Dr. L. Relationship question. 1) Based on the details below, what is the best thing for me to do in order to improve my chances of him realizing that he wants to be with me? Do I let him go with no contact or do I reach out to him? 2) From your experience, have you seen this before and what is typically the outcome and what can I do to improve a positive outcome for me? 3) Also, do you agree with all the stuff the experts say about men & love? Do you agree that a man will fall harder in love if he fights or has to work for something therefore, I should give him space, then connect with him, then pull away myself? 4) Do you think it's a bad idea to tell him exactly how I feel and all the reasons we'd be great together and what I think we both need to work on to make it fantastic?
I'm sorry this is long but I want you to have all the info/the entire story, so you can give me your best perspective.
Here is the background:
- Dated 1.5 yrs, I’m 48
- “R” is divorced, for 5 years; 44 yrs old, 2 kids, felt unloved in marriage & supported his exwife but had to move across the country for work, and barely sees them. He misses them terribly. They live in North Carolina and he lives in California. He use to fly to see them 1x per month but it was difficult. The school system changed their schedule so now they can fly to see him (at least partway) and he is hoping his ex will allow them to fly on their own more often. He had them for 6 weeks this summer. He introduced me to them and he was affectionate to me in front of them. He and I got along great when they were here … we were very passionate. I think having them around helped his mood. But he didn’t get to see them for Thanksgiving or Christmas. I saw him fight back tears one day while driving. He got to see them finally for 40 hours in the middle of a business trip 2 weeks ago.
- He was in a “nonfunctional” marriage and regrets marrying her. He says he had doubts from the start but I can see why he married her. She is very driven, very smart and pretty lady. She has a strong personality and now he feels rage and only communicates with her via email and prefers minimal contact. They did not have a messy divorce. Instead of attorneys, they figured it out on their own and he was generous leaving her with the house and he did it for the kids. He pays child support. He sold his company when they got married after supporting his ex through school (paid for her tuition) and moved for her career. He became a stay at home dad because tech jobs were hard to come by in NC. He feels his ex lost respect for him as a result. He had to move to California for work and he started his 2nd company.
- Work is crazy for him. He is running a company and is overwhelmed but is driven to be successful in the hopes of buying another home (he’s renting and left the house in NC)so that maybe his daughter will want to go live with him when she goes to high school.
- He was in 3 yr relationship before me and I believe it was a 'transitional' relationship though it was a good relationship for him. He said it was good and that “not to take away from her” but he was happy to feel cared for. But they broke up because she wanted him to be a surrogate father to her kids and he could not handle being a father to someone else’s kids while his kids were far away.
- He was head over heels for me & admitted he was smitten early on in our relationship. He panicked a couple of times at the beginning questioning how I felt about him. I believe I behaved/reacted 'normally' and just reassured him and showed him interest and just asked him to take it slow.
- He admitted to me that he was afraid of being hurt. The 1st email below shows where his head was at.
- I thought he was ok after I assured him of my interest and we were having fun, but 1 day I asked him for a night to myself to prepare for the weekend ... a weekend that he and I would be going away together. He freaked out and the next morning, came over my house at 6 am to break up with me saying he wanted more passion. I was confused and angry he showed up like that. A part of me thought he was a bit of a freak and I was really put off.
- 1 month goes by and I emailed him a request to send my things over that I had left. He asked to bring it in person and I said ok. He looked sad and wanted to hug me when he saw me. I thought it was weird and was upset with him for coming over like that. It was clear that he was not sure. His eyes, behavior did not match his words. That night he responded to my angry email asking him why he came over and behaved the way he did (wanting/insisting on hugging me etc) ... he was drunk (rare) and seemed to be trying to console himself as well.
- We talked and got back together. Things were very good after that and we were very close. He did a lot of things that showed he cared for me and in a committed relationship.
- We became close friends and I was his confidant regarding work; he shared about his exwife and feelings about his kids; we had fun and we often would talk at the table long after the check was paid.
- We have common interests (both trail run and do triathlons); we cook together; we laugh together; we have the best relationship I've ever had; sex is good; he looks at me across the table with eyes that just stare me down and ... that same stare we shared the first time we met. We are very attracted to each other.
- So we dated for about 4 months then he broke up with me because he thought I wasn’t as passionate about him.
EARLIEST EMAIL FROM HIM:
This is a surprising email for me to write. But I need to relay some thoughts to you in an effort to move things along. Bear with me, I will try to keep things focused, but it may end up as a stream of consciousness ramble...
Thank you for relaying the phantom text last night. I'll be honest, I was perplexed and disappointed to not hear from you. Why? Well, I'm realizing that I have a much harder crush on you than I realized. Good or bad? I'm still trying to figure it out. And I suppose it really just depends on you. Good if you feel the same - Bad if not.
