Four years and counting: What’s he thinking?

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Last week’s questions:

Is cheating ex playing me?

High school dating: Am I hot or not?

Relationship Advice: Committed or not committed?

Four Years of Mixed Messages

Dear Guys,

I hope you get to respond to this one.  I have been dating my boyfriend for 4 years and a few months.  I am 32 and he will be 40 next month.  He’s the first and only guy I “knew” and he was the one about 6-7 months into the relationship.  We’ve both had previous relationships.  I also made it clear in those first 6 months that I was not dating him to be his girlfriend forever.  He understood.  We knew we loved each other, so I thought everything was fine.  But then a year and half into our relationship, my sister had some marital problems which kind of prompted me to bring up marriage with him.  I mentioned, or asked, to try to confirm that he did want to get married and have kids.  He made some joke about how I couldn’t handle a kid because I’d drop it, since I’m so careless. I pressed it and he got very uncomfortable, and asked me where “all this” was coming from.  Then he went MIA on me for a week.

We talked the following week and he said how he shouldn’t have gone MIA but that he wasn’t on any timeline.  I said that was fine, since I thought that it was only a year and half into our relationship.  But then around the 2.5 year mark, I started to ask him when I would meet his parents and how I wanted to come over his place.  He was dealing with a very sick dad who passed away last year and basically took care of his parents, changed his dad, fed him, etc. you get the picture.  He always seemed so stressed over working (he has his own law practice) and caring for his dad, that I didn’t want to stress him out, so I didn’t push things like pressing him to get married. But after 2.5 years or so I really wanted to meet more than his best friend, who I didn’t even see regularly.

Anyway, when I asked if I could come over and help, his response was nice but was like, “Babe, my house is a circus between taking care of my dad and all, what would you do?”  I told him I could distract his mom and keep her company.  Then I asked that I would meet his parents right?  He said of course I would but the time just wasn’t right right now.

After 2.5 years whenever I brought up marriage, he got very uncomfortable.  Then his dad died in January last year and  I brought it up around June, asking again when I would meet his mom(not about marriage per se)and his response was like, “Babe, I’m depressed, I cant even think straight. How can I answer that?”  So last year, everything was about how depressed he was.  But my question is, “Can a death in the family prevent someone who wants to be with you to marry you?”  I mean, its always something or another it seems with him, yet he tells me he loves me and wants to be with me and has run away from other relationships for lesser things so that the fact that he’s still here trying to work it out should show me how much he wants this to work.

Anyway, I almost broke up with him last November but he wouldn’t let me and said he would try harder.  I still haven’t met his mom formally, I ran into her at the mall with him and he introduced me to him, his brother and nieces, and his sister as a friend.  He says he wants things to be better before he introduces me to them formally but I told him I need him to do something to feel better, take some action to further the relationship not just wait it out hoping to feel better.

So he agreed to meet my sister and brother in law last week when they were in town for an hour.  The first half hour went fine, light talk, but he flipped out when my sister lightly asked, “So..what are your plans,” responding very defensively to her that that was our decision and he didn’t appreciate being interrogated.

Now he hasn’t called me in a week, even after I tried to call him down after that meeting and told him not to pull the MIA thing again.  And even after recognizing that his response was overblown and that I should be the one who was offended at the way he came across to my family.  Instead, I got a text from him saying how he was sorry he had not called but that he was “deeply troubled” and did not want to say something he regretted and that!
hopefully we could talk in a few days.

WTF? Deeply troubled because my sister asked about our future plans since we’ve been dating for 4 years?  Whats his deal?


Dear G,

Thanks for your question. To use your own words, we are deeply troubled by this.

We’re not sure even where to start, but how about with his father passing away. First of all our condolences.  Having to take care of a sick parent, and then having to watch them die, is very difficult. That’s a situation that could easily cause your boyfriend to be severely stressed, and depressed. Everyone reacts differently to these types of situations. Typically, people want to be consoled by the people they are closest to. Often these types of situations draw people closer together, not push them farther apart. However, some people need space to deal with their grief-like your boyfriend-and it’s important you honor that. It sounds like you have.

However, we don’t think that’s what’s going on here. We unfortunately agree with your assessment: There will always be something with this guy. And his reaction to your sister, and then his subsequent action-going MIA again-is telling. What does you sister think? What does she say?

