I have been dating a really wonderful man for three months now, and at this point, we are spending our weekends together every week. We have an amazing, intense connection which we both acknowledge and at this point, I’m downright crazy about him, and I know he feels the same about me. When we are together, it just feels right, but we have yet to say “I love you” to each other. I’m not getting that he is ready to hear this yet, so despite my feelings, I avoid saying those three words to him. What I am getting – through his actions and emotions – is that he does indeed love me, but I am not pushing him to formally acknowledge it yet.
People in love don’t spend much time looking for love with other people.
The problem for me is this: in the past, he has fallen head over heels in love and gotten deep into relationships very quickly. Each time, it has clouded his judgment, and he got stuck in rather dysfunctional relationships, which obviously didn’t work out. He has been married once, and was in a long-term (five year) relationship with someone else. He is using this as a basis for keeping me at arm’s length emotionally, and while I understand what he is attempting to do, it is becoming increasingly frustrating for me. Our typical m.o., week after week, is that we have a wonderful, close, electric weekend together, and then nothing for most of the week. This is a very different situation for me, since the typical sign that someone is really into me is reflected in his wanting to call me / be with me fairly often.
He wants to see me each weekend, but unless I get upset about his lack of attention during the week, the time between Monday and Thursday just doesn’t seem to be a real priority for him where I’m concerned. What compounds the problem in my mind is that he is still active on two dating websites, which he says is “very limited” in usage, that he is just looking for “friends” in which he has no emotional ties to, since he’s happy and contented with me (allegedly) at this point in our relationship.
I tried to talk to him about this last weekend, keeping in mind that he is determined not to allow himself to relax and let things just happen naturally yet, even though three months is certainly not too soon to allow such feelings to happen. I expressed my issues with him not wanting to get off the sites and focus on “us” without distraction (in other words, we had the “exclusive” talk), and about his lack of interest in taking the initiative in contacting me more during the week.
Regarding being exclusive, I told him that I was off of the sites in order to focus on “us”, and hoped that he would feel the same. No answer (which told me a lot right there). He said his lack of contact was his way of “slowing himself down”, because ordinarily at this point in time, he would have had me practically moved in with him if I had come along earlier, and wants to build a solid foundation for a lasting relationship. That is something I want as well, but his remaining active on dating web sites even supposedly looking for “friends” is very disconcerting to me, and I told him as much.
Finally, the real question here: How long should I “patiently” wait for him to stop pulling back from me? Is there a good time frame to go by not only for him to acknowledge his feelings, but for me to make a decision about whether I should stick around or not? Six months? One year? I know everyone’s different, but I just need some guidance here, since I would like to see where things go without all the constraints!
I usually don’t run letters this long, especially when I’ve written at least seven articles in the past year that cover this specific topic (including What to Do When the Guy You’re Seeing Will Not Commit). Still, your letter was well-constructed, self aware, and worthy of response….
So here goes:
Our astute readers will have picked out these key phrases as to why you already know what you have to do.
1) He has been married once, and was in a long-term (five year) relationship with someone else. He is using this as a basis for keeping me at arm’s length emotionally.
Ah, you gotta love the built-in excuse. It’s brilliant in its infallible logic. Really, it’s on par with answering “I’m a perfectionist” to the “what’s your biggest flaw” question in a job interview. I mean, really, who could possibly argue? So get it straight: this darling man of integrity is just trying to protect you from getting hurt because he’s made some mistakes before. Got it.
Believe it or not, I’d still try to give him the benefit of the doubt, since I’ve been wrong before. Hey, maybe he’s just trying to break his pattern of leaping before he looked. Can’t blame a guy for that, can you?
Oh, yes you can.
2) What compounds the problem in my mind is that he is still active on two dating websites, which he says is “very limited” in usage, that he is just looking for “friends” in which he has no emotional ties to.
Couples don’t do that. People in love don’t spend much time looking for love with other people.
WALK. If he follows, he’s your boyfriend. If he doesn’t, he’s exactly who you thought he was.
This guy is using you, Jennifer, and what’s hard to take is that he doesn’t even know it. He’s just doing what’s right for himself, so it doesn’t even occur to him that he’s hurting you. Think about it. He’s not telling you he loves you, he’s not calling you his girlfriend, he’s not seeing you during the week, so how can he be called a jerk? He’s covering his ass. He gets to act like a boyfriend on the weekends, spend the week searching for other women, and still not have to step up to the plate and commit to you. Hey, why buy the cow if you get the milk for free?
3) No answer (which told me a lot right there).
Yeah, it’s hard to have a talk about “us” when there is no “us”. By saying nothing, he continues to cover his ass, and you continue to tolerate it. You’re expecting things to change, but he doesn’t want them to change. He wants a weekend girlfriend with all of the benefits, and none of the costs. As long as you tolerate this, it will continue. Six months? Sure, why not? You can have another exclusivity talk then when you see his profile on Match, but what for? To get three more months of sex and heartbreak in? Go for it and let me know how it goes.
I’m not a believer in ultimatums, but I’m big on action. So why don’t you give this one a try?
“I really, really care about you and have very much enjoyed our time together. But as amazing as I think you are, I’m not really getting my needs met here. I don’t want a weekend fuck-buddy. I want a boyfriend. And it’s become increasingly clear to me that it’s not going to be you. That’s okay. I’m not hurt or offended, but I need to find someone who wants a relationship. Good luck in your search.”
And then WALK.
If he follows, he’s your boyfriend.
If he doesn’t, he’s exactly who you thought he was. And you saved yourself another nine months of wasted time with a commitment-phobe. Use it well.