As I said, this email is a bit surprising for me to write. Almost always I'm the cool cucumber. This time I think I've been out-chilled by a chick! My past few SOs (sig others) complaint about me was that I didn't express my feelings enough. Well shit, here I am spilling my guts to a (very cute, fun) girl I just recently met, who already asked me to "take it slow" just a few days ago.
So, as I gazed wistfully at my phone for a text that never came last night, I was trying to decide what I should do? Hmm thinking to myself - is she still involved with someone else or still dating? Trying to remember if she responded in kind when I relayed my status (don't think she answered!?) Ah well, she hasn't made any promises and of course she doesn't have to. Then I start thinking that I probably need to pull back - either its too fast for her (which is completely fine) or she is still working things out with someone else (which is also fine!).
But neither one of those really works for me at the moment. I don't know you well enough to get a feeling for your intentions - what say you? How come I can't peek in there to that space that you proudly display to the online dating world?
At the end of it, I do find myself smitten with you. I am happy to run along with you at your pace - for awhile. But I really just want to spend more time with you, and not sure you feel the same.
*** I've been crafting this email in bits & pieces all morning after my dash to the city and back. And now after your email, its sounds like we have even less time. Bummer.
If you *want* me to come over tonite, just to catch up, and maybe talk a bit, that would be great!
I have no idea if I'm off base here, this email was completely whacky, too much, too whatever. I hope that by relaying my feelings and putting it all out there - wearing my heart on my sleeve - helps bring you closer :) And if not, that is important too because I don't want to push something that isn't right for either of us."
- After this breakup, I didn’t talk to him for 3 weeks or so. I then emailed him to send me some of my belongings but he asked to come over. He wanted to hug me. I was confused. I sent him an angry email asking him why he did that. I was confused. After a few emails back and forth, this is an email he sent to me:
"Suddenly you are demonstrating a deepness and awareness and foresight that I just never saw from you - or only saw in small flashes that at the time didn't overcome my down feelings about how we interacted.
Possibly or probably I reacted to quickly or dramatically, but that is just where I was at, where I had ended up in my mind. I think I am better at some things and not so much a good partner in other ways.
I had fully mentally decided that I was done with the relationship. I did not want to feel scared or under-appreciated or trapped in a relationship that was only ordinary, or that was composed of two very busy people that were together just because it was good enough, ("despite this, despite that"...)
I had gone up and down mentally a number of times and my spinning in my head and the emotional toll (probably mostly self-inflicted, but inflicted nonetheless) was a price I was tired of paying. I suddenly bonked emotionally and had to drop the load and that happened unfortunately at 5:00 AM that morning and I waited until 6:15 or whatever and showed up.
I did very quickly make myself available on the online dating scene. Not because I had any expectation of finding the person of my dreams overnight, but I wanted to allow myself to have an entire change of mindset. Over those several weeks, I went on a half dozen (crappy) dates. Uggh. Only a few second dates. Nobody really interesting - a lot of wasted time, but it did allow me to change my frame of mind.
Then you emailed again and let me have it. In a good way and a bad way. You had a right to get everything off your chest and I wanted to give you the time and space to do so. I absorbed a lot of your frustrations and I tried to relay that I just wanted to remember and foster the good things between us. And then you made it very clear that you weren't interested in being friends and unfriending on FB, etc. All OK but disheartening - and you started relaying a lot of your insight and awareness as I described above. And then you really let me have it on that last phone call when I was scrambling in SF and I thought for sure that was it. Like 100% adios...
And yet... you emailed again and really pushed for *another* talk. I REALLY thought hard and felt like I shouldn't - I should just really break because you were so mad and I thought unreasonable - and yet ... you were trying very hard and more insight would come out in those emails, along with more anger (but passion!) - and so I agreed to bail out of work and I came down and then I really felt something from you again and I saw you and it got much harder for me all over again.
So I am conflicted. And I am still going on a date with someone. And I am spinning. I don't want to hurt you at all. I really do have a soft spot for you in my heart "despite this and despite that"... In the last week you have shown me a lot - quite a bit about you and some about me (well, forced me to look at myself) and I appreciate that gift very very much.
I don't expect you to wait around and keep the door open for me. The open door is very inviting, especially since you have so bravely opened up your heart to me, after I pulled away so much. I have a lot more respect and trust in you now, but I still need my space and time and freedom. And I want you to have someone who can love you unconditionally and passionately and think about 20 years down the road. But I can't do that right now."
