Name: Single Mom
Age: Early Thirties
Question: Is it worth sticking around?
I am an attractive, professional, physically fit, single mom in my early thirties. Ultimately, I would like to remarry and have another child (ren). I usually don’t have trouble getting male attention when I go out, but between being a mommy and my career, getting out hasn’t been a priority. Last year I reconnected with an “ex” from many years ago. About him: he is in his late forties and works in the political arena and is well known in our area. He is considered a very eligible bachelor in his circles. We started sleeping together again within a few months and thereafter spent a great deal of time together. However, during this whole time he was adamant he didn’t want a relationship. So after 7-8 months of dating/sex, I stopped sleeping with him and cut back communication because I knew I ultimately wanted a committed relationship and felt he was being clear he didn’t want one. Fast forward a few months and we start seeing each other again. This time sex is not part of the equation, BUT we are spending more time together than ever before and doing things traditionally reserved for couples: we talk/text several times a day (if he cannot reach me he calls repeatedly); we see each other 4-5x per week often staying over several days; he has met my child and seems to adore her; we have met each other’s family, friends and coworkers; we have gone down to his summer home a few times for extended periods; he has done helpful things around the house; for Christmas he paid off a credit card for me, etc. He has said he loves me although he has made it clear he is not in love. Also, very clear is that he still says he doesn’t want a relationship. After digging a little deeper this time, he told me after how horrible his divorce was and how another serious relationship ended… he doesn’t want to go there again. He says he cares for me and he knows I am a great catch, but he just can’t do a relationship. I guess what I don’t understand is how a relationship would be any different than what we are doing now besides slapping a label on it. It has been about a year and half of on and off dating without a commitment and about a year since I last slept with him. My question is, should I ride this out longer to see what will happen or cut ties completely with him. With as much time as we spend together, I don’t have time to explore any other options or to even keep my options open. What makes it hard for me to decide is that unlike other men I have dated he acts like he wants a relationship, but says otherwise, whereas my experience has been with men saying they wanted commitment, but their actions were completely at odds with that.
Let’s see…late forties, divorced eligible bachelor. Side note: Know who else was a successful eligible bachelor? Liberace. Moving on.
I’m stuck on the part where you let this man that you’re not dating/sleeping with pay your credit card. I mean, doesn’t that feel odd to you or ring any bells? Tell me again what he’s getting out of all of this? It’s clear what you’re getting: you get a show pony to trot around town and show off to your family and friends and pay your bills AND you don’t have to have sex with him. It doesn’t sound like the lack of sex really bothers you. The only thing that appears to bug you is that he refuses to agree to be your boyfriend. That’s all quite telling to me. Do you even want a relationship with him or do you just want to be able to say you have a relationship with him?
More intriguing is how you’re making it sound like he’s doing all of these of his own volition. Which, sorry, I’m dubious about. If you’re asking him to help hang a picture or fix something or attend a family party, he’s doing it because you’re making the request. That’s completely different than if he offered to do all these things. Maybe he just likes being needed. You could be exploring other options. You’re choosing not to. It sounds like maybe you’re creating a certain atmosphere so you can turn around and accuse him of acting like a boyfriend.
I guess what I don’t understand is how a relationship would be any different than what we are doing now besides slapping a label on it.
Well, no. One other thing that you’d be doing is sleeping together. You’re not. You and this man aren’t dating. At best you’re just good friends and he’s hanging around for the companionship and possible professional benefits. He’s made it clear that he doesn’t want a relationship with you, he’s not sleeping with you and thereby building up expectations. A man can not want a relationship but still want sex. He doesn’t even want sex from you. He’s just hanging out with you. You are allowing this because it allows you to appear as though you have a man. There’s no mystery here. He’s just your friend. You’re the one building this up into something it isn’t. He’s likely getting the sex from someone else and the companionship from you. Did you think he’s been going without for the past year? Of course not. He’s just not getting it from you because he doesn’t want to lead you on and make his life more difficult. I have several male friends who buy me drinks and pay for my meals and attend family functions with me. It doesn’t mean we’re dating. It means we’re friends. Other than paying your credit card bill, which baffles me and does makes me question his motives slightly, this guy isn’t doing anything that doesn’t fall under the category of friendship.
Find someone else. This guy doesn’t want to be in a relationship with you. You’re hitching your wagon to the wrong horse insisting that the guy is acting like a boyfriend. No, he’s not. He’s made his position clear and now feels like he can just be himself. His reasons for not wanting to be in a relationship with you don’t matter. He’s being polite. He’s not interested in dating you. He’s giving you phony reasons for why you can’t be together, probably because you keep trying to force a relationship that doesn’t exist.