How Long Do I Wait

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Dear Hoopers,
I’ve been dating a gentleman for about 2 years now. We get along really well, have a ton in common, have great sex, and seem to want the same things for our lives. We don’t currently live together, but he helps me with some financial stuff. Here’s the problem: he’s going through a really gnarly divorce. He has two children-one 17 year old girl, one 10 year old boy. The girl lives with him full time, and he has 50/50 custody of the boy. The girl and I get along well, but I’m not allowed to be around the boy. So my boyfriend and I get to spend about half of our time together.

This seems fine for me, for now. I do want to get married at some point in time, but my boyfriend is unsure if he will be able to marry me. He goes through periods of feeling extremely guilty about this, and he withdraws from the relationship. He stops communicating his feelings during that time. If I tell him I think we should break up, he says no, but he’s having trouble being in a relationship despite wanting to be in said relationship. It feels like he wants to break up without having to do it himself, but if I ask him if this is the case he denies it. I don’t know how long I’m supposed to give him to come around. Do I wait for his divorce to be final and see if his attitude changes? Do I split now and save myself the heartache? Do I give him a time limit for this behavior?
-How long Do I Wait?

Dear How Long,
You found a great guy who loves his children and with whom you have much in common. Despite all that you two have going for yourselves, there is quite a bit holding him back. As you describe it, it sounds like he is stuck and unmovable. But I’m not exactly sure why. You didn’t mention a clear explanation of a few things and perhaps there isn’t one at this point, which may be the heart of the problem.

You don’t explain the reason for you not being able to spend time with his 10-year old son. Did something happen between you and his son or is this simply an outgrowth of the conflict between your boyfriend and his former partner? You also don’t offer an explanation of why he is “unsure if he will be able to marry me.” Is this because he isn’t sure about your relationship, a problem between his children and you, or another part of his marriage conflict? Also, I’m not sure how he and his wife came to their separation, but it appears to have gotten to a terrible place. If there was infidelity or if one partner feels betrayed in some way as a part of this separation, that may explain the hard feelings.

You sound convinced that he isn’t ready to be committed to you long-term.

-Dr. Ryan

It is clear that there are many issues at hand here, and you sound convinced that he isn’t ready to be committed to you long-term. I think you are right to make the moves to protect your heart and waiting on him forever may not be worthwhile for you. Know that if you and he take time apart it doesn’t mean that you can never be together again. In fact, that may just give you the clarity that both of you need to figure out what is really right for you.
-Dr. Ryan

Dear How Long,
Your “boyfriend” is still married and has two children. Why are you dating this man? Limited time together, bad communication, doubtful future, still married. These all sound like red flags on the boyfriend list.

Why are you okay being treated like a mistress? I would think about why you were drawn to this relationship. You aren’t able to give or receive the full spectrum of a loving relationship. Do you not believe that you deserve the full attention of a good man? He feels guilty about you. Is that the way you want to be treated? This can’t feel good.

Strive for the love that you deserve.


Don’t give him the time to come around. Don’t give him any more time. This will end badly. Don’t settle for the love and affection that you can get, but rather strive for the love that you deserve. Love without barriers. I hope that you can move on and treat yourself better. A man who can’t love you fully is no gentleman.