Can A Relationship Be Successful When You Go from Living Together to Living Apart?

can-a-relationship-be-successful-when-you-go-from-living-together-to-living-apart

So I followed all your advice and finally landed the most amazing man. He committed, made me his, we talked about a future and even marriage. He is kind and funny and generous and loving and I really felt like he was “the one”.

Dating for the last year and half has been amazing and I have been so happy with him. We saw each other 4-5 nights a week, spent most weekends together. We were a couple, moving forward. At about 18 months we moved in together. I know it was too soon and we quickly saw that. After a month or so it was a struggle. My home (he moved in with me and my kids) is about 40 miles from where his adult children and parents live and the part of town he’s always lived in.

He felt too disconnected from his kids, that they still needed him too much (they are 19 and 22) and felt like a stranger in “my” house and uncomfortable with my children (ages 19, 16 and 11). He began spending more and more time away from the house, 1-2 nights playing poker and 1-2 nights or days with his kids. The more he was gone, the more disconnected to him I felt and the more disconnected I was, the more he stayed away. Needless to say, after 6 months he moved out.

He wants to continue to “date” me though, spend weekends at my house and basically pick up where we left off before he moved in. In some ways this feels like a major step back, that he’s getting a relationship on his terms and in other ways I think that maybe this is what we need to do for a period of time while we work on blending families a little better and building a stronger base of our relationship.

Can people back track in a relationship, admit they rushed things and start fresh or pick up where they were, or am I fooling myself and wasting time on a man who won’t ever be the man I want him to be?

Katie

Sorry to hear about the bumps in the road of your relationship.

It provides even more validation that you should wait a long time before you move in together AND definitely move in together before you get married. If you HAD gotten married at 18 months, you’d currently be miserable and on the fast path to divorce.

You are illustrating the very reasons to be extra cautious as a middle age divorcee with children. There is no judgment being issued. But if I had a dollar for every 50-year-old who told me she needed to get married fast because she didn’t have time to waste, I’d be writing this from Tahiti, not L.A.

If you HAD gotten married at 18 months, you’d currently be miserable and on the fast path to divorce.

The issue here is not about who is right or wrong. No one knows if they’re compatible until they try living together on for size. No, the real issues here are twofold:

    1. Are you willing to accept this “step backwards” and continue to date like you did before – seeing each other 4-5 nights a week and spending most weekends together? Sounds to me like it’s the most viable option, not because it’s “his terms” but because this is the only model that’s proven to work for both of you. However, as you know, that affects Issue #2…

    2. How bad do you want to get married? Normally, I’d say you should move on, but in this instance, you had a great relationship that got ruined by trying to blend two families. It would seem to me that the worst thing you could do would be to attempt to do that again. We already know how that story ends. But what if you rewrite the ending, by keeping it open-ended?

Now, to be clear, I don’t know nearly enough about you or your partner to determine if you’re compatible. You weren’t compatible with him moving in with you and your three kids. That we know. I also don’t like the way he handled conflict; pulling away until you felt disconnected as opposed to communicating in a healthy fashion to try and reconnect.

The choice, as always, is yours to make. There is no wrong answer. Only what works best for you.

But if you believe he’s an amazing catch and if your relationship brings you both joy, why MUST you insist on moving in/getting married? Can you see yourself enjoying the next decade with him until your kids are out of the house and THEN downsizing together? Is that in the realm of possibility?

If it’s not – if you don’t want to wait that long, take that chance, or believe in this man – that’s okay. You can move on. But I do want you to explore what you really want.

If it’s a happy relationship like the one you had for 18 months, you can probably have it again.

If it’s a blended family in the same house, you probably can’t.

The choice, as always, is yours to make. There is no wrong answer. Only what works best for you.

Evan

Join our conversation (74 Comments).
Click Here To Leave Your Comment Below.

Comments:

  1. 1
    S.

    Wow, dating him open-ended for ten years.  Would that advice had been the same if they hadn’t attempted to live together?  You usually say if a woman wants marriage to give it two years and if it doesn’t happen, then move on.   I guess you are saying that here as well.

    I didn’t realize the blended family aspect would be so complicated. I moved out at 22 and would have wished my mom well with her husband, goodness.  So I understand how folks in their 40s would assume that with practically and really grown children this would be less of an issue.  I mean there are some 40-year-olds folks with school age children that hope things will be better later!

    The one great nugget I took from this: “I also don’t like the way he handled conflict; pulling away until you felt disconnected as opposed to communicating in a healthy fashion to try and reconnect.”

    If women had dollars for men who reacted this way to conflict we’d all be writing from Tahiti!  It’s a rare man who doesn’t.  But I see now that if that’s how he communicates, that’s it. No mulligan, nothing, that’s probably just how he responds to conflict.  I want to believe as Diana Kirshner said, that maybe some men have possibility of growth in this area? I know you’d say not to hold your breath and Katie has known he man for well over a year.

    I guess we ought not hold our breaths. :-/

    1. 1.1
      Yet Another Guy

      There are quite a few fifty-somethings who have school-age children from a first and only marriage.  🙂

      1. 1.1.1
        S.

        And I think that’s great! And I hope they stay together. 🙂

        Because gosh, if they ever have to date again, even 20 years later, may not be long enough to wait.  I’m still puzzled about that, but every family and every child is different, I suppose.  Not my place to judge.

    2. 1.2
      Katie

      I am definitely open to trying this new scenario out for awhile, but I wont “date” him or anyone for 10 years.  I would like to get married one day and I think the hardest part in all of this is that I thought that’s where we were headed .. eventually. He is a very good man and I truly love him and know he loves me so I am giving this a chance and hoping that we can “re-set”.

      1. 1.2.1
        S.

        Hi Katie,

        Thanks for responding.  Ten years is a long time.  I’d say be cautious with your heart. Which is difficult with a great man, I know. But he and his family might not be ready for another marriage anytime soon. And he has some issues with communication.  When you had problems, why was his instinct to pull away? Sure every one needs space and their own friends, but you were feeling very disconnected.  I hope in future he is better with supporting you in that.  If he isn’t, good man that he may be, he may not be husband material right now.

