Here’s a letter from Rachel, who’s got that age-old dilemma of how to be happy with a good man – even if he doesn’t fill in all the blanks for you…
“Dear Rori, I try to follow your invaluable advice… I have read your book twice now and I think it has helped although I have run into a real doozy with my new boyfriend.
We were friends for a year, I didn’t even see him as relationship material until he started to do so many things for me with regard to helping around my house and with my career. We became business partners and then… soon after I finally said goodbye for the last time to my ex I suddenly noticed him.
How sweet and thoughtful he was and how he seemed to be there for me. One thing lead to another and within a couple of months we were sleeping together.
It quickly escalated to every night! I love that he calls me everyday, wants to see me every night, even if we don’t have sex. even if it is usually under the guise of business.
The problem is that he has told me how he felt about me only once (and we’re going on 4 months now) when he had to travel out of town and missed me. He finally confessed that he’d liked me since we met and felt too intimidated to ask me out.
It was very sweet, although over the phone, and we talked for a couple of hours and both confessed our feelings, it was great and what I had been waiting to hear.
But then I went to visit him and it all returned back to the same never talking about anything.
He never has taken me on a real date (we’re both very broke though), but not even for just a drink. We’ve gone out, but I am a social person and it’s always at my instigation and usually along with other friends.
I am used to men who tell me how they feel or at least tell me the things they like about me. I feel as though we are still just good friends, but we sleep together.
I trust him completely and don’t think he’s looking for anyone else so I feel like I’m being spoiled by wanting to hear it from him. I’m not the best communicator but I’ve tried to bring it up and he doesn’t seem to get it.
I think he’s trying to show me by doing so many wonderful things for me so I hesitate to push it because in every other way he gives me exactly what I want which is time spent together. But he never makes it feel special. He said he’s not romantic but I’ve never experienced anyone who so honestly seems to feel that way.
Am I being needy, wanting some validation? Or is validation normal to want in a relationship? He hasn’t had many girlfriends and is much younger than me, so I want to be patient and possibly show him. But I’m not sure if that’s just pushing and I should just accept him for how he is… I think I will eventually leave or cheat if it stays the same.
Craving romance ….Rachel”
***Briefly, Rachel, here’s what I’ll focus on – since none of your relationships (you mention your ex) have ever really worked out (is that right?) then why are you trying to push this one – which clearly IS working – into the dust bin?
Some men just aren’t romantic, some men can’t say they love you (though it sounds like you had a very fulfilling phone conversation).
This is not about “romance.”
This is about the big ticket items:
Do you want to be married to him?
Do you want to live with him?
When do you suppose that should start to come together?
Do you see him moving in that direction?
Are you spending so much time together that living together and marriage seem like a logical next step?
Or are you “dating” – in which case you should also be “dating” many other men at the same time.
The 3rd and 4th month of a relationship is very challenging – that’s when things turn real or they don’t.
What YOU have to do is to start saying not what you WANT – but what you DON’T want – you don’t want to “date” him exclusively indefinitely without knowing where you’re headed or how he feels, and if he just isn’t lighting your fire – perhaps your fire is lit by men who do not treat you well (this guy’s ACTIONS are speaking louder than words – sounds like he’s “giving” to you.
The next few weeks are for you to become more vulnerable, for you to see if you enjoy his company and want the relationship to move on to marriage, and see what he does.
They are for you to keep your options open until he tells you to shut them down. He has to make these decisions, and pushing him is not only useless – it does not serve you.
Take care of yourself, enjoy him on a moment by moment basis – and see if those moments grow into a lifetime.
Stay in touch with your feelings and you’ll know what’s happening – pushing him to give to you in the way you want him to give to you will not work.
Let him know whenever he does something you LIKE, and let him know whenever he does something you don’t like.
Let him know how it feels – what about your relationship makes you feel “not special” – all that (but first – really examine your own feelings, motives – what you really want for the long run.
I say brava to you to know that if things don’t work for you the way you like, you’re happy to leave and let another man make you happy. It also sounds like this guy deserves a shot.
And I just received this from Rachel:
“Rori, Thank you so much for your awesome response… you seem to have hit the nail on the head. I do believe he is worth a shot. I will follow your advice with an emphasis on telling him what I LIKE… and DON’T like. We have made a little headway since I wrote you and actually, the approach I took is right in line with the advice you are giving me.
Once I backed off at being angry about it and really tried to understand his motives and trust that he does want to be with me without having to hear it first, it seemed to fall into place a little more naturally.
I had to patiently communicate my thoughts on relationships and my needs very clearly so that he didn’t immediately go into the old “this girl is pushing me to giving up my own sense of self for her” thing that he and a lot of men seem to fall into when put into this position.
I told him that I liked the way he was and didn’t want him to change his ambitions and goals and sense of independence (which is what attracted me to him in the first place), but that I needed to communicate my needs in order to feel comfortable. I also told him that “I look at every relationship as though it is going to last forever…now so far none of them have, and guess what? It was okay” … and that got a laugh out of him and helped ease him into openly discussing the future.
I got out of him (It wasn’t easy and took two phone conversations and a final talk in person) that he does want a relationship, doesn’t want me to see other men and is open to the idea that visions of the future are always subject to change and to keep an open mind.
Which for now is enough for me. That may change in time, and I will follow your advice and keep at it…But I am a fan of letting things progress naturally, as he is. And pushing was as you said… “pushing it into the dust bin” and making me more miserable.
Thank you for recognizing that he is giving to me… It helps to hear that you see that.
Many of my friends can’t understand why I’m so crazy about him, but when you said that “my fire may be lit by men who don’t treat me so well” you were right on.
I think I’m finally recognizing that and to have someone who is giving of their time and energy and someone so trustworthy as well, is just an amazing feeling. I do feel as though he is quite a hidden treasure that I really want to cherish.
Thank you for being so in tune Rori. You are doing a great service for my often irrational state of mind when it comes to love. And no doubt for others as well.
Thank you, thank you, thank you….
The take-away here is that most stuff we think matters doesn’t matter at all.
It doesn’t matter what other people think, it doesn’t matter what our family thinks, it doesn’t matte what your “brain” thinks – what matters is that you feel “met” emotionally, that your physical, emotional, psychological, romantic needs are being filled enough so that you feel a constant sense of well being and contentment and comfort when you’re around a man and when you aren’t.
FEELING loved – and TRUSTING you are loved is where it’s at – and when you’re feeling that – you can speak to a man so directly and truthfully and emotionally authentic that he will change what he needs to in order to make you happy. Period.
So …look for that. Look for your feelings, not for what a man is like on paper.