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Not Ready For Commitment

Question:

I’m 30 and have just experienced mature love for the first time but my heart is breaking. My 1 year relationship with a 40 year old man is in a strange transition. After a year, I told him I loved him and he put the brakes on. I was feeling as if I was putting more into the relationship than he was and emotionally I wasn’t being fulfilled. He said he couldn’t give me the commitment I wanted at this time (not talking marriage) Over the past year He invited me into his kids life/family life, which is very unusual for him as he is very protective of his family. He has been divorced for 3 years now and has 2 daughters. His previous marriage was a very verbally abusive on his wife’s part. She was unsupportive for 10 years and continues to harass him about me, his life, etc. He tries to avoid conflict with her but it’s difficult. I’m his first long term relationship since his divorce. We haven’t seen each other for about 1 month, but he continues to call about 1x per week to see how my new job is going…but doesn’t say anything about getting together. I talked to a counselor (who happens to be his also) about my situation and she said he has trust issues, but that I should be patient but I’m hurting so much and miss him terribly. I’m a very secure person with my “own” life and friends and have only been in 2 committed relationships in my life. Before meeting my most recent partner, I was single (dated occasionally) for 6 years. I believe he cares for me and don’t think it is a lost cause but how long do you wait for someone you love and what do you do in the mean time….while they figure out their life. I’m nothing like his ex and he knows that. I don’t put pressure on him, but at the point we’re at now, I feel anytime I bring getting back together, he will feel pressure. I just really miss him. Thanks for your time.

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  • ‘Anne’ is the pseudonym for the individual who writes this relationship advice column.
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Answer:

This man likely does have trust issues and that is understandable and fine. It is also fine for your therapist to ask you to be patient with him, but it begs the question of whether you are in an emotional place to be able to deal with this situation. You are in pain now. You love this man and he (based on his own ‘selfish’ issues has pushed you away. I’m not suggesting that he is a selfish man per se, but I am suggesting that he is acting out of his own perceived self-interest and is not particularly taking care of you very well now, or thinking in terms of what is best for the couple. You are in need of some sense of a plan for how things will go here. If you wait for him, how long will you wait. Will he be able to commit to you then (in the way you want him to) or will he continue to be ambivalent? He may not be able to give you these answers, but nevertheless, you may need to come up with some answers for yourself just so that your heart can see that the limbo you are in will end. I recommend setting up a generous time table for him to work out his issues and figure things out. Say a maximum of one year after which you will force yourself to break off with him and pursue other options for happiness. Then tell him about your decision, how much you care for him and how you would like to see things go. Then be with him as much as he’ll let you for the duration of the time period you’ve set. Sometimes men need a push over the course of a couple months, and sometimes they go on like this forever. There is just no way to tell what will occur. One thing is sure though. The stronger and clearer you can be with regard to getting your own needs fulfilled in the relationship, the better off you’ll be regardless of the outcome. Good luck.

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