Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

Your Turn: “He Doesn’t See a Future With Me”

In a feature I call “Your Turn,” in which you, the readers, get to answer the question, I’m presenting the following letter without commentary from me:

I am a 27 year old female and have been dating a 30 year old man for 1 1/2 years. He is kind, thoughtful, attractive, smart, treats me well and I am in love with him. But…(isn’t there always a but?) he is unable to say he loves me or sees a future, not just for me, but for himself. He is not sure if he ever wants to get married or have children, which was once upon a time his “childhood dream.” This could be in part due to his very bad and long divorce process that finalized just a month after we started dating. It took 2 1/2 years because his ex became pregnant by her ex-boyfriend and they had to establish paternity for the courts.

He tells me he is emotionally screwed up. He also seems to have low self-esteem but when I bring it up he denies it and changes the subject. When I thank him for the wonderful things he does for me he will either not respond or will say “whatever,” as if what he does has no value. When anyone tries to do him a favor, give him a gift or even return his help in kind he refuses point blank. Still, the only negative thing I can think of in our day-to-day interactions is that he plays a LOT of video games, but he didn’t start this until he was laid off from his job, so the video games seem to be an escape from his life. To say that he is depressed is an understatement.

He is a wonderful man and even if we don’t work out I will not regret being with him, but should I stay in a romantic relationship with him? I want to have a family some day and due to some issues I have biologically, getting pregnant could be a challenge, so I can’t put it off much longer. I would take him at his word concerning marriage and family, but his word is “unsure.” — Unsure, Myself

71 comments… add one
  • avatar

    oldie May 11, 2011, 3:06 pm

    MOA. After a year and a half, he can’t say that he loves you or sees a future together, while you see yourself as at the time to start a family. That is not a match. It sounds like the two of you are unable to seriously discuss the things that are most important to you and the things in your relationship that cause unease for you. That is not a good sign.

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    LolaBeans May 11, 2011, 3:08 pm

    LW, MOA. there is no future here. he even told you so; that should be enough to make up your mind.

    Good luck!

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  • avatar

    Desiree May 11, 2011, 3:11 pm

    MOA. Not because he is a bad guy, but because he can’t be what you want and need. Not now, maybe not ever, and certainly not without therapy and significant alone time. It sounds like you two got together before he had progressed enough in the post-divorce healing process. It also sounds like he has some major issues with interpersonal relations right now. He isn’t concealing this from you: he isn’t able to say “I love you” after a year and a half, and he isn’t making any false promises. But he IS telling you exactly what you can expect from the relationship (that is, not much), and it isn’t what you need. The thing is, he probably won’t break it off, because he is probably not in a good enough place mentally to do so. So, if you really want marriage and kids (and relatively soon), you will have to end this.

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    • avatar

      emjay May 11, 2011, 9:45 pm

      I agree. Their relationship started durning divorce proceedings (if I read correctly). And also, I don’t believe you mention why they divorced. Maybe she cheated, and he has trust issues. Maybe after one failed marriage, he is no where near ready to jump back into that boat. Its not you personally LW, he is not in a place where he should be in a serious committed relationship. As far as MOAing I believe this is the only thing you could do to help him. why don’t you suggest therapy because he seems depressed. Is he looking for a job? He needs to do something that gets his mind focused on other things than what he considers his failures. You can stay an encourage him, and be attentive in his thoughfulness, but at the end of the day you have to have what is going to fullfill your wants and needs. Sometimes it doesn’t hurt to put yourself first, especially since he is not interested in you helping him. Sorry Desiree. I didn’t mean to give a whole long answer attached to yours, I just couldn’t help it. The thoughts just all came out 🙂

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  • MaterialsGirl

    Elizabeth May 11, 2011, 3:15 pm

    Depression sucks for everyone involved. If he were depressed but knew that he wanted to be with you, that would be one thing and I would say “okay maybe get into some therapy together and stick it out for a little bit,” but in this case no. You need to detach yourself from this situation. Sounds like he has a lot of healing to do before he is able to commit again. Maybe that will be with you, maybe not, but the fact that he isn’t able to say that he loves you is telling. It IS better for both of you to go your separate ways. He doesn’t sound like he’s in much a state to appreciate, well, pretty much anything.

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  • avatar

    sistine May 11, 2011, 3:17 pm

    It looks like there are 2 things to consider here. Him getting help for his depression and where you’re relationship is going. Concerning his depression, he has to want help before he can get help. Is he motivated to try and better himself? He’s already stated that he’s aware that he’s emotionally screwed up/depressed, but does he leave himself open for help? Is the trying to find a job? Is he willing to seek out therapy? Have you already tried encouraging him to seek out help? If not, it’s worth discussing. I think you should talk to him and let him know that you love him but “unsure” is no longer an acceptable answer for you as far as the future of your relationship is concerned. If he can’t give you the kind of future you want (marriage and kids, things that are non-negotiable) and isn’t willing to work towards that you don’t really have much choice but to move on. See if he’s open to working on his problems. If he is, give yourself a realistic timeframe for how long you’re willing to wait. If he isn’t, there’s no real point in staying in a relationship that has no future.

