled down lifestyle and looking to find someone special. Emphasis on ‘looking to find.’  Is it possible that the NYC guys are the LEAST likely to be interested in the very thing you are looking for? (a relationship/continuity)
I just want to throw it out there that maybe, MAYBE the NYC dating pool/culture is part of the problem.  I think NYC hardens people. (I grew up there and all family is still there, so I am familiar.) There is such a consumeristic mindset, so much overchoice. Again, I just wonder if this is a factor.

Quick example – a client I have just got engaged. Met a friend of a friend from Facebook – he’s a divorced dad of 2, living in a small town, takes care of his paraplegic brother. She has 2 of her own. (They’re both somewhere 36-42, I’m not sure of exact age.) They BOTH said that the other person was “exactly what I was looking for.”  Fell in love last year and bam. Engagement announcement yesterday. My point is – they were both LOOKING for the right person to settle down with, NOT to extend the dating/spending/urban glam lifestyle.

Yes, any guy will settle down and stop looking if/when he find the one who blows his mind. But if that is the exception, and not the rule, isn’t it climbing uphill to date with the hope that that might happen, as opposed to guys who are more open/interested in that as a goal?

Or am I even making sense at this point? I know I haven’t articulated this very well. But what I DO know is that you have come such a long way in so many areas, if you STILL aren’t getting the results you are looking for, maybe it IS time to look at the pool you’re fishing in.


Here’s the thing. I grew up in a household where my father worked all the time. 7am in the morning to 8 or 9pm at night, 5 days a week. So, to me, a man who’s crazy busy with work isn’t a bad thing. That’s normal to me. That’s also attractive to me. In the beginning of a relationship it can be a problem, of course, because it can derail things. If someone is making time to see you and go out with you, then that speaks to their interest level. But if it becomes a problem, or makes these people less available, then all you can do is speak up. Either they try to make it work or they don’t. Once a baseline is established, it’s easy to work around a busy schedule. But that baseline, that “normal, needs to be established so one or both parties isn’t analyzing the situation and wondering what the real story is.

I don’t know how you avoid meeting busy people when you live in a big city like NYC or Chicago or DC or Boston. I also don’t understand how someone living in a suburb that has child won’t pose a similar problem. It’s one thing if both people have children. But, being child-free, how will dating someone who lives an hour away who also has a child be any less of a hassle? In the example my friend included, both people had children of their own. So their time was already limited, but in a way that they both understood. That’s why I think it works. Would it have worked as well if one of them did not have children or outside obligations that kept them busy? I don’t know. But I don’t think it would have been smooth sailing.

I don’t think someone who lives in a major metropolitan city can avoid meeting and dating someone who is crazy busy. In fact, I think more often than not that’s exactly the case. You’re meeting people who are not only career-focused, but somewhat self-involved. That’s what happens when you stay single for a long period of time. It becomes more difficult to consider someone else. The ones that truly want  a relationship make an effort to change. The ones who don’t, don’t. Those are by-products of living in a city like NYC. Either you can work around it or you can’t.

And, obviously, you have to be able to tell when someone is genuinely busy and someone who is just not that interested and stringing you along. A person who changes their schedule to see you is genuinely interested. Someone who has all kinds of time to write emails and texts, but claims to be too busy to see you? They’re stringing you along. It’s a matter of being able to separate the wheat from the chaff.


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32 Responses to “Does Too Busy Always Mean Not Interested?”

  1. dimplz Says:

    “That’s what happens when you stay single for a long period of time. It becomes more difficult to consider someone else. The ones that truly want a relationship make an effort to change.”

