If a guy is over 40, never married (though may have come close and been in some multi-year relationships), but seems to have been through many many relationships over the years, what are the chances he’s capable of maintaining a healthy long-term relationship that could lead to marriage? Is it even possible? Has he just not found the right one, or at this point is it likely he never will?
I, of course, don’t know all the details, but Mark is definitely a serial monogamist, possibly hasn’t spent much time being single, and has been with a fair number of women who behaved badly/questionably in various ways. This article suggested a guy with these patterns might have insecurity, fear of being alone, need for excitement, and fear of commitment, which all seems pretty logical to me.
But what if I’m being treated great and the relationship feels right – he wants to spend a lot of time together, but doesn’t come across needy/clingy, plans fun things to do, makes me a priority and makes a genuine effort to figure out what I want/need in order to be happy and provide it for me, seems willing to do work in a relationship, curious about my life and past but not too nosy, not critical or judgmental, doesn’t seem to need or want drama, has stated some things he’s learned and ways he’s more mature now than he used to be.
In short, there are no red flags in the present — only in the past. It’s great but I can’t help fearing it will somehow blow up in my face. My gut feelings about how things are and where they’re going are very, very good, but I feel like patterns in someone’s past shouldn’t be ignored. Anyone been in a similar situation and learned from it, either positive or negative? Is it just a matter of “time will tell?” — Troubled By His Past
What I hear you saying is that you’re concerned that Mark is around 40 and hasn’t been married yet, right? And his apparent serial monogamy seems to be part of your concern, as if it says something about his ability to commit that he’s been able to find women he likes enough to date for multiple years but can’t “pull the trigger,” so to speak. So you’re wondering if you’re going to join the ranks of women whose company he’ll enjoy for a time and then move on from, yes? And to this I ask: what does your dating history say about your ability to commit?
Clearly, you haven’t found a “successful” relationship yet, if you’re defining “successful” as a relationship that doesn’t end at some point. Does that mean you’re unable to have a long-lasting relationship that could potentially lead to marriage? And if you have had a relationship that has led to marriage, you’re clearly no longer married, so does that mean you lack the ability to make a marriage succeed? Should Mark be worried about committing to someone whose track record doesn’t include a successful commitment?
If everyone who entered marriage judged his or her future spouses’ ability to commit based on the success of their previous relationships, then none of us would be feeling too confident about our choices, would we? Every single relationship ends until you find one that doesn’t — and even then, you can’t be 100% sure of its success until one of you dies. And since death legally ends a marriage, that effectively means that every single relationship and every single marriage will end one day. So, it’s kind of silly to judge someone’s ability to commit based on his lack of successful previous relationships.
What you’re really asking, of course, is not so much whether your relationship will last forever and ever, but whether you’ll get your heart broken like you assume women in Mark’s past had their hearts broken. And I can’t answer that. I can’t even tell you whether Mark’s past dating patterns indicate a likelihood of that happening. I can’t begin to analyze whether Mark’s dating patterns indicate “insecurity, fear of being alone, need for excitement, and fear of commitment.” And neither can you. And even if you could pathologize your boyfriend’s behavior, it wouldn’t save you from a broken heart. The only thing that will save you from a broken heart is never ever investing any of yourself in a relationship ever again. And that sounds pretty lonely.
Yes, there are risks in dating a man in his 40s who has never been married before. But there are risks in dating anyone, period. Love is a battleground, no matter who the soldiers are or what side you’re fighting for. Every time you open your heart to someone new, whether his or her past is dotted with red flags or as tidy as a freshly-mowed lawn, you risk getting hurt.
And the fact is, you can never know the full truth about someone’s past dating experience. Especially after just two months with the guy, your understanding of his history is basic at best. You’re still getting to know each other. In time, you’ll have more information that will help you decide whether this is someone you could see a future with. But my advice is to place higher value on the relationship YOU have with him, as opposed to the relationship other women have had with him in the past. Doesn’t that make much more sense?
If he’s treating you well, you’re enjoying his company, and he’s showing a willingness and desire to learn about you, make you happy, and move the relationship forward, then for God’s sake, enjoy yourself! Unless there’s a legitimate reason in your relationship to feel anxious, don’t go fishing in each other’s pasts for one. Current relationships take enough work without dragging in issues from former ones to deal with.
If this guy isn’t the one for you, you’ll figure it out eventually. You may not figure it out before experiencing a broken heart, but if you only pursue relationships in which you’re guaranteed to avoid heartache, you’ll never find a meaningful connection. And isn’t that more important to you than sparing yourself a few weeks of sadness?
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