Friday, June 04, 2010

He Says She's Not Serious Relationship Material

Hi Terry,

Great blog and some great advice. I'd love to hear your take on my present man dilemma.

Almost a year ago I met a man online. The attraction was instant and the chemistry great; we also had a lot of fun together and some great conversations. After a couple of weeks though he became uncomfortable with the difference in our ages. I am 13 years older than him (though I don't look it) and so we broke it off. He called a few times after, but I was not interested.

However, a month or so later I found myself thinking of him fondly and called him. Once again we instantly hit it off and began hanging out together, initially as friends. Gradually we moved further and further away from the friend zone. I asked him if he was now comfortable with the age difference and no, he didn't come right out and say "hey no problem," but he sure came close. And so we got intimate physically.

All was going swimmingly. He referred to me as the girl he was dating. He asked me to come on a business trip with him to New York (at the time I couldn't get away) and we began spending more time together. And then whammo! He pulled back. When I asked him what was up, he said he still wasn't comfortable with the age difference, so therefore wasn't sure this could be a SERIOUS relationship, that he needed some time to get used to the idea, that he was more comfortable with the age thing than he was previously, but not completely. I was completely taken by surprise and pretty rattled. But I tried to stay cool. However, to be honest, I failed completely. In truth I felt rejected.

A friend told me not to take it so personally that if things worked out between us this would eventually seem like no big deal.I tried. I really did. But it stung that he wasn't sure I was serious relationship material because of my age. I started second guessing all his actions and words. For me, the ease and good will that had always existed between us just crumpled under my own stress and scrutiny.

Eventually I broke up with him because I couldn't stand how insecure I was becoming.

I should add here that a few years back I went through a brutal and nasty divorce, and I have been very reticent about getting involved with anyone for some time. Part of me wonders if much of the failure of this relationship lies with my own demons. I have to wonder if I had been the "cool chick" would he have come to see us as a potential serious relationship. Or do you believe if a guy is unsure, that means, "not really all that into you," and he never will be?


Older But Obviously None The Wiser

Dear Quite Wise:

You write:

"Eventually I broke up with him because I couldn't stand how insecure I was becoming."

Seriously, do you have any idea how wise that is? If only more people would back away from a diminishing relationship instead of trying to hunt it down and tie it to a post, the world would be a happier place.

Another person in your situation would have lain awake at night devising plans to make this guy realize that YOU ARE THE ONE FOR HIM, AND HE CANNOT LIVE WITHOUT YOU!

Seriously, another person would have spent months and years on it. But you, no fool, realized that the situation was diminishing you. Despite the fact that you have feelings for the guy, you made the right choice and backed away.

I applaud you, and I respect you.

As for this man's reticence to get fully involved with a woman 13 years his senior, that's his thing. Ashton Kutcher and Katie Holmes notwithstanding, some people prefer to date people their own age. Let's give the guy credit for knowing what he wants (even if he seemed to change his mind for a bit).

I think you hit the nail on the head when you mentioned your reluctance to get involved with another man after a "nasty" and "brutal" divorce. Even the easiest and most amicable divorces are difficult, and having endured a rough one cannot make the prospect of being contractually bound to another human (and regularly trusting him with your body, emotions, and finances) a wholly attractive prospect.

I do think a lot of your attraction for this guy stemmed from his reluctance to get seriously involved with an older woman. After what you've been through, you're likely to be attracted to fun men who excite you but cannot commit for whatever reason. On the surface this results in pain, but it also protects you from ever having to go through a "nasty" and "brutal" divorce again.

I guess my best advice (and I'm only licensed to drive, remember) is to ask yourself if it's possible for you to enjoy a relationship with a man who's completely into you, and then if it's possible to be happily married to a man who's utterly and completely into being married to you.

On some level, you may not believe such a relationship or marriage is possible for you. So go out of your way to prove yourself wrong.

It may help to look around for examples of happily married people. It may help to watch how they treat each other. It will definitely help if you can put yourself in such a marriage on a mental plane. For example, feel yourself in such a relationship. Visualize it. (If you need help with this, check out my ebook.)

Mentally putting yourself in that relationship could be tough at first; such a relationship hasn't been your experience, but if you keep it up (daily; preferably twice, once in the morning and again before you fall off to sleep), it'll start to feel real. At that point, you will probably notice a shift in your feelings about relationships, a certain ease.

If anxiety persists, I recommend you look into Emotional Freedom Technique, which helped me relieve an anxiety problem that persisted after the death of my mother. Otherwise, you might seek an excellent therapist who can help you overcome your understandable fears about getting involved with another person ever again.