My Passionate Rebound Guy is Pulling Away From Me. How Can I Stop Him?

My Passionate Rebound Guy is Pulling Away From Me. How Can I Stop Him?

I am a 40 year old woman with 2 amazing kids (10, 12) and I’m in the middle of getting divorced but have already found someone else (my soon to be ex and I agreed that we can start dating). We’ve spent the last 8 weeks together and fell for each other hard. It’s been a very intense 8 weeks and if we aren’t together then we are on the phone or texting with each other. I am 40 and he is 34 and never married or been in a serious long term committed relationship. I have asked him to agree to not date anyone else and just be exclusive with me and he has said that he can’t do that and now he’s also backing away because he doesn’t think he can see himself as a step father to my two children.

We have shared everything with each other over the last 8 weeks and there isn’t anything that we don’t know about each other. He is my best friend and I can’t imagine him not being a part of my life. The thought of losing him absolutely kills me and I don’t know how to show him that ending things with me would be the biggest mistake.

I’m not asking for him to marry me and it seems like he’s jumped from a to z without going through the middle letters. How do I get him to slow down, date me and not freak out about what may or may not be in the future?


Emma, by the time you read this, your ill-fated affair will probably be long over. The only question is whether you’re still going to be clinging to your fantasy or accepting reality.

Your fantasy is that, in the middle of your divorce, you fall in love with a younger man who has never been in a serious relationship who decides that despite the huge differences in your life experience, he wants to continue to date you and maybe eventually marry you.

This is the vision you’re holding onto. It’s just not reality.

Reality is that you dove into a “very intense 8 weeks” as you said, and that, when your 34-year-old paramour finally came up for air, he realized that despite his passion for you, he didn’t want to invest any more time in a relationship that was doomed.

This is the vision you’re holding onto. It’s just not reality.

Whether YOU think it’s doomed or not is irrelevant, Emma. Fact is: HE thinks it’s doomed. He knows that if he stays with you and things get serious, he’s going to be forced into the role of pseudo-step-dad, and that’s not a role he wants to play. That’s his right.

What you seem to have trouble seeing through your hormone-induced haze is that what works for you does not work for him. You’re almost willfully naïve and childlike in the way you’re seeing this situation. Listen to the 15-year-old girl who is not getting her way:

“I have asked him to agree to not date anyone else…and he has said he can’t do that and is backing away.” That would be a good indicator that your long-term goals are out of alignment. You shouldn’t have to convince a man to be exclusive with you.

“We have shared everything with each other over the last 8 weeks and there isn’t anything that we don’t know about each other”. My wife and I are discovering things about each other seven years into our relationship. You’ve got it all covered in less than two months?

“He is my best friend and I can’t imagine him not being a part of my life.” 1) If a guy can be your best friend in 8 weeks, you need some other friends. 2) Remember what you were doing in August? Evidently, you CAN imagine him not being a part of your life.

“The thought of losing him absolutely kills me and I don’t know how to show him that ending things with me would be the biggest mistake.” No, from his perspective, STAYING WITH YOU would be the biggest mistake — especially if he doesn’t want to fall in love with a woman with two children.

“I’m not asking for him to marry me and it seems like he’s jumped from a to z without going through the middle letters. How do I get him to slow down, date me and not freak out about what may or may not be in the future?” I routinely chastise readers for trying to read the last page of the book before they read the book. At the same time, if there’s a major impasse, what’s the point of reading the book?

He can spend two years with you (which would make you very happy), but if he STILL doesn’t want to marry a woman with kids and would prefer to either not have kids or establish a biological family of his own, what is the point of him spending two years with you?

It’s not only about what you want. It’s about what he wants as well.

That would be wasted time on HIS part.

Love is always a two-way street, Emma, and until you can see that, I think you’re going to struggle in all your relationships.

It’s not only about what you want. It’s about what he wants as well.

Appreciate your rebound fling for what it was and next time, find a divorced dad who wants to have a Brady Bunch family instead of trying to convince some young guy that he SHOULD want one.

