What are we supposed to know after 18 months?
Also, chat day. 1 p.m.
Q: Hi Meredith,
I'm confused about what to do, if anything, about my boyfriend. Quick background: I'm 41, divorced for 2 years, and have been dating a man for 18 months. We were friendly before we started dating, and for the first few months all was great. About three months into it, he surprised me one night by telling me that he was still getting over a former girlfriend, seeing a therapist, and in general, dealing with massive heartbreak. I never saw any of this until he told me. I was OK with it because the truth is that I was (am) transitioning out of a 15 year marriage and wasn't looking for a serious romance. Since then, we've gone on vacation several times, met each other's families, he gets along great with my kids, gotten closer, etc. I am head over heels.
Cut to present: he says that he loves me, can't imagine life without me but is still dealing with the fallout from the previous woman. I believe he's also going through a mid-life crisis. He turns 50 next year, never been married, no kids, bored with job, etc.
I'm not exactly issue free either. I'm about to start working full time after eight years at home with my kids. My finances aren't great (divorce stuff). I'm pretty much a full-time parent and I've been involved in exactly 3 serious relationships since I was 18. I don't have much casual dating experience.
My dilemma: Someday, I would like to create a family again with someone special. We've been dating for 18 months and the "future" question has come up a few times. I have no clear answer and neither does he. Other than this "future" question, things are good. That said, knowing that I do want a family someday and considering all that we are dealing with as individuals right now, do I stay or do I go? How long to too long for a relationship like this? Am I being an idiot?
– Not so sure anymore, Newton
A:NSSA, I've got questions.
When you say you want to have a family "someday," when do you mean? In a year? In five? When you say you want a family, what do you mean? A man living in your home with your kids? And finally, based on your 18 months with this guy, is this the man you want in your home?
If you can't answer those questions with any certainty, why not enjoy the status quo? He says he can't imagine life without you but that he's not quite ready for more. If you're being honest in your letter, you also have some issues you'd like to deal with before you're ready for a greater commitment.
In think your big question is: Does he secretly know that at some point he's going to bail? Good question. I, too, am sitting here wondering whether he's using the whole heartbreak thing to ward off commitment. Maybe. But my guess is that his "I'm still in pain" line means really means, "I'm not 100 percent with you ... yet." And that's OK for right now. As long as he's not 100 percent out and just isn't ready to make his exit.
Can you ask him if he's hoping that a future with you is possible ... in the future? If his answer is, "Yes, I'm hoping for that," I think that's OK. The status quo is just great if you're both unsure and you have high hopes for growing closer. The status quo is only not OK if he's biding his time before he disappears. Ask him, and I think your gut will be able to interpret his answer.
Readers? Am I being too romantic again? Is he actually incapable of committing? Do you believe his heartbreak issues? Is this reader only pretending she doesn't know exactly what she wants? Should she stick around? Discuss.
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Meredith Goldstein is a Boston Globe columnist who follows relationship trends and entertainment. She offers daily advice on Love Letters — and welcomes your comments. Meredith is also the author of "The Singles," a novel about complicated relationships. Follow Meredith at www.meredithgoldstein.netand on Twitter. Love Letters can be found in the print edition of The Boston Globe every Saturday in the G section.