Needing structure on November 30, 1998…
Dear Breakup Girl,
I have a boyfriend who is 7 years younger than me, and quite a bit more inexperienced in the ways of long-term commitment/love stuff (I was married ten years, have been divorced for 3, he has never had a relationship that lasted as long as a year <he always got dumped>). We’ve been friends for a year and a half, dating for 6 months. He’s just as sweet as he can be when we’re together, but when we’re not, it’s like I don’t exist. No calls, no notes, nothing. I don’t get it. OK, I’ve called him ‘cuz I couldn’t wait. Hell, I’d like to talk to him every day (a little 5-minute hi how are you love you call) but he seemed so odd and distant on the phone (usually at work alone in his office) that I quit doing that. We spend almost the whole weekend every weekend together, but I always sweat it during the week. Will he call? Should I call? Am I bugging him? What’s the deal?
Also, we’ve told each other “I love you,” but he rarely says it unless I say it first, and always with this weird look on his face. I hate it. I wish he wouldn’t even say it at all if he’s going to do that. I guess I’m touchy about it because I told him I was IN love with him after three months, but he said he wasn’t IN love with me. “You know I really care about you right?” he said.
Well, yeah, we used to say “I love you” as friends, but THIS IS DIFFERENT! “IN” LOVE IS DIFFERENT! Friends say, give it time, he’ll come around (or he won’t, I guess). Meantime I just get crazier and crazier for him and want to hear “I’m in love with you” but am afraid to ask. After all, three more months have passed, and he acts like he’s nuts about me when we’re together. Although, you know, he often speaks in generalities when we’re together, and that bugs the hell out of me. When we were both single he whined and whined about not having a girlfriend, no one to have sex with, etc. etc. Now he says things like, “Mmmmm, it feels so good to be held” not “It feels good to be with YOU” or he likes it when other men pay attention to me “my sexy woman” because I’m going home with him at the end of the night. It all makes me feel like he’s just happy to be dating SOMEONE, not especially like he’s happy it’s me. I’m over here all love-struck and hoping there’s some future (I am NOT thinking marriage anytime in the next few years, but I would like to feel like I have someone to share my life with) and he’s just happy he’s got someone cute to hang out with, show off, and have sex with. A friend calls and asks, “Are you free Saturday night?” and I say, “Let me call John and see if he had anything planned and I’ll call you back.” Someone asks him the same question, and he’ll go ahead and make plans and not tell me until Saturday during the day and then I get all disappointed and upset, and he gets upset because, “I don’t want to feel like I HAVE to check in.”
WHAT THE HELL??? I mean, if we’re spending every weekend together, wouldn’t you think it’d be COMMON COURTESY to call and say, “I’d like to hang with so-and-so Sat. night, could we hook up on Sunday instead?”
HELP! Is it too early to tell here? Or am I dissecting his words/actions too much? Do I need to give him “space” at the expense of my own feelings? Or should I try to treat this as a “this is great while it lasts” type of thing and not let him too far into my life so I’m not devastated when it ends?
— Want a Real Love
Maybe he’s less “experienced,” but the real time zone issue here is not age. It’s that after six months — if you are pretty much “going steady” — the “Should I call?” thing should be a thing of the past. People have different tastes and styles as far as daily chit chat goes — some think the quick Check In is better than nothing; others don’t want to bother unless they have time to Really Talk. And heck, some people just hate the phone. But it bugs me that you still worry about bugging him. Especially because from what you say, you have reason to worry. As you describe it, his investment in this relationship is indeed taking a different shape from yours. And the more elusive he gets, the more nuts you go.
So why don’t you try to create some sort of structure together, and then see how your feelings fit? I’m talking, mainly, about this weekends-together thing. Either make this a definite plan, or don’t. If you do, then yes, he needs to call ahead to make a change. If you don’t (which, it seems, is the way things are now), then NO NO NO, you DON’T need to check with him before making plans with someone else! The way to not be devastated IF this ends, WRL, is to not treat your friends like they’re a Plan B to a set-in-hope Plan A.