I convinced a man that he could love again. Now he wants to marry me, but I’m not sure I want that with him.
I feel terrible about this. He’s faced devastating experiences in his past, which I knew about.
We were close when together, but it wasn’t for long and not treated as a full-on romance with a future.
I’m a caring person, so when he’d say that he wasn’t able to deal with a relationship, I’d counter with my belief that he’s capable of it.
Unfortunately, he very quickly decided that he wanted to be that man for me.
I’ve seen him retreat emotionally with people, including me. He’s apologized for that and insists it won’t happen again.
I feel it’s risky, that he wants me always there for him but can’t do the same for me.
I hate to hurt him.
How do I break it to him that I’m not going to be his life partner?
You pushed yourself into his emotional life where he wants you to stay. Now, you have to get out of it – honestly and clearly.
Tell it to him straight – you cared enough to want him to have a relationship, but you weren’t promoting yourself as the immediate choice.
Own up to your mistake.
Don’t hold out “maybe’s” or other hopes. They’d prolong his efforts to convince you and likely lead to an ugly final parting.
Apologize. Let some distance come between his angry/hurt feelings and your embarrassing play on his feelings.
You may eventually be friends again… but don’t expect that soon.
I'm the father of a girl, 18, who recently entered university and found her first boyfriend.
We're a close family. I understand her internal need to be more on her own.
However, university and the boyfriend have accelerated the leaving process with barely enough time for me to adjust.
She's still living at home and commuting to school in a car we provided for that purpose.
She often leaves the house with no notice.
Now she's begun staying overnight in the town where her boyfriend’s going to school without informing us beforehand.
I wake up in the morning and she's not there.
My wife, more liberal, says that if she were staying on campus we'd have no idea what she's doing anytime.
I'm uncomfortable with this since she's living at home. I believe in a few respectful rules, like communicating with her parents who care about her well being.
Is it okay to say that, “While you live here you should give a good reason why you can't make it back the occasional night?”
Or, has that ship sailed?
I know that confronting her will bring out her defensive mentality and perhaps push her away even more.
She's very responsible and I have no interest in controlling her life, but I need to find some peace as well.
Conflicted and Worried Too
You raised a responsible daughter who can now sail on her own.
But not through every situation. For her safety, you both need to know where she is, if she’s not coming home at night.
Living in her parents’ home does require notice of when she’s leaving.
While you mustn’t try to “control” her life (though you wish you still could), she’s chosen to be connected to her home and family.
Checking in with a “Hi folks, I’m staying in X’s town tonight, everything’s fine,” is a required courtesy.
Knowing you’re not focused only on disapprovals will keep her closer.
FEEDBACK Regarding the woman who wants to have children (Sept. 8):
Reader – “I suppose her partner wrongly assumed she agreed when he disclosed up front his not wanting more children.
“I further suppose that she then expressed her needs …?
“Or, did she wrongly believe that she could cause him to change his mind, OR, punish him in the future when he doesn't?
“It sounds manipulative to me.
“Is it a woman's prerogative to be rewarded for her short-sighted decision-making after receiving full disclosure?
“I believe she should take with her whatever she brought with her or purchased while there.
“Everything else should be considered gifts shared while in a mutual relationship. Isn't that what feminism requires?”
Ellie – I was with you until you resorted to cynicism.
Women, just like men, don’t always know in their 20’s, how they’ll feel in their mid-30’s.
She wants kids now. How she leaves him, is their business.
Tip of the day:
Be careful how you affect others emotions when you’re “selling” the benefits of relationships.