    This is where my relationship started out. I spoke up, and we found a middle ground. But, it’s like you said – if the other person isn’t genuinely looking for a partner, they will just go from one relationship to another without changing their lifestyle. It becomes a self-perpetuating pattern, whereas you worked a lot because you were single, shifts and becomes you’re single because you work a lot. Luckily, in my situation, my bf was well aware that he needed to make changes if he wanted his life to change. He never resisted when I voiced my concerns to him, because we all know we need to make room for another person, and I am very considerate of his space and busy schedule. You just have to be honest with yourself and how much you are able to handle as far as schedules go. Are you ok with last-minute dates or must everything be planned? Are you ok with somewhere in the middle? I think the more flexible you are, the easier it can be, but usually, the older we get, the more difficult it is to be flexible, especially if you’ve spent a lot of years not dating. You’re just so used to pleasing yourself that it’s hard to make room. If you really think about what will be more important to you when you’re much older (senior age), then you can live today and make decisions so that when you reach that age, you’re not going to regret your decisions.

  2. Paula Says:

    There are some really good points here:

    * If you’re in a major metropolitan area, and dating people in the thick of their careers, this is something you’re going to run up against. The alternative? dating someone who doesn’t have much of a career, and who probably isn’t making much money (which brings up a whole different set of issues).

    * You do have to be able to tell the difference between someone is genuinely busy and who is just stringing you along. Because there are people who are genuinely busy, but do want to date as much as they’re able. I’m in that boat: I travel a lot for work, and it might take me a couple of weeks to set up a first date, but if I want to go out with you, I’ll make time (just not for the first date, when I don’t know whether you’re worth it yet.)

    I think that different people need different things from relationships. I could never date someone who expected to see me more than 2 or 3 nights a week (in the beginning stages) I just don’t have it to spare, and frankly, if they do, at this point in their lives (ages 30-50), I would wonder about their ambition, interests and/or social life. A person that hasn’t developed a life on their own as a single person is likely to be needy and dependent on their partner in the relationship, which is a very unattractive quality. So for me, fairly busy on their part is a good thing, so there’s not so much pressure on me to be constantly available.

    I disagree with Moxie’s point that someone who has time to text or email but is too busy to see you is stringing you along. With smartphones, you can text or email at any time, 24/7, no matter what else is happening. I spend time on conference calls catching up on my emails and texts, and it’s easy to fit in a short email or especially a text when you need a quick break on a busy work day. A lot of us have to multitask to stay in touch with important people in our lives.

    Finally, if you’re not interested in someone, stop using “I’m busy” as an excuse. That just makes it that much harder for those of us who are interested (yet busy) to get past someone’s skepticism.

    • nan Says:

      every 30 months…..the planet of needing love encourages a person to find someone to love. contact an astrologer the next time you are attracted to a new man and discover if his astro love planets are tied to yours…..if they are….great….if not….keep seeking ……

  3. Saj Says:

    As for the title of this post. YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES!!

    Also I think your friend is dead nuts on and sorry to get all psycho babble here but your dad working all the time probably set you up for wanting a relationship similar to that but the problem is while your dad also put a lot of effort and energy into wooing the girl at the meat store these busy guys don’t seem to be wooing at all.

    Passive guys can be insanely aggressive guys when they want something. I heard a great analogy on an old episode of Loveline using cars as an example. You see a Ferrari and you want it and can have it so you go for it, you don’t think oooh I don’t know I might be too busy to drive it and maintain it I think I’ll just try out a bunch of Hondas.

    They both said that guys are very simple if they want something or not. If they act confused or busy it’s just all hog wash and if it was really true and they wanted you they would make sure you are clear that as soon as they are not busy you are on their list to see.

    Before me my husband usually dated the girls who asked him out first and he was ok with it and it made him a bit passive in dating but when we met he was like a laser. Oh travel over the Pacific Ocean and meet a perfect stranger? Hell yah! He actually had wished I asked him to move in at the end of that week but I had more self control then that. Not that he wanted to mooch off me because when he did move in he got a job right away and launched into helping me take care of the place so we were equals off the bat. So this passive guy suddenly went into laser beam guy but I didn’t wait around for this to happen. He should be easy to date and laser early on rather then ambivalent for months trying out other options and finally settling on you. That never seems to go well.

    • Common Sense Says:

      As for the title of this post, NO NO NO NO NO NO

      Get real, and look up the definition of “interested.” It’s nice to live in a fantasy world where “interested” means “madly in love” – sure seems simpler! But in reality, lots of things are interesting and it’s pretty normal (at least among ambitious people) to be interested in someone and not be able to see them until next week.

