I am a divorced woman, 41, with a teenage daughter and a grown son. For a year and a half I have been dating a divorced man with two teenage sons. He has still not been able to tell me he loves me.

He is very honest. From the start he told me he doesn’t know if it will be a month or a year or if he will ever be able to love again because of the pain caused in his 20-year marriage. He felt it was good but it ended in divorce.

I have done everything to prove my love, but sometimes I feel it really doesn’t matter. We only date on Saturday evening, then spend the night together. On Sunday I am home by noon. I see him occasionally during the week because he coaches a youth team and I attend the games. When the game is over, we go our separate ways.

We talk on the phone every night. I’ve told him I would like to see him during the week, if only for an hour. He is always too busy, though he has free time for his friends. I am beginning to feel left out.

Here I thought when you date someone you should feel closer to them as time goes on. Instead I feel further away. I hang on hoping he will see within himself the need to break down the wall he’s built since the divorce, but I’m wondering if it will ever happen.

~ Rebecca

Rebecca, in the dark bottom of the sea lives the anglerfish. It is famous for two things. First, some people consider it the ugliest of all fishes, and perhaps the ugliest animal of all. Second, it catches prey in a unique way.

The anglerfish has a piece of spine projecting over its mouth like a fishing pole. At the end of the pole dangles a bioluminescent piece of flesh, like a bait. When other fish approach, hoping for an easy meal, the angler opens its huge maw and swallows them in the inrush of water.

Human beings have used artificial selection to produce spectacular orchids, modern corn and thoroughbred racehorses. In a similar way, natural selection has refined the anglerfish. Anglers that were attractive to prey survived. Anglers that were not attractive did not.

By choosing anglers with the most attractive lures, the prey have shaped the development of the anglerfish. The prey have made this choice with their lives.

You see your boyfriend one way, as a man who has built a wall against love because of his divorce. From your needs that is how it looks. From his needs it looks another way.

We are not calling him a predator, like the anglerfish. What we are saying is, when a woman gives and gives to a man, she may be helping him to become a man who takes on his terms and his terms alone.

Don’t invent an excuse for his behavior. From your point of view, it is inadequate. Take the focus off him and put it on yourself. Why are you delivering yourself to him sexually, once a week, without love?

A man in love wants more. Somehow you’ve indicated that he can continue as he is and you are not going anywhere. He doesn’t want more because what he is getting now is all he wants. An anglerfish doesn’t care what the prey want. It cares about what it wants.

~ Wayne & Tamara

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Wayne & Tamara answer as many letters as they possibly can.

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