Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“It’s Been Six Months and He Won’t introduce Me To Anyone”

I met a guy six months ago who, on the first date (he asked me out for a drink), told me he is ending his second marriage and has one kid from each marriage. He is still fighting in court to close marriage number two; they’ve been separated for a year. He told me from the beginning he isn’t ready for a relationship and just wanted a friend without the pressure of expectations. He also said he wanted to build a solid foundation for a future by being friends first and moving slowly. I understood this clearly and agreed that going slowly was good. We are six months into hanging out as friends and have slowly progressed to weekend trips, holding hands walking through town, hanging out 4-5 days a week, movie nights, dinners, ice cream dates, etc. We finally slept together a few weeks ago, after a lengthy conversation beforehand about his stance on the relationship issue. He still isn’t ready for a commitment; he is still scared and guarded. His ex hurt him physically, emotionally, and financially. I agreed we could keep progressing without the title as I don’t really need one; I know we are monogamous physically and he isn’t seeing anyone else. Nor am I.

We both agreed that letting things progress organically is working well for both of us. I met his kids three times when he brought them into work (we work together, different departments but same building). However, I’ve never been invited to meet anyone from his life. He hasn’t had his kids around when we hang out together — just the few times in passing. Am I worrying too soon about when I should be meeting his friends, family, and kids? He met several of my friends for the first time this last weekend, and I have invited him to do stuff with my friends all the time, with this weekend being the first time he said yes. He has mentioned once or twice that I should meet a friend of his, but he hasn’t followed through. Do I just need to be patient and let him take the lead with his comfort level? He is slowly moving forward, but every now and then I feel him pull back. It hurts, but I let him. When I feel the pull back, I give him space and he comes back. How long will I be in this weird, don’t know if he is fully in, situation? Do you think the signs he is giving me now are enough to be patient and see where this goes? — Taking It Slow

I’m not sure why you are confused about whether or not he’s “fully in.” He most definitely is NOT fully in, or even partly in. He explained to you in the beginning, and then again before you had sex, that he doesn’t want a committed relationship. You seem to think that means he doesn’t want a “title,” but it’s more than that. He told you from the beginning he just wanted to be friends “without the pressure of expectations.” You are putting expectations on him/your relationship. You want to meet his friends and family, you want him to spend time with yours. You want to integrate your lives like couples do, but you aren’t a couple. You are friends who spend a lot of time together and now have sex, too, but you aren’t a real couple. He does not want to be your boyfriend and he does not want you to be his girlfriend. The expectations you have for your relationship are the exact expectations he hopes to avoid.

A few weeks ago, before you slept together for the first time, you had a long talk in which you agreed with him that “letting things progress organically” was working well for you. But it doesn’t sound like it IS working well for you. Or you wouldn’t be writing to me for advice. You want more than he’s giving you. Why did you let him believe you were perfectly fine with what you two had? Why are you afraid to voice what YOU want? Why is it all about HIS comfort level, what he wants, what he is ready for? You don’t want to push him, but even without pushing him he’s apparently pulling back “every now and then” and it hurts you but “you let him.” And then when you “give him space,” he “comes back.” You want to know what these signs mean? It means he doesn’t want a committed relationship with all the trappings and expectations. Nothing about that has changed. He doesn’t want to know your friends and family or vice-versa. He’s not interested. And you can justify it all you want by saying his ex hurt him and he needs time and you need to move slowly and be patient, but he’s a grown ass man who’s been married twice; if he’s not ready for a relationship, he shouldn’t be dating and fucking you and saying that you’re building a foundation for a future. If he’s not ready for a relationship NOW, how can he predict what he’s going to want in the future and when he’s going to want it? You’re supposed to just keep hanging around with him indefinitely, with zero expectations and unmet emotional needs until he’s ready to build something on this foundation you’re supposedly creating, who knows when that will be? No.

