First up, yes I am a woman that's part of The Art of Manliness chat forum because women's forums are very water-down and sugar coating. Thus, I am here. I love the podcast, I find the advice on it and this website to be incredibly helpful and straightforward.
And so I am turning for advice on a man I have been courting for about a year.
We have been long distance throughout our relationship and we've made it work. We see each other on weekends and once during the weekdays. He has recently moved closer to me and now lives about twenty minutes away. And we're having trouble adjusting. Now that he lives closer, he'd like to spend as much time together as possible. His ideal is seeing each other every day. But I don't think is healthy, or possible.
I recently lost 70lbs and my exercise and self care routine are crucial for my physical and mental health. I have a full time job and I take a lot of evenings to exercise. I do volunteer work, and have my own friend group. Sleeping at his apartment is difficult because his roommates keep the house at a very cold temperature, he has a small bed and his roommate has four dogs. I have roommates, and it wouldn't be fair for him to sleepover every night without paying rent. He has sleep Apnea which means whenever he does sleepover he has to lug his sleep equipment with him.
He feels like we don't get to spend enough time together. I am pretty okay with the amount of time we get to spend together, ideally I'd like it to be more but I'm generally very happy with the time we do get together. It doesn't bother me that much because I see a life with him, and I know we'll have time together in the future. I don't have the same urgency.
I've built a life for myself; hobbies, friends, career etc. And I don't want to give all that up. I value it as much as I value our relationship. I feel like he's becoming emotionally dependent on me. I'm worried that his happiness has become dependent on our time together. That's too much pressure for me to take. I love him so much but I am getting incredibly frustrated and resentful. I feel like I have to mother him and constantly reassure him.
So, if you can give me advice or perspective, please do. I do love this man.
Did you feel like he was this needy before you lost the 70lbs?
I wonder if the shoe isn't on the other foot...
I've only felt this way since he moved.
I know it's not easy, but have you had this conversation with him?
I think sharing the "I know we'll have time together in the future" because you see yourself with him long-term, may help him stomach the lack of urgency and space you want right now.
Ultimately - I would not make decisions because of your fear about his becoming emotionally dependent on you - for one thing, neither of you are in a good position to evaluate that fairly, so it would be a decision based on at best incomplete information.
Have the conversations, is my $.02.
I had a couple conversations with him about it. He usually responds "I know it's crazy, I'd just like to see you everyday because I love you. I know it can't happen and I don't want to smother you."
I just feel like I'm disappointing him. I feel incredibly guilty.
Hmm...I don't really know, but from what it sounds like to me:
It sounds a bit like you want your cake, and to eat it too - proverbially.
You cannot have it both ways. Love and a relationship demands compromise and sacrifice. If you are not a place where you are willing to do so, then you need to be honest with yourself and with him - but don't project that guilt onto him as somehow his fault.
I feel like he's becoming emotionally dependent on me
Well, that comes along with love. I'm emotionally dependent on my wife.
Sounds like y'all are at different stages.
If I were giving him advice, I'd say to let you have your time with the life "you've built" without him, and let you decide if you wanted him in it.
I think you value him as a plan B, not as a plan A
Wish I could advise him. I would say: back off and see if she wants you back.
To you, I say: you "feel like I have to mother him and constantly reassure him." Why do you feel that way? I mean, he clearly didn't say, "Please mother me and reassure me." Either it's your stuff, or it is his. I suspect part of it's yours (your guilt), though part may be his (he may be guilting you).
Love at this stage is supposed to be enjoyable. (Later stages, too.) What would happen if you met with him when you felt like it, and told guilt to take a hike? That might help you clarify your feelings: you like it better when he's at a distance, you want to get closer, whatever.
Just some random thoughts.
Much like Muir above, I think you are at different stages. (Keep in mind that this diagnosis is based on very limited information, so take it for what it is worth.)
It sounds like he wants a "full-on" relationship, with you as a "significant other". You say that you see a life with him in the future, but he sees a life with you right now. If we think of it in terms of marriage - he has decided that you are the one and the he is ready for that commitment.
It sounds like you want a "boyfriend/girlfriend" relationship, with him as your "date". You see the potential for a life together, eventually. You are still evaluating him as a life partner, and are also unsure if you want that kind of commitment or not. You would rather concentrate on "my" life at this time rather than build "our" life right now.
You also say that you have a tendency to get so involved in a relationship that you neglect your "self". It sounds like he may be at the point himself where he is willing to neglect his "self" in order to build the relationship. Both of those conditions are fine. Sacrificing of yourself for the good of "us" is part and parcel of a strong long-term relationship, but you shouldn't make that commitment until you are ready to make and keep that commitment. Talk with him about the direction and speed of your relationship. Ideally you shouldn't have to give up your hobbies, friends, and career in order to create a life with him. A life partner should be a support to you, and you to them - not a drag or destructive influence. You sacrifice for each other, but because they other person's happiness is that important to you. If only one person is doing the sacrificing there is likely something wrong with that relationship.
And, this is my personal philosophy, don't be too afraid of making the commitment just because you are young. Decide if you are ready for the commitment and if they are the person you want to commit to, then go for it. I was 22 and my wife was 20 when we got married, and we celebrate 18 years in August. We had dated for around 2 1/2 months before we got engaged, although we had known each other socially for longer. The important part is that we were both committed to making it work and didn't expect it to be "happily ever after". I tend to view marriage kind of like saving for retirement - find a good solid investment and get in as early as possible. The benefits of that commitment can compound over time, just like interest.
I like this too. I'm reminded of when I made the decision to marry my beloved. I would have given up any hobby for her, any pastime, any schedule. I didn't have to give these things up, of course, because she's neither selfish nor high-maintenance, but the point is I loved her enough I would have. When I love myself more than her but enjoy her company, I'm ready for dating. When I love her enough to put her first, I'm ready for commitment.
Life is a balance. It may simply be his way of showing his care and concern.
He may simply want to assure that you do love him and he is not a fling for you.
If you can do it, try having coffee during the week to check in and align planners for the week. The sharing of the schedules shares the emotional space for the week even if you are off on separate adventures.