She's Laid Back But Lonely
Q: I have been seeing a guy for over a year now. We are both divorced with teenage children. Our youngest daughters are friends and set us up, so to speak. He works a swing shift and I work days. He gets every other weekend off and I am off every weekend. Things were great in the beginning: love notes, flowers, going to dinner and a movie. He would call me every night when he worked 2nd shift and I would get to see him an hour or so most nights he worked 1st or 3rd.. After almost 6 months of dating things started to change. Now I never hear from him when he is on 2nd and I might see him when he works 3rd (but he will call me), and when he is on 1st I might get to see him but mostly get a phone call. We don't go out to eat unless the girls are with us, in fact we don't do anything together without the girls, and if the girls have made plans to go to the movies we take them and sit at his home and wait to pick them up. After which he brings me home, tells me he loves me, and then it's back to wait and see. I might add that I also call him and when we go out to eat, always with the girls, I will pay. I don't feel he should pay all the time. The problem is that I am lonely. I don't feel like I have a boyfriend but a phone "buddy"! I feel like maybe I made myself too available for him. I'm not demanding or overbearing. In fact, I'm pretty laid back and easy going. Am I doing something wrong? Help! -- Jane, 47
Dr. Susan: I'm guessing your intimacy needs and his are very different. That's not your fault. Making yourself "too available" isn't going to throw off someone who really loves you and enjoys being with you, especially if you're not demanding. Sounds like your "honeymoon" period lasted half a year, and since then, he's not felt the need to be with you as much. He certainly enjoys spending time with your girls and his, but that hardly leaves much of an opportunity to develop an adult relationship. In order to see if this is a relationship that has staying power and has the potential for fulfilling your own needs, you might let him know that you're craving alone time with him. I guess he figures he works a lot and doesn't see his kids enough as it is, but they'll be out of the house before long and then where will you both be? Now is the time to lay some groundwork for the rest of your lives. If you let him know how you feel and he doesn't get it or isn't willing to make any change at all, that gives you information. Only then can you decide how to proceed.
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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.