This seems to come up a lot in mid-life dating. The relationship gets off to a good start, and a fast one. The woman is ready to forge ahead and make a commitment. The guy, instead, starts back-peddling. Here are some signs:
- He used to call every morning, noon and evening, and lately he’s even missed a day.
- It’s been fine with the two of you, but he still hasn’t introduced you to pertinent family and friends.
- Suddenly there’s some sort of work-crisis that limits talking during the day.
- He says someone else in his family or circle of friends needs attention, like a brother or adult child.
- He suddenly says he’s going nuts and needs a vacation, and takes off on his own.
In many of these cases another woman isn’t involved, so it’s puzzling. You know he cares a lot about you, and things were going according to a predictable trajectory, and all of a sudden it’s changed.
So you schedule the “we need to talk time,” and what you get is, “Have patience. I’m working things out. I want you in my life but .”
So what do you do?
Well, you’re going to have to use your intuition. It’s typical that many men will forge into a new relationship when they aren’t ready. They haven’t ended an old one, either literally, or figuratively. They may need to file a divorce, and/or to finish some emotional healing.
A new love affair is the best antidote on earth for emotional pain, but it’s beneficial to the sufferer, not to you. You’re in it for real. Is he just numbing himself against the old pain, and taking advantage of the wonderful feel-good chemicals of love?
This doesn’t mean he doesn’t love you; let’s get that straight. But it may mean he simply isn’t available. He may have jumped in with both feet and then turned and realized he was in over his head when he had no business being there at all.
The male brain is hard-wired for certain things which you can’t ignore. It’s like asking the sun not to set. One of them is that they don’t enjoy emotions, like women do; they are driven to release them. This means when they’re feeling something, they want to act on it.
Another is the need to then defend actions taken too hastily
Putting the two together, you may have gotten involved with a man who was suffering from a painful divorce or breakup and felt compelled to do something that would make him feel better, i.e., find a new woman and get some loving; a man who found you very attractive (which you are) and felt compelled to do something about it, i.e., start a romance with you; and a man who then realized he was in over his head and felt compelled to justify it and also buy time, i.e., tell you he loves you (which he does) and that you must BE PATIENT.
So what do you do?
- State what you want, clearly and distinctly. Men aren’t good at picking up subtleties. No sarcasm, no joking, no suppositions, no hints, no innuendos, no beating around the bush. Just say what you want . with HIM.
- No insults. Being judgmental and angry removes you from being able to think, and also from being able to move from a heart-place. You love the guy or you wouldn’t be there.
You played your part in this, so no need to blame either of you. Just time to clean up the communal act.
- State how you feel about him. Not about what he “did,”
but how you feel about him as a person. Why you love him.
If you’re an extravert, you’ll discover as you’re talking to him how you feel. If you’re an introvert, you will have figured this out before you sat down for the talk.
- Listen to him and hear him out. He may have a long “to-do” list. One of my clients (to put the shoe on the other foot) is loves his new girl-friend, but the divorce is still pending, he’s having some health problems, his business is precarious, and he knows he hasn’t completely healed from the breakup with his wife. “I should never have gotten involved when I had such a mess on my hands,” he tells me.
- Understand that at midlife, we step into the current of another person’s life. They will have work in process, grown children, grandchildren, a circle of friends, a house, and a history. Baggage – good and bad, material and emotional. Not just him, all of us.
- When you get “be patient,” take a break. Don’t explain, just do it. Do NOT pursue him. If he calls, listen. Don’t make any suggestions, don’t pressure him, and don’t whine.
- Do NOT do his work for him. If you do, you’re sewing yourself into a bag. Unless he does the work, he won’t be present for what’s going on and if you DO end up together, you’ll get a lot less from him because that’s what you’ve taught him. He’ll take what you’re freely giving, but will see it as his right and just dessert, and not part of the give-and-take of a growing relationship when one of the parties was vulnerable. He’s got to be able to give as well as receive.
- Get back to your life. Likely there are things you set aside in the blush of a new romance. Get back to them.
Start a new hobby or take up a new one; take your professional or personal goals to the next level; get interested in learning something new; get back with friends.
- Don’t blame yourself for poor judgement. At mid-life you’re not going to find a guy who isn’t in the middle of something. It’s a matter of their emotional intelligence, and ability to move forward in their life and keep all the balls in the air.
It’s some guys’ style to be contemplative and get their ducks in order before they make a big change or commitment.
This is the kind of guy you want for a life partner, so it can pay off to be patient. He may have been taken by you, and so moved ahead (to discharge the emotion), but he knows he needs to finish some old business.
It’s also some guys’ style to be commitment-phobic. It’s their pattern to give a girl the bum’s rush and then, when it starts getting “serious,” to start finding fault with her and making excuses.
How do you know the difference? Only with time and some thought. What’s his past history? Was he a bachelor for a long time? Does he appear to be a serial monogamist? Was he unfaithful to former spouses, or flighty in career choices? Is he able to talk about how he feels, and when he does, does it make sense? (“I think you’re sexy” is not a
feeling!) If he’s in a profession requiring much education
(like a college professor or a doctor), he’s more used to working toward long goals than, say, someone in business.
Be sure and check these things out when you’re dating so when you hit a bump in the road you have some idea what to do next.
Written by Sonia Evans