11/23/97 Advice Column
When he came back he told me that he had grown a lot and felt ready to build a life with me. He told me he loved me, the first time he'd told me that, he told me what he loved about me, he told me that he'd never felt as connected to anyone as he did to me and that he had missed me the time we were apart. It took awhile for me to take all this in, but I liked the sound of it, and the connection we had was so sweet that it didn't take too long for me to open back up to him.
For eight weeks we had a great time. We went out, stayed in, cooked meals, he met my parents, he told me he loved me, he told me how much he respected me, I was having a great time thinking about the trip to Italy we were planning for the Spring, then the other shoe fell.
He suddenly turned cold and withdrew and told me that while he loved me, he just felt this brick wall around him that he could not get over (or would not) and that was that. I asked him if he would like to work through this fear with me rather than end the relationship and he said he would like to work through it. He even cried on my shoulder, and it seemed like we'd had a bit of a breakthrough. Then about a week later, he did it again. This time he said he'd realized that getting close to someone was something that he just couldn't do. He said there was this wall around his heart and he realized that he just couldn't scale it.
By the way, I had never pushed him to marry me, move in with me, or even call me every day. I had wanted a year of seasons to really get to know him and see where we could go together.
I showed him the door and told him to have fun growing old with his wall. I had little trouble ending the relationship because I want a partner who is willing to evolve emotionally and mature enough to walk their talk, for longer than a couple of months. I can't imagine how boring it would be to have a life partner that wasn't willing to do that. I want someone who is as brave as he asks me to be.
My question is: This guy meets the qualifications on your list, he's fun and open when that wall is down and I am the first woman this guy has ever professed his love to.
What did I do wrong? This is not the first relationship I've had where a man confesses his love and then scares himself out of it. This is unfortunately the third. Am I destined to start counting the weeks after a man tells me he loves me, waiting for him to flee? I still feel open to men, but it's mainly because I don't want to end up like this guy, afraid of the good thing that could actually work out. Why do men scare themselves this way? If he loves me why is he so afraid? This guy has lost most of his family and okay, his pattern is to date a woman for approximately 8 months and then end it suddenly. I just thought he really had grown as he said he has. How do you spot this? I mean, I had several heart to hearts before I let him back in, and I still didn't get there with this guy.
One thing to always remember about an ex-beau -- they are ex for a reason. Usually that reason doesn't go away. He was an ex because he couldn't commit. What makes you think he could change that easily? People don't change easily. If they did, there would be no business for therapists.
Just because a guy says he's changed doesn't mean he has. And just because a guy says he loves you doesn't mean you have to hand him your heart and soul on a platter. Make him prove he's changed and that he loves you by staying around -- a lot longer than the last time.
There are some guys who only love you if you don't love them back. He could be one. There are other guys who simply can't really make a commitment. He could be one of those too. Read "The Broken Popcorn Machine" in my Library for a better understanding of this.
Also, just because you love someone and he loves you, that doesn't mean you can be together and stay together happily. My Library is full of articles about how you can love an unsuitable man, but you don't want to marry him or lose your heart to him.
First you tell me "his pattern is to date a woman for approximately 8 months and then end it suddenly." Then you ask "how do you spot this (commitment-phobia)?" Wake up! If you want a guy who stays around longer than a few months, look for one who has made lasting commitments before, not one who has a track record of short relationships and no lasting ones. The only way to stop having this experience with men is to choose healthier men, men with strong family ties, men with no walls, men who have loved and committed before.
If those are the worst things you have to say about your husband, it's not so terrible. As long as he doesn't hurt you or himself, he's okay, just different. Of course if he's turning you off, you should find something he can do to turn you back on. The real potential problem here is that playing with oneself is a solitary pleasure and can leave one's mate out of the loop. Perhaps you could play with him instead and he could play with you.
So is this about underwear, or are you feeling left out?
If you need attention, speak up. Let your husband know exactly what your needs are. Give him a chance to make you happy. He doesn't sound that bad.
As I got to know her personality, I became more attracted to her and in Aug. decided to ask ker out. Her response was that she didn't want a commitment and just wanted to remain friends. We still see each other at least 5 times a week and are really friendly with each other (as in touching, no kissing though). Once in a while I get the feeling from her that she would like more out of the relationship, but she is also very conservative. She wouldn't dream of going to ask a stranger to dance, never mind asking someone out.
I find this relationship frustrating. I still would like to be more than friends, but am not sure how to find out if she would want to become more than friends. What should I do? I don't want to wait forever...
You are seeing her five nights a week, more than just a casual friendship, and yet you say you want more. Reading between the lines, I can guess that what you want is kissing, more touching, and sex. Obviously when a woman tells you she only wants to be friends that means she doesn't want to have a sexual relationship with you at this time.
The bad news and the good news for you is that even the most conservative woman knows how to give signals that she wants kisses and more. She'll let you know when she's ready, and when the circumstances are right, kisses and more will happen. Of course that could be a long time away.
As I've said before many times, the best way for you to awaken whatever latent romantic interest she has for you is to start dating other women. Do that. Have fun and maybe a little romance, while remaining friends with the conservative rollerblader. Let her see that other women think of you romantically, give her occasional hints that you'd rather be dating her, and eventually you'll know whether you'll always be "just friends" -- or not.
Dr. Tracy says, "Is your question urgent? Many of the most beseeching, desperate messages I get are not answered in this column because the answer is just a couple of clicks away in my Love Library. Have you tried my Love Library? I know that nobody goes to libraries anymore, but check this one out -- it's so easily searchable that it's fun and easy to use!"
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