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The Reluctant Boyfriend
I am a thirty something, professional female who has been dating a man for almost six months. During this time, we have become close, taken vacations together and shared an endless list of fun activities. When we started seeing each other six months ago, he told me that he was not ready for a serious relationship. I agreed and told him that I needed time as well. However, we did agree not to see other people and I believe he has held to this.
After six great months with him I am starting to fall in love. I am not sure of what he wants at this time and had written him an email asking for his thoughts on us. His response was to email me back, saying that he would answer my question (by email) at a later time because he had back-to-back meetings scheduled at work.
I saw him last night and we had a lovely evening together. I brought up my question again and offered him the option of emailing me his thoughts. I offered this option because I know it is hard for him to talk about what he is feeling. He said he would send me an email.
My questions are- Should I continue seeing him if he doesn't want a relationship? Should I give him more time to decide? Do you think six months is too short of a time to expect something? What do you think he will say when he writes back? --Wants to Talk
Let me begin with your last question. Your friend's communication regarding his feelings has been consistent and fairly clear. He began the relationship stating that he wasn't looking for a serious commitment. Even though the two of you have spent a lot of fun time together, he has not brought up a desire to move things to the next level. Even when you attempted to raise the issue through your recent email, he was too busy to respond. As I look at his BEHAVIOR as a whole, I "hear" him saying that his feelings have not changed. Therefore, I anticipate that he will restate his earlier feelings and either ask for more time or suggest you take a break and/or see other people. As I do not have a crystal ball, I can only go on what his behavior is telling you.
When it comes to love, it is difficult to set a time frame for moving through the stages that lead to commitment. Feelings can't be quantified. They come to us and we act on them. Your feelings have deepened and you are ready to move forward based on them. He does not appear to be in the same place. A prerequisite for all healthy relationships is that the partners share a similar level of commitment and similar goals and are able and ready to move forward together. You will know he is ready when he tells you this through both his actions and his words.
Only you can decide whether you should give him more time or if it is in your best interest to end things now. In order to make the best decision, it would be optimal if the two of you could have an honest and open discussion about where you are and where each of you wants to go. If he is unable or unwilling to do this, you could spend a long time waiting for something that many never happen.
Remember that this is only the first issue the two of you would be facing together if you were to end up traveling a long road together. If he has difficulty dealing with intimacy and expressing his feelings now, imagine what it could be like in the future when you are faced with illness, family problems or any of the major challenges that all couples confront in long term relationships. Then think about what you really want and need in a partner and make the decision that is best for you.
(from November 2005)
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Toni Coleman, LCSW
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