I’ve been dating a guy for seven months. He’s in the middle of an easy divorce (no kids, no assets). I’m going through a divorce too (I have kids). We were head over heels for each other in the first few months. He had no issues with me having kids. He would always ask to see me, and we did tons of fun stuff together. I had a toothbrush at his house, and even had dinners with his parents. Great, right? But in the past few weeks, he’s distant, not making an effort to see me. He makes excuses about work, and when I ask him about it he says I’m overreacting, that sometimes life gets in the way and there’s nothing wrong with our relationship. I’ve been making all the effort, rearranging my schedule to spend time with him, and he doesn’t seem to appreciate it. He has a very lax, “ehhh I’ll see you when I see you” attitude. He says he’s not looking to remarry any time soon and I’m honestly not either, but there has to be an in-between phase, right? We can be in a relationship and take it easy, but I don’t get the 180-degree change in behavior. Why is he so in-between? – Danielle
It could be a lot of things. He could be dealing with a lot of pain. Maybe he’s not that into you anymore. Or he could in truth, be really busy with work and life and all that complicated stuff. But here’s the point: IT DOESN’T MATTER. His deal is his deal. Focus on yourself.
Brass tacks: what do you want? From your email, I think you want this: to date this man, and to see him roughly “X” times a week (whatever “X” is). It’s plain that this guy wants to see you fewer than “X” times. He should probably say that with words, but guys tend to communicate behaviorally. He’s being clear. “X” is too high for him, at least right now. What you want, he doesn’t. So what’s more important to you? This guy’s face, or more face-time with a different guy’s face? It sounds harsh, but it really is that simple. If you want to keep dating him, don’t complain about his time-management preferences. Accept them, and nourish your relationships with your own friends. He’s not going to come around just because you beg or pout. And would you really want him to? It’s a little weak on his part if you badger him into that. So hang out with your friends and family.
You say you’re “rearranging your schedule to spend time with him.” Here’s a thought: stop doing that. Let him see that not making plans turns “I’ll see you when I see you” into “you don’t see me.” If he starts making more plans to hang out, great. If he doesn’t, this wasn’t meant to be, and you can move on. This is not manipulation. This is self-respect. There is no point driving yourself crazy chasing something that another person doesn’t want to give you willingly.
I’ll throw this out too, even though it’s painful to consider. If he’s just six months out from a divorce, he may also be on an Internet-enabled sex fest with women half his age, behind your back. That’s pretty common. I think nagging him about time-use is futile, but you’re perfectly entitled to say this: “I respect your boundaries and time preferences. But if you’re ducking me to go screw other people, I am officially not on board with that. And if you’re doing it while continuing to date me, you are a coward and I’ve lost all respect for you.” Drop those words calmly, wearing something fantastic, then turn on your heel and leave.
Do you know what that speech sounds like to a dude? Strong, self-assured, and frankly … pretty hot. Let me know how it goes.
I want to explore this theme of time together vs. time apart in more detail. Let me speak for men: we don’t understand why women want to spend so much time with us. Sure, we think we’re great. But not that great. And yet some women pine for their men when they’re not around. We don’t get it. What’s the deal? Do you want us all to yourselves? Do you think there’s a baseline amount of face-time that’s fundamental for preserving relationships, below which it starts to wither? How much couple-time do you have in your relationship, and if you fight about it, and how do you resolve those arguments? Please tell me in the comments. And if you think my advice to Danielle sucks, tell me why.
This is our friend Tom. He’s a married guy with tons of relationship experience, and a skilled advice giver who’s here to answer all your pressing sex, dating and relationship questions. Have a query for Tom? Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org! All questions will be posted anonymously, unless otherwise requested.