        So that’s the choice.  You’ll see in time if he’s the right one for you and your family.  I hope it works out for you guys.

        1. Katie

          I am definitely being cautious, I guess in some ways I feel a little betrayed so I’m being as careful as I can and trying to get him talking to me as much as possible. He admitted that the way he handled things was not good . It is still a little unsettling that he just avoided the conversation when he felt like it was going to be unpleasant, and his “go to” move was to walk away but I’m still willing to see how this plays out. We are just taking it day by day and we shall see what happens.

        2. GoWiththeFlow

          Katie,

          You just articulated the big problem here:  This isn’t about the reduced time being spent together, this is about the resultant negative thoughts and feelings–hurt, anger, betrayal, abandonment, being told you’re not good enough–that happen when your BF said “I can’t handle this” and moved out.

          Sometimes people who had been living together have to live apart for a period of time due to circumstances like being in the military, job or school issues.  Those situations are hard enough when one of the issues IS NOT “I want to be around you less.” This was entirely voluntary on your BF’s part and he may not want to admit the fact that there would be possibly relationship ending negative fall out from this.

        3. KK

          GWTF,

          My thoughts exactly.

          Usually, when someone wants to back track in a relationship, they’ve already considered the possibility that their bf/gf might just dump them.

    3. 1.3
      Stacy2

      They are 50 for God’s sake. Why would they even want to live together at this stage? It only breeds drama. To quote LCK: “love plus time minus distance equals hate”. So here you go. EMK’s asvise is rock solid on this i think. Enjoy this time together and downsize/ travel the world whatever when the last kid is out.

      1. 1.3.1
        S.

        She answered this in 4.2.2.:

        Life is bills, and mortgages, and day in and day out routines and if he doesn’t want that, then he doesn’t want  life with me.

        It’s what she wants, what Katie considers being all in 100%.  She’s been married so she knows what she’s asking for.  Everyone is different.  Some people want marriage. I know I do. I’d get married for the first time at 70 if it were right.

        I want to grow older with someone and live with them.  I love living with people and it completely deepens and enhances my life. It’s not any more drama than going to work and dealing with office politics.  Life is  . . . life.

        But this post is not about me or anyone else. Katie wrote the letter and it’s about what she wants.  I wonder if her boyfriend knows what he wants.  Time will tell. I hope Katie updates us sometime.

        1. S.

          And I don’t think it’s about marriage per se.  It’s about sharing a life and responsibilities.  The last kid won’t be out for a while and that’s a long time to not feel the other person isn’t all in.

          ‘All in’ means different things to different people. To some it means marriage.  To others it means seeing each other a few times a week.  To still others it’s living together and not being married.

          Doesn’t matter to me! But I think the couple has to both be on the same page with what all in means for them as a couple.  If he wants a separate residence and she wants a mortgage and bills eventually, then they aren’t on the same page.

          I hope these two can be.   Honestly, if both people feel ‘all in’ is separate residences and seeing each other a few times a week, they could be happy with that indefinitely.  But if one of them wants more (or even less!) , then I think that desire and feeling that the other isn’t giving enough (or too much) will split them up eventually.

      2. 1.3.2
        Katie

        Not 50. Just to clarify, Im 41, hes 45.

  2. 2
    Selena

    Spending 4-5 nights a week and most week-ends together sounds like “almost” living together to me.  I don’t understand why actually living together was such a major change, unless most of the time was spent at his place, not yours. Even if the time was equally spent, perhaps it was the dynamic changing to living in your house was a factor? Was there ever any discussion of getting a new place together at some point?

    You can certainly try going back, but I think you would be wise to truly explore the reasons why co-habitation didn’t work this time. There may be more to this than just the kids, and waiting 10 years to live together again may not solve the underlying problems.

     

    1. 2.1
      Emily, the original

      Selena,

      Spending 4-5 nights a week and most week-ends together sounds like “almost” living together to me.  I don’t understand why actually living together was such a major change,

      Because even at 4-5 nights a week, he still has a couple of nights for downtime. For time to himself if he wants it.

      1. 2.1.1
        Selena

        Yes, possibly he didn’t realize how much ‘alone time’ he needed until he didn’t have it. Thus explaining why he started spending more and more time away.

        And perhaps he also didn’t realize how much he would miss living in his own house in his own town.

        These 2 factors could still be present years from now when all the OP’s children have left the nest.

        1. Emily, the original

          Selena,

          These 2 factors could still be present years from now when all the OP’s children have left the nest.

          True. He could be someone who never wants to live with anybody and always wants to be in his own town. It may end up being as simple as this man not being able to meet the needs of the OP. No one is wrong; it just may be a bad match. Time will tell.

  3. 3
    Lauren

    I’m in a similar situation, but without all the family merging issue. We moved together quite soon,  lived together for a year, but now he would like to take some distance, stay in separate places for a while to take it slow and see if we can resolve some of our issues, but keep a connection and not date others. Much like described above, it feels like a step back into dating type of relationship. As the OP above I am also left wondering, whether a relationship can revive this way or is it rather the beginning of an end.

  4. 4
    Yet Another Guy

    @Evan

    I also don’t like the way he handled conflict; pulling away until you felt disconnected as opposed to communicating in a healthy fashion to try and reconnect.

    I believe that what Katie’s significant other did is status quo for a man who is attempting to escape a situation over which he feels he has little control.  By moving back into his own place, he regained control of his life.  A woman’s natural reaction when a man seeks to place a little distance between himself and her is to attempt to close the gap.  That maneuver only serves to drive him further away.  Women need to learn to back off when a man is feeling is this way.   Yes, he does indeed want things on his own terms because that is clearly the only way he can deal with the situation at the present time.  Katie needs to give him space and allow him to come around.  If he does not come around, she needs to move on.   Accepting another man’s children is not easy for a man.   His allegiance will always be to his own children.   He clearly felt like he had to make a choice.