- We talked some more and we got back together. Things improved a lot. I met his kids. We are passionate. But as with any relationship there are challenges but all normal couple stuff. For example I was upset with him because on the ride home, oil was leaking badly from his car and it started to smoke. I was afraid it would catch on fire. Reasonable or not, he did not stop the car to check as his promised. There was one other minor thing and then we broke up in December because we were going to a race. He was racing the marathon and I was racing a 50k. Originally he was going to race the 50 miler and wanted to stay up there because he had to get up at 5 am . But when his race started at 9 am and I had to start at 7 am, he no longer wanted to spend the night. I was upset because I wanted to stay the night. He broke up with me after.
- We talk it through again. I initiate that conversation but did not push. We agree to be friends and I invite him to my Christmas party. He was hesitant but came. He hung out at my house after everyone left. We got back together.
- After Dec, his work is crazy and is the longest period of time he does not see his kids. He tells me that he started to feel really down around this time ... he describes it as "colorless". I caught him a couple of times, almost in tears and I just ask him what he needs from me and I try to comfort him. He says I do the right thing and he appreciates it. We become closer again and we continue to have a better relationship. We love talking to one another, after the table is cleared at the restaurant and the bill is paid, we are still talking away. He is very attracted to me. We have fun. We laugh. We have lots in common including trail running and ultra marathons and I inspired him to sign up to race. I introduced him to a coach and I introduced him to new guy friends to run with (my friends).
- He is an intense guy. He is uptight about a few things. He is a vegetarian, Type A, smart, over-achiever and a good father. I love that about him. I know I need to allow him to take the helm but he is very good at letter me take care of other things. But he is stubborn and needs to be in control. I am a strong woman but not as strong as his ex ... I know and have learned to allow him to lead and I am ... well, I'm a really nice gal and easy to get along with. He tells me he loves my personality, though he does say I have a bit of an edge to myself.
- I sent him an email to express that I was disappointed that I was not invited to cheer him on at his big race, 100 miles in Wyoming where his parents live. I had supported him at an Ironman, at his 100K (he flew me to be with him and to be his support crew). He told me that he wanted to spend time with his family and that maybe if the opportunity presented itself, I could meet them another time. I said, why couldn't I just go for the weekend (and that I would pay for that trip ... he insisted he'd pay) and then I'd leave early while he stayed to spend time with his family; I could help his elderly parents find him on the course. Prior to sending the email, we very briefly talked about it but I just let it go. So I sent him the email to talk about it.
- The 2nd email below was his response and I was shocked. We met to talk about it and he basically told me that we should break up. I couldn't believe it and didn't expect it. We have since talked, and I told him, to tell me, if he decided that I'm not "the one" and if he could share with me what it is so I would understand. He mentioned that me not being a vegetarian was a big deal. His exwife was not vegetarian and every meal I cook for him, I tried to create very nice vegetarian dishes that he loves (I write a food blog) and these meals are really special. So I feel it is just an "excuse". He mentioned that he was put-off by me when we talked about his work and training. I apologized and when I asked for examples, he could not think of them. I've asked my friends for feedback and I'm a pretty gentle and courteous person ...mindful of my words. I think I'm very kind too. He could not give me an example.
MOST RECENT EMAIL FROM HIM:
"I have always admired your ability to be able to capture in writing the feelings and intuitive thoughts about relationships. I do have good feelings for you and I acknowledge and appreciate the immersion into your life. I'm the one running the miles and the hill repeats, but you definitely reconnected me to a great running and triathlon crowd and culture. That connection reignited my drive for endurance sports, and without the running and biking, I would be in very dire straights right now.
Since 2010, I restarted my life. Back then I finally was able to start working to heal myself from the damage of 11 years of non-functional marriage. Simultaneously I had to start processing the new dramatic injury to my soul of moving away from my kids. Luckily the stars lined up and gave me a chance to start my own tech company again - something I dreamed of for years while languishing in NC. I only cry about my kids maybe once or twice a month now - it used to be every couple of days in the beginning.
Being single and alone, with an emotional fire constantly burning inside, I had to learn how to contain my sadness and grief. I have definitely built walls to hold it in - and try to redirect the heat to drive me to build and create. The running keeps me from losing it all together. And now, for better or for worse, I am a victim of my own success at work. I've pretty much f**ked myself as I built this express train barreling down the tracks. I wanted to build something very successful so I could have one more shot of having my kids with me. I started the avalanche and now I'm racing trying to stay ahead of it and gain some control.
That leaves me with.... not much. The passion is walled off, the energy and desire is blown between racing ahead of the avalanche and the physical exhaustion that keeps me mentally functional. Our interactions are brief and fleeting and most of the time enjoyable. I am in a state of the here and now - 1 day or 1 week or maybe at most 1 month of looking ahead. I don't feel much more than that. I can't process more than that. I don't want more than that and I can't promise anything more than that.
