I have known the man in my life for years and we are close, but I know that he still “deals” with his ex, his child’s mother, who he was with for six years and who he lived with, even after they broke up, until recently. A few months ago he asked me about having a relationship with him and I said no. I have a fear of being hurt and rejected. He told me almost a month ago that he was getting his own place and a week later, he moved out of his ex’s. We spend a lot of time together going out and the conversations are wonderful, but the only times we are together is when he initiates it. I really care about him, but I don’t want to appear needy or clingy and push him away. I think of him constantly, but I don’t want him to know that. Do you think I am handling this right? Do you think he is using me?
Afraid of baby mama drama
Honestly, this is pretty much the opposite of what I usually hear. Questions like yours tend to go more along the lines of: “He’s still living with his ex, he never initiates dates, he seldom does what he says he’s going to do, and he says he’s not interested in a relationship. Do you think he is using me?”
This guy clearly is not that guy. He asked you about a relationship. He said he was moving out and he did. He asks you out. “Using” is not the vibe I’m getting here.
(I’m not clear on what you mean by “deals” with his ex. If you just mean “has contact with”, well, sure, they have a kid. If you mean “hooks up with”, well, OK: Sounds like you two never agreed to be exclusive. Not sure this is a problem.)
So now, over to you. There can be a place for playing it cool and trying not to cling, but that would be in the early stage of a relationship; that wouldn’t be the relationship. Know what I mean? If you want a real, comfortable, know-where-you-stand relationship with this guy, which contrary to what you told him, I think you kinda sorta do, then this in-between stage can’t last forever. You should know that there’s a difference between being “needy” or “clingy” and allowing someone to know that you like him. If you can’t, or don’t, do the latter, heck, that kind of takes the fun and possibly even the point out of the whole thing.
Are you afraid of being hurt and rejected? To some degree, everyone is. In other words, it’s OK to be afraidand it doesn’t have to stop you. If I were afraid of being hurt and rejected, what I would do for one thing is make my feelings a little plainer to someone who has already shown interest in me. (Hint: this guy.) You might, for example, remind him that he asked you once about being in a relationship, and ask if he might like to revisit that topic. See what he says about taking things to the new or at least a next level. (And, since you mentioned it, see what he says about whether he anticipates any “drama”.)
I think you’ll be glad you did. Even if his feelings have mysteriously changed or he gets cold feet, and you do “get rejected”, you’ll prove one thing to yourself: If that happens, you will absolutely survive. And go on to the next relationship with someone who knows just how you feel, ‘cause he feels the same way, too.
Lynn Harris is cocreator, with Chris Kalb, of the award-winning website BreakupGirl.net. She’s also the author of Death By Chick Lit and has written for Salon.com, Glamour and the New York Times, among other publications. Submit your own dating questions for Lynn at [email protected] Your question may be answered in a future column.