I started seeing a gentleman four months after his wife took her own life. He has two adult sons.
His youngest son and fiancée moved into his house shortly after we started dating. This was to help them out financially because they are both in college and have wedding plans. In fact, they will be married this weekend.
Initially my boyfriend showed no sign of affection in front of them, which I did not have a problem with. Now, eight months later, his oldest son and daughter-in-law are in town for the wedding. We went to dinner last night and honestly, I thought he would exhibit some sign of affection toward me. It wouldn’t matter if it was holding hands or sitting beside me. But there was nothing.
I have never felt so angry and hurt. Am I being unreasonable?
Trudy, public expressions of affection say something about a person’s nature. Demonstrative or not demonstrative. Stoic or ebullient. Introvert or extravert. In public, your boyfriend may feel something akin to the unease of the boy who says, “Oh, mom, don’t do that to me in front of my friends.”
Simply being there says the two of you are in a relationship. Why do you feel he must demonstrate intimacy in front of his sons? Are you being territorial, like a schoolgirl? “He’s got to kiss me in front of everyone so they know he likes me.”
Are you asking him to show what he doesn’t feel, or show what he feels but can’t express? Are your feelings coming from you (it’s going on a year for gosh sakes, where’s my ring), or from him (I was lonely, I was on the rebound after my wife’s death). Are you his “break glass in case of emergency” woman, or does he feel “in four months I was open to this new love.”
It’s hard to get over a natural death in four months. Suicide is worse. If he wasn’t ready for a new relationship, he may feel he’s out with the maid, the cook, the laundress. How does it feel to you?
Work down the list of questions and decide on the best explanation.
~ Wayne & Tamara
My boyfriend and I go to a small college. Back in January he ended things. We tried to work it out, but in the end he decided we weren’t on the same page and might never be. So we broke up.
We hung out again last week for a long time, and he asked why I was never like this when we were together. He said I seem so happy and he likes this version of me. Yesterday we spent more time together. We joked around and he said we have never been closer. He was touchy-feely and would grab my hand, give me long hugs or just stroke my cheek.
He said I am a great woman and friend. He wants me to call him whenever I want to talk, and he said I should always keep him in the loop if something is going on in my life. At the end of the night he walked me to my door, kissed me on the forehead and told me he loved me and would keep in touch.
I am so confused by the mixed signals. I don’t know whether to have hope.
Wendy, he hasn’t found anyone else and he’s lonely. That triggers his “if only” feelings. If only Wendy were different, if only Wendy was what I want.
His actions are all about him—his interior wishes and desires. It is memory that draws him to you, but he’s grown away from you. It is cruel of him to blame the breakup on you and say, why weren’t you like this before?
The touching on the cheek, the kiss on the forehead, what is that? Nostalgia. Nothing more.
~ Wayne & Tamara
Column for the week of June 16, 2014
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