Q. Longtime lurker, first-time writer here.
I am a 30-year-old working professional whose last serious relationship ended a little over two years ago. I gave myself some time to heal from what was a very rough breakup (he was controlling, emotionally abusive, and an alcoholic), as well as learn from it, grow, get in touch with myself, and clear my head. I vowed to never date that type of person again, made myself aware of the warning signs, and have done quite well so far avoiding this sort of situation. A part of this process has included allowing myself to date different guys in order to better assess what it is I want in a partner. I believe that I have fully moved on from my last relationship and am a much healthier, focused, and happier person as a result.
The reason I am writing to you is because I first met “John” thorough an online dating website in September. Since our first date, we see each other every week, sometimes up to three times per week. We have even taken a weekend trip away together. We have a lot in common, similar values and work ethic, and get along really well. He treats me with respect and kindness, and is really sweet and funny. It’s really refreshing to be around.
My qualm lies in the fact that we have never officially put a title on our relationship, discussed our status on dating other people, or deleting online profiles (I took the liberty to delete mine on my own because I am happy dating only him, but didn’t tell him). Truthfully, I am afraid to bring it up, in part because we are having fun and still getting to know each other, and also in part because I do not want to rush anything and scare a potentially great guy off. One of my trustworthy guy friends thinks he could be keeping me in a holding pattern, meaning that he knows I may not be the “one,” but he keeps me around because he enjoys my company for the time being. While I think that we have been dating only a short time, I can’t help but wonder if this is going anywhere, or if I am just being strung along. His actions don’t suggest so (he never mysteriously disappears and is free every weekend to be with me), but eventually I would like this to go some somewhere if we do continue to see each other.
What are your thoughts? Do I simply need to put on my big-girl pants and talk to him? Or should I let things flow the way they have been and simply enjoy it for now? Do I let him make the first move? Perhaps the snail pace is a good thing?
A.You called it. It’s big-girl pants time. You’ve been dating this guy for six months. You’re allowed to ask for a status update.
One thing to consider: At no point in this letter do you suggest that John is someone you’d like to be with forever, so keep that in mind. Yes, you like him and he’s super nice, but you don’t know him well enough to make any big decisions. Talking to him about where you stand is just another way to figure out what he’s like in a long-term relationship. Can he discuss uncomfortable things? Does the talk bring you closer? If not, you’ll have some answers. If you scare him away, he’s just not the right guy.
And really, it doesn’t sound like you’re moving at a snail’s pace — not with three visits a week. All you’re doing is avoiding the talk. It’s time to make it happen.
You’ve been together six months. Do YOU like HIM or are you continuing “as is” because he is simply there?
Yes, if you want to have a real big-girl relationship, you have to be able to communicate with your partner about these kinds of things. If this guy is “scared away” by an honest, an open conversation, then he wasn’t much of a keeper to begin with.
I don’t get this . . . at all. . . . You say you have done all this “work on yourself” since your last bad relationship, yet after dating a guy for six months you are afraid to scare him off by having any kind of talk to get an idea of where he is at with regard to the relationship?
Hey, Progress, not perfection. She isn’t dating a controlling alcoholic anymore. That’s progress. She’s not at perfection yet. Cut her some slack!
Meredith makes a good observation. You have good “on paper” guy, but you don’t sound all that enthused about him. You say you don’t want to date anyone else, but is it because he fits well into your life right now and you are content? Before you have THE TALK, make sure that you know what you want from him.
Similar to the other responses, it isn’t like you went on 2 dates with this guy and are making cohabitation plans. You have been dating for 6 months, that’s a significant period of time. I don’t think asking for exclusivity is unreasonable at all.
Lately a friend of mine was seeing a guy for about 6 months, met him on a dating website, they hung out at least once a week . . . talked every day . . . yada yada. It took her 6 months to ask him “Is this going anywhere?” He told her she was cool, but he didn’t see it going anywhere “romantically.” Don’t be my friend. I doubt she’ll do that again.
I have to agree with Meredith and a lot of the people here, it’s hard to tell if YOU are that into the relationship from your letter. But if you are and it’s just the way I interpreted the letter, then you should just bring it up casually. No need to pull the “we need to talk” card, every guy hates that!
This doesn’t have to be a big “where are we going” conversation, but it could start as simply as asking if you are both exclusive. What’s wrong with that?
If you put on your big-girl pants, may they be Lululemon.
VALENTINOColumn and comments are edited and reprinted from boston.com/loveletters. Meredith Goldstein can be reached at email@example.com.