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  • avatar

    Quakergirl May 11, 2011, 3:17 pm

    If he’s not sure about a future, and you aren’t willing (and rightly so) to wait on major life steps like marriage and kids, you have to move on. I feel like this is one of the toughest situations, because I get that you genuinely love him, and in reality he probably does love you too. But love isn’t all you need– you need shared goals and values, a similar vision for your future, and most of all emotional availability on both sides. It doesn’t sound like this relationship has those things. As tough as it is, you need to move on if marriage and kids are something you want.

    I would suggest that you alert a sibling or close friend of your boyfriend and ask her/him to keep an eye out for him, though, and maybe even encourage him to get some counseling. You can’t be his babysitter after the breakup, but it sounds like the guy is understandably severely depressed and in need of a helping hand. You clearly love and care about him, so just make sure there’s someone else there for him so that you’re not tempted to run back and take care of him.

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    • MaterialsGirl

      Elizabeth May 11, 2011, 3:19 pm

      yeah don’t pull the ‘half relationship’ business that another LW is currently in. No bueno.

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  • avatar

    lindseylee May 11, 2011, 3:18 pm

    MOA honey! I’m sure he’s a good guy but you have to listen to what he’s telling you: he doesn’t want what you want. You’ll waste years hoping that he’ll change. He will only change if HE wants to, not because you cajoled or begged or waited around. Maybe you can be friends or something.

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  • avatar

    spaceboy761 May 11, 2011, 3:18 pm

    You really have to decide how important the timing of marriage and children is to you, because this guy won’t be ready for either for a few years. Between the infidelity, divorce, and unemployment, he definitely has a lot to work through before making any future committments. It’s possible that he’s also working through depression, but he just as easily could have no mental health issues while having life ABSOLUTELY SUCK. It’s hard to tell. Either way, you have to decide between how much you like this guy and how fast you want kids. There’s no correct answer.

    I don’t like the rule of thumb of throwing away any guy that isn’t ready to commit the marriage within a year. I’m not sure who made it up (my gut says to blame Patti Stanger), but it’s a load of crap. By doing that, you pretty much rule out every guy with any kind of personal or professional ambition other than getting some chick wedded and bedded. If he drags it out for like ten years, you might have a point, but one year is very fast.

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    • avatar

      MissDre May 11, 2011, 4:05 pm

      I agree, one year is pretty fast. I’ve been with my boyfriend for a year now and I’m getting a lot of people asking if we’re talking about marriage or moving in together… it messes with my head because it’s got me half-hoping for a proposal. But I know that’s not going to happen for a while, since he’s working two jobs to finance the business he wants to start.

      I know we’re on the same page though, and that we want the same things. So I’m willing to wait a few more years.

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      • avatar

        spaceboy761 May 11, 2011, 4:26 pm

        It always blows my mind when people are so psyched to cram marriage down your throat as if it’s the only thing that matters:

        Scenario A:

        MissDre: I’ve been dating my boyfriend for three years. He used to be an A&F model but now he’s a Physics PhD that started his own successful hedge fund.
        Friend: No ring yet?!
        MissDre: No…
        Friend: MOA girl!

        Scenario B:

        MissDre: I met my boyfriend three months ago. He’s an unemployed ice cream truck driver and still on parole.
        Friend: Oh…
        MissDre: He proposed last night.
        Friend: I AM SO HAPPY FOR YOU!!!!!!1!!!!11!!!!

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      • avatar

        kittyk May 11, 2011, 4:36 pm

        Seriously cracking up over here!

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        MissDre May 11, 2011, 4:43 pm

        Ahahaha!

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      • avatar

        melikeycheesecake May 11, 2011, 5:04 pm

        Hilarious!!!

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      • avatar

        Caris May 11, 2011, 8:52 pm

        lol!!

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      • avatar

        EB May 12, 2011, 7:33 am

        this made my life!

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      • avatar

        spaceboy761 May 12, 2011, 9:28 am

        I’m glad that all of you enjoyed my dramatic recreation of events, because when I showed this to my wife she looked me dead in the eye stonefaced and said, “That just isn’t funny.”.

        So in case any of you were wondering what I live with, that.