    1. 4.1
      Katie

      So this is my scenario and you are 100% spot on.  He felt trapped and as absolutely miserable. I have totally backed off and allowed him to have whatever space he needs. In doing this I have gotten more involved with new friends, taken dance lessons, gone to concerts.. I’m living my life the way I want and allowing him to do the same. We are still exclusively dating but there isn’t an imaginary “time line” anymore.  I am not sure if this is a feasible scenario for the long term, as I think there are some other issues as to why he was so unhappy living together, but I’m trying to be as open as I can to this option and enjoy my time with him when I have it.

    2. 4.2
      S.

      I get what you are saying, but she’s already been with him for 18 months.  And while it may be status quo for some men (not all), that status quo is not a healthy response. If this is how he reacts when things are out of control, what will he do when other challenges happen?  What if she gets sick?  What if they face a financial challenge?  Life . . . is life.  As a couple, they are supposed to resolve stuff together, not apart.

      And if she does give him some time, how much time? It seems his 19 and 22-year-old need his regular presence.  If they do now, won’t they always?  What will change? If this is on his terms and meets the needs of his family, why would he ‘come around’?

      I ask because as a women we do wait and sometimes for a change that isn’t going to happen.  Evan was saying for her either accept things as they are and make her peace with that, or move on.   May he really can’t deal right now, but maybe he might not ever be able to deal.  She needs to decide if she can live with that or try for someone better able to suit her needs.  It’s not an easy choice, you know.  But I appreciate the clarity Evan brought to it.

      1. 4.2.1
        Yet Another Guy

        @S

        I kind of knew what was going on in the relationship because it is a fairly textbook male response. I did the same thing before I married. I was getting serious with a woman who was divorced and had children. I just could not wrap my head around taking care of another man’s children (which is why I eventually married a woman who was seven years my junior who had never been married and did not have children). You are talking about a position where an adult male is neutered with respect to control. He has control over his own abode and children. He has to take whatever disrespect Katie’s children are willing to dish out because he is not their father and a mother will always chose her children over a man. He has to stand there like an adult and take it because he loves Katie. Few men are willing to deal with that kind of stress for long. The result is fight or flight. Katie’s significant other chose flight. That is the choice that most men make. A woman does not want to be with a man who makes the other choice.

        The moral of the story is that if you want a man to stick around, teach your children to show him the respect that is due an adult male. They do not have to like him, but they have to shown him respect because he is not their peer. For heavens sake, please do not chose your children over him when your children are wrong. You are supposed to be choosing a life partner, act like it.

        1. Yet Another Guy

          *show him respect

        2. Katie

          I guess I should clarify a few things. 1. My children’s father is VERY involved in their lives. They spend 3 nights a week with him so they do not need another father. 2. I am a firm believer in children being respectful and polite to everyone. Anything less than that is absolutely not tolerated.  EVER. They have never been disrespectful or rude or caused any problems for my boyfriend.  EVER. and I’m not just saying that as their mother. They have voiced from day 1 that they like him and engage him in their activities without prompting.

          I feel like the biggest issue was going from this “honeymoon” phase of the relationship to suddenly having the realities of life be present every day. Dishes, homework, laundry etc etc. Additionally, he felt, and still feels that his adult children need him to be present on a very regular basis.  I am not sure if that will ever change.

      2. 4.2.2
        Katie

        This is where I am stuck.  I agree that if his adult kids need him so much now, what in the world is going to change that they wont need him or maybe its him that needs them??  I have asked him what it would look like for him to be comfortable not being with them 4 days a week and he couldn’t answer,  he doesn’t have a lot of answers right now other than he loves me and wants me in his life.  It feels very much like this is a relationship on his terms.  But then again, I do love him and when we are together things are really good.  My kids like him, we laugh, and its just.. “easy”.  But on the other hand, that isn’t real life.  Life is bills, and mortgages, and day in and day out routines and if he doesn’t want that, then he doesn’t anta  life with me.  I am torn.

        1. Selena

          Have you ever considered moving to his town at some point? Where his children and parents live, and he has spent much of his life? Where he feels comfortable?  Could this be a compromise you could make when your middle child finishes high school in 2 years?

          Katie, you write: ” It feels very much like this is a relationship on his terms. “ 

           I wonder if living in your town, in your house, with your children might feel to him that this relationship is all on your terms.

          Thoughts?

        2. Katie

          Selena- I totally understand what you are saying, and you could be right. My youngest is 11 yrs old and per my custody/divorce agreement with their father, the children are to attend their same school until high school graduation, and due to the logistics of work and school, moving right now isn’t an option for me. It was his idea to move in, and I did suggest we get a house together but he said it didn’t really make sense due to extra costs etc. I felt like I had tried to make things as comfortable for him as I could, I cleared out an area in one portion of the house just for his “man cave” things, I had pictures of his children printed and hung up throughout the home, we redecorated the bedroom with things we picked out together.. I thought I had done things to make him more comfortable there and start the “blending” process. I  invited his kids to our house dozens of times but they never came. I’m not sure what else I could have done.

        3. Selena

          I don’t know what else you could have done either Katie.  I was just trying to brainstorm some possible compromises should the two of you want to try co-habitation again in the future.

          I hope he is completely honest with you as to why he was so unhappy. Some things can be worked out, others maybe not. 🙁

      3. 4.2.3
        Yet Another Guy

        I am sorry, but 19 and 22-yeard-old kids needing his regular presence is a just a convenient excuse. His kids are not children. They are young adults who should have their own lives.  I left my parent’s house when I was 18.  I purchased two homes as a single man before I turned 30.   Your beau is hiding his need for control behind his children, and his children are enabling him to do it.  I have fraternal twins who will be 17 this year.  To my chagrin, weeks pass without seeing them because they are so busy with their own lives.  I have to compete with their friends, extracurricular activities, homework, and part-time jobs for attention.

        1. Emily, the original

          Katie,

          Am I wasting my time waiting for him to “let them go”,

          I think it depends on how his family operates. There are some families that live really closely to each other, have Sunday dinner together every week, call each other multiple times a day, etc. So just because the kids are out of the house and on their own doesn’t mean their parents aren’t a daily, almost constant presence in their lives.

        2. GoWiththeFlow

          Emily,

          There is a difference between adult family members hanging out a lot because they like each other, and a man saying he can’t move 40 minutes away because his adult kids “need” him too much.  (Hello needy kids, there are these really cool things called cell phones!)  I’m really wondering why he has to spend 4 days a week, in person, with adult children.