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  1. 1

    I am so sorry that you have to experience divorce. Divorce is just so painful. And, on so many levels. I know, my divorce became final about a month ago. However, I have learned that you cannot give PERMISSION to ANYONE to make you feel bad. It is wonderful to be in love and loved. However, you want to meet someone who wants the same things you do. Not the soft stuff like 600 thread count sheets and Chinese food on Tuesdays. I mean the tough to talk about stuff. You want a new script in love, not the sequel.  
    Make sure that you know what you really want before you sign on the line again. Make a list if needed. I do this myself. SURPRISINGLY, you really have been given a gift that you know you are capable of being in love and loving another person despite a broken heart.
    As a friend told me, “you will have so much clarity after your divorce.”   And, she is right.   Heal yourself completely. Love yourself completely. Be yourself completely and you will find that man who is your match. Your match for life, not for right now. Go be your awesome self living the live you should have, not the one that you are forcing to materialize. You are wonderful and stay strong!!!

  2. 2

    So many things ran through my head on this one………….all I can say is that Jeanne has said it so eloquently, respectfully and coming from heart, I really cant top what she said.   No bashing from me, Ive fallen down a couple times and had to pick myself up, you can do it too.
    YES, be your awesome self!! Sounds like an exciting new year for you Emma

  3. 3

    I’ve seen this situation myself several times: from time to time I meet women who are just out of long-term relationships and I’m always struck by how naïve they are about how dating works. It’s almost like they’re teenagers. I have a lot of sympathy for them as they are sitting-ducks for players.
    Emma’s guy probably knew from the minute he met her that he saw no future with her, but he saw an opportunity for two or three months of “passion” (easy sex) and took it. Unfortunately I can foresee this happening again and again to Emma until she learns the ropes.
    @ Evan
    “next time, find a divorced dad who wants to have a Brady Bunch family instead of trying to convince some young guy that he SHOULD want one”
    Excellent advice.

    1. 3.1

      I think most people are pretty naive about dating if they’ve been out of the game for awhile. I feel bad for them though, its a tough learning curve.

      1. 3.1.1

        It can be a tough learning curve for people who’ve been in the dating game for a while!

  4. 4

    U women are so funny just stick with your who is willing to be responsible for you. The only man you will find be in a serious LTR with you will be another divorced man who wishes his wife never left him an is willing to settle just to have some companionship an of course SEX or a regular basis.

    1. 4.1

      You are a delight, I wonder who will settle for you?

      1. 4.1.1

        Yes julia, I am divorced man that has a good job and can be charming and do have girlfriend (aah emmm, not getting married though). I just hate when women with a stable home for their children gloss over the turmoil that is family law court and custody battles and father’s being separated from their children for the allure of some magical relationship that is destine to blowup in their face. But I guess this is just the Eat, Pray,Love 2014 world we live in.   Lol

        1. starthrower68

          You’re making an awful lot of assumptions about things the OP didn’t say in the letter.   

    2. 4.2

      Someone’s bitter over their failed marriage and maybe towards women (or at least just divorced women)  in general.

      1. 4.2.1

        I’m sorry for his bad experience and the pain that caused.   But being mad at an entire group of people for the sins of one does not get us moving forward.   It’s also not long-term thinking, as someone his heart may change, but then he’ll have pushed away any good woman because he wanted to have all of the control in the relationship.    And not one of us is without flaw and imperfection; we often point fingers at the other when there are things inside us we need to examine.

    3. 4.3

      If a guy settles just to have a wife, then that says a lot about his character.   Also, why did “his” wife leave in the first place?   Some men view their wives as property or a reliable maid. Some guys don’t know how to be a husband and some women cheat.   Ask yourself what happen in the marraige first.

  5. 5

    I missed the worry husband in the first sentence, sorry about that.

  6. 6

    He pretty much flat out said he doesn’t want to have a long-term or permanent relationship. I am, however, not without compassion for the OP as it’s something many of us have gone through.   You owe it to yourself and your kids to let that guy go and focus on the kids and yourself for a while.    If it’s emotional support you need, find a group of some sort for that, be it close friends, a church, support group, etc.   The kids are going to need you to be present and available while they get used to the new normal.   If the hormone are causing poor judgment, that is not possible.   As I said, I have compassion; been there done that.   

    1. 6.1

      That guy was a grade A+ user. He knew he never wanted any kind of relationship with her. He used her during her time of vulnerability. He is also 34, so it is not like he is a child. He purposely picked a woman lightly older, with children, and going through a divorce to use. I feel sorry for her. She was hurting and the new lair in her life made her feel like she could trust him. Some men are just so nasty. Karma. Also because she was in a relationship for so long, it made her even more vulnerable because she had been out of the horrible dating world for so long. What a shame.