It’s also telling that he hasn’t wanted to introduce you to his parents. Most people who are serious about their prospective partner want their partner to meet their family, if not for the simple reason of letting their family know they are serious about the relationship they are in. This is a red flag.

We know this is very hard. It’s obvious you love this man, but are you really getting what you need out of this emotionally? You keep asking him to give you some sort of sign that he’s committed for the long term and all you get are deflections. If after four years he’s still not sure, he probably will never be sure about your relationship and you.

Contrary to popular belief, guys can commit to a relationship. Usually we know right away how committed we want to be. It’s a combination of where we are in our lives, how comfortable we are with ourselves, and how attracted we are to the woman….plus a few other variables like does the woman get along with our friends, is she fun, is she smart, and is the sex good. Four years is a long time to be unsure, especially since neither of you are in your early twenties.

We hope this gets you thinking a bit. You have to keep talking to him. Communication is so important in a relationship. You are not being too pushy here. You deserve to know the truth. And if he can’t provide the answers you’re looking for, you’re going to have to make the decision to stay or go yourself.

Good luck. Don’t settle. You deserve to have someone who loves you and respects you the way you want to be loved and respected.


9 Comments on Four years and counting: What’s he thinking?

  1. I’m just going to go ahead and be very blunt here, cuz it’s my way. RUN! Run like hell! This man is never going to marry you or commit to you in any way. You’ve wasted enough years of your life on him.

  2. I agree with Raven. Meeting the parents is a big step, but it’s not THAT big. I don’t think he has any intention of marrying.

  3. I think this guy is married already!!! You are the mistress honey!
    You are worth better!!

  4. Hi Guys,

    If anyone has some advise for me I would really appreciate it.

    I have a somewhat related situation to “G”. I am turnig 27 at the end of this month and have been with the same boyfriend since I was 22. We have lived together for the past 3 1/2 years. My issue is whether it is worth the risk of leaving and dating someone else (you never know what you are going to get-let alone there is not much to choose from out there from my past experience) or if I should continue to “try” with this relationship.

    I have stayed thus far because I have invested to much time, energy, and so much of myself into him and into building what I thought was going to be my life and future with him. I did this prematurely because I was so in love with him, but I really think that going out of my way for him so early on and so often has made him underappreciate me. I thought he was on the same page, but apparently he wasn’t.

    He talked about proposing the past 3 summers but it never happend. Last spring he even went so far as to say how a close friend knew the details of how he was going to pop the question. However, when it seemed it wasn’t going to happen halfway through this past summer I asked him for an explanation of what is holding him back. He reluctantly told me that he has lied to me about a credit card debt that he owes because of his last girlfriend whom he bought many things for (a couch, jewlery, etc.). He could not afford the payments and defaulted on it and eventually was taken to court and a judgment was found against him for what he owed and now has taken out a loan to pay it. But that all happend behind my back with him directly lying about various stages of that process. I am salty about the whole situation. The fact that he hasn’t gone out of his way for me at all, even with cheap thoughtful things or with gifts or even with daily financial issues, and I was working and now I am a law student. His ex did drugs all day long and signed up for school just to get loan money then dropped out. I just don’t understand. I am hurt over his lies and using the lie of proposing marriage. I just wonder if he did that just to keep me holding on, thinking he would committ or that he actually loves me. I don’t know what to think now.

    I do not know what to do. I have lost the love I had for him and I want to get it back but I just do not trust him.

    The other issue is our sex life. Sex with him has never been consistent. When we first started he was coming off being on steriods for several years and I know that messed with his testosterone production and his ability. However, now it is still inconsistent (whether he can “cum”)even though he did improve somewhat. Lately, this is the longest we have gone without having sex, over a month. He did not try for a long time but then he started to try and hit on me but at this point I do not even want it. I am tired of his penis dictating when we can have sex since I can’t get it when I want it I just feel like why should his penis control out sex life. It makes me not trust him. I dont know. I know that this sounds convoluted but please help me if you can. Thank you.

