Going Nowhere Fast
Q: I met this great guy about a year ago, and we really hit it off. I'm 23 and he's 34. Years ago he had an accident that left him with a debilitating neck injury and chronic migraines. He takes a lot of medicine that leaves him drained and sometimes makes him so sick to his stomach that it's hard for him to get out of bed. He told me that he would never get married because he wouldn't want anyone else to have to deal with all this. But I would rather just sit with him and talk more than anything else. I want to take care of him, I DO take care of him. He's always there for me when I need him, and he's constantly going out of his way for me.
The main "issue" right now is the fact that we have never titled our relationship. Each time it's come up, his response is always, "I don't know what I want right now ..." or "I don't know what to do, period!" We just keep trucking on without looking at what we've come up with ... which is NOTHING. We're getting nowhere, and it's absolutely making me crazy! -- Jenn
Dr. Susan: The two of you are on different life tracks, at least for now. It's hard to determine whether this is deeply related to his injury or whether it would be the same regardless. You are positive you want him for keeps, believing you'll always have patience for his needs and always get your own needs met sufficiently. Yet he is more careful about commitment. He may have had negative experiences with other women getting fed up with him, or maybe he's simply the cautious type. Since you're still so young, he may not fully trust that you'll feel the same way about him in ten years as you do today. When he says he doesn't know what to do, perhaps the two of you could talk in some depth about what his fears and hopes are. (Choose a time when he's not in pain.) Titling your relationship so you know what to tell your family and friends needn't be your guiding principle. Of course, if you want to get engaged in a hurry, he's letting you know he's not there yet. I'd probably give the relationship more time to define itself, unless your misery right now is greater than your joy.
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Advice for Her
Advice for Him
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D.
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D., is a social psychologist, relationship expert, and bestselling and award-winning author. Her books include Loving in Flow: How the Happiest Couples Get and Stay That Way, and Kylie's Heel, a novel for adults.
Pamela G. Chollet, Ph.D.
Dr. Pamela Chollet has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and Master degrees in educational psychology and fine arts. Her passion has been helping people face and get through those times when they feel trapped and unable to move forward.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, stress management expert, and author. If you're feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, or struggling to make changes in your life, Anna can help.