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Angela, Counselor
Category: Relationship
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For Angela. Hi Angela. Jennifer was kind enough to answer

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For Angela.

Hi Angela. Jennifer was kind enough to answer my last question, but I would really like for you to answer this one because you have answered two previous ones about the same situation.

The guy I've been dating for over two months now, well today we had lunch together (this time I suggested we go out). Lunch went well enough, blah blah blah. Since it has been a while since I started seeing him though, I decided this time I had to say something. I felt it has been long enough, and I need to know where I stand with him.

So I finally asked him. We were talking and I just very simply said "I have to ask you something -- are we just friends?" There's never a not awkward way to say these things...

Anyway, he responded immediately at first with great, I knew you were going to ask this question (so why didn't he just bring it up if he already knew how I was/have been feeling?), and then he gave me a very sincere explanation of how he felt. Since I've known this guy and friends that have known him for 5+ years all know how sincere and honest he is, I have no doubt he was telling the truth.

He said right now he's been trying to really get his life in order, that he's been trying to find balance in his life so to speak. He doesn't talk to me in detail about his problems, but he has hinted here and there that things have been rough. He's touched on things being bad with his mom and him right now, and I know he's extremely unhappy at his current job. He said as an example of how he doesn't feel like he would be able to devote himself to working on a relationship with someone else, that last Sunday after an extremely rough day at work and getting home after 1 AM, he sat on his porch and "sobbed for 15 minutes" (his exact words). He said he didn't think it would be fair to drag someone else through what he's going through right now, and again emphasized that he has really been working on himself and trying not to worry about fixing everyone else's problems as he always has done (especially in previous romantic relationships).

He added that it's not that he doesn't like me, and that it's not that he doesn't want a relationship with someone, or that he doesn't want to able to enjoy life. He said he DOES like me, he likes spending time with me, and he still wants to continue to do so and get to know me. He also added that I am not AT ALL like anyone else he's ever dated, that he hasn't dated someone on an equal maturity level since he was probably 16 and dated someone who was also 16 (he's 32 now, I'm 28). And I certainly believe I am nothing like his past significant others/ex wife because we have pretty much all the same friends with 1 or 2 exceptions, and they have all said his past girlfriends were severely unstable, with lots and lots of emotional/mental problems and just didn't have it together, etc. Anyway, after he said all this, he asked me what my plans were for this upcoming Friday and thus secured me for Friday.

I don't get it. I mean, I understand trying to balance yourself out. I've been there, I really have, and I can respect trying to straighten life out. I get that. But I don't understand why, if he's not ready for a relationship, did he pursue someone then? And honestly, I like him. But I brought it up today with him because I just wanted to know where I stood. I wasn't asking for his total devotion and commitment at all. I wanted to know if he liked me as well, and if it were possible for what we had now to evolve into something more.

The weirdest thing about that entire conversation was that he didn't ask me what I thought or how I felt. I don't know if it was just because he felt nervous and awkward, or if he just didn't want to hear it, but I didn't really get the opportunity to respond. And it leads me to believe if he's been expecting this question, that he must have thought at least a little about what he was going to say when it was asked.

Was I rejected? I know no one should ever wait or put their life on hold for someone else, but if someone is trying to find balance in their lives/an inner peace of some sort, that could take months, YEARS. I was in the place he is in now FOUR years ago and it's taken me until very recently to finally start figuring out what I need and want. I really just don't know what to think. Most people would say forget him, step back and don't hang out and continue to get closer to him. Does it sound like he is trying to lock me in without being committed? I don't know what I should do. I DO feel like I'm going to have to bring it up again when i see him on Friday though, because I didn't get a chance to respond whatsoever -- do you think I should at least do that much, lay it out on the table that I AM interested in this relationship of ours evolving? Should I not say anything and take a step back and distance myself from him? I'm really confused... please help.
Hello my name is Angela.
I am more than happy to assist you with your questions by giving you my honest and respectful opinion.