  5. @Melissa…..This has less to do with him, and more to do with you. What do you truly want? That’s the question you need to ask yourself honestly. Forget the time you’ve invested. This isn’t a job, or some financial venture. This is a relationship. It’s not like this has been wasted time. You’ve learned. You’ve grown. You’re figuring out your life. Everyone is on their own timeline when it comes to that sort of thing. But now you’re at a crossroads and it’s time to make some choices. (That’s why you’re asking of course.) But only you can make that decision. Here are some questions to ask yourself: Can I trust him again? Am I still in love with him, or just pretending to be? Am I sacrificing and compromising too much to be with him? Will I be able to grow and evolve more if I stay with him? Are we on the same path in our development as people? What kind of guy do I really want to build a life with? He’s been wishy washy, he’s lied to you, and he’s not followed through on his promises, but some of that could be chalked up to immaturity or even insecurity, or financial instability. The question is: Is this a reflection of his character? Don’t make decisions based on what you think is out there in the world in terms of guys. Don’t make your decision based on fear of the unknown. Make the decision based on what’s in front of you. (This guy and this relationship) Once you make that decision, then move forward and make the next decision. Each decision makes the next one easier. There are no guarantees either way, so all any of us can do is try to figure out what’s best with the information we have right now. Does this help at all? Do you have any follow up questions?

  6. I am a woman also in a 4 year relationship with a man who lives with his Momma. He is 41 I am 40. The difference is there are 3 kids between us. 1 with him who is a teenager, my 10 year old daughter and his 8 year old son. Everyone gets along, including his ex who I am very friendly with because the younger kids are close, except for his Mom. She is unbearable and acts like his wife and not his Mother. I feel like the other woman! I am sure you feel the same. His Mother never married and it is a constant tug of war! Nothing but manipulation! I don’t know about you but I speak my mind loud and clear and it has helped some. To be honest and I speak for myself as well, as long as he is at home he will never marry you. If you have your heart set on marriage he is not the one.

  7. @Donnah…..Thanks for sharing.

  8. Michelle Amper // April 14, 2017 at 9:52 pm //

    I am 44 years old and my boyfriend is 54. We have been dating for 4 years. I those 4 years I have yet to meet any friends of his. I met a brother on our first year of dating only by chance. We were inside my car while his bro stood outside in dimly lit neighborhood where his bro lived. To this day I would not recognize that bro even if we bump each other on the street. In that span of years, I have not formally met his parents only on 2 occasions were he would face time me and briefly show his mom and dad. They live in another state and would visit them 3x a year even spend thanksgiving with them and his other siblings. One time I offered to go with him to Arkansas to his parents but he he said the place is country and I would not enjoy my stay there. In a span of 4 years I met is teenage son only twice. He usually come to my house because I am not permitted to go to his place. For a good 2 years in the relationship him and his ex wife lived together in one roof. When he finally moved out and got a place of his own, I was happy because now I can hang out at his place for a change. Four months later his ex wife couldn’t afford to pay the house mortgage so she decided to exchange places. My boyfriend back to their house and her to his apartment. Now I am off limits again because his son stayed in the house because the apartment has only 1 bedroom. After a few months again the ex wife wanted to go back to their house. This time my boyfriend camped in his brother’s apartment. I’m off limits again, for a year. Now finally he has his own apartment and once again I can hang out there. This is not my only issue with him. That is nothing compared to his out of the country travels with his friends. Did I mention that I have never ever met any of his friends? Yes, that’s right. They go to Thailand, Philippines, Japan, Mexico, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic and to Vegas. In four years of the relationship he travels to those countries over and over. So in a span of four years he went away 12 times. He never takes me to any of his travels. We have been to Vegas, Cancun, Santa Barbara, Big Bear, all my idea. The most painful was in Cancun. He acted like he wasn’t happy being there and he ignored me the whole time especially when we were at the pool. Only when we have sex at the hotel is when we get physically close.
    Yet I stay with him. He tells me at least he doesn’t physically hurt me like other men would.
    Just a week ago I broke up with him because he is planning to go to Thailand with his friends again. I have broken up with him so many times and every time I would initiate contact. This time I’m not sure if I’ll go back again. I miss him though.

  9. @Michelle…..This sounds really difficult. (We did respond to your other comment. In case you didn’t see it. Just with a question.) Sounds like you’re not getting your needs met in this relationship. Is that true? Do you think you’ll be able to stick to your guns and not go back?

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