  7. 7

    Oh, Emma.   I’m so sorry about this; it sounds painful and demoralizing.   When I left a 10+yr relationship, at 40 yrs old,   I had to re-learn dating lessons that I’d forgotten from my 20s:   most men who ask for my info won’t end up calling/emailing; most dates don’t lead to second dates; most second dates don’t lead to relationships; most relationships don’t become exclusive; etc. etc. etc.    
    You just experienced a common dating phenomenon but the emotional impact was greatly heightened by the fact that you’re coming out of a marriage and weren’t prepared for it.   You dated a great guy for 2 months and felt a strong connection but he didn’t want to be exclusive.   If you asked all the long-single women reading this blog if such a thing had ever happened to them, you’d see most of us raise our hands.   It’s simply part of the dating process.   Your experience doesn’t mean he’s a jerk or that you’re stupid but just that you did as most of us do when dating: you got to know each other, realised that you wanted different things and moved on… in this case, him more willingly than you.
    With no judgment or condemnation, I wonder if it might be best for you (and your kids) if you just take a wee break from the romance department and concentrate on yourselves a while.   As Evan mentioned, if this guy was your best friend within 8 weeks, maybe you need to shore up your female support system, which will prove invaluable once you do begin dating again.   In any case, you have my best wishes.   Please keep us posted.

    1. 7.1

      True but he moved on after preying on the weak and using her and then abandoning her to go find his next victim or future wife.

  8. 8

    for your own sake, please don’t try to convince a guy he should want to be with you. I was guilty of this 1,5 y ago for the first time in my life at the (supposedly) mature age of 29. Of course, he wasn’t the first guy who has dumped me by never calling me again, but I have never ever even considered chasing any of them until that “special” guy came along. And guess what? Chasing /  trying to proove myself to him after he suddenly vanished only ruined my self-esteem, as I felt worse and worse each time I’d text him and get no answer…Not even mentioning the fact he can list me as a “crazy stalker” now…
    Then one very wise person asked me a simple question and I suggest you’d be honest with yourself asnwering that- why would you want a man who has already shown he doesn’t  want you? Doesn’t matter if hes great /good looking/excellent lover/ whatever. He doesn’t want you as his partner, because if he did, he would call you his gf, and would not tell you how he is not ready. At least he had decency to say that,  and now  you can stop wasting your time and feelings for someone who doesn’t see you a part of his life anymore.
    I wonder if thats social conditioning of women or what, that we somehow tend to think our effort and love can make  men change their mind (aka suffer and you’ll be rewarded), but  if you feel like you have to proove yourself to anyone, you should know its time to completely and utterly walk away.

  9. 9

    I agree with what most have said here.
    Having just come out of the break-up of a marriage, Emma, you are very vulnerable, on many levels.   Having been there myself, I think I can comfortably say that you are not ready for this kind of intense, “instant” relationship – probably not ready to open your heart to that extent, and not ready for the possible disappointment.   Also having just come out of a marriage, you need to consider that you are used to having someone around all the time, you are used to having that “best friend”, close person, confidante. It is healthy to spend some time on your own, appreciating your own company, tolerating the solitude for a while, building up your friendships and other areas of your life.
    If this man, at 34, has never had a serious long-term relationship, it’s probably because he doesn’t want one. There is nothing you can do about that. I would advise that you guard your heart going forward, the sort of intense “spending every waking moment together”   and being in constant contact relationships very often lead to pain. Take things more slowly and don’t invest emotionally until the guy has committed to you and has shown a consistent level of effort.

  10. 10

    Emma, time to step up and be a parent to your kids. They need their mother. I’m glad your vagina is available for this random man. Take Evan’s advice find a nice man with kids.  

    1. 10.1

      Where in her letter did you pick up she wasn’t being a mother to her children? How did you jump to that assumption? Way to be judgmental.

      1. 10.1.1

        Because people love making moral arguments about strangers on the internet. This woman has every right to date. Being a single parent isn’t a sentence to a loveless, sexless life until your children leave the home.

    2. 10.2
      Lady A

      Don’t you think that comment was a bit rude?
      Don’t be so quick to judge someone about their parenting, and their personal decisions about their body parts.

      Speak to and treat others the way YOU would want to be treated and spoken to.

      Honesty IS great, but it does NOT have to be brutal or judgmental.

  11. 11

    Lots of men use single mothers for easy sex and have no intentions of ever committing to them, and women who get divorced do not have the same advantages of trading in for a younger model like men do.   So be forewarned when you get divorced, and make sure it’s not for frivolous reasons.   I’ve been divorced for 7 years and have never met a nice man despite my abusive ex finding a new wife right away.   I don’t regret getting divorced from him b/c I could no longer take the abuse.   I did think that I might meet someone nice because I had always been a good person in my relationships (loyal, honorable, friendly, etc.), but alas, it has not turned out that way at all.   I guess I was a bit naive as to what dating was really like b/c I married the first guy who’d shown any interest in me and never had to go thru the dating ringer until I was divorced.