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      • avatar

        TheOtherMe May 12, 2011, 10:21 am

        We wanna meet spacegirl761 ! ( or is it Mrs. spaceboy761 ? )

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      • avatar

        spaceboy761 May 12, 2011, 10:42 am

        It’s spacewife761 and this designation was preceded by spacegirlfriend761 and spacefiancee761. Spacegirl761 would be my sister if I had one.

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        Elle May 12, 2011, 11:26 am

        wouldn’t that make you spacehusband761?

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      • avatar

        spaceboy761 May 12, 2011, 1:57 pm

        Spacehusband761 would be my husband in a hypothetical same-sex relationship that would exist in a future time where same-sex marriage is legal in NY. Supposedly, Gov. Cuomo is working on it, so there’s that.

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    • avatar

      dobby May 11, 2011, 4:46 pm

      ha ha… Patti Stanger… that was funny…

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  • avatar

    callmehobo May 11, 2011, 3:19 pm

    I’m sorry, LW, this is obviously a tough situation for you.

    First off, if it’s been a year and a half and he can’t even say whether or not he’s in love with you or even wants to be with you in the future- that’s kind of harsh. Especially if you’ve told him you want a future with him? You deserve to be with someone who wants to be with you. Period.

    He’s told you what he wants, please believe him. Yes, you should take him at his word. He’s been married before. He’s made the decision to build a future with someone before- so it’s not that it’s cold feet; it’s just that he doesn’t want that with you. He’s also told you that he’s screwed up. BELIEVE HIM! It is not your job to give up on your dreams in an effort to help him overcome his depression/other emotional issues.

    He seems like a nice guy who has been hurt to the point that he cannot commit to giving you what you need. That doesn’t make either of you bad people- it just makes you bad for each other. I think you should move on and find someone willing to build a family with you- and who knows, you leaving might motivate him to get the help he needs.

    Good Luck, LW!

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  • avatar

    cmarie May 11, 2011, 3:44 pm

    LW you need to MOA for quite a few reasons: first, he’s told you he’s unsure of his future, if he wants a future with you. After a year and half he should be able to say that he loves you, not that’s he’s unsure. Secondly, he seems content with his situation. He says he knows he’s screwed up but shuts you down everytime you need to talk about it. If he’s ever going to get help for his depression and the horribleness of his divorce he has to want to change, not just awknowledge that there’s something wrong. He obviously isn’t ready to take the steps he needs to change. Lastly, you deserve better. You say you love him and you want a future with him but he can’t even give you confirmation of his affection? What kind of relationship is that? You know the future you want and know that you have limited time to get it. If you have infertility issues that you know will make it harder for you to get pregnant the longer you wait, why are you waiting for a guy who doesn’t want to be the man you need? I agree with bittergaymark above that it’s silly to leave a guy if he’s not ready to marry after a year but when you combine all the other reasons it’s obvious that this isn’t a good relationship for you, or him, and it’s not going to give you what you need. For him to become the type of person who can be a good partner he needs to get help and right now he’s not willing to. Don’t waste years waiting for him to change only to find that you’ve missed you window to get pregnant and resent the heck out of him, and believe me, eventually you will. You love him but that will turn to resentment the longer you wait for him to get his act together while refusing any help from you, or anybody else. MOA

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  • avatar

    ReginaRey May 11, 2011, 3:45 pm

    Wow, what a difficult situation. I agree with some of the commentary above – not being able to tell you that he loves you after over a YEAR of dating is a huge, violently waving red flag. But that’s only the tip of the iceberg here.

    I think he probably began dating you FAR too soon. He finalized his divorce, a very difficult and depressing situation, during the time when you’re supposed to be in the honeymoon stages of a new relationship! Your relationship with him never had a healthy foundation, because he has yet to be in a healthy place in his life after his divorce.

    That, above all things, is why you need to move on. Your boyfriend never got the chance to work through the (very likely) depression he suffered during his divorce, and he is currently incapable of being the kind of partner you (and anyone!) needs. I think that jumping into a new relationship right after his divorce was a way to perhaps hide from dealing with his feelings – about his ex, about himself, about his life’s path – and you are currently filling a stand-in role in his life. You’re not “the amazing girlfriend who I love dearly,” you’re “the girlfriend I don’t really love and can’t appreciate…but I’m scared to be alone.”

    I have a very firm belief that no one is ready for a relationship until they’re happy with themselves. Your boyfriend isn’t happy with himself at all. He needs time alone to go to therapy, deal with his issues head-on, and figure himself out. I think the best thing is for you to let that happen. Make yourself available to men who are emotionally available to you NOW. Best of luck.

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    • avatar

      Laurel May 11, 2011, 4:14 pm

      I agree completely. Getting together during the breakup of his divorce is just setting you two up for a bad dynamic.

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      • avatar

        spaceboy761 May 11, 2011, 4:27 pm

        Yeah. I’m not sure what she was expecting there.

