We are both single parents. Carl has shared time with his child — every other day and weekend — while the father of my two kids is non-existent. Carl has a ranch three hours away that needs to be tended to every weekend, so he only wants to spend time with me when I can get a babysitter for the entire weekend and go with him, which is very hard to do without family nearby. Carl has two jobs and averages 60 hours of work between them. I also work full-time, and I manage all the kids’ activities, further limiting our time together.
We text everyday, all day, and talk on the phone at least once a day. We live twenty minutes apart and sometimes get the kids together, and we sometimes get our weekend together, just us two. I feel he is the love of my life and my best friend, and I know the feeling is mutual. But…I want to see and be with him more. In the past two years, we’ve probably only seen each other 12 times. We have discussed this several times, but we have no solutions. He feels spread thin and says he is doing the best he can, as am I. When we do see each other, it’s because I make it happen. He doesn’t want to live together until my kids are grown-ups, his words. And while I don’t necessarily disagree, I can’t help but feel that I’m the only one who wants to spend more time together. There’s always some excuse or reason why he can’t spend time with me, and I’m scared there always will be an excuse. I don’t know what to do, or if I’m just “wasting” my time on a future that will never be there. — Needing More Time Together
If you’ve been together five years, have zero plans for the future (and maybe living together one day when your kids are grown-ups is such a vague, far-off idea that it hardly counts as a plan), and see each other an average once every two months and only when YOU make it happen, it’s safe to say that Carl isn’t really interested in the kind of relationship with you that you seem to desire. He probably really enjoys having someone to text and chat with during the day, but that’s it. He can take or leave all the rest of it. Actually, it sounds like he can pretty much leave the rest of it.
Maybe you are too close to the situation that you can’t see it for what it is, so I’ll spell it out: Carl has ZERO interest in your children. Like, none. He’s not inviting them to his ranch, he only wants to spend time with you when they aren’t around, and despite having his own kids and only living twenty minutes from you, it sounds like he hardly ever cares to get your families together, which would be a convenient way for you two to actually spend some time together. You know what else would be a great way for you to spend time together? Each of you getting a babysitter and… going on a date. Is he not willing to do this? Well, then maybe your children aren’t the only people he’s not terribly interested in. Maybe he’s just not very interested in you either. If he were, he’d see you more than once every two months, period. There really isn’t an excuse to justify TWO YEARS of seeing you as minimally as he does. The truth is, it’s not a priority for him because you aren’t a priority for him. You are so much lower on his priority list than his ranch, which he makes time for all weekend, every weekend.
So, in answer to your question: Yes, you’re wasting your time. But more than that, you’re wasting your energy. There’s no future here. There’s no present either. This is just a texting friendship. If you want more than that — and why wouldn’t you?! — move on already.
He says he feels anxious expressing any affection in public and that he doesn’t want to boast about our relationship in this way. He wouldn’t even let people know we were dating at first, but he has come around on that matter. I’m quite certain that he’s not cheating on me. He’s simply very private. We’ve held hands in public before, but only in relatively people-free areas or at night, and he was horribly nervous while we did so. I don’t want him to do something that makes him uncomfortable just for my sake, though he claimed he enjoyed it. I don’t really believe he did though.
He did say that he really wants to change this and that we’ll work on slowly working our way up to holding hands and occasionally hugging and being able to tell each other “I love you” in public without any anxiety, but nothing has changed. (For months, he’s refused to try hugging in a deserted-ish area, claiming “he’s still not ready.”) I doubt it will ever change. He’s very affectionate in private, but I hate the distance we have in public. I don’t want to break up with him for this – I love him deeply. But this has been making me sad for the majority of the length of our relationship, which he’s aware of and feels bad about. I don’t want to be sad and I don’t want him to feel bad. What do I do? Can I get over this? — I Want to Hold His Hand
There isn’t anything for you to do, really. Your boyfriend’s behavior isn’t normal and he doesn’t seem interested in changing it to better meet your needs. He’s giving you lip service about wanting to change and about “working your way up to holding hands.” (Which, what? How are you ok with this?!) But he’s done literally nothing to actually get there. He’s just buying himself time and hoping you don’t notice that nothing is changing. And furthermore, what’s with: “we will work on holding hands”? You aren’t the one having a problem holding hands in public. This is HIS problem. And it’s one he isn’t interested in addressing.
There’s something going on with him in that he has wanted to keep your relationship private and continues to withhold any affection from you in public. There’s something going on and he needs to see a therapist about it. You need to tell him how important this is for you – how you cannot foresee continuing a relationship with someone who withholds all affection so much of the time.
You aren’t asking for much, and still: he is giving you nothing. You may love him deeply and may not want to break up over this, but this is much more than his not wanting to hug you or hold your hand in public. That’s just a symptom of bigger problems, which include his disregard for your needs, his debilitating anxiety, and his inability to communicate WHY he desires so much privacy to the point that he doesn’t feel comfortable with people even knowing you’re a couple a year into your relationship. Something just isn’t right here. And his saying he’ll work on hugging you eventually without feeling horribly nervous about it ain’t gonna cut it. When you’re dealing with pathological behavior like that — and that’s exactly what this is — you need professional help to change. If he won’t seek help, you need to move on because, without help, he will never be emotionally and physically available to you in the way a healthy relationship demands one to be.