    1. 11.1

      LC that sounds a lot like what I went through.   Dating was a rude awakening, to be sure.

    2. 11.2

      Really LC???   And why is it “easy sex” with single mothers??   If other attractive single girls with no kids are able to not make themselves ‘easy’ to have sex with then why aren’t single mothers doing the exact same thing?   Oh….is it because the single mothers might be looking for sex too????   
      You are relentless with your never ending saga of always making women the victims.   I find your continuous remarks about this to be sexist and insulting.   

    3. 11.3
      Karmic Equation

      “…and women who get divorced do not have the same advantages of trading in for a younger model like men do. “

      I disagree, LC. Since my divorce (and I remain on friendly terms with my exhusband) — all my relationships have been with younger men. Sexier, even better looking, better communicators, and more compatible than my ex was.

      I learned from my mistakes with my ex (I could have been a better communicator) — and I figured out what qualities made me happy and attracted to men. And I worked on improving myself so that I would become more attractive to men. I lost weight when I divorced. I was always a confident and even cocky woman and I let that all hang out. I ruthlessly killed all my insecurities (luckily there were only a few).

      I dated a man last July who stated “There’s no such thing as FWB relationships!” He had been divorced 5 years and had been married for 23 years to his H.S. sweetheart, so he didn’t understand the dating landscape either. I didn’t tell him that there sure was such things as FWBs. It’s just that usually men are not the ones who get to design and drive those relationships.

      The only thing “wrong”–if you want to call it that–that the OP did was to believe that a transitional relationship could be forever. Very seldom is this the case, no matter how passionately the fire burns.

      I agree with some who say that OP needs to take a time out from dating, but not because she needs to be a mother. But rather to re-discover herself and try to figure who she is and what she wants in life as well as what she wants in her next relationship. Really think. Date if she can, but be self-aware enough that she doesn’t “cling” to the next man to save her from her alone-ness (we can be alone without being lonely. And sometimes we can be lonely in a room crowded with people, so there’s a difference, imo). Once she can handle being alone and happy, adding in a good man is icing on the cake.

      Let this one go. He’s not for her. The right guy will want what she wants. But she needs to know what that is so she can consciously look for what she wants instead of searching blindly.

      1. 11.3.1
        Kevin Scott

        Thank u karmic for proving many of my points about general relationship dynamics concerning married and formerly married people.
        First- divorced man of 5 years married to high school sweetheart for 23 years…safe to say his wife wanted the divorce and would be with her if SHE didn’t end the relationship.
        Second-karmic also admits that her “transitional relationship would have never worked because that passion wears off.
        Funny thing is ultimately Evan agrees with me because he advises her to find a divorced man…why would he say that…well because of everything I said previously he just said it in a more pc way.
        Finally I hate do this karmic But…When women speak of all the good relationships they have had isn’t that an oxymoron. The fact that the word is plural speaks for itself, shouldn’t u be bragging about a great relationship(no plurality)

        1. Lau_ra

          On the divorced man who got married to his HS sweetheart – oh please. If a man marries his HS sweetheart, he wants to stay with her forever, and shes the “bad” one who ruins the fairytale? Where I live, its usually women who file for divorce, however, its not cause they just got bored with their 40-50-something husband (as the opportunities to find an eligible man of similar age (not even mentioning someone younger) in a country which only has 3 million inhabitants in total and more women, than men, and men live approx.  10 years  shorter that women do, are  a plain  zero), but because the husband is abusive  or cheats constantly or even lives with another (usually much younger)  woman already without bothering to “do” the divorce.
          And sure, a woman can only have only one great relationship and that is with someone who she marries, right? Wrong.  Haven’t you had  several otherwise great relationships, that didn’t work out because of different reasons (timing , future plans, etc.)? I did. However,  the fact I didn’t marry any  of those guys  doesn’t deny the quality of  those relationships. I don’t really get why you call stating the facts of Karmics life bragging.

