Dear Dr. Romance:
I read your interesting article "Age Differences in Dating". I was in the same relationship until April. I am 10 years older than my date, and we dated for a couple of years, long after his brief marriage ended. We seemed to be very compatible; I'm a veterinarian, he trains dogs; we did great for a while. In many ways, though, it seemed like we had already been married for 20 years. Not much "dating, " taking each other for granted, not trying as hard, etc. Then I moved an hour away for another job, and we lasted less than a year after that. I just wanted him to make a little effort in the relationship and make me feel like I mattered. I'm a girl, so naturally, I had to write a letter. In effect, it said that I either needed him to just make the smallest effort or we needed to call it off. Before he read it, we had the conversation, and he is the one who made it "official." He felt like we hit a dead end, and he wanted to be on his own and be a bachelor for a while. And maybe after that, "we'd see..." and still remain friends. I never put faith in those statements-they always seemed like platitudes. I had no problem with the reasons he gave, although it made me sad-I loved him, but understood him being on his own. I'm pretty independent, too, so I get that, and was never the type woman to keep tabs and keep a leash on him, either. He just didn't want the responsibility of a girlfriend now. Fine.
OK, so he had read the letter after that and called in the middle of the night to chat: about the Dog Whisperer and his midnight snack. When we were together, he went to sleep early. With rare exception, he has called weekly since then, usually just to chat (a couple of vet questions every once in a while). I've only had 2 other really serious boyfriends, but when it was over, it was over. I became friends again with one of them after about a year-he was a client. But I've not heard of exes calling that often. I don't talk to some of my girlfriends that often. One may say that he wants me back or wants to leave the door open. However, he began dating a younger woman, with no education. I know my ego shouldn't be hurt, but really? Despite that, he still calls. He did confirm that they were dating and asked if he shouldn't call anymore. Told him I wasn't sure...I'd like to be able to split him in 2 and keep my friend, but I know the reality. Then, he was coming through town this past Friday, and asked what did I think of looking at these x-rays of his horse and "if nothing else meet up for lunch." Well, both my pride and curiosity agreed to it. We met, I heard about the new girlfriend, who he said was jealous of me and is already worried he's meeting other women at the gym and when he goes out with his friends, etc. I asked if she knew we were meeting for lunch-she didn't. Then I got to hear about their dates. Gees, why tell me that? So, I told him about a man I had gone out with. Then I got 20 questions about him, and felt he put me on the defensive-about the guy having been divorced when I said they were out of the question, his job, where he lived, etc. He also wouldn't make eye contact and got a little fidgety, but said he was happy for me and hoped it worked out. Wasn't that sweet. I didn't ask questions about his new girlfriend. Anyway, it was strange. He hugged when we got there and got out of his car (we were looking at x-rays on my laptop) to hug me good bye. I half hearted returned the hugs.
Sorry this is so long...I can take the spleen out of a dog, but I can't figure out boys. These are my questions:
1) does he truly want to keep me just as a friend in his life? He actually has lots of friends, so why does his RECENT ex need to be one more?
2) why keep calling me when he is dating another girl, who doesn't know he is doing that & likely won't know we met for lunch? not very nice
3) why is he dating her at all when he broke up with me to be a bachelor? One could say it's just for sex, but they actually do go out in public. Even when our relationship was bumpy, the sex was always great.
4) why can't I get up the guts to tell him to quit calling and just leave me alone so I can move on?
I probably wont' see my imaginary boyfriend again-he lives too far away, but I didn't want to seem pitiful or desperate for not seeing anyone and everything else I told him was true!
He is a great guy in a lot of ways, but just wasn't always a good boyfriend. He is still pretty selfish and wasn't all that concerned with my needs or happiness after a while. Friends say "well, he's young." Well, lots of folks are married and have successful relationships, families at 28. Is he sowing his last oats and wants to keep the door open because I'm the marrying type? I'm not even sure I could go back, but do still have strong feelings for him, even though he could be a jerk. Yes, I know I need to do what 's best for me, but I just wish I understood his motivation and how he was feeling. Even my ego would love to hear "I screwed up." I'm not sure I'd get a straight answer even if I asked why he still calls, or what he'd think of a girlfriend meeting up with her most recent ex.
Sorry this is so long, but there was a lot more to it than just the subject line-haha. Hope you have a wonderful day and thanks in advance for any insight you can give.
P.S. I have dated a man 10 years older and 1 10 years younger and one my age... and there's really not much difference with any of them!
It sounds like you met this man too soon after his divorce. He probably cares for you, but isn't ready to settle down, wants to sow some oats while he's "free." That's why he's with a woman you don't think will keep him interested.
Yes, he wants you for a friend -- but a friend is someone you can tell your girlfriend about, and someone who can listen to you talk about your relationships. Neither of you are ready for that. But, you're not calling it quits any more than he is.
Why doesn't he tell his girlfriend? If you two are not having sex, that's probably within his definition of faithfulness, and what she doesn't know won't hurt him. That is, he's avoiding conflict by not telling her.
He's not a loner, so he's dating her so he doesn't have to be alone -- he just doesn't want a commitment, either.
"why can't I get up the guts to tell him to quit calling and just leave me alone so I can move on?"
This is the big question, and only you can answer it. This guy is obviously not ready for a real relationship, so let him go. Maybe he'll be back when he's ready, maybe he'll never be ready. In the meantime, you need to move on. Treading water here will only waste your time. "Letting Go Takes Love"and "Where is Love?" will give you more understanding.
Love Styles: How to Celebrate Your Differences will show you how healthy relationships work, and give you more understanding of men.
Good luck to you.
For low-cost counseling, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org