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      sistine May 11, 2011, 4:30 pm

      I’m not really sure about the divorce affecting their relationship because of the timeframe. She says they started dating a month before the divorce was finalized and since it took 2 and 1/2 years to finalize, he had been broken up for over 2 years prior. The divorce may factor into him not wanting to get married again and even his depression in some way but I do think he’s had adequate time to accept the end of his previous marriage before he started dating her.

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      • avatar

        ReginaRey May 11, 2011, 5:23 pm

        I think you’re right in saying that he’s had time enough to accept it…whether or not he’s accepted it, he’s still clearly reeling from it. 2.5 years sounds like enough time to get over someone, but it must be difficult to do that when you’re going through a divorce and you can’t get away from them…be that physically, mentally, emotionally, etc. By the time he could allow his mind to think about anything else, he was already with the LW. He didn’t give himself time to just be single without the strain of divorce weighing him down. I think he needed some serious time alone, with the divorce over and done with, before he moved to the next relationship.

        I’m sure some people are able to move on faster, but for whatever reason her boyfriend is not one of them. He needed to learn to be happy on his own and in his own time frame, and he clearly hasn’t accomplished that.

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        ReginaRey May 11, 2011, 5:23 pm

        I think you’re right in saying that he’s had time enough to accept it…whether or not he’s accepted it, he’s still clearly reeling from it. 2.5 years sounds like enough time to get over someone, but it must be difficult to do that when you’re going through a divorce and you can’t get away from them…be that physically, mentally, emotionally, etc. By the time he could allow his mind to think about anything else, he was already with the LW. He didn’t give himself time to just be single without the strain of divorce weighing him down. I think he needed some serious time alone, with the divorce over and done with, before he moved to the next relationship.

        I’m sure some people are able to move on faster, but for whatever reason her boyfriend is not one of them. He needed to learn to be happy on his own and in his own time frame, and he clearly hasn’t accomplished that.

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      • avatar

        Caroline May 11, 2011, 6:21 pm

        If the LWs been dating him for over a year already wouldn’t he have broken up with his ex-wife over 3 years ago?

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      MissChievous May 11, 2011, 6:58 pm

      You are on fire lately!

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    • avatar

      EB May 12, 2011, 8:51 am

      I think the LW needs to also consider the possibility that this is not just situational depression but rather a mental illness that her BF might struggle with for the rest of his life.

      My partner was put in a similar as the LW a year and a half into our relationship when I fell into such a deep depression, even showering seemed like an insurmountable task. Being alone with my own thoughts was so unbearable that i would use any means of escape(tv, books, etc.) as I would literally count down the minutes until I could go to sleep. I think it’s fair to say this is NOT what my boyfriend signed up for when he started dating me.

      However, unlike your boyfriend I did everything in my power to get “better” and it was still incredibly difficult to make progress. I now realize better is a relative term; depression isn’t like breaking a bone where it can just be fixed.

      My point is even with the best intentions, I’m never going to be the same person I was when we started dating. Even though I’m in a good place now, our relationship is different now that we know there is always the possibility of relapse. We had to accept that my emotional instability made me unreliable to the point to where my partner had to decide if he was willing to shoulder the the responsibility of being the sole financial provider, willing to accept that at times he would have to give 90 % as i could only give 10%, and give up his plansfor biological children. I really lucked out finding someone as wonderful as him because I most likely would have walked away if the situation had been reversed.

      This doesn’t seem like something your boyfriend will “snap out of” especially since he is making NO effort to improve his state of being. I don’t know how serious or chronic your boyfriend’s depression is or will be but from my experience I’ve learned that staying with someone who suffers from mental illness generally requires making sacrifices. LW, you say you’ll regret not ending up with him but it seems like you will also regret not having a family. I think you need to decide which one you would regret more and make that your priority.

      *but even as someone who can empathize with what your bf’s going through, my gut feeling is MOA

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      • avatar

        demoiselle May 12, 2011, 6:48 pm

        Don’t get too discouraged–I, too, have struggled with acute depression. However, it can very often be managed well with medicine. I can’t speak to your own case, of course, but I had similar thoughts about never being the same person, and as I’ve been on the right medicine/got into a good routine of sleeping/eating/exercising, I’ve found that I am me again. And I am not a burden to my partner. Those thoughts (for me) were just the depression speaking.

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        EB May 12, 2011, 8:19 pm

        I am not discouraged nor do i feel like I am a burden to my partner. I am on medication and things have gotten better but in my case it has forced me to realize I have certain limitations.That being said I still bring many other valuable traits to the relationship.
        For me this whole journey has made me realize life is all about adapting. Just because I am not the same person I previously was doesn’t mean I am not happy with the person I am today. While i occasionally mourn that former version of myself, I also realize the experience has ultimately made me stronger, more compassionate, and that I take far less for granted. However, I do appreciate your thoughtful ans supportive comment

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      phoenix287 May 12, 2011, 5:24 pm

      “I have a very firm belief that no one is ready for a relationship until they’re happy with themselves.”

