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I followed all your advice, went online and found a guy who I have a great compatibility with a decent attraction/chemistry with that grew over time. Fast forward two years, we live together and our families are eager for us to get married. This should be a thank you email for solving my problems.  

BUT about six months ago, my guy started voicing concerns and doubts and started pulling away. I’m 34  and he’s two years younger. Given how serious we are, I dismissed everything as run of the mill cold feet and expected he would eventually get with the program.

Recently, he told me that he’s lost his attraction to me and he feels he can’t give me what I want or make me happy. He has asked for some time to think things through and said he’s grown increasingly convinced that, despite how much he loves me, he doesn’t see the relationship working out. He’s renting a room nearby and starting therapy and trying to sort through his feelings.

My question to you is, what do I do in all this? Part of me feels for him and wants to be supportive and patient. I have taken this opportunity to improve myself by starting therapy and hiring a personal trainer. I want to feel my best for this relationship and if it tanks I figure it’s still good for me to better myself. But am I being duped here? Is it stronger/smarter for me to walk away? I thought the way things were going we would be getting engaged by now and my whole world has flipped around. I’m curious from a guy’s perspective if me giving him space is perceived as weakness or strength. Is it more endearing to him to show my strength by being patient or by moving on without him?

His family is counseling him to work on things and wants our relationship to work. I’m starting to fear he’s just been ‘along for the ride’ so to speak but has been having doubts some time.

I feel a bit lost and unsure how to proceed.   Thanks in advance for any help you can provide.

Layla

Dear Layla,

I’ve seen this story before. Perhaps, if I share it, you can avoid a similar path.

A guy friend dated a woman and they were the best of friends. Objectively, they were an amazing couple and everyone thought they should be married.

Except for my friend.

He struggled with attraction from the beginning, and even though he and his girlfriend had a decent sex life, he didn’t feel what he thought he should feel.

Given his strong aversion to building more intimacy and a future, I told his girlfriend to break up with him after two years. When she didn’t listen to me, I told him to break up with her, so she could be free to find a partner who was more into her.

Neither heeded my well-intentioned — if awkward – advice.

She was in love and wasn’t going to let go without a fight. He may have wrestled internally with whether he could have a happy marriage with limited attraction but outwardly, he was content with the relationship.

So, they moved in together. They got a dog. They were inching closer to marriage, except he still maintained that he couldn’t see himself marrying her.

She got fit. Went to therapy. Took up his hobbies. Read books about relationships. She did everything she could to win over her boyfriend. But the truth is: you shouldn’t HAVE to win over your boyfriend. He should WANT to marry you by his own volition, without you jumping through hoops to prove your worthiness or convince him you’re “better.”

The truth is: you shouldn’t HAVE to win over your boyfriend.

Finally, after they took a “break” for him to try to see if he missed her, they broke up — after five years together during which both could have been looking for a better fit.

To her credit, she moved on quickly and found another man who married her after two years, turning her sad story into an incredibly happy one.

Listen, as you’ve already mentioned: therapy is good. A personal trainer is healthy. But motivation matters. Are you doing this for you? Or are you doing this for HIM? It sounds to me like it’s the latter, which means you’re giving him unnecessary power over you.

Instead of trying to posture and influence his opinion (Does he perceive me as weak? Is my behavior endearing?), let go of worrying about what he wants and focus on what YOU want.

Remember, YOU’RE the CEO and he’s the intern applying for the job with you.

Right now, it seems the intern is highly ambivalent about taking a long-term position with your company. That’s okay. You don’t have to panic. You don’t have to take it personally. In fact, you don’t have to do anything except what you want to do.

Since you can’t make your boyfriend be attracted to you, fall in love with you or want to marry you, what you can do is figure out what works best for you.

Take your power back and realize that any man who is working this hard to NOT marry you is probably not a man YOU want to marry either.

You are a strong woman if you patiently wait for him to figure things out.

You are a strong woman if you cut him loose because you want a man who is all-in.

I just want you to know that this is your choice, not his.

Take your power back and realize that any man who is working this hard to NOT marry you is probably not a man YOU want to marry either.