It’s beyond time for you to be honest with yourself and with him. You want something different than what you’re getting here. You’ve had enough with “being friends,” and you want a boyfriend and shared visions and goals for the future. Is he in or is he out? Ask him. And if he gives you the same dumb line about moving slowly, tell him you’ve been moving slowly and now you’re ready to pick up the pace and if he’s not, then you’re going to pick up the pace in the opposite direction because you’re a grown ass woman who’s been dating a man for six months, now sleeping with him, and you’re tired of pretending like this is just friendship. If he lets you go, he was never planning to hang on to you in the first place and better you know that now than after another year of “letting things progress organically.”

My boyfriend and I had a six-month break after eight years of being together, and in that time we each dated someone. Two months ago, we broke up with the people we’d been seeing to get back together. The man I was seeing was easy to break up with and we don’t talk anymore, but the issue is the woman he was seeing is one of his coworkers. He’s done with her — and showed me proof — but he still hangs out with her as a friend and won’t tell her we’re back together. She knows of me and that he and I have a long history, though.

He’s open to telling me what they do/talk about and I’ve learned that they don’t talk about me aside from that she’s asked him once (a week after he broke up with her) if we’re back together, to which he answered no. She’s told him she loves him, but he told her he couldn’t say it back because it wasn’t right. She messaged him recently (when she was drinking) saying she wants to be more than friends and she liked and misses their sex, but he didn’t respond. She decorated his desk for his birthday and was going to bake him a cake but didn’t know what kind he liked. She drives him to and from work because they have the same shifts, she treats him to lunch a lot of the time, and she crashed on the couch once and then cleaned his whole kitchen while he was sleeping.

He says he’s trying to let his coworker down nicely/slowly so it won’t seem like he left her for me because he would like to still be friends with her and not have anything awkward at work. He says I have nothing to worry about and that things will work themselves out and that the only issue is I’m being jealous. I don’t mind if they’re friends and hang out occassionally, but I don’t understand why for the two months after they broke up he’s still keeping me a secret from her when they agreed to be friends. It hurts me and I feel that if she knew about me, we would all be better off. He knows it bothers me and I asked him when he’s going to tell her we’re together, and he just says that it will all work itself out, to trust him, and to stop worrying.

I trust him p, but I feel bad for her, and I’m not sure if I should wait to see how things unfold or if I should message her myself to tell her in a polite way.

I need some advice please; I’m not sure what to do! — Second Chances

 
No, you shouldn’t tell the other woman that you and your boyfriend are back together, but you should take heed of this enormous red flag flying in your face. Your boyfriend is being deceitful – to her and to you. He’s trying to have his cake and eat it too. And you are completely, 100% enabling him to do just that. He’s taking major advantage of both of you.

Let me ask you: the problems that existed that prompted you to break up in the first place – were they resolved somehow while you were dating other people? If so, how? In what way? I am guessing the more likely thing is that you decided you missed each other and should get back together and so you did. Maybe your boyfriend even suggested that the issues you had would “work themselves out” and to “trust him.”

Here’s the thing: issues don’t work themselves out on their own. You have to work through them, together, with effort and commitment. I just can’t believe that someone who can’t even fully break up with the person he was dating during your breakup, has bothered to work through and commit to fixing the issues he had with you. I don’t believe it for a second. And he hasn’t fully broken up with her, I don’t care what he’s told you. Guys – people — can be really, really good about letting someone believe there’s a chance for a future together without actually committing to a relationship or “giving it a title” (see letter one today); there’s an awfully good chance that he’s told this other woman that he isn’t “ready for a relationship” and there’s a good chance she agreed to “slow down” and let things happen organically. So she continues carpooling with him, and cleaning his kitchen (wtf, by way!), and decorating his desk, and telling him she loves him. And your boyfriend gets to enjoy all this attention and affection. He gets to keep this poor woman on the line while he leans into whatever co-dependecy you two developed in your eight years together that made it difficult – but not impossible! – to actually break up with each other.

