Does A Relationship Need A Timetable?

Hi advice guy!
You’ve answered me a couple times in the past and I’ve been very appreciative. I’m hoping maybe you have some advice for my current situation.

So, I’ve been dating a guy for six months now. When I met him, he had been divorced for almost a year and separated from his wife for a year and a half. His ex-wife pretty much pulled the rug out from underneath him one day and said she wanted out of the marriage. He found out about a month later that she was having an affair with a 55 year old professor at the college they both attended. Now that I’ve met his family and known him for 6 months, I am very confident that while things were probably not perfect between them, the divorce was mostly about her father issues. I don’t think my guy was much of a factor, though he probably missed some red flags about her since he married her when he was fairly young.

Now, he and I have a very good relationship. He still does a lot of pursuing, thought I reciprocate a lot more now. We spend a ton of time together, we have great chemistry on all levels, lots of fun together, etc, etc. All in all, it’s a very good fit and I’ve felt for a while now that I have probably met the person I will marry.

He seems to know that’s where we are headed, and it clearly terrifies him. He says it’s not so much the getting married part, but everything that has to happen after that overwhelms him — buying a house, having kids, etc. Though, he has been very clear that he wants a family some day. He told me he would never understand what he’s feeling right now unless he had been through the divorce and that he knows it’s probably hard for me to understand why he feels that way. He said he doesn’t want to date anyone else, he loves me and thinks I’m wonderful, but he just wants to take things one day at a time right now. Basically, things are great with us right now. We enjoy being with eachother a lot. He’s just uncertain about how soon he wants to do the marriage thing, while at the same time putting a lot of pressure on himself because he says he’s not the kind of guy who’s going to date me for two years without either moving things forward or ending it as soon as he knows he’s not ready to get married for a while.

So, in a nut shell, here is my fear: In six months or so, he’s still not ready to get married again and we break up because of it. The thing is, I have no timeframe and I’m putting no pressure on him. He’s doing all of that to himself. I just love being with him, and if we get married some day, I want it to be because he wants to be with me for the rest of his life, not because we’ve been dating for a while and it’s the “right thing to do”.

He treats me so well. He’s planned several very nice things for my birthday in December. We’re going on a trip together in January. I’ve met his whole family and he says they like me a lot. He calls me pretty much every day to talk, at least for a little while, he spends a ton of time with me. He does small sweet things for me too. He’s very thoughtful and caring.

In a way, I feel like there’s nothing I can do except what he said — take things one day at a time and things will become clear to him eventually. It just feels like such a huge risk. Things are great right now, but I’m very scared about the future with him.

Do you have any advice for me in this situation? Is there anything I should be doing or not doing? Do you think it will just take time for him to work through the remnants of his first marriage and that he’ll come around eventually? He is such a genuine person with a pure heart. Part of me is sure he will work through this and things will be fine. But part of me is worried.

Thank you in advance for your advice!

Hi Susie,
You have everything to be worried about. From what you’ve told me, on one level he’s this great guy, full of fun and affection, while on another level he’s this scared little kid about dealing with the future.

If he was a friend of mine in this situation I’d tell him that shit happens and to get his head out of his ass and love the woman he’s with and plan a future together. (Excuse my boldness.)

History does not have to repeat itself but if this is what he’s afraid of then he needs counselling to deal with these issues because they will not go away on their own, nor will they diminish over time.

Taking life one day at a time is a huge red flag that he may bolt when things do come to the point where he can’t deal with them. And, unfortunately, the clock is ticking.
Best wishes,

2 thoughts on “Does A Relationship Need A Timetable?

  1. Hi Rob,
    I came across this site today and I am feeling kind of blue today. I have been divorced 11 years, our two kids are in college. We never spoke about the divorce until recently. I felt we had unfinished business and needed to talk about it, even though he has remarried. We were together a long time, 5 years dating, 13 years married. He was very emotionally unavailable, he was romantic during our dating pretty much and for the first two years of marriage but we fought sometimes. He left me pretty much lonely all the time. He was all about his job, going to the office, and I did most of the childcare and kept a nice home. He had some job problems and that’s when he really got distant. He started to flirt with my sister, he has a thing for bigger women. He denied it but he’d pretend to be with her when we were together. He did make a pass at her but nobody told me about it until years later. He denied it and said she was lying. Years went on, he was totally involved in his own thoughts and not me. He started going into the chatrooms at night. This went on for two years, he’d come to bed around 2 am and sex stopped, actually I fell out of love with him and didn’t want to do it anyway. His friend paid me some attention, I used to ignore it but I gave in, I was so low and vulnerable. I divorced him and left the state, started dating him. My ex was upset naturally but still would never talk about it. This relationship lasted 3 months and I got out of it. We stayed in different states all this time. He continued to stay in the chatrooms, mostly with BBW type of women. I am average sized. He married a woman that was actually bigger than my sister but she resembled her. She is taller than him and younger by 20 years. She moved in with him from another state, it’s been 2 years now. I stayed out of it. Through the years, I’ve always wanted some closure, and I wanted to talk about why we divorced, it wasn’t all my fault but I am responsible for 50%. I wrote an apology letter for my part, he didn’t open it until two months later. Every year I’ve let him visit the kids at my place at Xmas time. He calls me all the time and says I am his best friend. We’ve gotten along well being apart but inside I was always torn by the non-communication and emotional distance. He has never made a pass, and he doesn’t even touch me or hug me. He has gone on vacations with us in the past. I usually see him every year. I’ve been too easy on him to just walk in my life. I didn’t date much, I’ve been raising the kids and my mom lived with us.This Xmas he visited us and stayed 10 days. We have had trouble with our son with drugs, and prescription drug abuse for the last two years. We got closer talking all the time about the kids. I told him I can’t be this temporary family anymore. He needs to talk to his wife and not me, plus have holidays with his new family. He said we are just friends and nothing is going on between us. I still have feelings for him, I’ve known him for so long and I am alone currently. I finally asked him about the why’s, and I got crappy answers, like the internet was a new thing, I was just experimenting and my sister thing was just a little thing! This went on for months! I told him I would always love him that I still had feelings for him but how did he feel about me. (also he buys me things all the time, rug, dishes, lamps, spa package, dinners, gives me money, etc. He calls to talk because he said he can’t talk to his wife like me. Also the kids can’t stand her, she doesn’t like them to visit and so he thinks he can come here. I told him we were probably soul mates that went wrong. He said he likes me only as a friend, the mother of his children. I said did you ever love me, and he said yes, when we married. I feel like a complete fool for letting him be in my life so much. He told me someday I should set a goal and meet someone too. I feel so used now, how can he be so unemotional? I feel like nobody hs ever loved me now.

  2. You need to understasnd that he’s move don but holding onto you as a way to stop you from enjoying the life you should have.

    The kids will always keep you tethered to him but you must breakl free for your own good. You divorced him because of how he made you feel about yourself. Now is the time for counselling so you can heal and move on.

    Please find a local counsellor, someone you can talk to that won’t pick sides.

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