        2. Karmic Equation



          When marriage was invented, “Till death do us part” meant 10 to 15 years (perhaps not even that long). In the middle ages (long after marriage was invented but also long before the advent of modern medicine) – war, famine, plague, infections, duels, farm accidents, etc, killed off most folks before 30. And in those days as soon as reached puberty they were soon married off and some would be running households at the grand age of 15 and matriarchs at 25. 10-15 years is about how long most marriages last nowadays, I believe. Coincidence?
          So, in my humble opinion, we’re not meant to be with only ONE person for 50 years. We’re meant to be in 3-5 LTRs during that time span (if you start in your 20’s). However,  I admire those couples who’ve been married over 50 years and are happy, but they’re the exception, not the rule. While we can all aim for that, I don’t think most of us are that lucky. As well, with many people delaying marriage until mid-30’s or even 40’s, that does bring us closer to the original 10-15 year marriage span covered by “till death do us part.”
          What I “brag about” is not that I have relationships (I expect to have 1-2 more meaningful ones before I pass, unless I get very lucky and hit the jackpot with my next relationship) — but that  I’ve had meaningful loving relationships when I had them.
          They were meaningful because I learned through having those relationships — about myself, about men, about love, about relationships, and how they interrelate in life.  
          Part of life is growing as a person. Unfortunately for my men and me, as we grew, we grew apart instead of together. That’s life. It happens. So instead of tormenting either of us with a continued relationship that wasn’t working – or trying to fix relationships that couldn’t be fixed – it was better to end them. There’s no shame in that.

          You sound so cynical, Kevin. That’s possibly because your relationships weren’t meaningful or perhaps you didn’t learn from them or you were simply with the wrong woman. All those things are within your power to change. Have meaningful relationships, not flings. Pick a good woman for her intangibles, not just her looks. Accept that as people grow, they’re as likely to grow apart as together.
          And love isn’t enough. You also have to be compatible with the same values and compatible life goals. Often I think with the right person, we’re willing to compromise on life goals. However, it’s tough to change one’s value system, so if you have to start somewhere to build a relationship make sure you have the same value system or make sure you can tolerate his/hers.

  12. 12
    Dina Strange

    I don’t understand. She is just barely out of divorce and already dating. What happened to giving yourself some time to think things over and figure out what actually happened. Or just have a break and put things in perspective…

    1. 12.1

      Yes. What is weird about this teenage woman is that she hardly appears to be grieving over the loss of her 12+ year marriage but is totally distraught over the seeming loss of her 8 week romance.   Something doesn’t add up here. I’d venture to say that this woman Emma appears to be a passion/romance junkie who thinks that a younger man who has never had a meaningful long term relationship (either by choice or by lack of capacity) would, and could form an instant family with her and her two kids.     She has more serious emotional issues than just simple dating problems.

      1. 12.1.1

        Androgynous, I don’t think we should  be making assumptions that the  OP is not in grieve for her divorce. Even more, this whole rebound thing looks exactly like grieving to me – the emotions are mixed up, many women start questioning their own worth as a partner and as a woman, so in the midst of all this mess its quite easy to fall for someone who shows constant interest in you, even if that person doesn’t intend to form a LTR.  
        We also don’t know what kind of dating experiences did the OP have  before the marriage – I somehow doubt she dated players or commitmentphobes, cause if you date a couple of those and get the experience, you just learn to accept the red flags, see their actions for what it is , listen to what is said to you and just don’t even take a chance with a non-relationship material, instead of clinging to the illusion that he will somehow change, you just have to wait / convince him.


      2. 12.1.2

        I completely disagree with your statement. I don’t think she had serious emotional issues; I think she was going through a divorce. I also think her husband was out of the picture as stated and that she was lonely and probably so for a long time during her marraige. That user who came along gave her what she had probably been craving for a long time during her dead marraige. She was lonley, sad, confused, hurt, and the wonder man comes along and feeds her a pile of crap. She bought into it and it took her mind off her pending divorce and what that meant for her and her children. That new guy aka the user, was probably a crutch and she just didn’t realize it.

    2. 12.2

      In her defense, we don’t know what her marriage was like. My marriage was over many years before we separated and divorced. In our 18 years of marriage, we’d been through everything, including my husband telling me that I’d lost his love, and, on several occasions, both of us agreeing that we’d rather divorce, but he’d like to stay together for the kids. We’d had separate accounts, separate bedrooms, and separate groups of friends for years. So, a few weeks before court date, I created a POF account. I activated it as soon as I came back from court. I was really and truly ready to move on. (Of course, the guys I met still freaked out when they heard I’d just gotten divorced.) Maybe OP’s marriage was like that.
      OTOH, my last relationship ended in August, and, while my ex started dating two months after it ended, I tried doing the same and ended up deactivating my acct and going on a break. It was a close, loving relationship, and I find that I need time on my own to figure out who I am without him, on my own merits. I am still not ready and won’t be for a while, even though I have well-meaning people tell me that I should’ve moved on months ago – I actually have my ex telling me that I should stick to it and keep dating until meet the right guy. But I’m just not feeling it this time. Only person I want to be with right now, is me. My point is that there is never a one-size-fits-all schedule. I would not give Emma a diagnosis based on just the fact that she’s dating before her divorce is final.

