Friday, November 17, 2006

Dismaying Story #83: Something Niggles Him

Dear Andrew,

Please help me understand my partner. I am 41 years old and my partner is 30 years old. We get on fantastically well. He always says how comfortable and relaxed he is in my company, and we have very similar interests. He says he has never been with anyone before that he gets on so well with BUT he says the relationship is 99% perfect. Something niggles him always.

He did say after going out with me for 3 days that the relationship probably won't work since his ideal partner will be a similar age to him and with no children. I have two children one 12 years and one who's 8 years and they all get on remarkably well. He encourages us all to go out together which I have never had before with any other relationship.

I know I can't change his mind. He says we are very much attached to each other but he can't get the thoughts of his ideal partner out of his head.

I have always been under the impression you marry your best friend as he may never find the perfect person. We see each other every day and text every day and do absolutely loads together every week. We are sexually compatible but as his thoughts come back to him and we get serious again he backs off, as if he's frightened of getting too close.

Can you help understand his thoughts? Will he ever change his thoughts?

Signed, Not His Ideal Partner

Dear Not His Ideal Partner,

You are an ideal partner, just not for this guy. You need to find someone who will appreciate you for what you are.

Yes, I understand his thoughts very well. They go something like this: "Wow, what a great deal I have. I get to have sex when I want it. I get a companion to do fun things with me so I don't have to be lonely. I can even hang with her kids when I feel like it. And the icing on the cake? I don't have to promise her a darn thing! I can insult her, tell her she is not good enough for me and that I would really prefer someone different, and it doesn't matter! She still wants me around. This is fantastic. So until someone better comes along, hey, I might as well stick around."

His message to you is unequivocal and clear: "You are not what I want."

So here is my question to you. Why would you want a partner who doesn't want you? The fact that he is still hanging around doesn't mean that he really wants you and he just doesn't know it. It doesn't mean that he will realize over time how much you have come to matter to him. It simply means that he is getting a payoff for being with you today. He gets sex ... today. He gets companionship ... today. If you start talking about long term commitment, then again he tells you that he is most definitely not interested in that, at least not with you.

Why would you put up with that?

Because it means you don't have to be alone ... today. You are also getting a short-term payoff for being with him. More than that, you get that most precious of commodities in relationships -- you get hope. As long as he is hanging around, you can hope things will change. You hope he will eventually see what a wonderful relationship you have and realize he can't live without you.

Hope is a great thing, but in this case it is blinding you from seeing the truth. Your hope is trapping you in a go-nowhere relationship. It is preventing you from moving on and finding a guy who appreciates what an amazing person you really are.

His thoughts will not change. For whatever reasons, he is just not that into you. My advice is to accept that and walk away. Show this guy the door. Only then will you have real hope, because only then will you be available for the partner you deserve, the one who isn't constantly telling you that you are not good enough.

You deserve better than that. Give yourself permission to go find it. The right man for you is out there, I promise.

All the best,

There have only been a few responses to this week's Question of the Week about how to make a relationship survive (and hopefully even thrive) during periods of enforced separation. If you have some thoughts on this topic, why not take a moment and contribute to the discussion. I'll post a few thoughts on this tomorrow.


  1. Andrew is so right. Do not spend time with a partner who does not want you.

    I did date a man years ago who said the same thing. He said, "You are 99% the woman I want." I think he thought this was a compliment. Instead, it was goodbye. I said, "Well dear, I'm afraid that little one percent would be constantly on my mind."

  2. I have a friend who spent 5 years with a man who had an 'ideal' mate in his head. It wasn't my friend, despite all the changes she made to her attitude and personal appearance, right down to having cosmetic surgery. She did whatever it was she thought he wanted, and what he'd told her he would like in a partner...and it still wasn't enough. The majority of the time they got on well, the sex was great, they had the same goals, blah blah blah, everything else matched well. But he still didn't want her for anything long term...yet they spent 5 years together off and on.

    He was getting his cake and eating it too...and still on the lookout for something 'better'. I never understood why she allowed herself to keep being with him when he'd made it obvious nothing more would come of it. But she kept hoping, because he kept dangling that damn carrot.

    It's sad to read that Not His Ideal Partner is having similar issues, but she needs to cut this man loose. She's worth more than that, deserves more than that, and needs to find her self respect and dignity again.

  3. Exactly. Fact is, when the younger guy has an issue with being the younger guy, he's not going to stick around. The fact that he is around is mainly selfish, and maybe he would rather prolong the unpleasantness of crushing her hopes. When you end it with him, he might feel bad, but he will also be relieved. Because he doesn't care that much.

  4. Perfect answer.
    Where were you when I was a teen??
    This is a tough yet valuable lesson to learn...

  5. Yep. I had a friend who married this man who thought she wasn't quite his "soul mate." (Hate that term.) After three beautiful children, he decided to find his soul mate. Well, the soul mate and he are now divorced too. So BEWARE.

  6. Exactly right, Andrew! Nobody should stay with someone who is always holding them up to an ideal that they can never attain, because it would keep changing --- no matter what she does. Time to find someone who wants you for just what you are.

  7. Anonymous1:17 AM

    I agree with you 100%.
    Sometimes your best friend stabs you in the heart to get what they want especially if it for their own interest.
    The fact that she is chasing someone who obviously doesn't want a future with her is only lieing to herself and providing entertainment for him.
    She sounds desperate and wanting by letting herself to be used like this.
    She should go out and find someone that would appreciate her for the right reasons and not suffer at the hands of someone who is probably heartless for using her in this manner.

  8. Great answer! He is telling her exactly what she needs to know, but the message is too painful for her to hear.