If it hasn’t happened yet, it will soon. You’ve been dating for a few months. You like him and you like spending time with him but he isn’t the man of your dreams. You don’t want to cut him loose but you have no intention of getting too involved and aren’t sure you see a long term future with him. He is really into you and very attentive and loving. Sounds perfect, yes? Just one problem—he wants more, you want less.
And so the internal and external tension builds. He wants to spend more time with you—he wants more intimacy and connection and definitely sees a future with you. He asks to see you more often, you come up with excuses. After a while, he starts to get frustrated and asks you directly just what you have in mind when it comes to the relationship. He asks why you won’t see him more often; he wants to know if you’re in this or not. You don’t know what to do or how to respond. You don’t want to hurt him but you are having trouble coming up with new excuses and ways to sidestep the conversation. The time has come—what do you do?
This is a very common problem. Most people in this situation are highly conflicted. They don’t want to tell the other person to go away but they don’t want to get seriously involved. And if truth be told, if a great man came your way, you’d date him in a second. But when the time has come to have the “talk”, I suggest you do a few things before engaging in conversation.
Have a good honest talk with yourself first. Why are you hesitant to take the relationship to the next level? What doesn’t work for you? Are you simply scared? Are you pushing away something good simply because its’ different? Is this man somehow less than your fantasy man and is your fantasy man realistic?
If you have legitimate reasons why this person is not the one for you, then you owe him the truth. Do so with kindness but be firm in letting him know that you do not see him as a long-term mate. You enjoy dating him but only dating him and you do not feel obligated or committed to this relationship. Doing so is an act of kindness. It gives him a clear message so he can take care of himself whether that means moving on or staying with realistic expectations on what he can count on and what he cannot.
If you believe your hesitancy has something to do with your fears or prejudices, take the time to work on yourself. Tell him exactly what’s holding you back without promising that anything will change. Then decide if you want to release your resistance and work on your issues.
If your reluctance has nothing to do with him or you, and everything to do with timing, let him know where things stand. Maybe you want to put a lot of time and energy into your career or maybe you have young children that require your time and attention. Regardless, sometimes it’s an issue of timing. Honor your needs but be honest and fair with him.
Honesty with compassion will always serve you well. Don’t hold back the truth in order to keep him on call. He is entitled to know exactly what your intentions are so he can respond accordingly. You would want the same respect. So take the time to reflect and then respond. Be willing to suffer a loss. Maintain your personal integrity.
Julie Orlov, psychotherapist, speaker, and author of The Pathway to Love: Create Intimacy and Transform Your Relationships through Self-Discovery
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