      Go ahead, write off someone whos’ busy – it’ll never develop into love. But of course, you’re the one who guaranteed that.

      I’m extremely busy, and I’m currently in a wonderful 2 year relationship that started out seeing each other once every few weeks! I’m glad she didn’t read your advice on here, and rule me out.

    • Jay Says:

      Girls, and a lot of women, despite the fairy tale media world, from my expereicne, just don’t like being wooed these days. Showing too much interest and sincerity too early in a relationship pushes them away. Courting doesn’t work the way it used too.

      As a man, I’m supposed to be somewhat ‘busy’ with my own exciting life, and should not be available too much.

      Take into account this new independent woman’s world. They’re just as busy as men these days…and with this new ‘equality’, how come women aren’t asking men out? This ‘new’ world we live in…dating-wise…I don’t like it. Maybe I’m too old-fashioned.

  4. Aldonza Says:

    If I’m asking myself if someone is interested…the answer is usually no. And even if he is interested…he isn’t making the effort to act on it, how is that any better?

    • Crotch Rocket Says:

      Exactly. If someone’s truly interested, they will make sure you know it. That doesn’t mean they’ll rearrange their entire life to suit your whims, but they’ll try to find a workable compromise.

  5. Saj Says:

    Another thing I just thought of. Have you seen one letter here or one comment here about a woman saying she went out with a guy who she really liked and saw potential with but she was just so busy so she pulled the fade and just continued dating other guys?

    No you haven’t so why do we think it’s so believable when guys do it?

    • Paula Says:

      If someone pulls the Fade, they’re not interested. It can be a cowardly thing to do, or the kindest way to handle the situation, based upon the circumstances, which we’ve discussed here a ton. This is different. This is a guy who was doing some texting, some effort to stay in touch, some apologies (whether they were adequate or not), and then goes dark for a few days.

      If that’s the case, then I’m that woman, because I’ve done that. I’ve been in the midst of trying to set up the first or second date with someone, and had the craziness of my life take over. Or I’ve realized that I thought it was his turn to contact me, and was waiting to hear from him, and then when I went back over my emails, realized that it was my turn, and my fault for not being in touch.

      Maybe it’s the Fade (although usually they don’t text right after the date, and again a day or two later — it’s the no contact whatsoever after date 1 that is supposed to convey the “I’m not interested” message). but I think that there’s a good chance it’s not. I just think he’s a little flaky, young, and probably still dating other people — it certainly won’t hurt for the OP to text him once, and then if she doesn’t hear from him, consider it a Fade.

      • Saj Says:

        Rofl, yes what you described is the Fade…Talking, having trouble meeting, communication slowly goes silent. But if both of you failed to follow up with each other then there wasn’t enough interest on one or both your parts.

        It’s not the quick dump or silent treatment but slowly going into oblivion.

    • Jessica Says:

      I work in project management and I’m in an MBA program. I’ve been accused of being too aloof or not interested because I didn’t reply to a text or email right away. I’ve met 2 few men since starting school that I liked and wanted to pursue.I told both men that when my spring semester ends I’d like to try and get together with them. They both said they understood and wished me luck.

      School is a priority for me now. I’m also picking up the slack of employees that were laid off. On the rare free night I have where I get home before 8pm, I’m either sleeping, doing laundry, at the gym or vegging in front of the TV. I barely see my family and friends.

      There’s only so much I can do right now and I choose to spend what little free time I have wisely. That’s probably why you don’t hear many of us commenting or writing in to a blog.

      • Jay Says:

        Sorry Jessica, as a man in this busy world, waiting a week to reply to a text just doesn’t cut it with me. It’s easier than ever to communicate these days, yet people are terrible at it Go figure. You’re a womam…like most men these days, are to telling me your smart phone isn’t next to you 24/7?

        I don’t care how busy you are to see me, but if you’re not communicating, you’re not interested enough to keep my attention.