      1. 12.2.1

        I agree with you completely. I do not agree with people rushing to judgement on this woman. Each person’s way of grieving and emotional process is different, and it is not for anyone to say how the OP should feel about the end of her marriage.
        I do agree with your approach however when the relationship which ended was a relatively close one – or one with emotional depth. Or I should say, that is the route I would take. Spend some time just with me. Process what happened. Put the relationship to bed. Learn about me, and more importantly, find out who I am and what I love to do without a man, so that I have something to give when I meet someone special, and can recognise him when I do. I don’t agree with those who push you to date, date, date. It’s well-meaning advice, but I think the point of break-ups is that you learn from them, and make better choices going forward, which you can only do if you take things at your own pace.

    3. 12.3

      I can totally understand why she started dating again … not that I can make assumptions either about her marriage, but a lot of women and men go through a period of wanting intimacy and that thrill of new love, after being with one person for a long time, unless they are still in love with the ex and bitter, and even then, there is a need for bonding. She bonded with this guy, and was vulnerable from the start, fast-forwarded and made him the center of her universe. It’s too common with or without kids. I went from my marriage and divorce headlong into a 2-year relationship with a guy who didn’t want to commit to me. I learned my lesson, and THEN took time to work on myself and focus on my kids. 6 years later, I am happy, I won’t put up with bad behavior and now recognize the red flags as soon as they start. I trust my instincts. When a guy says he doesn’t want a serious relationship, believe him. He doesn’t and he won’t have a revelation once in the relationship. Women do the same thing, although once the oxytocin kicks in they are hooked. Ask him on the second or third date what he wants in the relationship, and if he’s an honest guy, he’ll tell you. If he says he doesn’t want a girlfriend, then you can make your decision whether you just want to enjoy the ride and expect it will end, or end it right there before you waste more time on the guy. It’s simple.

  13. 13
    Karl R

    Emma said: (original letter)
    “I’m not asking for him to marry me”
    What did you want from him?
    Let’s be completely honest with yourself. What did you really want from the relationship? If you just wanted a continuation of the intense, passionate joy ride, then why did you want to make it exclusive? You could have that without exclusivity.
    Every time that I have wanted an exclusive relationship, it’s because I saw the relationship as potentially leading to marriage. By escalating to an exclusive relationship, I could determine whether that was a good idea or a bad idea. If that’s what you wanted, then it’s a little disingenuous to say, “I’m not asking for him to marry me.” Maybe not yet.
    Some people intentionally enter exclusive relationships with people they don’t want to marry. Some people do it because they’re not ready to get married yet. They prefer to be in a stable relationship while wait until they’re ready. When they’re ready to get married, they dump their partner in order to date a potential spouse. As long as both partners are looking for a placeholder relationship, this arrangement can work well. But if one partner is looking for something else, it’s in their best interest to end it.
    Some people hate to be alone. These people will stay in a relationship that’s “good enough for now” while they look for someone they’d prefer. I usually recommend against this strategy, since being in a stable relationship gets in the way of dating new people. This type of relationship generally appeals to their partners even less.
    What did you want from an exclusive relationship?
    Emma said:  (original letter)
    “I have asked him to agree to not date anyone else and just be exclusive with me and he has said that he can’t do that and now he’s also backing away because he doesn’t think he can see himself as a step father to my two children.”
    “it seems like he’s jumped from a to z without going through the middle letters.”
    This brings us to what he wants.
    Obviously he doesn’t want to get married to you and become a stepfather to your kids. He flat out said he doesn’t. And if he had wanted to marry you and become a stepfather, he would have agreed to the exclusive relationship.
    It’s possible that he wants to continue to play the field. Becoming exclusive would prevent him from doing so. He’s not jumping from A to Z. He doesn’t even want to go from A to C.
    It’s possible that he’s like me. I wanted to get married, but I didn’t want to be a parent. If that’s the case, dating someone who has two children gets in the way of that goal. I wouldn’t have wanted to postpone a relationship for 8+ years while waiting for the kids to be grown and gone. It’s far easier to end the relationship and find someone else.
    It’s possible that he’s like many other men. He doesn’t want to become a stepfather, but he would like to have his own biological children. In that case, dating a 40 year old woman who hasn’t even finalized her divorce just gets in the way of accomplishing that goal.
    Emma asked:  (original letter)
    “How do I get him to slow down, date me and not freak out about what may or may not be in the future?”
    By now the answer to this question is probably obvious. But to be perfectly clear, I will restate the obvious.
    You can only date the person who wants to date you. You can only have the kind of relationship that person wants to have. If the two of you don’t agree on the type of relationship you want to have, the relationship is going to end. If the person who wants to date you isn’t the kind of person you want to date, the relationship will end even faster (or not begin in the first place).
    He wasn’t rushing. You were the one pushing for exclusivity. He wasn’t thinking about what “may or may not” occur in the future. He was thinking about what absolutely would not happen in the future. And with that realization, his decision to pull away is completely rational. If he stopped freaking out, his decision would remain the same.

