Dan and I met for drinks and hit it off instantly. He told me that was madly enamored since he met me but that he knew I was married. To say he was the reason I left my husband would be only half true, but he was the catalyst that started it all and he encouraged me to be happy. My husband and I were clearly separated long before any paperwork and before Dan and I started dating. I told Dan that he should keep dating other people until my divorce was finalized. But he didn’t want to wait, and we started dating shortly after my separation paperwork.
While my husband was mentally abusive, Dan made me feel safe, protected, and loved — things I’ve longed for for SO LONG! And the first six months were amazing! He even brought me home to meet his family, and I’m the only one he’s ever brought home even though he’s 37. He tells me I’m the best thing that ever happened to him, that I’m beautiful, that he’s so lucky, that he wants to marry me and have kids, etc…
Recently, my divorce was finalized (after an eight-month process). It took a lot out of me, on top of work and normal day-to-day stresses. I realize I’m still working out a lot of my issues, but I think something happened to Dan too. A few weeks following my divorce, he started to become distant and moody. He snaps at me. He tells me everything is fine, but I feel like he’s not telling me what’s really going on, and asking too much makes him angry at me or he’ll make a joke instead of addressing it. I’m worried we’re drifting apart. He still tells me I’m beautiful, he’s lucky, he wants to marry me, only now it feels… fake. I want more with him, but making a plan is so frustrating with his indecisiveness.
Lately, my mom has asked if she is going to meet Dan. She’s very excited, and I shared that with him. My mom and I have a very unbalanced relationship, so her taking an interest in him is, in my mind, a step in the right direction for me and her. Dan has been putting off meeting my family, which I figured was because I wasn’t yet divorced and it might be weird. Now that the divorce is finalized, I gave Dan another opportunity to meet my mom, which he agreed to weeks ago. I arranged to celebrate Mother’s Day with my mom on Saturday so we could spend Sunday with Dan’s mom. But yesterday he decided to take his mom shopping on Saturday instead. I thought I was clear in letting him know this was important to me. I was so stunned that all I could muster at the time was, “Sure. Whatever.”
I know the last few months have been hard on us both, but since January all he wants to do is lie around the couch, watch movies, and sit in a dark home theatre. I have no interest in any of those things while it’s sunny out and not snowing! I’ve been out meeting new people, rock climbing, horseback riding, golfing, etc. I’ve tried inviting him, but he doesn’t want to go, makes excuses, and only wants to partake in his hobbies. I’ve met someone rock climbing. We’re friends. Only friends. But maybe something more?
I don’t want to walk away from Dan; I love him dearly. But maybe I’m not being clear enough with him. And with all the back and forth he’s putting me through combined with disregarding my interests and feelings, I am hurting more than ever. Maybe I didn’t give myself time after my divorce? Maybe I jumped from one bad relationship to another? Maybe I should be single for awhile? Maybe I should tell him I need a break? Maybe he only loved me when I was married and he couldn’t really have me? I am so lost. What do you think? — Looking for My Rock
You say you’ve been dating Dan for about nine months but that, since January, he hasn’t wanted to do anything but lie around his house in the dark watching movies, which doesn’t interest you. Apparently, the first six months of your relationship were “amazing,” despite you going through a divorce which you say took a lot out of you. And now you say you want to “make a plan” with Dan but it’s frustrating because of his indecisiveness, and I can’t help wondering what in the world makes you think you or your relationship is ready for a “plan.” You’re complaining about Dan being indecisive as if that’s the only reason you can’t move forward. As if YOU are ready, you are decisive, you know this man and this relationship is what you want. And to that I say: Really?!?!
For most of your relationship, you were going through an exhausting divorce. For at least 1/3 of your relationship — the most recent 1/3 — Dan has been distant and moody. He doesn’t show any interest in meeting your family. He has no interest in pursuing activities you enjoy. It sounds like he doesn’t even want to leave the house with you, but would rather just spend all his time indoors. You, on the other hand, feel like you have a new lease on life now that you’re free of the ex-husband who dragged you down. You’re out there rock climbing, horseback riding, golfing, meeting new people–which is great! But you have this boyfriend who doesn’t want to do any of those things. So… why do you want to be with him? Why do you want to make a “plan” with someone who seems so ill-matched for you? Because he says you’re beautiful? Because he says he feels lucky to be with you? Honey, those are just meaningless words if there aren’t any actions to back them up.
I know it can feel lonely to be single, especially when you’re used to being in a relationship. But that’s not enough reason to stay with someone who doesn’t make you happy. And Dan? It doesn’t sound like he makes you happy. It sounds like he’s creating anxiety and anguish at time when you should be celebrating your freedom. You just got out of a bad marriage! Why not revel in that for a while? Enjoy dating around. Enjoy being single. Enjoy your independence!
This is not the time to let another man hurt you. This is the time to focus on yourself. Go to therapy. Get out all your anger over the way your ex-husband treated you. Do some soul-searching and think about what mistakes you were responsible for in your marriage and how you learn from them and do better going forward. Getting divorced sucks. It hurts, it’s painful, it’s lonely. You can’t avoid all that by jumping into a new relationship. All you do then is just sweep those feelings under a rug or shove them in a closet. But they’re still there. The mess will have to be dealt with eventually. So why not deal with it now so that you have a clean head space when you start your next relationship? Take at least six months for yourself and vow not to get serious with anyone. I promise you’ll be stronger for it and more likely to find a happy and lasting relationship.
If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at firstname.lastname@example.org.