        • Juliet feitelberg Says:


          I agree with the comment about men not been interested. I know a man he is 46 and married with three sons and a granddaughter. He is always busy and said to me did I miss him I said yes he said he is too busy for the next three weeks darling.I got too many worman know.i said not my fault. He is playing with me again. Those men are stupid. Babies and are not worth it.
          I’ve been hurt by him before and just let him enjoy his life. His wife knew we were having an affair and she was not happy he started the whole thing off. I wanted more but then thought no he just used me and wanted sex I said no. And he said he was just using me. I felt really upset. He is a cheat and a chaser. I’m 53he os a Turkish man.

  6. Stacey Says:

    I think he could well have liked her, just one date is generally not enough time for a guy to get attached or invested enough to move aside other priorities he has in his life, like work. If a guy moves them aside from date one, without even getting to know the woman first, my view is he is just anxious to get into a relationship with anyone who comes along who fits certain criteria, rather than that specific woman. It is likely that he had every intention of seeing her, then something in fact came up, and then otherwise having a busy life, he is either too embarassed to reach out and potentially have to cancel again, or he frankly just forgot, as he probably meets new women all the time. If it’s the latter, it doesn’t necessarily mean he wasn’t interested or wouldn’t like her if he saw her again, it just means he wasn’t invested, which is likely the norm after only one date. If the OP is in fact interested in this guy, I think she should reach out to him herself. If his behavior (scheduling a date then not following up, no contact) continues to happen after several more dates, I would agree that he is likely not that interested, but in the very early stages, I don’t think it necessarily means anything other than that he has a full life.

  7. Girl in Italy Says:

    Thanks Moxie for answering my question and thanks to all the commenters! (I was the OP)
    I never heard back from the guy and after a considerable amount of overthinking, I decided I wouldn’t text him again. As the majority of you said, if he truly wanted to see me again he would’ve contacted me or asked if I was free some other time, no matter how busy he really was.

    At first I took it really personally because I’m quite new to this dating thing but I know better now that I shouldn’t think that way. I think I was mostly bummed because I thought that I could potentially quite like this guy and I thought that his texts in the beginning were signs of him being interested too!

    • Paula Says:

      Just curious — what made you decide not to contact him again? One text to make sure seems so harmless…if he’s not interested, he can ignore it. If he is interested, and lost himself in work, then a friendly text might be just the ticket. I’ve certainly had guys I chose not to call when I didn’t hear from them, but not when the initial feedback was so positive and immediate.

      • Girl in Italy Says:

        @Paula: To tell you the truth, the main reason was because I listened to the advice of my friends. All my friends told me that I shouldn’t text him because they thought that he showed signs of disinterest by not contacting me again and asking if I was free some other day. There reasoning was that if he couldn’t take the time to send me one text, he just wasn’t worth it.
        And I agree with them for the most part. But reading through some of these comments (including yours), does admittedly have me thinking now “what if?” There’s a part of me that does want to text him, and I know I have nothing to lose by doing so, but I just still feel uneasy about going for it!

        • Saj Says:

          You can text him if it makes you feel better or to get rid of that nagging feeling of waiting by taking control but it’s not like he forgot you existed or were in the midst of setting up plans when things got in the way. Or if he did forget you existed and were waiting for a response that’s not a good sign either.

        • Crotch Rocket Says:

          “All my friends told me …” Let me guess: these friends of yours are other young, single women? That’s probably not the best place to look for dating advice.

          • Girl in Italy Says:

            Yea, they were all young women but only 2 of them were single. And didn’t you have the same advice as them? (“If someone’s truly interested, they will make sure you know it. That doesn’t mean they’ll rearrange their entire life to suit your whims, but they’ll try to find a workable compromise.”)

            • Crotch Rocket Says:

              I never told you not to contact a man you were interested in. I also wouldn’t expect a guy to be so interested after only one date that the comment you quoted would apply yet; if he were, I’d question his emotional maturity.

          • jaclyn Says:

            I’m an old (33) married woman and I would also tell her to not contact this guy. If you have to chase down a guy to start a relationship, you will spend your entire relationship chasing him down.

