He's Ready, She's Not
Q: For about three months, I've been seeing a girl I met on the Internet who lives about 40 miles away. I only get to see her about once a week if I am lucky. She just turned 30 and is waiting for her divorce to be final (she's been separated for two years) and she has two beautiful kids. I thought it best to stay in the background until the divorce proceedings are completed. We have not yet begun the physical side of the relationship. I travel to see her as often as I can but she has not yet reciprocated. I don't want to pressure her. I am waiting patiently to get my time with her, but she always seems to come up with an excuse to not come and see me. Sometimes I feel as if I am the only one putting forth the effort, at other times I feel as if I just give her the time she needs she will make more effort to spend time with me. I am starting to feel that she is not ready for me, although I know I am ready for her. Am I handling the situation properly? Should I risk the relationship in order to attempt to get the time I feel I deserve? Finally, is she avoiding me and using her divorce situation as a shield to keep me at an arm's length? What should I do? -- Billy, 33
Dr. Susan: If she's waiting for her divorce to be final after a two-year separation, the worst of the trauma may be over for her by now. So I doubt that her not making the effort to see you is due to that. It's possible that with her two kids, getting over to see you is a more complicated matter for her than it is for you. What are the reasons she gives you for not coming out your way once in a while? If they're really just "excuses," then that gives you some important information. If she hasn't directly asked you to stay in the background, then I see no harm in letting her know you like her a lot and would love to spend as much time as possible with her. If you stay too far in the background, some more assertive guy will get to her first. The bottom line, though, is that you're sensing some unreadiness, some reluctance or ambivalence on her part. You need to trust that gut feeling. You probably like her more than she likes you, though that can certainly change. You can help it change by being your best self, by being supportive of her complicated life, and by asking her to be honest with you about her feelings. When you say you haven't begun the physical side of your relationship, I hope you don't mean you haven't shown affection by hugs and kisses, whatever. It's not about getting the time you "deserve." It's about whether this relationship is a genuinely mutual one. Ask her what you've asked me, not whiningly, but pleasantly. If she's really not ready, but likes you a lot, I'd suggest you remain patient for a couple more months. If by then she hasn't made any effort to reciprocate your own efforts, then take the hint.
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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.