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Hi Evan – and thanks for your wonderful book! I’m usually pretty nurturing, and what I struggle with is making sure I don’t get walked all over. I’m dating a guy at the moment who’s a divorced single father with limited access to his young son. He also runs his own business. We’ve been together for four months and he told me very quickly (in month one) that he considered me his girlfriend. The nature of his business is that it ebbs and flows and he’s been very busy since we met, so I’ve accepted that we have limited time together, and that if he has any serious free time, he’s going to spend it with his son if he can.
I particularly like that last part, by the way, as I wouldn’t want to know him if his son wasn’t a priority in his life. But it is hard being third on his list: son, job, and then me. Also, we haven’t been out on a proper ‘date’ since the first one: we usually spend time at each other’s houses, whenever he gets a free moment, but we have lots of communication in between and I really felt that things were starting to build towards something good between us. I know a man in his position needs an understanding girlfriend who’s not going to make big drama if he has to cancel plans at the last minute, and, because my life is relatively stress-free, I can be pretty flexible (I’m pretty easygoing anyway.)
But lately his family have been visiting (they live in another country,) and he’s magically found time to spend first with his parents, and then with his sister. I’d hoped to meet his family while they were over, but now I’ve found out that he hasn’t actually told them about me, apart from the fact that he’s ‘with someone.’ I get that things are complicated, and that he has a very shaky relationship with his ex-wife so he’s going to be cautious about letting her know that he has a new girlfriend, and I also get that I don’t get to meet his son until we’re much more established. But his parents? His sister? I’m starting to feel like his dirty little secret! And I’m wondering if he can possibly be that interested in me. I thought we were working towards something serious, but my confidence has been really shaken. I’ve asked him for time to talk things through and he’s agreed, but I’m really having to push him to make time for our conversation. It’s one thing not having time to go out in public as a couple, but the fact that nobody in his life seems to know we’re a couple kind of puts it in a different light. Is it time to just cut my losses? I do really like him, we have a really great time together and he always seems so attentive whenever we can’t physically be together, but maybe I’m just seeing what I want to see? I’m really confused! Hope you can help, Evan. Thanks.
There are two separate things going on here, so let’s deal with them separately.
You have every right to consider whether you’re getting your emotional needs met right now.
1) Your boyfriend doesn’t have much time or energy to give to your relationship.
2) Your boyfriend hasn’t fully integrated you into his world.
The first issue is a valid one and you have every right to consider whether you’re getting your emotional needs met right now.
The second one is just an ego/insecurity thing and should not derail an otherwise strong relationship.
I’m not fully convinced, however, that your relationship is strong.
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