      This gets my vote for comment of the week!

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  • avatar

    LTC039 May 11, 2011, 3:56 pm

    As everyone else is suggesting, MOA!
    This man has very very VERY deep rooted issues that *you* cannot fix. He needs serious counseling. I am not saying he is a bad person, on the contrary, he has suffered greatly & is expected to have baggage! But for your own happiness, this is not the guy for you. If you want to get married & have children you need to leave this man. You guys are on very different pages & I don’t think anything you do at this point is going to change his mind.
    Move on, heal, & focus on what’s going to benefit you. Staying with him is only going to lead to unhappiness, frustration, & self-esteem issues for you.

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  • Jess

    Jess of CityGirlsWorld.com May 11, 2011, 3:58 pm

    I am so sorry LW. Tough, tough situation because all of the other ingredients are there but not those essential intangibles. To me, the decision to move on comes down to the nuances.

    If he said he WANTED marriage, kids, and a future but he was afraid (not uncommon in my experiences and observations!)–you could work with that I think. But his stance (whether motivated by fear or not) is that he is not even sure he wants them. THAT is a sign of a problem of a deeper level.

    Also, if he struggled with commitment but was sure he loved you (also not uncommon!), you could work with that too. But being unsure of LOVE, the most essential backbone to any lasting relationship? Again, that’s a sign of a deeper problem.

    I fear like others have said, that there will be no short road to the place you hope to reach (if there is any road at all). Leaving someone is insanely hard and only you can decide about the compromises you are willing to make. For me, hearing I Love You is an absolute essential. Without it, I cannot feel that I am an equal partner. Without, I have no faith. Without it, I don’t have the strength to make sacrifices.

    Maybe it’s time to have a talk where you are more honest about your needs and your absolute willingness to walk out if you don’t get them. Everyone compromises in relationships, there is no doubt of that. But some things are not negotiable. Love and a future are top of that list…

    Wishing you luck and strength…

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  • avatar

    Meg May 11, 2011, 4:01 pm

    Previous responders’ advice to MOA is certainly warranted, but if you really feel like he may be the guy for you, your only option is a last-ditch “Come to Jesus” conversation. Tell him what you need in order to stay in the relationship, what your long-term dreams are and ask if he’s willing to do the work personally to find out if he wants the same things. That means dealing with his depression through therapy, and he has to want to go for himself, even if your relationship is the impetus to get him to do it.

    There’s a good chance he won’t be ready to take this step yet, and you’ll have to let him go. This might be the best thing for him, because it’ll force him to stand on his own two feet and move forward. But if you won’t feel right unless you’ve given it a chance, spelling out your needs and requiring him to figure out whether he can meet them might give you a little closure.

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    Kerrycontrary May 11, 2011, 4:03 pm

    Woah woah woah. Hold on a second. You began this letter with one “BUT” which is “but he is unable to see a future with me, or for himself.” The problem is that there isn’t one “BUT” in your relationship, you went on to list that he is emotionally screwed up, has low self-esteem, plays video games constantly, is unemployed, and is depressed. In general, I think you should accept people for how they are, not who you think they can be. Plain and simple, your boyfriend sounds a loser to me! I’m sorry if that’s harsh, but it’s true. I don’t blame him for not wanting to get married, and frankly he’s acting more mature about the marriage situation than you. He needs to get himself together before he can even think of planning a life with someone else. Need I remind you that you started dating right as he was getting divorced!? Perhaps he’s a little cautious about marriage and really does see it as a big commitment. Plus, why would you want to marry an emotionally screwed up, insecure, unemployed, depressed man that wastes all of his time playing video games? MOA and find someone else with less emotional baggage.

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    • fast eddie

      fast eddie May 11, 2011, 8:04 pm

      WAY harsh Kerry, I was dead broke deep in debt and unemployed when the my wife and I first got together and we turned just fine thank you very much. If a divorce and losing your job aren’t enough to bum you out I’d rather not think about what would. Her need to hasten conception is her problem and her’s alone. He’s been honest with her thus the discussion to continue or bolt is also her’s to make. Calling him a loser is out of line and downright impolite.

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    oldie May 11, 2011, 4:06 pm

    I don’t think your answer is in the best interest of the LW. It is encouraging her to go on being a way-station and crutch for a guy who doesn’t love her. She was just the first life raft he came across post divorce. She could stay with him until he’s fixed and ready for a serious loving relationship, but the odds don’t seem high that it will be with her. Meanwhile, this woman who wants husband and kids and is worried about her fertility will have wasted several more years on this unlikely project.

