Q: Hi Meredith,
Background: We met about five months ago. We clicked and started seeing each other three or four times a week right away. It was refreshing to find someone who wasn't playing games -- no waiting to call or holding back feelings about wanting to see each other again. In a way, he renewed my belief that I could find love, too. I'm in my mid-30's and pretty much accepted (pre-him) that I'd be my independent self for life. I like independent me, but I like sharing life with him even more.
After one month of dating we had the official "we're exclusively dating" talk so there hasn't been anyone else in the picture. Shortly after that, we met each other's families.
Then recently, he wanted to have a talk. He's getting nervous as we reach the six-month mark. I thought he was breaking up with me, which caught me totally off guard. Turns out he wasn't, he just wants me to know that he's still figuring out if there's a future for us. (How's that for open, emotional honesty? Makes me love this guy even more.) He hasn't had a lot of relationship experience and that's an issue for him (he's around my age). He's afraid he hasn't dated around enough to know if he should build a future with me or if he should let me go before he hurts me. He also mentioned not wanting to look back a few years down the line and realize I was the one that got away. He's conflicted.
I'm realistic that's it's only been six months and I'm not ready to start talking about living together or marriage or anything concrete, but I want to keep this great thing we have going. I hope I do have a future with him and I let him know that.
I asked him if he wants to see other people (neither of us are the serial dating type). He didn't know at first, but then decided he didn't. I asked him if we should do something differently. He doesn't know. I don't expect him to have decided after six months whether he's ready for a future with me, but I kind of wish he hadn't voiced his doubts, especially since he doesn't know what he wants to do with them. He constantly makes comments about the fact that he's only had one serious girlfriend before.
He had an opportunity to invite me to dinner with his parents the other night but he decided not to. Where does this leave me? Now I'm wondering if I should start to pull back out of self-preservation so I don't get hurt more down the line. I've been inviting him out less to give him the chance to miss me. Is there a way to help him figure it out (even if it means breaking up and moving on)? Should he know by six months if he wants a future together? How much of this is about me and him, and how much is about his relationship history?
– Future for One or Two?, Boston
A: Please don't forget that you're unsure about the future, too. All you have is high hopes, which is normal. The next time he expresses doubts you can say, "Me too. Let's just enjoy each other for now and see how it evolves. There's no other way to do this."
Also feel free to tell him (soon) that his constant talk about relationship history is stressing you out. It's great that he shares his feelings, but he should have some empathy. What are you supposed to say when he brings that stuff up?
If you explain your concerns and he doesn't stop with the fear-of-missing-out talk, you need to end it for your own sanity. My gut tells me that he does want this but that you spent too much time together in the beginning (it's very normal to have a nice dinner with your parents without your girlfriend, by the way). I'm of the belief that we do what we want, especially in our 20s. He had one girlfriend when he could have been dating around, so he probably isn't someone who needs a long relationship résumé to be happy. But he has to come to that conclusion himself.
Be clear about your own concerns and ask him if he can allow this relationship unfold without fixating on all that he hasn't done. See if he can respect your needs. Because if he continues to make this all about him, it just won't work. Talk -- and then evaluate in another six weeks or so.
Readers? Should he be telling her this stuff? Will his fear of missing out go away? Should she end the relationship? Help.
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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.