I’m 36, a divorced woman with one child. He’s 40, divorced one year, with no children. After meeting through a friend and seeing each other four times within two weeks, he said the “L” word. I let it pass then.
Two months later, I was going to tell him that I felt the same way. I was very excited.
However, that same night I realized that he hadn’t gotten over his ex. Though I’d asked him on several occasions, he wouldn’t tell me anything about her – especially not his feelings now that they’re apart.
He’d get angry, say his past with her is private, that she’s off-limits for discussion. I realized that after 17 years together, he hadn’t separated emotionally.
Then something more disturbing happened. He walked away in the midst of our serious conversation to check a phone text and got busy texting back.
That text was from a woman he’d dated for a few months before me, and they text daily! When I said that was unacceptable in a new relationship in which “love” is being declared, he disagreed, said they were friends and shut down.
I broke up with him that night. What’s your take on all this?
I’m Over Him
Single for only one year, he hasn’t re-learned the niceties of dating seriously, which is what he wanted to do by saying he “loved” you.
More likely, he just wanted to be in love and thought he’d found the person to nest with again.
But you’re correct that he’s still caught up in the past when he was married, even though he’s trying to move on.
And the other woman? Well, he’s a nice guy who thought he’d made a friend, but again, he’s clueless about how the next person he’s dating normally reacts to that level of keeping in touch.
I understand that you’re “over him” now, when he’s trying to move too fast. I suspect that, given a year or so to learn better, he’ll be a man who may be worth seeing again, if he’s still single and carrying less baggage.
My boyfriend of four months has many family issues. But I don’t know how to react to that kind of situation and I feel terribly for not saying anything to help him.
I just tell him that it’s going to be okay, that I love him, and to be thankful for what he has because he has it better than most people.
He refuses to go to a therapist because he only feels comfortable talking to me about it.
Listening and caring is all he wants from you. He needs more, but you’re not trained and experienced to advise him and he doesn’t expect that from you.
Your suggestion that he see a therapist is wise… but he’s not ready. Too bad, because he needs professional help to learn how to react differently to those who are troubling him, and to set boundaries with them.
If, in several more months, all he wants to do is continue to vent, it’ll become very tiresome and frustrating for you.
It then becomes a red flag to consider: That he doesn’t know how, or care to try to handle relationship issues, including any that’ll normally arise between you two.
Mention his getting therapy one more time. Explain that he can’t ever resolve relationship issues unless he’s willing to learn how to try.
FEEDBACK Regarding the woman considering “doing long distance” with a short-term boyfriend (two months’ dating) who’s moving far away (October 24):
Reader – “You mentioned needing visits “every six months.” Getting together every six weeks is hard enough. I’ve never seen a relationship last with such limited contact, especially when they barely know each other and have little invested.”
Ellie – Thanks for noting this. I wasn’t clear.
It was a general statement about even the most committed long-distance relationships. I wrote that, “in time, you’ll both know whether to raise a long-distance commitment…”
By then, they’d each have invested time and feelings about continuing their relationship.
That’s when, if they don’t make the effort to have extended visits – e.g. staying in the same place for a month, say - at least every six months - it’s very hard to maintain a relationship that has a chance to survive until a time when they can live together.
Tip of the day:
Expressing “love” after only a few dates may be more about someone’s wants/needs than a truly deep emotional commitment.