        3. Emily, the original

          GoWiththeFlow,

          I’m really wondering why he has to spend 4 days a week, in person, with adult children.

          It’s either an excuse or he has a co-dependent relationship with his children.

          There is a difference between adult family members hanging out a lot because they like each other

          I guess each couple has to negotiate how much time is spent with their children and/or families of origin. To me, it’s odd for a man to be seeing his family several times a week  unless maybe he is caring for an elderly parent.

  5. 5
    John

    Evan said:

    But if I had a dollar for every 50-year-old who told me she needed to get married fast because she didn’t have time to waste, I’d be writing this from Tahiti, not L.A.

    If a woman wants to get married as a goal, that’s great. With that said, you have to go through each phase and not rush the process. I’ve been on the “husband interview” date and it is not a fun. It is especially unenjoyable when it is done covertly.

    A friend of my recently got married. He dated her for four months and then proposed marriage. They were married six months later. He just got the marriage annulled last week.

    Some things are meant to be done in a quick manner. Marriage is not one of them.

  6. 6
    Helene

    I think when a man wants “more space” like this and wants to step back you should go way further than he is suggesting. He doesn’t want to move in, man up and be a family? Fair enough. Instead of going back to “how things were” how about going back to “we still see each other but are free to date others.” Give him (and yourself) a ton more freedom than he bargained for. He will either say “great” or perhaps reevaluate how interested he is in being with you when he has to accept that you will be looking around for other options. You can’t “make him” move in, settle down and be happy but you don’t have to surrender all control over the situation either. The jury is out – sounds like he MAY not be the man for you – act accordingly.

    1. 6.1
      Yet Another Guy

      That is not a good strategy.  Trust me, no woman should give a man in this situation an open opportunity to sleep with another woman because he will take it.   Sex and love/closeness are not coupled in men.

      1. 6.1.1
        Jen

        Well, if he takes it, then that is all that she needs to know and she can move on rather than try to force a relationship that he does not want. If he doesn’t take it, then perhaps things can be worked out.

        1. Yet Another Guy

          I still believe that it is a foolish way to handle the problem unless a woman is prepared for her man to sleep with other women.   If a woman says, “We will still see each other,  but not exclusively,” then 99.999999999999999999% of the men on this planet will assume that they are free to sleep with other women.  As I mentioned earlier, sex and love/closeness are divorced in men.   A man can have sex with a woman without fear of becoming emotionally attached.  It is just sex.  That is the trait evolution has favored because it ensures the widest disbursement of a man’s genome.

           

          Katie needs to give her beau a little breathing room.  If he does not re-engage within a reasonable amount of time, she needs to kick him to the curb.  It is that simple.  Guys who are ready to commit do not hide behind their children.  Men do not brood over their children.  That is not a normal masculine response.  Men are wired to provide for, protect, and lead their children.

           

        2. Selena

          Agree that if a woman wants to drop a relationship back to non-exclusivity, she better be okay with the man sleeping with other women. And with him possibly choosing to break it off with her altogether.

          Sometimes couples do make it back to each other however, after separating, taking a break,  going back a level, starting over.

          No guarantees of anything, so do your own risk assessment.

        3. Katie

          Yet Another Guy – you are so right. It definitely feels at times that these are excuses he is hiding behind, that the reality of the next step, of commitment, sunk in and he got scared. Like I mentioned before, I’m going about my life, seeing him a couple days a week and giving him his space with no pressure. Not forever of course, but Ill give it some time.  (thank you for the male perspective, much appreciated! 🙂

        4. GoWiththeFlow

          If it gets to the point where a woman is saying, let’s not live together anymore and both start seeing other people, she should just break up with him.

  7. 7
    L

    Blending families is hard.  I have 3 kids and it would take a lot for me to move someone in.  I’m also, I think it is a bad idea for people to move in to an existing home.  Better to get a new place as a couple.  Otherwise it is hard for the person moving in to feel at home.   However this situation has multiple red flags.  The lack of communication, the spending time away from her, the moving out… he moved 40 miles from adult kids, not 40 hours.  The kids are adults, so no custody schedules were upset.  40 minutes is really no big deal.  Sounds to me like your guy had regrets and is non commital.  Happiness is not likely to come from this Relationship because you now know how poorly he handles conflict.  The message is loud and clear:  he doesn’t want to be pet of your family so move on.

  8. 8
    Nat

    I partly agree with Helene #6, although I personally wouldn’t  ” go way further than he is suggesting”, but definitely a bit further. And it shouldn’t be in a fake, reactive way either, but it’s a good time to take a step back and decide what u want going forward. Maybe u guys have overdosed a little on each other. Frankly I think spending 4 nights a week together was a lot better than trying to spend all your free time together. If someone wants to spend 6-7 days a week with me, I’m gonna find them boring–because don’t u have other things to do? I like what Katie mentioned in #4.1–spending some time on hobbies, friends etc. That makes your life interesting, and non-dependent on one person, and gives u guys stuff to talk about when u do spend time together!

     

    I also find it a bit strange that he seems more preoccupied with his kids than she does, when she’s the one with a minor child (11 y.o.). I would have expected him to be less busy with his responsibilities by now.

     

    Spend a few days a week apart–on recharging and reflecting, on your kids, and other passions and friends. U don’t have to date other guys, but u should definitely be out on the town sometimes with your friends, looking good, so that u’re in the position to potentially meet other ppl. I think u will be happier, more centred, and as a bonus your rship may improve! (I actually think it’s ok for rships to fall backward sometimes, that’s just how life is in general). Or u may find that this rship doesn’t improve, and then u need to have pride and walk away.

    1. 8.1
      GoWiththeFlow

      Nat & Helene,

      I think what you are saying (and I completely agree) is that instead of Katie passively waiting around to see what her boyfriend wants to do, she should use her own agency to figure out what she really wants to do.

      Best of luck to you Katie!