Maybe I’m wrong, but the signs are clearly there: your boyfriend isn’t really interested in being committed to you. He probably finds a lot of comfort in being with you – it sounds like you’re an easy girlfriend to have who doesn’t put a lot of those tedious “expectations” on a partner. But it’s time to start, beginning with expecting your boyfriend to not be leading on another woman who’s professed her love to him. If he can’t honor that really very basic of expectations, it’s time to let him go for good.

***************

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If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy(AT)dearwendy.com.

15 comments… add one
  • avatar

    brise July 23, 2019, 9:12 am

    LW1: Don’t be exclusive. Why should you? All he said should have go take this “relationship” as a friendship, while you date other guys. You are wasting a lot of time here. I would never accept such terms.

    LW2: It sounds he is a bigamist without the constraints of two marriages. How convenient. What is this “proof” he showed you? Because he is showing you a lot of proofs of the opposite. Move on. This is not the big love story of your life. This is you wasting your time.

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  • avatar

    Anonymous July 23, 2019, 9:26 am

    I remained friendly with one of my exes. Once, another his exes (we dated after they broke up and she only knew me as a friend of his) and I bumped into each other at a store, and we started talking about him. She had remained friendly with him too and mentioned that they text and talk on the phone regularly. Then, she said something along the lines of us needing to fix him up with someone because he must be lonely.

    He had been married two years at that point.

    So, not only did he never tell her he and I went out, he never told her he got freaking MARRIED to someone else. I realized the only reason I probably knew was that I worked with him (plus, I was in a relationship and getting into my pants again was not an option). I started being a lot less friendly after that.
    He’s divorced now. His ex-wife is SO much better off without him. She is an awesome gal.

    So, yeah, LW2- giant red flag. He hasn’t told her because he wants to keep her dangling, and he wants her dangling for a reason.

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  • avatar

    LisforLeslie July 23, 2019, 9:33 am

    LW 1 he’s not your boyfriend and he doesn’t ant to be your boyfriend. Sure you could try “Letting things progress organically “ but that could just as easily mean letting it die and disintegrate.

    LW 2 he’s keeping this woman as his back up plan in case things with you don’t work out. That’s shitty behavior and you have to think very hard if he’s really committed to you and if you want to be with someone who is so happy to play with a persons emotions.

    Aim higher!

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  • avatar

    Fyodor July 23, 2019, 9:34 am

    I feel like LW1’s boyfriend has been pretty straightforward about not being ready for a relationship. She should hear what he’s been saying and move on and find someone who wants and is ready for a relationship.

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  • avatar

    Fyodor July 23, 2019, 9:36 am

    Also, I know that it’s not the main issue for LW2, but don’t date your coworkers.

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  • avatar

    ron July 23, 2019, 10:02 am

    I really don’t think it’s wrong to date co-workers. You have to be aware of the pitfalls and stay professional, which can be difficult in a break-up. I worked with quite a few married couples who met at work. Certainly don’t date supervisor or someone whom you supervise. Certainly there are special problems in workplaces with few employees. I worked at HQ/R&D site with 4000+ employees. People dated/stopped dating without obvious problem. I was aware of a situation at one of our manufacturing sites, where the office staff numbered 8 and two of those 8 married and then divorced. That did get exceedingly messy and disrupt plant staff for more than a little while.

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    • avatar

      Fyodor July 23, 2019, 10:23 am

      I don’t think that it’s wrong per se, but I think it’s generally a bad idea and presents risks and downsides that aren’t worth it. I also think that it’s more professionally dangerous today than its been in the past.

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    • avatar

      Allornone July 23, 2019, 11:39 am

      My guy and I met working the same supervisory position of the same department in a store with a staff of maybe 30. I have no idea why I even agreed to such a potentially bad idea (oh yeah, I really liked him). But luck (and love) prevailed- we remained professional at work, had no real drama (I had way more issues with him as a coworker than a bf), and have remained together and now, in case of breakup, are now working very different jobs that will never overlap again. So, it can happen. But yeah, very risky and probably an all-around dumb idea.