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  • avatar

    TECH May 11, 2011, 4:09 pm

    You need to tell him that you’re moving on to be with man who loves you and wants a future with you. Plain and simple. If he doesn’t go after you and try to make it work, it’s his loss. You deserve a guy who will fight for you.
    —-
    As an aside, I had an ex who had issues with depression. He was not good at receiving gifts. Today, I realize that it was because he felt like he had nothing to give me. Not monetarily, but emotionally. And doesn’t that just suck?! You deserve a guy who has everything to give to you.

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    • avatar

      Quakergirl May 11, 2011, 4:36 pm

      I definitely had (and to some degree still have) issues with gifts when struggling with depression. You feel worthless and like you don’t even deserve to live, so why would someone give you something or do something nice for you? You feel like you don’t deserve anything. And honestly, the best thing for me to realize was that when you reject someone’s love or gifts, you’re hurting them. It hurts the giver so, so much to be pushed away like that– like they’re not good enough– even though it has nothing to do with them and everything to do with you. I suspect the LW’s boyfriend is pretty deep down there if he can’t pull his head out of the depression even a little bit to see that he’s hurting her and others who love and care about him and are trying to be nice to him.

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    • avatar

      Elle May 11, 2011, 6:05 pm

      LW, before you break up with your future ex-bf, tell him that it’s rude to not accept other people’s gifts or favors or whatever else someone gives him without being asked. Tell him it’s rude, rude, rude, and it hurts the giver’s feelings.

      Offer your behavior as an example:
      “Honey, what do I do when you tell me I’m beautiful? I don’t tell you to take your words back, I don’t tell you you’re wrong, instead I say thank you and give you a kiss. That’s how you should respond when people give you gifts – graciously accept them, in the same spirit they were given. Maybe hold off on the kissing…”

      I addition to all the other reasons you should not stay with him – if his self-esteem is low, there’s nothing you can do to change it. My ex was like that, and it started to bother me 4-5 years into our relationship (2-3 years into the marriage – I was blinded by love or just really tolerant…). I would try to lift his spirits all the time. And offer him concrete examples that he was wrong, that he was a great guy, and that he had it good. And he was, but he just refused to see it. 5 minutes after our talk was over, he would come up with other things to prove that he’s right. Eventually, I got tired of telling him the same things over and over again, and not being able to get through to him. That’s the definition of insanity right there! (He would also blame everyone else for his misfortunes. I don’t know if that’s related to self-esteem or not).

      LW, if you stay with him, you’ll get tired eventually of lifting his spirits, of having to build his self-esteem. That’s not your job! It’s his job to fix himself. Eventually, he’ll drag you down with him. And you don’t deserve it.

      If you think that him getting a job will change his mood and outlook on life, maybe stick around until he does. But if these are traits that he exhibits regardless of his employment status, you’d do yourself a favor to leave as soon as possible.

      And if my ex is any indication, your bf will try to change or pretend to change so that you don’t leave him. Just FYI.

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  • Budj

    Budjer May 11, 2011, 4:10 pm

    Unfortunately, he currently is unable to give you what you (or anyone) needs in a relationship. He needs to decide to pick himself up and has shown he isn’t willing to do it right now. You can wait around or move on. I recommend the latter.

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  • avatar

    Letter Writer May 11, 2011, 4:19 pm

    2 things that weren’t clear in the email. 1) He is not unemployed at this point, he is underemployed, and living on savings to pay his mortgage. 2) I am not his first girlfriend post-ex. As the divorce took almost three years total I am actually his 3rd girlfriend post-ex and the longest ever other than his ex-wife.

    Having said that I’m not sure that would change much of the advice given. It’s a lot to think about. Thank you. 🙂

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    • avatar

      MissDre May 11, 2011, 4:51 pm

      The impression that gives me is that he doesn’t know how to be on his own. He needs to figure out how to be happy with himself first, before he’ll be able to bring happiness to a relationship.

      This man needs time alone to do some self-reflection and find his direction in life.

      And YOU need to find yourself a man who wants what you want. I promise, there are other great guys out there who DO want marriage and children!

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      • avatar

        EB May 12, 2011, 7:43 am

        PLEASE, PLEASE don’t have children with his guy. He can barely take care of himself. Even if he wanted children right now, that would be incredibly unfair to saddle a child with a father who is “emotionally screwed up” and refuses to seek help.

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      ReginaRey May 11, 2011, 5:30 pm

      Definitely want to echo MissDre on this – your boyfriend REALLY needs to be alone in order to deal with his issues. Moving from girlfriend to girlfriend, and never overcoming his clear emotional difficulties, means he’s more than likely feels like he needs a relationship to feel validated.