    1. 13.1

      I am in pretty much this exact situation myself right now. I am 43 and I broke up with my 27-year-old boyfriend on March 29th. We were together for over a year and I have been a basket case. I have been looking back at how the relationship was set up and the further back I go, the more easily I see that it was DAY 1 of the relationship where the ineffectiveness was set up. It was built right in to the relationship. We learned so much. We loved so much. We had so many amazing experiences together. But it was sabotaged from the get-go by the age difference and by my having kids and the fact that he is only living here until he leaves for graduate school and a whole slew of other things. I am having one helluva time letting go because we did EVERYTHING together. He was everything I had always wanted in a man and that my husband simply couldn’t be. He was excited to go grocery shopping with me. We played racquetball. We did everything together. It is incredibly difficult for me not to want to hold out for him. I see where I went wrong in our relationship by how I framed the relationship and by my getting to a point where I was needy. I did all of these ineffective things that chased him away. I want to change and show that I’m somebody who can support him and blah blah blah. But if I am being honest about this, even if he did come back, we have set up this pattern in our relationship where I give and he receives. I certainly wouldn’t want that to continue. And the more the supply of my love went up, the more his demand for it decreased until he couldn’t maintain any interest in me anymore. All of this is coming into my mind in THX sound and Technicolor . . . should have could have would have. I wish there were something just once and for all that could bash my fantasy to shreds so that I could move on. 🙁

      1. 13.1.1

        Holly, you are a better woman than me. I could’ve dated plenty of 20-somethings, but there’s no way in Hades.

  14. 14

    Okay, so I just had the most BRILLIANT idea ever. No need even to get over the old boyfriend at all; we just get over doing the man’s job! Why not just say, “Okay. Fine. I am not going to make any effort to keep him. BUT I WILL give him the same exact opportunity that I am willing to give any man to whom I am attracted. Just like ANYBODY ELSE who may be interested, I will allow myself to respond positively to his genuine attempts to start a new friendship with me. If he invites me to coffee, I will happily oblige. If he brings me flowers, I will happily receive them. If he calls me, I will answer my phone.” Unless he was abusive or something, what do we have to lose? We are still looking out for ourselves and allowing him every opportunity to bust his butt. Why not?! No need even for closure. The only thing we need to get closure on is getting over doing the man’s job of pursuing. We sacrifice nothing but ineffective dating strategies!

  15. 15

    My heart goes out to her. I think the single life for women starting over has allways been rough but never more brutal than now. Alot of people say that things are different now. You can not trust and give the benefit of the doubt but must slow down and verify and wait till people prove themselves and keep your eyes wide open. I think when women come out of a marriage and feel that new chemistry with someone they go overboard with giving their heart and wanting to think theyve found a replacement and maybe confirmation that the divorce was a good decision. I’ve met plenty of disillusioned women who are alone after being lied to and played by men while their ex has a new wife. I personally think its even tougher for the attractive divorced as they are very tempting for the younger guys to exploite. If I was her I would give up on this guy and at least he’s being honest now. Especially if a guy is younger you dont want to be trying to convince him he would have to be the one comfortable with taking   on your baggage. If your marriage is at all salalvagable go back and make it work. If not take off the rose colored romantic glasses and take it slow and protect your heart. Be prepared for a bumpy ride and realize there are no guarantees.