      1. 8.1.1
        Katie

        Thank you!  That’s what I have decided to do. I am spending my free time making the changes in my life that I want, and leading my life down the path that I choose.  If, down the road, he wants to be  a part of that, then GREAT, but if not, at least I will be happy and at a place that I am content.

        1. Yet Another Guy

          That is a great strategy.

        2. janyc

          Katie:  I am in a similar situation, but worse.  I married my guy, and we lived together for almost two years and he left me and divorced me and then came back about 6 months later.  I was 55 and he was 57 when he moved into my 3 bedroom apt and lived with me and my 18 yr old and 12 yr old girls.  He never felt at home; he said he felt like a guest.  We didn’t know each other well enough and there were differences in parenting styles (he has 3 kids from a prior marriage..older but the youngest is one year older than my eldest).  I was heartbroken when he divorced me.   He said he felt hopeless and that I wasn’t listening to his needs.  To be honest, I probably did put my daughters’ needs before his.  Partly because they really disliked him and I felt guilty for bringing this man into our home that they disliked so much.  He had a much different parenting style than me (much more strict) and we had issues over different approaches to money (he thought I spent too much on my kids).   I dated several men during the break but was still in love with him so I took him back when he wanted to reconcile.  He is very much in love with me; I have no doubts about that.  Right now there are many times I feel he has his ‘cake and eat it too” feeling…he has me but i do not have the security of marriage anymore.  But if i was honest with myself, i wasn’t really happy when we were living together.  I think we will eventually marry again but i realize now it is best to wait until my youngest daughter is out of the house (and I only have my kids half of the time…they are with my ex the rest).  But it is very difficult to merge families.  I wish too my ex had spoken to me and not rushed for divorce; and I have had lingering resentment about that.  But he has been very good to me since we reconciled and we have gone to counseling and for now, I am not mentioning marriage.  I feel for you and I understand very much your situation.

  9. 9
    Stacy

    Probably off topic but am I the only one who would not be able to handle a man spending 4 to 5 nights a week with me and would find it overwhelming? That is so much time. If we are married, we would have no choice but even if I ever remarry, the man would need to enjoy his space and give me mine from time to time. I have been with my boyfriend for a little while, and seeing him once to twice a week is more than enough with me. I prefer to at least talk/communicate with him everyday though. I guess I figured out my love language.

    1. 9.1
      JB

      Nope you’re not the only one Stacy. I’m in my 50’s and I’m perfectly happy with seeing any woman I date 1-3 nights a week. Everyone is different with different needs and some people are very needy and clingy. You and I obviously aren’t.

      1. 9.1.1
        SparklingEmerald

        JB said”Everyone is different with different needs and some people are very needy and clingy.”  I was in agreement with you, until you tacked on the “needy and clingy” bit.

        I really don’t believe that some people are so called “needy and clingy” but if one person in a relationship is describing their partner that way, then they are most likely a mis-match.  If a couple mutually enjoys spending most of their time together, there is no accusations of “clinginess”.  If a 1-3 nights person is with a 4-5 nights person, then the 4-5 nights person will likely feel dis-satisfied and the 1-3 nights person is likely going to call them clingy.  That same “4-5” nights person might be called “emotionally unavailable” if they were partnered up with 6-7 nights person.

        However a 1-3 nights a week person is unlikely to make a good marriage partner.  A marriage minded person would probably be best to end a relationship with a 1-3 nights person and just chalk it up to a mis-match.

        Stacey said “am I the only one who would not be able to handle a man spending 4 to 5 nights a week with me and would find it overwhelming? That is so much time. If we are married, we would have no choice but even if I ever remarry, the man would need to enjoy his space and give me mine from time to time.”

        No you aren’t the only one.  However, I doubt that you are marriage minded.  If you find 4-5 nights with a partner “overwhelming” then marriage where you feel you have “no choice” is not for you.  And definitely not kids. Unless you could afford a nanny since once to twice a week is “more than enough time” for you to spend with a man, I assume that would be too much time to spend with your kids.  Also, since 1-2 times a week seems to be your max, “more than enough” in your words, you don’t need space from “time to time”.  You want to spend time with your partner “from time to time” and spend most of your time away from him.

        Is this your pattern in most of your relationships, or just this one in particular relationship ?  If the former, than I guess that is just you, if it is the latter, than you may want to examine why you only want to be with this particular person from time to time.

        Also, someone else in the thread talked about not wanting to give up their “friends and activities”.  It is possible to do those activities and socialize with friends TOGETHER as a couple.  In fact, what I love about being married is having someone to do those activities with, and combining our circles of friends.  Our friends get along great !  My friends our so happy for me, and his friends are so happy for him, and we all enjoy various activities TOGETHER.  I don’t feel like I have given up a thing by getting married, in fact, I feel like I have gained everything, and so does my hubby.

        1. Stacy

          @SparklingEmerald

          Actually, I have (2) kids from my previous marriage. I feel like, kids are totally different from time spent with a man. It requires a different type of energy. I am very marriage minded but my love language is not quality time (although I do have a high sex drive coincidentally). My man and I talk very frequently every single day and he lives only 4 minutes from me. I just don’t have to see him almost everyday. He is like that as well. I think that is key…as long as both people are that way, there isn’t a problem.

          As far as marriage is concerned, I admit that I am the type to need physical space to do  my own thing sometimes even when I am home. I feel like, once I have that, then no biggie. My man is the same way. In other words, we don’t always have to be ‘up under each other’. I think that’s the part that would feel overwhelming to me.

        2. Emily, the original

          Sparkling Emerald,

          Also, someone else in the thread talked about not wanting to give up their “friends and activities”.  It is possible to do those activities and socialize with friends TOGETHER as a couple.

          Is all the socializing you do now that you are married done as a couple? Do you take him along when you hang out with the girlfriends you used to hang out before you were married? Does he enjoy that? Like maybe going to a “chick flick” or shopping? Does that not alter the dynamic of the friendship if he is always there? I’m assuming personal conversations with your friend/friends would be difficult to have with him there. Is that also true of him? That he never hangs out with his guy friends without you? I have a close friend whose husband comes to about half of the stuff she and I do together. I feel quite certain he wouldn’t want to sit through our assessment of the hottest male actors and musicians!