      But that’s the thing about depression – You can change everything about your life, but the real problem is within YOU. It’s easy to hide from yourself when you bounce from relationship to relationship…it’s impossible to hide when you’re all alone, which is scary as HELL… but that’s truly the only way you can heal.

      The absolute best thing you can do for him, and for yourself, is to allow him to be alone. You should certainly explain to him that part of the reason you’re leaving is because it’s clear he’ll never confront his problems if he keeps up the serial monogamist routine…perhaps he doesn’t realize how that pattern is hurting him.

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      • avatar

        Pam May 11, 2011, 10:55 pm

        I wholeheartedly agree…
        You need to move on. It doesn’t matter why he isn’t seeing a future (for himself, with or without you) he sounds like he’s just going through the motions.
        Sure, it could be his divorce haunting him — if it is that’s something he needs to be ALONE to work though himself. It could be depression — and again, he needs to be able to deal with that himself. It could be any number of things… but it all comes down to the fact that he’s point blank TOLD you he doesn’t see a future, he has avoided telling you he loves you, and it sounds like he’s been equally as neglectful of the feelings of his friends and family…
        It might SOUND cruel to say (and I know, i’ve been in this place before myself) because we are lead to believe that if we love someone we need to be there for them when they aren’t “well” and it sounds like he’s mentally ill. Unfortunately, sometimes being with someone who is depressed (and sounds like this predated your relationship) enables them to deny the reality of how much they are hurting OTHERS around them. This is something that sounds like it is hurting you a lot, and you don’t deserve this sort of limbo land that you’re living in.
        It could be that losing you is what it will take to snap him out of this and see how much he’s hurting other people in his life… or it might not. But if you really want a husband and children (or just children because you can have a child without a wedding) then waiting for this man to get a job, get a clue and appreciate you is not going to get YOU where you want to go and you might grow to resent him in the end…

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  • fast eddie

    fast eddie May 11, 2011, 3:47 pm

    While he’s unemployed it very understandable that playing video games give him an escape and at the same time compounds his lack of self esteem. It could take a long time for him to get over the divorce. I’ve been there and it took 3 years before I could even start looking for primary relationship. The fear, guilt and shame kept me on edge for more years. Your time constraints for conceiving a baby add to the pressure he’s feeling.

    Children are wonderful but if both parents aren’t committed to the task it will be the worst experience you can imagine. Lots of women choose to go it alone and are successful in the effort. One my old GFs did that and was happy doing it. She got lucky and meet a guy that wanted to be daddy to her little girl when she was 2 or 3. This is not something to expect, as I said she was lucky.

    Getting back to him, what he needs right now is your understanding and support. I suggest he do something by himself with an accomplishable goal. Perhaps a class at the local community college or adult education school. The subject doesn’t matter but if it enhances his resume, so much the better. A psychologist friend told me that exercise helps overcome depression and it’s something you do together. There are medications that could help that I wish had been available during my transition. If you can afford it, professional counseling can be useful.

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    • avatar

      spaceboy761 May 11, 2011, 4:35 pm

      Maybe the LW should look into some fertility options while she’s still 27 to take some pressure off this guy or any future relationships. If she’s anticipating fertility problems, it’s probably a good idea anyway. Also “YOU! BABY! NOW!” is an odd pickup line.

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      • fast eddie

        fast eddie May 11, 2011, 7:42 pm

        Fortunately for the continuation of the human species a lot of guys want children. My first wife had a new born just before we meet and we married 18 months later. The kid amplified our struggles with each other and when we divorced 2 years later the one thing I was sure of was that daddyhood was the NOT what I wanted. I immediately got a vasectomy which eliminated the concern about pregnancy but at the cost of disqualification as a spouse for several years. I don’t regret those decisions because I’d have been horrible father but I’d be a terrific grandfather.

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        Letter Writer May 11, 2011, 11:11 pm

        Been treated since I was 16. 🙂 Trust me, I’m not approaching it like that. Regardless of a biological child I hope to adopt. It would just be nice if possible.

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  • avatar

    Kate May 11, 2011, 5:24 pm

    Read the title of the post and then MOA. Find someone who is a better match, with no “buts”.

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      Kerrycontrary May 11, 2011, 5:38 pm

      Thanks! Thats what I was trying to say but you did it much more simply. There shouldn’t be a “But” in your future life partner.

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      • avatar

        Kate May 11, 2011, 5:41 pm

        I agree with your comment, too. I don’t know why all the thumbs down…?

