I started seeing someone new over the summer and it’s been going great, but lately I’m just not sure where his head is at. I’ve always been straight-up and honest with him about what I want. I’ve also told him that if he decides at any time that he’s not into me anymore, he should tell me. He’s 32 and I’m 22. Some days I’m so sure he wants to be with me, and then there are days when I text him and don’t get a reply. I understand that he’s a grown man and that he has a grown man’s job, but I’d rather know that he’s not really feeling it than be so unsure about whether or not he wants to keep seeing me. At the same time, I don’t want to sabotage what we have by making a big deal out of nothing.
Dear sweet Seesaw,
It seems there are two related issues underpinning your current heartache. First, relationship uncertainty. Plus, general frustration with your partner’s unpredictability.
Let me start by sharing a bit about my own situation. I’m lucky to be dating the Man Of My Dreams. Annoying, but true. I’m with the guy I lusted for from minute one. We’ve been together officially for about five years now (or eight, depending on how you count). We live together, we know each other intimately, and we talk about growing old together regularly. He’s even asked me to marry him a few times, but I’m honestly in no rush to tie the knot because weddings really aren’t my thing. The point is, we are madly in love in an obnoxious, unconventional storybook kind of way.
The other day, I found myself preoccupied for at least an hour by thoughts of my devoted, loving, attentive boyfriend cheating on me. I tortured myself with imagined scenes involving some faceless leggy blonde wrapped around my partner’s body. I agonized over how I would feel in the moment, were my boyfriend to confess to all the hypothetical crimes I’d conjured. Then I pondered exactly how I’d respond to my mind’s vision of his admission.
It was an otherwise ordinary, peaceful afternoon, but something triggered those thoughts in me. Something urged me to consider that my wonderful, caring boyfriend might one day stray. That he might head out with his buddies and meet some young beautiful gazelle of a woman and have sex with her instead of me.
When you enter into a relationship, you make yourself vulnerable to another human being whose behavior and daily experience of the world are mostly outside your control. The possibility that they will hurt you always lingers. So the doubts you’re entertaining will probably never go away. If anything, they might very well get stronger. Because the more you love someone, the more power they have to rip you apart emotionally. Fragility isn’t romantic but it is realistic. It’s also what makes love so wild, passionate, and beautiful—but also maddening. The good news is, any relationship worth maintaining—through commitment, hard work, and pure will—involves awesome stretches of unadulterated joy in between all the torment, self inflicted or not.
I mentioned that you can’t control this person you’re dating. But guess what? You do get to control you, at least to a certain extent. If you focus on being the best version of your authentic self and the best girlfriend you can be, you won’t have many regrets. That’s all you can offer anyone, really, and it should be enough. If it’s not, you’re dating the wrong man.
Hopefully, your significant other appreciates your value as a human being and treats you as well as you deserve. In this day and age, I’d argue that texting your girlfriend back within a reasonable timeframe is part of the Respect Your Mate equation. For what it’s worth, I’m a busy grown-ass woman with a grown woman’s job, and I always reply to my loved ones within an hour or so because I make time to address my priorities.
I’d suggest giving this dude some leeway on the texting front for a given amount of time, and if he doesn’t change his behavior within that period, move on. During this unofficial trial, I wouldn’t voice your concerns or make an “issue” of your partner’s glacial response time. Why? Because you shouldn’t have to explain to a grown-ass man that not replying to a message from the woman he’s sleeping with is downright unacceptable.
If the man you’re with doesn’t want to behave like a grown-ass man should, then good riddance. You still get to be the best you, and seek out someone new who actually deserves you.
Love, hugs & unicorns,