          I really don’t believe that some people are so called “needy and clingy”

          I don’t agree. I had this very conversation with some co-workers a few weeks back. One co-worker lives with his girlfriend. She calls him on his way to work. She calls him at lunch. She texts throughout the day. If he hangs out with his guy friends–he does that rarely, for all of maybe 3 hours at a time –she calls him at least twice. That, to me, is clingy. Another male co-worker says his wife maybe contacts him at work once a month. A third said his wife she will only call in emergencies. I asked him what he would do if she called him every day at work, and he said, “I’d tell her to call her side piece.” (The second two don’t have children living at home. The first man does.)

        3. Marika

          Sparkling,

          I’m not sure if this was intentional, but your comment comes across as pretty judgy. Firstly, spending time with another adult is completely different from spending time with children (particularly your own children). It’s a bit much to imply that Stacy wouldn’t likes spending much time with her own kids and would need a nanny, particularly because, as it turns out, she has children. And is clearly raising them just fine as a single parent.

          Personally, I’m in the camp of people who likes to spend a lot of time with a partner when I’m in a relationship. But my way of doing things isn’t everyone’s way of doing things. This isn’t black/white, right/wrong. I know people who are joined at the hip with their partner, and I know people who are married and happy, but do a lot of things without their partner. Some people would probably claim spending too much time with a partner is a problem (e.g. some couples are clones of each other and lose their identities in a relationship). So it goes both ways.

          Your comment reads like, if you don’t want to spend a lot of time with your partner, then a. you shouldn’t get married, and b. you shouldn’t have (or raise) kids without a nanny. I know I’m simplifying, but that’s the gist.

          I think what you’re saying is pretty unfair, both to Stacy and other’s who have a different marriage to yours.

        4. SparklingEmerald

          E the O said

          Is all the socializing you do now that you are married done as a couple? No Do you take him along when you hang out with the girlfriends you used to hang out before you were married? Sometimes yes, and from time to time no. With many of my married girlfriends, we do couple things together, and I am no longer the oddball single person in my circle of married women friends that used to be part of my married couple circle when I was previously married.  My hubby and their hubbies get along great.  (my ex withdrew from  many people including me and also many of our coupled friends)  In fact, he has made plans to go away with one of the hubbies in this situation for week going river rafting.  I will have a girls PJ party while he is gone.Does he enjoy that? We enjoy going to the free concerts around here, sometime I invite my single friends to join us. He enjoys my girlfriend, they enjoy him.  Like maybe going to a “chick flick” or shopping? I do that with my g/f without him. Does that not alter the dynamic of the friendship if he is always there? Not applicable I’m assuming personal conversations with your friend/friends would be difficult to have with him there. Not applicable.Is that also true of him? That he never hangs out with his guy friends without you? My hubby is retired and so are his friends.  They bike together 2-3 times a week while I am work.  He also picks up his grandchildren when they have half days at work.  With him being retired and me still working, there is lots of space built into the relationship for him, so he never feels like I am smothering him.  As for me, when I do my girl stuff with my girl tribe, there is no argument from him.  I just don’t feel the need to spend 4-6 nights a week doing activities and spending time with my friends and not him.  I also have some friends at work I enjoy having lunch with.  So there is some space built in again right there.  Sometimes my co-workers and I do a happy hour after work, again, some more built in space.

           

          Marika said “I’m not sure if this was intentional, but your comment comes across as pretty judgy.”

          Sorry, no, that wasn’t my intention. But keep in my mind what my comments were in response to when JB said  “I’m perfectly happy with seeing any woman I date 1-3 nights a week. Everyone is different with different needs and some people are very needy and clingy. You and I obviously aren’t.”   So the judgyness of what I was responding to may have rubbed off on me.  The implication in JB’s comment was that anyone who spend MORE that 1-3 nights with thier partner is clingy and needy.  OK, in the extreme case you described, maybe that is being to clingy (since the other partner doesn’t like it) but I gave examples of 1-3 nighters trying to pair up with 5-7 a week nighters.  In those cases do you judge the 5-7 a night person as a “clingy needy person” or are they merely a mis-match ?  If both  partners who enjoy each other 5 –  nights a week in agreement, are they still both clingy or needy, or are they just a better match ?  Why is only the person who wants more TOGETHERNESS judged as “needy”, but not person who NEED more space ?  They both have DIFFERING needs and are therefore a mismatch.  I don’t necessarily think that someone who wants to see their SO at least 4 times a week is “needy” just because their partner “needs” 4-6 nights a week of space. 

          If you have children WITH someone, I don’t really see how you can spend ALOT more time with your kids than you do with your partner unless you stay at home while the other works.   Otherwise  I would think it a very difficult dynamic if my hubby with whom I had children needed so much space from me, but lots of together time with the kids.

          Now, in the case with 2 sets of kids, things get very dicey.  I am glad my son was grown when we divorced.

          And now that I am re-married, we spend occasional time with my grown son together.  My son and hubby really like each other and all get along great, but our time with our son is occasional as he is an adult and has a girlfriend, a life, work, etc. . . .

        5. Emily, the original

          Sparkling Emerald,

          Thanks for answering in such a detailed way! 🙂

        6. SparklingEmerald

          E the O said “Thanks for answering in such a detailed way!”

           

          You are welcome, and please excuse all they typos, and the wrong bolding of your words.  I hope my answer wasn’t too confusing !

    2. 9.2
      Emily, the original

      Stacy,

      Probably off topic but am I the only one who would not be able to handle a man spending 4 to 5 nights a week with me and would find it overwhelming?

      No, I thought that, too. Like you, I’d want to talk every day. I’d want to be exclusive, but a night during the week, maybe 1 to 2 on the weekends would be fine. I wouldn’t want to give up all of my other activities, friends, etc.

    3. 9.3
      Stacy2

      I feel the same about most men I date. The only ones I wanted to see “all the time” are the ones I really loved, I think. Other than that- 10hrs a week is great.

    4. 9.4
      Selena

      Stacy: “I have been with my boyfriend for a little while, and seeing him once to twice a week is more than enough with me.”