I have read our previous posts including this post and here are my thoughts:
You can certainly bring up this conversation with him again on Friday and I think that you should, however, it clearly seems like he is interested in you and that he likes you but he does not have the energy to pursue a relationship with you due to the stress in his life. I believe this is why he has not brought the subject up prior to you doing so because he does not want you to end your friendship with him since he likes you but he also feels that he can't commit to a relationship right now due to all of the stress in his life. It sounds like he gets stressed out at the very thought of being in a committed relationship and in an attempt to avoid the stress he chooses not to commit to a relationship and to enjoy the stress free status of your relationship with him (-it does seem like he genuinely is attracted to you and likes you and is not playing any type of game). Also, you wrote that you understand where he is at because you were previously there for 4 years- so you know from your own experience what he is going through. I think he didn't ask you to respond because he already knows that you are attracted to him and that you like him- usually when a woman tells a man I have to ask you you like me?- the man already knows you like him and even more so because you actually asked him if he likes you. Yes I feel that he does indeed want to lock you in (-as you wrote) but without a commitment because he feels that he can not give you a commitment at this point.

Yes I think you should bring it up on Friday and give your response: laying your cards on the table and that you should discuss with him where the two of you will go from there. Remember, he has basically told you that he can't commit due to the stress in his life and as you know, having a relationship requires work for it to be successful (- hence causing more stress at times). In lieu of this along with the fact that you have been where he is, on Friday, after you lay your cards on the table, also present him with possible options so that he could consider committing to your relationship despite the stress in his life (-think of options based on how you felt when you were where he is now for 4 years- what options/possibilities would have helped to bring you out of that place? What would have helped you to be able to commit to a relationship during that 4 year period?). Also, be sure to share with him that you were where he is now so that he understands that you know what it is like from experience and then present him with the options that you come up with for your relationship. After discussing all of the above with him, decide together where your relationship will go from that point forward. Therefore, on Friday, after doing all of the above, you will know what direction your relationship will take and hopefully he will commit to your relationship after your discussion of all of the above.
P. S.
Your previous question that you put to my attention and another expert answered: I just wanted to let you know that I did not see that question where you requested me or I would have responded to it.
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
I think what's most confusing is the locking in part. He doesn't seem like an unreasonable or clingy sort of person, so I don't understand why he would give such a mixed signal like that. Doesn't giving me a mixed signal like that mean he doesn't quite know what he wants? Like, while he's attracted and interested in me, he's holding back not only due to stress, but also fear of being with someone whom he views as being so different? (He feels I have aspirations, direction, maturity, common sense, independence... things he's never had in a partner before.)

Also, while I have every intention of bringing it up again on Friday as gently as possible, I do not want to make it sound like I am trying to force or convince him to commit to me right now. While I certainly wouldn't be opposed to it if he decided right then and there to do so, I am also OK with giving us more time to continue casually as we have been as long as I feel like we're mutually moving towards the next level. How do people convey that without sounding like they are backpedaling or like they have ulterior motives (i.e. the game of read between the lines and you'll see I'm actually demanding more than I'm saying)? The stress in his life sounds very great, and I don't want to add to it with this. And if I say it's OK to keep taking it as slow as we have been, is that just encouraging him to continue locking me in without committing? Above all, I've been through a lot of heartache in my life with a man I thought I would marry. I don't open up easily at all, and I don't want to be hurt by getting in too deep with Chris, only to find out later that it's not a possibility for us to be together.
Based on what you have shared, I don't think that it is a mixed signal of not knowing what he wants. I think he wants a relationship with you but is afraid to commit to it due to the stress in his life. As far as you being different than him, opposites usually attract to one another (- a good thing). The best way to convey your intentions to him is to talk to him when the two of you will not be disturbed on Friday and to share with him what you want to say and then follow up with how you are ok with giving the two of you more time and that you just wanted to share with him and to get his responses. Talking to him and asking him what how he interprets what you say to him and then clarifying anything that he heard which you did not mean is the best way to have your conversation so that he clearly understands what you want to say. Talking about the above encourages open and honest communication which is always needed in your relationship to keep you both on the same page (-I don't think it encourages him to lock you in without committing).
Angela and other Relationship Specialists are ready to help you
Thank you for your kind words and for my bonus! If you request me in the future and I don't respond, it's because I didn't see your question on the open question board
(-if this happens, please send me a private message via Just Answer to alert me to your question and feel free to disregard any responses that are not from me. To send a private message, click on my profile link and then click on pm). Have a great night! Good luck on Friday!