    1. 15.1

      Why is it that no one would think twice about a 40yr old guy dating a 29 year old woman. That guy who used her was only six younger than her. He was also 34 yrs old. He was just someone looking for an easy ride. It’s sad because some guys do this to women and just blow through women and ultimately breaking them in their pursuit of fun. Those same men – when the time is right, start looking for what they call wife material and when they do, they try to avoid women they consider bitter or with baggage. Some men break women with their dishonest ways and ultimatly make them into what men consider unattractive aka damaged goods.

  16. 16

    I think whats changed now is lots of people especially men have no serious desire for marriage or relationships. They dont want to be stuck with anyone for very long. I dont make the rules its just how it is now. Then you throw in being not a real young girl anymore so whats available are the ones who have so far opted out of commitment for whatever reason and you can see where it can get dicey for a divorced woman dreaming of a great passionate love like you have when youre very young. Its often a recipe for heart break and disaster. The woman is bonded and not wanting it to ever end. Meanwhile the guy had a hell of a good time and wants to exit before things get messy and more is expected of him as he knows mire hot love affairs are to come. Even if they dont he has the fond memory but not all the trouble if he’d stayed. I’ve seen this played out so many times. That’s why passion and chemistry fools alot of women because we think this is enough when its not. Sometimes love is a more quiet comforting experience like someone really being there for us and taking care of us in a day to day way. Not just sex and constant texting but dont want to close their other options. Sorry that’s not love.

    1. 16.1

      Most men actually want a relationship.   Some just date/use women until they are ready to find someone younger and pure/free from emotional baggage like past marrages and user exes

  17. 17

    This is me! 10 month relationship with younger man by two years, 15 mos after separation/divorce and two kids. The sex and chemistry were unlike anything I’ve experienced. When he tried and made it clear the kid thing wasn’t for him, I accepted no official relationship but just sex and dating for 7 months. It was like a drug and the loneliness without it made me keep coming back for more even though our different views and intentions made it not always so amicable. We broke up some 9 times total before he moved on to someone else and ghosted me when I asked him for a full relationship and real effort to overcome our issues. I have been totally heartbroken and  sending lame I miss you emails. He didn’t even respond on my birthday and friends are ready to kill me for not being able to let it go. It’s really hard. Glad to read some dry, to the point advice to knock me into my senses.

    1. 17.1

      He sounds like a user!!!

  18. 18

    I love the way you threw the word young around like there was a huge age difference.   Maybe that guy should have thought about her being a mother going though a divorce,   prior to the intense 8 weeks.   The entire response was sexist in my opinion.   Men do this crap all the time!!! They date women 15 years younger than them and no one thinks twice about it, and those same men are usually working on their second marraige or looking for wife number three.   If that guy did had a problem with dating a mother who was going through a divorce, then he should have never dated her in the first place.   It takes two to be in a relationship and two to get things started!   So both were at fault and it sounds like he used her bad situation for his own personal gain; like an “8 week” sham.

    1. 18.1

      That poor “young guy” should have been held accountable for his actions.   He took advantage of her.   She was an easy target.   It took him 8 weeks of blissful sex aka getting what he wanted, to eventually realize that it wasn’t going to work!? Really!   He knew her circumstances in the beginning.   Also 34 is not young! That was a grown man who knew what he was doing.   Anyone over the age of 24, has a reasonable idea of right and wrong in a relationship. Oh, and 8 weeks of blissful sex/dating is considered a relationship.   He used her and because of her pending divorce and all the emotions wrapped up in that, she probably didn’t realize how vulnerable she was and what was really happing with that liar she met.

      I mi hope she got through all of that and as for the user, he did that to her and he will do the same to someone else; it’s called emotional abuse and abandonment.   So yeah, hopefully that poor “young guy” can find someone else to use and maybe even marry, so one day he can abandon her as well.

  19. 19

    Oh, and I never hear a guy call a woman 2 years younger than himself a “younger woman!”   That is usually reserved for someone 10>years younger.

    And why should that guy have the privilege of ruining people’s lives and then moving on to greener (younger/less experienced/less damaged) women.   People like that user go around stepping on people to get what they want and then when it’s time to “settle down,” then want to find someone younger and less damaged.   Funny! So they go around stopping on people and causing people pain and then avoid the so called damaged/experienced people when they decide to find a wife.

    The sad thing is that those same dirt balls, if their lucky, get married and eventually abandon their wive, cheat, abuse, or just emotionally scar their so-called prize in the long run.



  20. 20

    Oh, ignore all the typos in the past posts…

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