      It would be more than enough for me too if I only wanted a casual relationship. 🙂

      If I only wanted to see someone once or twice a week, why would I want to live with them?

      The couple in the post have been together 2 years – more than “a little while”.

       

       

      1. 9.4.1
        Stacy

        @Selena

        I would counter and say that if I knew I was getting married to this person for the rest of my life, why would I want to see you everyday when I’m not married. I don’t want the dating stage to feel like I am married and vice versa.

    5. 9.5
      Tron Swanson

      I’m the same way, Stacy. I’ve never been married or lived with a woman–I don’t want to be around *anyone* that much, frankly.

    6. 9.6
      GoWiththeFlow

      I think there is a tendency for time spent together to ramp up the longer a couple is together and the more serious it gets.  This couple had problems transitioning to living together after spending 4-5 nights a week with each other.  Imagine how hard it would be to go from seeing someone 1-2 days a week to cohabitating.

      IMHO if time spent together doesn’t start ramping up after a certain amount of time, the relationship is not on a marriage track, it is casual.

      1. 9.6.1
        Emily, the original

        GoWiththeFlow,

        IMHO if time spent together doesn’t start ramping up after a certain amount of time, the relationship is not on a marriage track, it is casual.

        I think spending 4-5 nights a week together is ramping it up. It didn’t start out that way when they were first dating. They may never “ramp up” to living together/getting married, but that doesn’t mean it’s casual. Things aren’t that black or white. As you can see from some of the other responses to Stacy’s question, not everyone wants to move in/marry their SO. Two people can fashion a relationship anyway they want to.

        1. GoWiththeFlow

          Emily,

          That was my point, so I guess I wasn’t very clear in my comment.  If a “ramped up” couple spending 4- days a week together has a hard time transitioning to living together then it will be much more difficult for a 1-2 day a week to make such a leap.

          If you are in a relationship where you are spending 1-2 days a week together where both people are happy with it, that’s great.  Not everyone needs or wants to cohabitate or get married.  The problem is when one person in that relationship wants marriage.

          In some of the comments above, it was implied that there is something wrong with people who wanted more than a 1-3 day a week relationship.  There isn’t.  And if you are marriage minded, 1, 2, or 3 days a week (and we’re most likely talking about evenings and nights, not whole days) isn’t going to allow the relationship to grow enough to get there.  In fact, a partner can use the “I’m too busy. . . I need my space. . .” argument and not give more time to the relationship as a way of putting the brakes on deepening the intimacy and connection.  This is a tactic that is used by emotionally unavailable people, avoidants, and committment-phobes.

        2. Emily, the original

          GoWiththeFlow,

          In some of the comments above, it was implied that there is something wrong with people who wanted more than a 1-3 day a week relationship.  There isn’t.

          I didn’t mean to imply there was anything wrong with wanting a more involved relationship. But your comment

          In fact, a partner can use the “I’m too busy. . . I need my space. . .” argument and not give more time to the relationship as a way of putting the brakes on deepening the intimacy and connection.  This is a tactic that is used by emotionally unavailable people, avoidants, and committment-phobes.

          kind of implies that being ok with the two- , three-, four-night-a-week relationship makes someone an avoidant. It doesn’t. We are living in a world where, yes, a lot of people are still marrying but also in one where the number of people who are not married is the highest it’s ever been and more and more people are deciding to forgo having children. The paradigm is shifting.

        3. GoWiththeFlow

          Emily,

          You didn’t imply that there is something wrong with someone who wants to ramp up the amount of time spent with an SO.  The words clingy and needy were used as well as “Why would anyone want to do that?”

          I did not not mean to imply there is something inherently wrong with someone who is content with 1-3 days a week.  But where there is a mismatch in what partners want, the person who wants to ramp up, especially if marriage is their goal, has to ask themselves if the partner who is fine with 1-3 days a week and does not want to invest more time in the relationship is doing so because they’re JNTI them.  Whether the JNTIY is because they are avoidant, emotionally unavailable, or a commitment-phobe, or have external circumstances that make an LTR difficult, a partner not wanting to invest more time in the relationship could be the first big red flag that they are not marriage minded and it may be best for the person who wants more to get out at that point and move on.

        4. Emily, the original

          GoWiththeFlow,

          a partner not wanting to invest more time in the relationship could be the first big red flag that they are not marriage minded and it may be best for the person who wants more to get out at that point and move on.

          I agree, but whether or not someone is interested in marriage would be a topic of conversation that would happen fairly early on. I certainly don’t mean the first date, but at some point wouldn’t the couple talk in a generic way about their goals for the future and if they wanted to get married? (Maybe not to each other, but to someone.) I’m assuming that’s something people put in a dating profile  ??

        5. GoWiththeFlow

          Emily,

          “. . . but whether or not someone is interested in marriage would be a topic of conversation that would happen fairly early on”

          It’s the difference between words and actions.  Someone can say they want marriage.  They can tell you that they see a future together with you.  They may even truly believe it.  But if, as a couple, you are many months, or a year or more into the relationship with a parter who says these things, but isn’t willing to ramp up the time spent together, they want to keep things at 1-2 times a week, their actions aren’t consistent with their words.

          For myself, I have found out that ramping up time spent together usually “just happens.”  At the very beginning you go from Saturday nights only, to adding a midweek night.  When you start sleeping together Saturdays turn into overnighters.  When you are an official couple you transition from dates out to some evenings spent in.  Usually by the time a couple is getting ready to move in together or get married,  they are spending so much time together, one of the partner’s apartment/house is almost abandoned 😉

        6. Emily, the original

          GoWiththeFlow,

          they want to keep things at 1-2 times a week, their actions aren’t consistent with their words.

          Obviously, some people say one thing and do another or they are confused about what they want, but does someone who just wants 1-2 nights a week really think he wants marriage? Seems to be a disconnect, and that, after a few months into something, if it isn’t, as you say, naturally ramping up in terms of time spent together, you have your answer, despite what the person is saying. I think the OP was confused when the boyfriend pulled back emotionally once they moved into together. They were spending 5 to 6 nights a week and moving in probably felt like the most natural next step.

