Tags: commitment issues, relationship advice for women, relationship communication
Hi Evan: I love your stuff. I definitely send girlfriends to your blog, but I’ve never seen this addressed, so here goes. I am 42 and have been divorced 5 years (2 daughters). For the first year I dated A LOT. At a year post-divorce I was seeing 3 men. I was doing some research for work and met a tall, handsome, scientist (me too), who skies as obsessively as I do. PERFECT!! We have crazy chemistry, like the same sports, and work in the same industry. I dumped the other three guys within a week.
Turns out he is a TOTAL bachelor. He’s in his late 40′s and hasn’t dated anyone for more than a year in the past 20 years. Not the best relationship track record. Fast-forward 4 years of dating him. In the past, he has always left his relationships once it’s “not fun anymore”. He is a commitment-phobe and definitely anti-marriage, but I’ve convinced myself that I don’t need to be married again. He has committed to me to an extent that he’s never done before. HUGE strides in that arena.
Trying to figure out the “why” is pointless because figuring it out doesn’t change anything.
The ONE thing that “gets” me is that our INTELLECTUAL rapport is weird. Whenever we talk about work (usually MY work–I work as a consultant in an industry that he regulates) he FLARES. He gets angry with me and my “communication”. It’s the weirdest thing. He has said that I have an “aggressive tone” but I’ve never heard that from anyone else. People say to me “you’re so INTERESTED in your work, you have passion for what you do” not “you get an aggressive tone” when you talk about your work. (To me, that says “you’re too masculine”.) I stay calm (I’ve been called über rational), and he usually apologizes for being a jerk. When I called him on his frustration/anger the other day, he GOT it and bent over backwards for two days to make sure “I am happy and am getting what I need.”
I just hate that he gets so pissed off when I talk about work. It makes me question the whole thing since intellectual rapport is so important to me. Why is this part so hard? Why the “flaring”? Why do I frustrate him so much? Is this a deal-breaker? (Side note: He grew up in an alcoholic family with a narcissistic raging alcoholic father, and his grandfather was his male role model.) My dad says that he’s just insecure because I’m a powerful person. –Miki
Dear Powerful Person,
You kind of painted yourself into a corner, didn’t you?
You’re in a four-year relationship with a man who grew up in an alcoholic family with no strong father figure, a man who is a consummate bachelor who has a poor track record with women, a man who is a self-professed commitmentphobe who doesn’t want to get married, a man whose temper flares when you talk about your work… and you’re asking ME to fix it?
I’m a dating coach – and the great part of being a dating coach, as opposed to being a therapist, is that you can a) talk just as much as you listen, b) say anything on your mind, even if it’s “unprofessional”, and c) not spend any time delving into the past. My job is to focus on the present and future. And as I wrote in “Why He Disappeared”, trying to figure out the “why” is pointless because figuring it out doesn’t change anything.