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Need a little advice, please


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I started hanging out with someone I knew through friends. Things happened between us and we started dating. In the beginning, he asked that we take it slow and get to know each other, i.e., no sex. I respected that.


It's been about two months and things were getting heavy between us, and I started to develop feelings for him. I could tell it was happening with him, too. We started to do more together, dinner, movies, etc. We would talk a little about how good we were together, how comfortable we were, how much we liked spending time together. He would say how much he was looking forward to seeing me. I hardly called him; I let him do a lot of the contacting.


Last week, as we parted ways, I let it slip without thinking and said "I love you". He said something, but I couldn't hear what it was, and he was already in a hurry to get out of the car (I was dropping him off and it was a busy street).


Our contact for the next few days was normal; he sent random emails during the day like he always did. One day he was stressed about something at work and I invited him over that night to hang out. He told me that he really likes me, wants me in his life, but that he really needs time to think. His job is stressful and he just turned 40 and is really looking at his life. I said ok. He said he would call me the next day, and he did.


He came over the next night and said that he isn't ready for a serious relationship. That things between us had developed on both sides and were starting to get serious, but that he needs time to think about his own life, which he isn't happy about. We kissed a little and I said I love you and he said it back.


I told him that I cared about him, accepted him as he is, and I would give him the time he needs. We've emailed a little since then.


What are your opinions? It's been several years since he had a girlfriend.



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I would think it's a bad sign ... it seems that at 40, he should have a very good idea of what he wants. I'm curious about what his past was like - do you have any idea why he's still single at his age? Never married, divorced, commitmentphobic..??


I'm sorry this happened to you, but it might be better if you take a step back. It doesn't sound like he's one of those guys that you can put a whole lot of stock in at the moment... I think if he saw you moving on, dating other men and being OK without him, he might realize that you may never be available again, and he may also realize what he's about to lose.


That aside ... it's probably not a great idea to be in contact with him if you want to be with him and he doesn't want to be with you. It may behoove you to respond to his next email by telling him that you want to give him time and space, but that he should respect yours too, and that you think for now it would be better for both of you if you moved on. I'd be interested to know what his response to that would be - indifference or sadness.

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It sounds like you two are both behaving as mature responsible and caring people. He said he needed time and you two started dating under his requested slow course. I would give him the space he is looking for. If you like him and care for him as you clearly seem to, you should give him the space and support he needs to sort through his thoughts. I am not sure if you have any choice because if you push, it will push him away. Do you have any clues on what the cause of the personal crisis he has to think through? Is it just mid-life crisis?


I don't think you should pry into his personal thoughts that he is trying to solve, but did he ever give you a clue to it? For example, his last relationship was really bad and burned him from jumping in too quickly or is his career preoccupying him, etc?


By the way, you sound like a very patient person and I'm sure you don't tell just anyone that you love them, so this must be a special person to you. That is why I think it might be better to give him the space he's asking for rather than an ultimatum unless you can get more details without snooping too much and without sacrificing any of your own self worth.

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I should've mentioned that he has anxiety and depression issues. He doesn't feel he's accomplished what he should've at his age, and thinks his career path is pretty bleak. His self-image is fairly low, too, and he's self conscious about it. I've tried to let him know that I'm happy with him as-is and that he's as close to perfect as one can get.


He said that he just needs some time. Things had started to get serious and we both had feelings develop. He did say I love you; I think it slipped out as mine did.


I think he is also focused on a long-term relationship and wants to make sure that it will work out before really delving into it. As he said, at "our age" we should make sure it's the right one, and that he does want a family.


Most of my friends have said I just need to relax and give him the time he's asked for. They know him fairly well; he's shy and quiet and intellectual. I think he's used to spending a lot of time alone and for the past two months, that's changed rather quickly. We were both very upset that second night.

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It sounds like you are doing everything right. I do agree if his issues are self-image, depression, etc., this is stuff he needs to deal through before he can dive deeper into a relationship. Otherwise, he'll unintentionally sabotage the relationship unless he's dealt with his demons. Do you think he is being effective in how he is thinking through his issues? If he has always had depression issues, perhaps he is manically depressed and should seek therapy or medication. Do you know if he is pursuing these courses of action? Some depressed people get stuck in a rut of not knowing how to solve their problem and forget to seek professional help when it is justified.


One other thing you can try - perhaps less structured activities together. For example, since you say he is shy and quiet, ask him if he wants to just go to the bookstore's coffee shop where you two can hang out together but without needing to talk. Just enjoying each others company. That type of activity might work well for him because it gives him his space, his quiet environment, but you two both get to hang out together. I realize it might sound boring, but if he's an introspective shy type, he might get alot out of just that type of thing its not demanding. I think you should listen to the advice of your friends - they sound wise and also know him.

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Actually, that was something I'd been thinking about and was about to bring up, myself. The time that we have spent just hanging out in the bookstore or getting coffee was more casual and we had more of a change to just talk and be together rather than feel like we were on an official date. I mentioned this, although after he brought up the whole thing, and he said he liked having someone to go to nice dinners with.


I know that he has gotten help for anxiety and takes meds for it. And, from someone who has dealt with the same in the past, I understand how important it is to resolve these issues on your own, and that there's nothing anyone else can say to do it for you.


He has told me about these problems and I really think he does just need time. Even I felt that things had moved really fast. One thing he said was that he wants to be sure that a relationship is the one for good, because he would feel like a lot of time was wasted if it were just to end in six months. That he would be really sad if I weren't in his life. When I said that I really liked him, he got upset that I said it in the past tense.


He will be gone for a few weeks during Christmas, so maybe that time will help.


I do appreciate everyone's feedback. It helps to hear different perspectives and to just talk about it.

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