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Should I wait for him to be ready?

Posted by Meredith Goldstein  July 28, 2010 07:21 AM

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I won't be in chat today. I'm in New York with my sister and her boyfriend. But please join Glenn Yoder, who will be dressing up in my clothes and moderating the chat. He'll be there at 1. Wearing heels.

And don't forget to send your book reviews. You know who you are.

Q: So it has come to this. I cannot waste any more of my oh-so-fleeting free time analyzing the relationship I've found myself in for the past 12 months. I am divorced -- married three years, divorced for three years. Physically/emotionally ignorant, abusive ex-husband. An aberration to my upbringing and to my own 32-yr-development of healthy self esteem and identity. Guess I was trying to help/save him. Played like it always does. For three years I've been back to me. Love myself (not narcissistically), LOVE my 5-yr-old daughter (father is the erratic ex), have the best family, and am grateful for every waking moment. Really.

I met "Counterpart," we'll call him, last summer. He was separated for maybe four months from his wife of three years and lived apart from her for that time. He and I have been seeing each other once or twice a month to date since then. His divorce was legally finalized in March. Here's the cute part: we grew up together and were each other's childhood crushes beginning in kindergarten, ending in first grade, but continuing to have the same experiences in the same places w/ mutual friends up until age 22. We moved to different places, thought it would be good to get married to others in our mid-20s per script. His wife, from his explanation, was not nice i.e., which, always wanted her way, got her way, dragged him around until he lost his cool, witty, smart rebel attitude that I had always observed. Now we find ourselves together. He tells me I am the (insert superlative). He claims to never have had as much fun and ease with anyone but me ever. BUT -- he is afraid. Afraid of failing. Afraid of me suddenly rolling my eyes at him. Afraid of me demanding to choose what I want and selfishly ignoring his needs. Afraid of me hating his friends and not wanting to see his family. Afraid of me superficially wanting a big house. These are all things his ex did. These are all things completely out of my character. I am silently insulted. It is not fair. I am being punished for the experiences of his dissolved marriage.

He hates his life situation he's said, all except for me -- "the one thing he has to look forward to and make him happy." I deem him to be the most considerate, heart-warming, compliment giving, humorous, handsome, thoughtful, genuine, naughty in a good way, music loving, hardworking, makes me feel like the only-woman-alive kind of guy. But yes, we see each other only once a month for the past year. Granted we are busy w/ work, family obligations on both ends, me a single mom ... Excuses? He brought up the exclusivity talk immediately when we started dating. We are sure on that. He initiates contact on the phone every two days. Never makes false promises. Every date is like a first date. Fun, but yeah, 16 first dates. In his word he doesn't want us to be anything so that way we cannot break up or hurt each other. You and I know it is past that point. I can't rush him. Should I back away after a year and give him time? I have a daughter to raise and a good career to distract me. But I crave companionship (as long as it is from someone awesome). He just means so much to me, worth it more than any other guy I've encountered. How do I approach this? Do I wait? Is it ultimatum time? Thank you for reading my Walter Mitty stream of consciousness tirade. I love him. Help me.

– The waiting feel is not so fine, Boston

A: I don't know if his reluctance to commit is about you, his ex, his family obligations, or his "rebel attitude," TWFINSF. But I do know that you're already rolling your eyes at him. You're already frustrated that you're not getting what you need.

If you gave him an ultimatum, what would it be? How often would you want to see him? How involved would you want him to be in your life? Figure out exactly what you want and talk to him about it. He'll either want to meet somewhere in the middle -- or he won't. Call it an ultimatum if you want, but I call it honesty. The first-date phase of your relationship has run its course. As you put it, it's past that point.

I know your story is romantic, but you have to forget what happened when you were five. If he's not ready for more than a string of first dates, you have to consider other options. I'm not so sure he can ask for exclusivity and demand distance at the same time. And I'm not so sure you should wait for someone who's content to see you just 16 to 24 times a year. Right now he's a phone friend with benefits.

Readers? Should she wait? Is this about his fear? Is once or twice a month OK when you have family obligations/kids/etc.? Does he get a pass because his divorce is so new? What's going on here? Talk.

– Meredith

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ABOUT LOVE LETTERS: Welcome to Love Letters, the place for love advice (giving and getting). Globe relationship columnist Meredith Goldstein and Boston.com readers are ready to take your letters and tell you what's what. Have a question? Click here to submit or email us at loveletters@boston.com.
Blogger Meredith Goldstein

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.

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