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        SpaceySteph May 12, 2011, 2:56 am

        I think the reason you got disagreed with alot is that looking for a person with “no buts” is unrealistic. The Perfect guy doesn’t exist, any more than the Perfect girl exists.
        It is enough to find someone you click with, where there aren’t major issues in either person or the relationship. A bit of compromise and accepting a person’s flaws is necessary for a relationship.
        “I love my boyfriend but he has bad breath in the morning.” Or (this one for Spaceboy) “I love my boyfriend but he contracted herpes 10 years ago.” But not “I love my boyfriend but he will never ever marry me and I really want to get married.” The first two are buts, but not dealbreakers. Get the guy a good toothbrush, but don’t put up with him denying you something you truly want.
        Maybe it would be better to say “find a better match, with no big buts.”

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  • avatar

    Sue Jones May 11, 2011, 7:01 pm

    Run, don’t walk away from this dude. You deserve better.

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  • avatar

    DramaQueen224 May 11, 2011, 7:01 pm

    I’m pretty sure Dear Wendy once said something about how you need to believe people when they tell you who they are. So, if he’s telling you he doesn’t see a future with you and is unsure about marriage and children, you need to believe him. Regardless of his circumstances and past, he’s not lying to you. He’s flat out telling you what he wants right now. And it isn’t a future, marriage and kids. So, if you want those things, then, unfortunately, you need to find someone who is looking for that too.

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      SpaceySteph May 12, 2011, 3:00 am

      She definitely did say that and its so true.

      Wendy, I think we need a top-ten Dear Wendy-isms page. “When someone tells you who they are, believe them,” needs to go on it. As does “A guy who wants to be your boyfriend will act like it.” (not directly applicable here but my total favorite Dear Wendy-ism)

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      • Dear Wendy

        Wendy May 12, 2011, 7:28 am

        I also wrote that in my personal reply to the LW. “When someone tells you who he is, believe him!” I bet 75% of the letters I receive would answer themselves if people just followed this one piece of advice.

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      jena May 12, 2011, 10:02 am

      I like that advice, and there’s a line from Mad Men that’s very similar and I love it just as much, perhaps more:

      “People tell us who they are, and we don’t believe them — because we want them to be who we want them to be.” — Don Draper.

      That quote pretty much sums up why people stay in situations they are unhappy with for as long as they often do; they want that person to be what they want them to be, and only after beating their head against a wall for long enough do they realize that it won’t happen.

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  • avatar

    demoiselle May 11, 2011, 8:29 pm

    After over a year he can’t tell you he loves you or wants a future with you. He tells you he is emotionally screwed up. He’s emotionally unavailable. He does not respond positively to your support (but you’re feeding his ego by praising him to make him feel better). He treats friends who try to help him or give him gifts ungraciously. He plays enough video games that it’s drawing comments from you.

    It looks to me like you might be seeing some of the reasons he’s divorced once already. Just keep that in mind…

    The real bottom line is that you want to be loved and supported and to have children. He does not love you or want to have children with you. You want a future with someone. He does not want a future with you. This does not look very promising, and I’d suggest that you break it off instead of waiting around for him.

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  • avatar

    anna728 May 11, 2011, 9:40 pm

    I feel kind of sad for this guy. Therapy would help him for sure, but I don’t know whether he’s the type of person to be receptive to that idea. You might want to suggest it.

    Anyway, while it’s not his character that seems to make him a bad long-run partner, he is still not going to be the husband and father you’re looking for. This isn’t the usual “he’s a jerk, MOA!” situation, but I think my advice is still probably to move on. Well maybe give it one more shot, at least if you can get him in therapy or making some sort of progress. Before he can be any of the other things you would like, he has to work through his own issues.

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  • avatar

    TJ May 12, 2011, 9:02 am

    “Baby, baby, baby/Baby don’t leave me/Oh please don’t leave me/All by myself/I’ve got this yearning yearning burning/feeling inside me/oh deep inside me/And it hurts so bad/You came into my heart/so tenderly/with a burning love/that sting like a bee/And now that I surrender/So helplessly/Oh you now want to leave/ Oh you want to leave me/”

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    • avatar

      spaceboy761 May 12, 2011, 9:13 am

      WONK! WONK!

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  • avatar

    jena May 12, 2011, 10:00 am

    “I would take him at his word concerning marriage and family, but his word is ‘unsure.'”

    My advice: DO NOT put your future on the line for someone who isn’t sure they want one with you (or anyone). Do not put your chance of having kids (which you want!) at risk by staying with someone who isn’t sure if he wants them.

    Have kids with someone who DEFINITELY wants them, DEFINITELY loves you, and DEFINITELY wants a future with you.

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  • avatar

    Meaghan Self May 12, 2011, 11:55 am

    You do have your answer and it’s ‘no’. That’s it. I don’t think this is about you thinking he’s still unsure, but rather you’re wondering if you can change it and looking for someone to say that it’ll be alright.

    Accept that he’s not the man for your future, and find the person who is.

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