Vail Relationships column: How do I know if I’m insecure or intuitive?
Dear Neil: I have been dating a wonderful man for about seven months. I met him shortly after he and his wife split, and their divorce is very hostile and drawn out. When he talks about things he wants after the divorce, he says, “I just want to be free.” But when he says that, I hear, “I want to be free of you, too.”
I have asked him why I’m not mentioned in his post-divorce plans, and he says that he doesn’t want to make any promises because he doesn’t know how his divorce will play out but that he has thought about me in the future.
So I am conflicted. On the one hand, I want to stay in this relationship and see it through because I believe we have something real, honest and strong. On the other hand, I feel he is telling me that he is not ready for the relationship that I want, and I should therefore move on to spare myself more anguish.
I know that he very much values me in his life right now, but what I fear is that he is using me to get through this, and once he feels better, I’ll be out in the cold. But I cannot tell if my fears are based in reality. Am I contemplating ruining something good, or is my gut leading me right? How do you know if you’re being insecure or intuitive?
Dear Hanging On: This is the dilemma with dating someone who has recently broken up or divorced. They are typically in a great deal of emotional upheaval, and even if they do commit right after they break up or divorce, they may not be emotionally ready to fully offer their heart to someone new.
The only way you’re going to know the answer to your question is to verbalize this dilemma to your boyfriend and see if he can offer you any clarity regarding his readiness and interest in committing to you. That being said, he may not know how he feels about entering into another committed relationship right now because he may have most of his emotional energy tied up in this divorce battle with his ex-wife.
So here’s my advice: Put your efforts into deepening the connection with him, and give him a full year to deal with what’s on his plate, how he feels and what he wants. After that time, if he can’t address the future with you, then you’ll have to decide if you’re willing to wait longer or whether it’s then time to fish or cut bait.
However, if you need an answer about his future commitment right now, and you’re unwilling to wait a year, perhaps you chose the right guy — but the wrong timing. Then you’re going to have to determine how much you value a real, honest and strong relationship.
Neil Rosenthal is a licensed marriage and family therapist in Westminster and Boulder. He is the author of the best-selling book “Love, Sex, and Staying Warm: Creating a Vital Relationship.” Contact him at 303-758-8777, or visit neilrosenthal.com.