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  • bittergaymark

    Bittergaymark July 23, 2019, 12:00 pm

    LW1) when somebody tells you they want to keep things casual. BELIEVE THEM. And yes… even fucking can be VERY casual.
    .
    LW2) The guy is a cad. He wants to have his coworker and eat you, too. Actually, that’s NOT a want. He’s already accomplished that.

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  • avatar

    Essie July 23, 2019, 5:46 pm

    LW1: He said, pretty clearly, on more than one occasion, that he wasn’t going to be your boyfriend. So why are you hurt that he’s not treating you like a boyfriend would?

    I think when he said “not a boyfriend,” you heard “not a boyfriend YET.” And now that you’re spending more time together and holding hands in public, you assumed he was finally really falling for you and wanted to be a couple now. Even though you had a conversation before having sex in which he reiterated that he didn’t want to be in a couple.

    Take him at his word. He’s being honest with you. I’m sure he likes you a lot, likes spending time with you, likes having sex with you. It’s possible for all of those things to be true, and he could still not want to be in a committed relationship.

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  • avatar

    dinoceros July 23, 2019, 6:11 pm

    LW1: Well, if he’s fighting over a divorce in court, him obviously having a girlfriend would probably hurt his case, so I assume that may be part of it. You haven’t been “friends” long enough to meet his kids, so don’t use them as some kind of romance gauge. But I’m curious whether you have actual proof that he’s getting a divorce. Either way, though, he shouldn’t be getting together with someone now, and I suspect that either he is doing so anyway because he doesn’t know how to have a healthy romantic life OR because he thinks that the “I’m guarded and need to go slow” thing is a good way to keep you on the hook and treating him like a boyfriend without actually expecting him to label it. Red flags all over the place.

    LW2: They aren’t done if she’s still pursuing him. “Proof” presumably was proof that he told her they were done, but that’s not actual proof they are done. Don’t rely on proof unless it’s actual proof. But aside from that, it’s a seriously bad sign that he won’t tell her that you two are together. He’s either wanting to still see her/still seeing her or he wants to keep her around in case things go badly with you. Contacting her is a bad idea. If you truly don’t trust your boyfriend to believe he’s not going behind your back or whatever, then you simply shouldn’t be dating him. You don’t just go chat up his ex. That would probably end your relationship anyway, TBH.

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  • avatar

    Anonymous July 23, 2019, 6:55 pm

    LW1-i get what you are trying to do, you think if you model perfect girlfriend behavior he’s gonna change his mind and finally be together, but you are a rebound/placeholder. My prediction is once he’s done finalizing his divorce/feels an appropriate amount of time has passed he’ll dump you. You are convenient and available. Sorry he won’t dump you because you aren’t technically together , he’ll just slowly stop hanging out with you and stop responding to your messages and it’s gonna be what’s your problem? We weren’t boyfriend girlfriend?

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  • avatar

    ron July 23, 2019, 7:17 pm

    And they certainly aren’t done if he doesn’t tell her he has a new gf and that new gf isn’t publicly his gf

    LW#1 — I suspect starting a new committed relationship isn’t the #1 thing on the mind of most people going through a divorce. He’s a two-time loser. That should give you pause about going too in, too fast. He may be the common denominator in both divorces and a horrible person to actually be married to. He may be great, but certainly more than a 6-month look warranted before being as gung-ho, all-in as you seem to be. Why are you rushing?

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  • avatar

    anonymousse July 23, 2019, 8:34 pm

    LW1- clearly you want different things. He doesn’t want a relationship or responsibilities or expectations. You are seemingly easy to please. If you want more you should use your words.

    LW2- Spoiler alert- there’s no surprise he’s not talking to her about you. He’s keeping you a secret from her. He’s probably still sleeping with her.

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    • avatar

      000 July 23, 2019, 9:18 pm

      I think it’s likely that the men in both of today’s letters are sleeping with at least one other woman: #1 with his ex-wife, #2 with his coworker.

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