replied 8 years ago.
Hi luv 101, and thanks for your question.
I can understand your ambivalence about the situation and there's no denying you do have a lot of tough decisions to make. I can help you see both sides of this dilemma and give you advice, but I'm sure you realize the ultimate decision must be yours.
You sound like a very intelligent, warm, caring woman who thinks logically, and you are to be commended for those attributes! : )
I definitely agree that due to past circumstances in your relationship, which you've outlined, you do need to spend more time together, in person, and get to know each other better. However, I also find that in long distance relationships, many times, communicating by phone, email, etc., it's often easy to get to know the other person without the 'distraction' of being face to face. Even though you've already been together, physically, and have spent 'face time' together, continuing to speak and write often, can only enhance your relationship. Don't question why he calls you every day, just let him continue to do it! : )
I think he's proposing this plan to you, re: go out, experience other men, and allow 'me' (him) to do the same, so that if we do decide we want a permanent relationship, i.e. marriage, we've had enough experience to know 'we' are 'right'. I understand why you don't feel the need to do this and also why you wouldn't want to do this, but I don't think it's a bad idea. However, knowing he would be dating other women and at your ages, it's sort of a 'given' that sex would most likely be included with some of his dates, I also understand you not wanting him to be with anyone else but you, in that way. So, there we have an impasse. You agree to tell each other if you're considering having sex with other people, within the realm of your 'dating' experience; he wants you to 'know' other men, to have a basis for comparison, but the thought of him being with another woman in an intimate way, upsets you, and I think that's well within your rights; there's nothing odd about that feeling, regarding him.
While it's very possible that your friends are right, and you say you love this man because he was your first, there's nothing wrong with that, if you're sure. With the information you related re: your feelings about other dates, other men, and becoming intimate, totally not interesting you and relying on your primary instinct of knowing you didn't want that, I think you've proven to yourself what you want, what you like/love, and it's him. But (and I'll be going around this from all sides, to try to present as comprehensive a picture as possible, for you), it might not be a bad idea to try to date some other men (sex is optional, according to how you feel, of course) to get a better perspective before sticking with your decision that 'he's the one'.
I think the fact that he made this suggestion, shows that he's not ready to make a commitment to you, yet, and this could be due to one or all of the reasons you've mentioned. You HAVEN'T known each other for that long, and due to all the obstacles placed in your path with school, travel, his move, the surgery, etc. even though it's been 7 months 'technically', it's not the same as 7 months of dating on a steady basis and seeing each other every day or even every week.
Regarding your options 1-4, I'd only consider #1, and with trepidation. If you say, him dating other women and being intimate with them is a deal breaker, then, you can't agree to him dating other women; you understand how this makes sense. Not having sex with him, but continuing to communicate/see each other, is not a good idea, because you both enjoy it, as you said, so why deprive yourselves of this enjoyment? You certainly do not have 'only' a sexual relationship, right? You love him for many of his qualities.
He may just be getting cold feet; he has a lot on his mind, as you mentioned, so I propose this: continue to communicate with him by phone and email, on a steady basis; tell him of your daily activities, as if you were seeing him at the end of the day, in person; ask him about his day, etc. Be a little flirtatious, when appropriate, but just be yourself, and continue to get to know more about him and what makes him tick; be supportive of his decisions. I don't see how you can 'give him permission' to date other women, but if he brings it up again, just tell him truthfully, something along the lines of: 'you do what you feel is right, or what you feel you need to do; you already know how I feel about you, and I do care about your happiness'. See what he has to say. If he continues to ask you if you've gone out on any dates, tell him the truth if you choose to, that you're really not interested in doing that at this time, or yes, you've gone out a few times, but no sparks, nothing to really 'talk' about.
It's important that you're both sure, before you make a further commitment, because 'dating' and being with each other in person, so few times, and actually living together as an engaged couple or even as husband and wife are very different situations. I speak from experience. It always takes time to 'adjust' to living with another person, but if you feel you're compatible on so many levels, although you mentioned you each irritate the crap out of each other sometimes, which is very common (I suspect something is wrong with people who are in love and *don't* irritate each other sometimes!), because you're very open with your feelings, and can talk so freely with each other about this whole situation, you've got half the battle won. You mentioned "he feels that I'm trying too hard to make this work. I feel we need more time to get to know each other..." and I agree with both of you. Remember that a good relationship is typically composed of successful communication and compromise, and that's basically what you're asking each other to do: compromise.
Re: having children--this might be a problem if you already know he wants kids and you are reluctant, due to your age. However, if you were to be married within, let's say, 2 years or earlier, I think nowadays, with women concentrating on their careers first, and then having children later, 40 is the new 30, as the thinking went, about 20 years ago. It used to be that a woman over 30 was thought to have an increased chance of pregnancy problems, etc., but more and more women were starting to have babies after age 30. Now, many women are starting their families at or near, age 40. If you're healthy and would entertain the thought of having children or one child, after the age of 40 (I wouldn't think as far as age 45), it's a possibility, if you're healthy and decide that's what you want.
It's curious that you never mentioned your age gap as mattering to either of you. Re: children, it may make a difference, due to your biological clock, but otherwise, it doesn't seem to come up as a problem between you, and that's a good thing. Do you think it bothers him that you are older than him and he feels he might want to be with a woman who's around his age, or younger (late 20's)? Maybe the having children thing IS in the back of his mind....Please be assured I'm not saying this to upset you, I'm just trying to cover all bases and help you see things from all sides, as I mentioned.
So, to summarize: I'd keep in touch with him and continue to show him that you care, but don't go overboard with any gushing re: your feelings--he already knows them. See how things progress with him and try to see him again, soon--you mentioned he might come to see you in June? When he visits, just enjoy all your time with him, and live 'in the moment'. If he brings up the future, reiterate your views/feelings, and ask what HIS feelings are. All you can do, is see how it goes and then proceed from there.
I do wish you much good luck, and hope things work out for the best, XXXXX XXXXX of you.
Please let me know your thoughts and if you have any further questions. You can keep me updated on how things are going, if you like.
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