I am very sorry I can't be more than that for you. I don't have any bad intentions and have been honest (if walled off) but I don't feel more than that. I think you deserve more than that, we all do. But I am not able to provide that for you (and hence myself) right now."
ANOTHER EMAIL FROM HIM AFTER I ASKED HIM FOR MORE SPECIFICS/EXPLANATION:
I feel hollow and not sure about everything else as well - if I'm steering work the right way, if I'm totally blowing it with my kids.
I have struggled with the difference in values and beliefs that are inherent in the diet we choose. I struggle with choices for txting and FBing when we have time together. I struggle with some interactions we have in the kitchen and other places - you have a condescending edge sometimes when we are cooking or talking about preparing for races - that really bothers me.
So I've been struggling to feel and stay open, to give it the best chance, but I can't. I tried to do everything to be open, but it is not there for me. With my work anxiety and kid anxiety, I lose feeling and appreciation. I don't want you to have to deal with that any more.
- After we broke up, I did cry and was very upset. He responded to some of my emails but resisted talking to me about it and every time we talked, he only assured me that he just could
- I feel it is partially "in his head" like when we 1st met ... his mind just making things much worse, exaggerating things/distorting. The texting/FBing ... he does it too and I apologized to him and said I will do better and I do put it away. I am NOT like a lot of people. He is on the clock with work and does the SAME thing to me and when I see him pull out his phone, so do I. We are generally pretty good about putting it away. I am willing to be more cognizant and do better though (even though I think he's using it as an excuse and exaggerating). Also we eat (and I am open to) trying vegetarian restaurants and I go out of my way to cook only vegetarian which I enjoy eating. WE don't argue about it and he seems to accept it during our 1.5 years together. He was so smitten by me at the start and didn't care about it!
- So we went on a long trail run last weekend. We had fun. We ate after, and we talked as we normally do about "stuff" and had fun, though I was sad (and so was he) we did not really show it. We were happy and he stared at me again from across the table. We enjoyed each other's company.
- Also want to add, about 3 weeks ago, after the 1st email that he tells me he wants to end it, I end up staying at his house. I asked him if I should go and he said I should stay. We were very passionate that night (he initiated) and he was loving ... just holding me ... and just sleeping close to me ... he had not done that in a while … hold me so passionately and affectionately … after sex. But when we work up, he said that we should still talk. We really didn't talk .. after then ... he didn't budge and I got upset and sent him emails, telling him how I felt and it wasn't anything bad nor attacking him ... I was careful to write it in a loving way ... to allow him to feel safe replying ... but he had to travel, and go see his kids ... anyway, we ran this past weekend and he didn't want to talk about things. Have not heard from him and I handed him a letter (short) after our run, that read that if I loved him, I should want him to be happy and it seems that he is not happy with me; I told him that the irony of him wanting me to not keep him at arm's length and to allow myself to be vulnerable and to feel passion (love) for him at the start of his relationship ... but it is HE who has a wall up. I told him that I believe we have what it takes for the long run and that we could be very happy ... and I believe we could be that unique couple that finds happily ever after ... I really believe that .. and I reminded him of a video he sent to me, after he ran to the top of the mountain, one morning, to wish me good morning, and hugs and kisses. I told him, I'm sending him "hugs & kisses" from the mountain we just ran on.
- I have not heard from him since Saturday (it is now Wed). But I'm not surprised.
- I realize I should give him space. I really don't believe he's "not into me" and I asked him if he saw something in me/us ... and when pressured he did say once that "we didn't have what it takes for the long run" but when I try to have a dialogue, he says that it's not a matter of me and him ... he insists that he just doesn't have much else left. I believe him when he says that.
I also tried to talk to him about what he didn't like about our relationship. He mentioned the vegetarian thing and that I have an edge that I was condescending to him when talking about work or training that was off-putting. I asked him for examples and he couldn't give me one. I asked my friends for feedback and they don't think I could be condescending. I think he's exaggerating and looking for an excuse but I am 100% willing to improve and accept that maybe I was off-putting and I cook vegetarian for him all the time ... not just a simple meal ... really fancy. (I write a food blog) and so I write recipes for him!
I think he feels when we fight it's too much (even though from my perspective its not a big deal) but I also think he thinks it will lead to another mistake like with his brother's GF (they just broke up) and similar to his exwife. He says it's his instincts but his instincts about he and I were wrong from the start ... his instincts are based on fear.
How do I get through to him so we can be happy together???