            • Jay Says:

              Right…because in this world of independent men, we must do all the work. C’mon ladies…send a text, make the first move now and then and show a little interest and ambition of your own.

              It’s tough approaching women blindly on the street these days…you’re either deperate, a creep, etc.

  8. Devon Brown Says:

    My take:
    Being busy ALL the time is a problem. Being busy a lot doesn’t need to be a problem. As long as you have other things going on in your life as well.
    The personalities of two people have to mesh for a relationship to work. If you are the needy/clingy type, then someone who is very busy due to work, etc. is probably not the right person for you.
    But if you understand the reason why someone is busy and are understanding that quality trumps quantity, then you might have a shot with a “busy person.”

    – Devon

  9. Bilwick Says:

    A woman I was very smitten with was always “too busy” to see me. And it was clear from what she told me about her day-to-day life, that she actually was very busy. At several times I was just about to give up, but then there’d be one of those rare windows of time when she was available. Then, just as I had gotten re-smitten, I found out she had moved in with a guy that she was clearly smitten with. So, while all the things she might have told me about her busy life might have been true–and I have no reason to doubt her–somehow, in the midst of all those classes, business meeetings, family crises, etc., she found time to cultivate a significant romantic relationship with some other guy. Obviously if she’d been as smitten with me as she was with him, she’d have somehow found time. So now I follow the “three strikes, you’re out.” No matter how believable the reasons for her busy-ness, if I ask her out three times and she declines three times, no matter how amicably or no matter how plausible the reasons, I say “adios.”

    • Jay Says:

      Wise words to live by. I too have the same mindset, and my male friends offer the same advice of moving on to other prospects.

      Are you listening ladies?

  10. myself Says:

    Someone above mentioned that no women had said they were too busy & done the fade.

    I have!!!! I have!!!

    Perhaps not proud, but I really wasn’t that interested. And I’m extremely busy. Have what might be considered a “big” career with a big sideline of concert photography. I’m very occupied, and it makes me happy.

    I’ve been alone a good length, date rarely, and honestly, was I supposed to sit at home and do nothing for the past X number of years just in case some guy I liked alot came around? No! Because what occupies my time is what makes me an interesting person that these guys are interested in dating.

    Will I make time for someone that really interests me? Yes!!

    So when they do the fade they indeed are NOT interested, because I’ve done the fade or a version thereof myself, I did tell them I wasn’t interested actually, but prior to that my contact waned etc, I just wanted to be firm & final about it.

    Women do it too, sorry all you ladies that think otherwise!

    • Dimplz Says:

      It’s not the fade if you tell them how you feel. The fade is just like movie scenes – fade to black, no explanation. Not that I don’t think women can be just as cowardly as men, but it’s not the fade if you’re communicating with the other person, if only to tell them you don’t want to go out again.

    • Saj Says:

      You said you weren’t interested though. My comment was for a woman who WAS very interested (as this is what women tell themselves when a guy they like is being very aloof) but passed him up and yet continued to date other guys. If she was so busy why keep dating other people if she really really just liked one guy.

  11. Speed Says:

    I fail to see why wanting to see regularly someone you love makes you “needy” or “clingy.” Presumably we love our family and friends and want to see them often. Is that needy or clingy? Is anyone such a “god or beast (to mangle Plato)” that he or she can stand completely independent of real human love or comfort—or maintain only the lightest, most cynical attachments to it?

    I also fail to see why the “I’m so busy and unavailable” line conveys any kind of unique and attractive status. Everyone’s busy, from impoverished single parents trying to make ends meet to middle-class couples trying to raise a family (in this economy!) to the single jet-setting hedge fund manager to the impassioned street artist. Yet, you will also find a large portion of these extremely busy people married, in LTRs, or otherwise coupled up.

    If you just want to be monastic, serial date, have FWBs, or whatever, go for it. It’s still a free country and I don’t think marriage, LTRs, etc. are for everyone. Even so, I think the “I’m too busy for a relationship” simply doesn’t ring true for the above reasons.

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