Q. I met a man about 5 years ago at a park, I was there with my 2 children and he was there with his daughter, close in age to my own. We hit it off really quickly, and started spending a lot of time together. We spent about 3 months in each other’s company, with and without the children. He made sure he came to see me everyday despite the hour long drive.
At the time, I had a lot of trouble having deep conversations with him. He had asked me to be his girlfriend on several occasions, to which I declined each time. I would explain to him the problem, and he would seem to understand, but nothing would change.
So after 3 months, I told him I was going to end it, it wasn’t healthy for me or my children to be around something I knew, I wasn’t going to commit to.
I continued on with my life. At first he kept trying really hard. He’d send me flowers on the regular. I was everything he wanted.
And still over the course of 5 years, he’d send me flowers now and then, even if I didn’t respond with a thank you, he never stopped.
Since then I’ve had a couple of relationships lasting a year each, and 3 years of being single.
In that time we’ve kept in touch here and there. We meet up every now and then and catch up on all the dirt, we’re very honest with each other and tell each other everything. We weren’t close friends, which made it easier to be very bold with our conversations, we weren’t being judged.
He was dating a girl for 2 or so years. I got to a point recently when I decided I was ready to settle down and really try to make it work with my next relationship. I’m 28 years old with 2 kids and need to stop playing games. He’s 32.
About a month after I told myself that, I get a call from this man asking to get a drink with me.
To his surprise I say yes. He had asked me so many times and I typically declined.
We met up and caught up. He told me about his on again off again girlfriend, said I think she’s off again for good this time.
I genuinely enjoyed our time together this time. I noticed things about him I had never before. I always thought he was kinda slow, but he had matured a ton and is actually a very smart man. I was impressed with him.
We went for a walk in the woods and he went to kiss me. I stopped him and said why don’t you wait until you know if you and your girlfriend are getting back together. I told him my intentions, that I wasn’t looking for a fling. He said “I have what I want right in front of me” and he kissed me.
After that day I did go out of my way to tell him again what I was looking for, because I had been played many a time in my life.
He said to me “You’re exactly what I’m looking for and I hope round 2 goes flawlessly”
Fast forward a week and everything is pulled away. He’s acting different, distant. He owns his own business and he does have to work a lot, but he always was making time for me before that.
I was in my own head about it, and I called and talked to him about it. When I said “I’m looking to be in a committed relationship, and I’m trying to figure out where you stand here with this”, without hesitation he said “No, I just have to drive a lot right now and making all that effort to get to you and see you everyday is really stressful to me right now, and so no I’m not ready for that. I don’t want you to wait for me because I don’t know when I’ll be ready.”
I can’t say I wasn’t upset, but I also expected that answer because of the way he had been.
We decided to continue to hang out, not sleep together, and just see where the world takes us.
But with my head, that’s easier said than done.
That conversation was had about a month ago. I signed up for a dating website just to keep my mind off the idea of this actually happening. He found me on the same website and was a little upset. He called me and said “I was very patient with you for 5 years. I just got out of a long relationship, and I just need you to be patient for a month or 2”
I thought of this as a good sign. He cared that I was looking. BUT, he had told me not to wait for him, when I didn’t he got upset. I do not want to turn into this man’s backup plan. I continued to back off a lot. Which seems to pull him closer.
A month or so has passed since that day. He brought me flowers on my birthday. He has spent weekends with me and my kids. He came to my kids family birthday party and met my whole family again (He hadn’t seen them in years). I went to his mom’s house and re-met his family. Even just yesterday we were in his town and he had to do something quick for work, so he dropped me, the 3 kids, and his dog off at his house, gave me the key and told me he’d be back in about an hour. And he came back half an hour later!
These all seem like good signs to me. And to the outside world I suppose, but I guess the problem is that without the commitment of knowing he’s not sleeping with other women I’m having trouble with the situation. It’s hurting my heart quite a bit, even though I don’t even think he’s sleeping with anyone.
Having kids involved, I don’t want them to get hurt. They’ve seen me try with relationships in the past and fail so many times. I want them to be happy and have a family.
I need help.
What do I do?
Do I wait a few weeks and bring the subject up again?
Do I just wait until he brings it up which could be a long time from now, or never.
How do I land myself not being the girl who he knows is going to be there when he’s done with his games?
I want to be the girl he wants to call his girlfriend, not the girl who he’ll consider if he cant find anything better.
Do you think that’s where I’m headed?
Do you think he is trying to just make me sweat it out cause I made him chase for 5 years?
Do I make myself more present or pull away until I get what I want?
A. I am really impressed with your desire to protect your kids and provide them with a stable family. It can be very difficult to juggle being a single woman with also being a single mom. A general rule of thumb is to never introduce children to a man, even as a friend, for at least six months into a steady relationship. This “rule” protects them from meeting men who are just passing by. While six months in a steady relationship is no guarantee of permanence, you have a better idea if that person will be around for a while and it will keep the kids from being confused.
There are several things that stand out in what you describe.
One, the timing is off and no relationship will form since both parties are not ready. So do you wait?
No one has any idea if both parties will ever be ready. Also, you could be missing a genuine partner while waiting on a wishy-washy maybe.
You said you had a hard time having deep conversations with him.
I too am noticing a lack of communication about what is going on with him. Poor communication is a fundamental flaw that will harm the relationship. With poor communication and poor timing there really isn’t a basis for a trusting relationship here so why wait?
What was he doing on the dating site that he found you on?
Is this a case of I get to date but I want you to wait? There seems to be a lot of game playing and control on both your parts. Why did you allow him to keep giving you so much time and gifts knowing you weren’t interested? The respectful thing would have been telling him “no, I don’t think this is a good idea” and refusing the gifts. He seems to be a man who likes the chase/control so your elusiveness is what keeps him stringing along, but that is not about you per se, it is about the chase, the conquest, the control. If this were real, it would not be this hard.
I am not seeing anything here that denotes a basis for a healthy relationship.
You may have good times together but it is easy to have good times with a lot of people who are not partner material. With the two of you there is poor communication, game playing, emotional immaturity, and some trust issues but more importantly there are children. Stop the runner/chaser dynamic of this relationship. When it feels like he has more than friend intentions, just politely say, “I don’t think this is a good idea” and move on with your life.