What is a “real” relationship? I feel like I can answer that question because I have been in relationships that weren’t “real” and relationships that were, and I can tell you, real is a heck of a lot more fulfilling! Here is an email I received from someone seeking dating advice, who is saying she wants a “real” relationship.
I’m in my late 30s, and it’s been a couple years since my divorce. I have recently been seeing a guy (33, single, no kids) who has been through a couple of bad breakups that really did a number on him. Now he lives in this sort of isolation to avoid suffering.
I like him, but his disconnection is damaging my already damaged self-esteem. We recently talked about this issue, and he made it clear he likes me and likes spending time with me but doesn’t want to have any attachments with me because he’ll not risk being hurt ever again.
We only see each other once a week, no calls or texts in between ‘dates’ and when things tend to get a little bit closer he ‘disappears’ for a couple of weeks and then comes back. I already decided to end it because I want more than this. I want a real relationship.
Ugh. This sounds awful! I completely understand this scenario, because in my younger days, I dated a dozen of these! And guess what I finally realized? I was choosing unavailable men, most likely because I didn’t want the pressure of commitment. I even dated someone for several years, and the minute he committed I couldn’t go through with it. So I guess what I’m saying is, this woman might want to think about whether she has real feelings for him, or if his commitment-phobia is the attraction.
Here’s the thing. I’m hearing a lot of things about him ― HE went through a bad breakup that did a number on HIM, HE made is clear that he won’t risk being hurt, HE disappears... She doesn’t realize that this isn’t about him, but rather about her. He sounds like he needs to be in therapy, or maybe he needs to grow up. By the way, I’m not judging him, I’m just saying he sounds like he has issues.
This woman has already been married. So, now, doesn’t it make sense that she would want someone who really, truly wants something serious? Someone who wants her? I’d say at this stage, she should settle for nothing less than a man who is dying to be with her, who adores her, and who cherishes her ― and for exactly what she is.
There is nothing worse for self-esteem than dating a man who is in and out. No calls or texts between dates? That must make this woman feel horrible, especially after they’ve been intimate. She deserves better! I’m not even saying he isn’t a good guy, but the relationship needs to change or she needs to get out of it.
I think she owes it to herself to have a talk with him. Tell him how she is feeling and basically ask in a really nice way, “In or out?” She can tell him she loves him, that she won’t hurt him, that she will do her best to be there for him. And then she has to leave the ball in his court. If he walks away for good, then she is better off. And, who knows what can happen in the future? Or, he might surprise her and say he will try to be a more committed boyfriend. Whatever ends up happening, she will be better off than she is now. If she continues on this path, her self-esteem will get worse and worse, and she will become more unhappy.
There are so many wonderful men your age out there who want a commitment, who want to be in love and have that nauseating relationship where the two of you talk and kiss and text each other every minute. For me, there is no better feeling, and if this woman wants that, I bet she can have it. But first, she needs to be honest with herself and decide if she really does, or if this guy is what she subconsciously wants because SHE doesn’t want to get hurt again.
Jackie Pilossoph is the creator of her website, Divorced Girl Smiling. The author of her novels, Divorced Girl Smiling and Free Gift With Purchase, Pilossoph also writes the weekly dating and relationship column, Love Essentially, published in the Chicago Tribune Pioneer Press. Pilossoph lives with her family in Chicago. Oh, and she’s divorced.
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