In February, my living situation became unbearable. I needed a place to stay for about two months until I could move an hour away and start my life over. I reached out to Brad and he let me come stay with him. In March, he asked me to stay and be with him as he was falling in love with me. I was astounded to hear this coming from him. We have an amazing relationship and he takes care of me and buys me little things that I don’t ask for or he thinks I might like. I’ve never had someone treat me so well. I do just as much for him as he does for me too.
Brad is not one to express how he feels. Don’t get me wrong — he shows me attention and we hug and kiss a lot and we cuddle all night long, but I am concerned about a few things. I have met his brother and sister and they know we live together, but I have yet to meet his parents. When he has to visit them, he leaves me at home, and it makes me feel as if he is ashamed of me for some reason. when I get upset about something or he has said something that offends me, he says he loves me, that we are great, that he loves being with me, and that he wants this relationship. I guess I’m really just wondering if I will always be the girlfriend in the shadows when it comes to his parents and I’m wondering if a 20-year bachelor can really emotionally commit to a long-term relationship.
I love this man with all my heart, but I am so confused. — Battling Demons in My Head
What happened to your plan to move an hour away and start your life over? You just decided to forgo that because a man you’d been sleeping with — not even dating — asked you to live with him? You didn’t even have a relationship with him when you moved in. You were friends with benefits. You say he had a very busy lifestyle and didn’t have time for a relationship. What changed? Did anything change? You don’t mention anything that you do together, any shared values or goals, any common interests. All you say about him is that he buys you little things and you kiss and hug a lot. You can’t build a solid, long-term relationship on that. And you can’t build a successful cohabitation on simply needing a place to live for two months and his providing that. Why did you ask him for a place to stay, anyway? Do you have no friends or family? A guy you’re in love with but has told you he only has time for sex and not a relationship should be the LAST person you ask to crash with for two months. What were you thinking?
You made a mistake moving in with Brad – even temporarily — and you made a mistake agreeing to stay with him when he told you he was falling in love with you. You have to build a relationship and trust with someone before you take such big steps; you can’t skip those parts or you’re going to have trouble, which is where you find yourself now. You don’t really know how Brad feels about you. You don’t know how to communicate with each other. You tell him when he says or does something that offends you, and his response isn’t to apologize or to ask why it offends you or to change his behavior or explain why he does and says what he does; he just tells you he loves you and wants this relationship. It’s so dismissive of your feelings. He’s not responding to them at all. Like, zero. So, not only do you have a guy who can’t express his own feelings, but also he doesn’t know what to do when you express yours. He doesn’t know how to validate them or to even let you know he hears you. Instead, it’s all about him — he thinks things are great! He loves you! He wants this relationship! Nevermind where your head is and what you think and feel and need – everything is honky dory for him, apparently, and that’s all that matters.
Can a man who’s been a bachelor for twenty years finally commit to a long-term relationship? I’m sure many can. But it takes time to foster that level of commitment and to build a relationship that a long-time bachelor would be persuaded to make some changes in his life for. You went from being fuck buddies to a live-in couple literally overnight, and that’s not going to work. You are expecting him to make room for you not just in his home but also in his life when he hasn’t shared his life with a romantic partner in his entire adulthood. And not only do you expect him to make room for you in his life, but also you expect it to be a lot of room and very quickly, and the truth is, although he may, in fact, be telling you the truth that he does love you and wants a relationship with you, he doesn’t know HOW to be in a relationship. He needs time to learn, and you never gave him that time before shacking up with him and then, within weeks, expecting him to know how to be a serious, committed partner to you. He wasn’t even a serious, committed partner to you BEFORE you moved in together. He wasn’t a partner to you AT ALL, in fact, except in bed. I’ll say it again: You cannot build a relationship on just that alone, no matter how sexually compatible you are.
I really urge you to move out and to try to develop this relationship at a much slower pace – a pace that a man who’s never had a serious romantic relationship as an adult can keep up with. Go on some dates, maybe take a weekend getaway together this summer, get to know each other, let him introduce you to his parents when he’s ready. Don’t even think about moving in together again until you have been exclusive and committed for a year, you have met everyone important in each other’s lives, and you have talked about what your future hopes are for your relationship and life together. I once wrote about 15 Things Couples Should Do Before Moving in Together; until you tackle at least a majority of these before moving in together – and I’m willing to bet you didn’t even do two — the chances of your relationship surviving even to your first anniversary of cohabitation is pretty slim.
If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy(AT)dearwendy.com.