Update: “Ready to Move Forward” Responds

It’s time again for “Dear Wendy Updates,” a feature where people I’ve given advice to in the past let us know whether they followed the advice and how they’re doing now. Today we hear from “Ready to Move Forward” whose boyfriend of about a year expressed disinterest in being a father figure to her two kids.

She wrote: “I feel stuck because I want us to get married and he doesn’t see that happening for 5+ years at which time my kids may go off to university (although there is no guarantee they will be out of the house even then). I find myself, at the end of our beautiful weekends (when we’re away from our kids), having frustrating relationship talks with him or holding myself back from saying or doing something I might regret. He has told me he’d rather break up if I’m going to keep being resentful of this situation because he’s not ready to change it right now. I really don’t want to break up; I think he’s an absolute gem and I really value our relationship.”

Her update, below.

A bit of a sad update. My boyfriend broke up with me about three weeks ago. Cruelly, he did it a week before my birthday. I am still pretty down about it. I haven’t talked to him since the break-up. He said we want different things and had different dreams for a future – that I wanted a husband and not a partner (what? can’t I have both?). Also ridiculous reasons like we weren’t always doing the plans or going to the exact restaurants he wanted on our weekends. (We usually did, but sometimes I asked him to be flexible and modify so I could see my friends or we could go out with my friends or to an event we were invited to together.) He even brought up that I woke him up one night when I left my bedside light on accidentally when I went to the washroom.

I was kinda shocked because weeks before he had started sending me house listings of homes we could look at together, he was talking about setting goals together and he was putting in writing what we wanted in a relationship. I also made a big deal of his birthday, and we had just celebrated a one-year anniversary. My take is that he realized he did not want to go down the route of a blended family life with me, didn’t want to buy or take care of a home together, and didn’t want more kids to be responsible for. He really just wanted the fun part of dating on weekends.

Also, I’ve been going through a lot of stress lately with my work, and he complained that “all you talk about is work,” that I’m not as financially stable as he would like, and that I am indecisive. (I have a bit of ADHD but am totally functional and run a business.) It just pisses me off because he was picking apart my personality and this is someone who is supposed to love me and accept me as I am. I’m not perfect and I’m always working on myself, but who is perfect?

His kids are older and he had a lot of spare time to go to the gym, ride his motorcycle, read, or spend time with his kids. That is versus me, with younger kids, as I was spending virtually all my spare time with him, and when I asked him to help with things in the house on the weekends he was here, he would, but then he would complain about it or say we spend all our time doing that versus going downtown to restaurants, etc. Like I said, he wanted me as a dating partner but not someone with whom to build a life together.

Anyway, that is the update. I have been pretty down but trying to move on, having no contact with him, and exploring dating a bit again. One thing I am getting out of this break-up is I thought I had picked such a stable, steady man, but I was also using the relationship as a way to escape some issues I need to work on in my life, namely creating more financial stability and less stress. My marriage also suffered from these two issues, but I don’t want to fix them to get back together with these partners. I want to fix them for me.

Thank you for the update. I’m sorry you’re hurting, but it does sound like you two wanted different things and, ultimately, were not a match for a long-term relationship. Your final paragraph puzzles me. You seem to be aware that this relationship was a way for you to escape some issues you need to work on, as you say – issues that hurt your marriage as well. But you also say that you are exploring dating again, just weeks after this devastating breakup.

You didn’t ask for advice this time, but I’m going to give you some anyway: Take a year off from dating. Like, do zero dating, and really focus on yourself like you say you want to do. Get some therapy and try to unpack your fear of being alone. I think until you address the issues that keep affecting your relationships, you’re going to continue having the same problems with men.

If you’re someone I’ve given advice to in the past, I’d love to hear from you, too. Email me at wendy@dearwendy.com with a link to the original post, and let me know whether you followed the advice and how you’re doing now.
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  1. If the year no dating feels too daunting. Tell yourself 3 months no dating and then reevaluate. I found it easier to break into chunks. And for each chunk I had a particular focus. Like you might spend the first three months digging into your finances, setting up some new systems, trying to establish new habits. Then the next three months you might spend on making your friendships stronger. Three months on trying new things on your own etc.

    1. Anonymous says:

      That’s good advice.

  2. This sentence jumped out at me: “I have a bit of ADHD but am totally functional and run a business.”
    To be clear, it jumped out at me because I am autistic and married to someone who has ADHD, which are both neurodiversities. And I tend to pick up on anyone who might have been made to feel “less than” for being neurodiverse. (Do please excuse me if I am reading too much into that sentence but it just reads as a bit apologetic to me, because that is the sort of way I used to talk about myself.)
    Having ADHD means that my husband is creative, quick-witted, and a fantastic problem solver. I’ve never met anyone whose brain works like his does. I adore the person he is with ADHD, not despite the ADHD. And I’m happy to help him with the stuff he struggles with, and he helps me with the stuff I struggle with.

    I know you’re hurting now but this was not the guy for you or your kids. You already have good advice to break from dating. When you’re ready to date again, please hold out for someone who adores you and your kids as you all are. (FWIW, my husband and I both have kids from our first marriages and were both delighted to gain “bonus” kids. I also wish this for you.)

    Good luck xx

  3. LisforLeslie says:

    I’m sorry that you’re going through the grieving process – but I think this is for the best. This person only wants to date you on his terms… those excuses about not going to restaurants that he prefers – that’s a big red flag which I’m glad you’re acknowledging.

    Also this: “I thought I had picked such a stable, steady man” – you did. You improved the type of person you’re dating. But stable and steady doesn’t mean emotionally available.

    I agree with the rest. Get some therapy. Take some time away from dating. Stop wishing for a white knight. Good luck.

  4. Dorothy Mantooth says:

    This sounds cliche and I’m sorry, but he was pretty open about who he was and what he didn’t want with you. I’m sorry for your hurting heart. It sucks. But when someone tells you who they are and what they don’t want, you have to believe them. He wasn’t into you in the way you wanted him to be into you.

    I agree that you need to take some time off dating. You deserve better than this dude.

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