        7. Yet Another Guy

          @GWtF

          In fact, a partner can use the “I’m too busy. . . I need my space. . .” argument and not give more time to the relationship as a way of putting the brakes on deepening the intimacy and connection.  This is a tactic that is used by emotionally unavailable people, avoidants, and committment-phobes.

          What if a person is genuinely not interested in deepening the intimacy and connection?  Wanting to get closer in a relationship is something that a lot women seek, but many men avoid at all cost, especially men who have been married and have children.   Do all steady relationships need to lead to cohabitation or marriage?

          I used to believe that only men wanted steady relationships that do not lead to marriage, but I dated a woman last fall who has no desire to remarry or even cohabitate with a man.  She is just looking for steady monogamous sex with an STD-free man who she can see when she is not working or doing things with her girlfriends.  I wish that I had been drawn to her physically because it was almost an ideal situation for me.  She is a medical practitioner and pharmaceutical research scientist who is definitely not interested a man for his money.  She did not care if I spent a dime on her.  She wanted me for me and my ability to take care of her sexual needs.  The hitch was that I had to be exclusive with her, and I was unwilling wait on queue for a woman who did not invoke primal urge strongly enough to warrant being in that kind of exclusive arrangement.  She would have made a fine sexy-on-standby.

        8. Emily, the original

          Mr. YAG,

          You write a lot about women wanting an emotional connection with the men they are having sex with and, ultimately, to live with and/or marry their partners. That men sometimes don’t desire “the whole nine.” My sample is, of course, small and skewed to where I live, but the men I work with and my friends’ husbands seem quite the opposite. They are very dependent on their wives, texting and/or calling several times throughout the workday (or, in my friends’ cases, during the time we are hanging out). The wife provides a kind of structure to their lives, almost like a life coach. I don’t think they would know what to do with, for example, their weekends without their wives.  If she isn’t giving them a list of things to do, she is arranging all the social outings with either friends or other family members.

        9. Yet Another Guy

          @Emily, the original

          You appear hang around a lot of women who have husbands that need a mommy figure. The men I hang around are mostly alphas and sigmas (introverted alphas). They are self-sufficient. Most are like me in that they did the marriage and family thing later in life; therefore, they lived on their own for many years before marrying. These men date primarily for sex, and sadly, more than half only date women who are young enough to be their daughters.

        10. Emily, the original

          YAG,

          They are self-sufficient. Most are like me in that they did the marriage and family thing later in life; therefore, they lived on their own for many years before marrying. 

          That’s exactly what I’m looking for. Men who are their own people. They have their place; I have mine. They have their job; I have mine. They have their interests, hobbies, friends; I have mine. Occasionally those things can overlap but not always. We spend maybe one night during the week and a night on the weekends together. BUT (and here’s the caveat your crowd may disagree with), it’s a real relationship. It’s monogamous and has depth. We talk every day (doesn’t have to be a long conversation) and have each other’s backs.

  10. 10
    Christine

    I found myself in the same situation a few years ago.  Both in our fifties, my then bf moved in with me far too early (for employment reasons as my area was the only place he could find work). Needless to say we split up, after a few months  (both having not worked through major issues left over from our divorces). However after a few weeks apart, we decided to start dating again and spent the next four years like this, living separately (an hour away) but spending weekends and holidays together. Eventually we got engaged, moved back in together and we were married last year. Our children are all grown up , living independently and we are very happy. It can work out but give it time. (It’s a lot easier if the children have flown the nest). Good luck!

  11. 11
    Nutbrownhare

    When I first met my partner, we lived within walking distance of each other. After the first three months or so, we’d spend nearly every night together, but either or both of us might have doing something separately earlier on in the evening, so we weren’t losing ourselves in the relationship. It was nice, and had its own rhythm.

    Then – for reasons I won’t go into here – we moved to separate towns, around 70 miles apart, so it’s weekends and holidays only now. I was worried that it would sound the death knell for the relationship, but it didn’t. We talk every day, even if it’s only for five minutes, and meet up when we can. It’s nice, and has its own rhythm.

    We hope to be in the same town again sometime – whether that involves living in the same house or not remains to be seen – but he’s (a very active) 60 and I’m in my late 50’s so issues of starting a family don’t come into it.

    To the writer of the original letter… I think you need to let go of the notion of relationships moving forward or backward. When they interview people who’ve been happily married for 50+ years, one of the recurring themes is that they’re cyclical. They will go through periods of being bored by, or even hating their spouses – but know, from experience, that they will find love for them again.

    Although my partner and I don’t see as much of each other as we used to, I’m conscious of the relationship deepening nevertheless. If you have a basic regard for each other and the relationship, and both want it to develop, that’s what will happen – regardless of your living situation.

    It’s always very difficult when one partner moves in to the other’s established house, too, but all the more so when children are involved. Keeping everything going for the next few years whilst living separately IS possible, but only if you want it to. Then, when you’re both child-free, finding somewhere together, fresh for both of you and a completely new start, sounds like a worthwhile goal.

     

    1. 11.1
      SparklingEmerald

      I agree that space/ togetherness in a relationship ebbs and flows in a cyclical relationship.

      Gen’ l commentary to this conversation:

      When my husband and I were first dating, I was already involved in many activities.  I had put down a big deposit on a 10 day trip overseas, and I was already cast in a stage play and getting ready to start rehearsal.  He didn’t pout or try and get me to drop either of these, but instead could do a way for us to do these “separately together “.  He bought me an international cell phone and set up our Skype acct for my trip.  He bought 2 tickets to my play, plus the comp I gave him, to see my play a total of 3 times.  He even offered to do some set work for our groups, but it was a low tech play and no need for it.  But I thought it was so sweet of him to offer.  He even helped me run lines.

      Now we give and take space as needed and there is already a lot of organic space in our marriage since he is retired and I am not.  I couldn’t be with him if he tried to get me to cancel my trip or drop out of my play.  Nor could I be with anyone who could only take me in small doses and scheduled activities 5 to 6 nights a week that excluded me, because he found me draining or overwhelming.  I couldn’t be with a man who called me clingy or needy for not being content with one or two nights together.  I would chalk it up to a mismatch and move on.

      JM2C,. YMMV

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *