REBOUND RELATIONSHIPS OFTEN DO NOT LAST
DEAR MIDLIFE BACHELOR:
I am told I am an attractive woman, kind, sweet, fun, and 49 years of age. I've been dating a wonderful, stable and wealthy man for nearly 7 years, a long period due to my wanting to raise my kids and have them out of the house before talk of commitment. He was in agreement with this, and felt the same about his. Our relationship has always been one of great times, open communication, trustworthy, honest, and we have helped each other through difficult divorces - his ex is bi-polar-pschizo, and mine is controlling and abusive. We were both married to our exes 19+ years up until 7 years ago, and met on an online dating service, it was love from the start but did start out slowly. I haven't had contact w/my ex for years - his ex lives a mile away in a small town and she calls and/or emails him many times a
week to cut him down and then the next day build him back up. He tells me he never will go back to her and I believe him, but I have told him recently that in order for him to move on with his life he should consider cutting communication with her since their kids don't live around here and are 21 and 25. I think he feels sorry for her because she doesn't have any friends.
This man has always been so loving, nurturing, and has always included me in his life, wanting to spend time together and/or call each other practically daily. We live about 20 miles apart or we would probably have seen each other everyday. In fact he has taken me to look at engagement rings twice in our relationship. I get along great with his family, as he does with mine.
This past March he told me he's not sure about our relationship. and he's thinking maybe we need to take time away from each other, as he told me, "It's not you, I'm just questioning most all areas in my life right now." We took a couple short breaks upon my insisting but I couldn't handle being apart after that long, wondering, so I would call him to get back together and he was happy to do so. Since that time he has been calling me less, vague, and not prompt at responding to my emails or voicemails as he always has been in the past. So a month ago, as I was asking about where his feelings were he told me he doesn't even know if he still loves me, and doesn't even know if he knows what love is (!), that there is no other woman but he has wondered if he might be missing out on that "perfect woman" he always dreamed of. I asked him about that "perfect woman" and he told me, "That's just it - I don't know, and for all I know it might be you, that's why I'm afraid because if I find out it isn't you and try to come back you'll be taken, I know." But, he told me, he got married to his high school sweetheart and then fell for me just a few months after he and his wife separated, so he hasn't really had time to see if that "perfect woman" is out there.
The next day I told him it was time for us to split up so he could take some time to "find himself". I told him we'd take two months off. This was a shock to him, and at the end of a long conversation in which I told him things I thought might be behind his issues, including his ex-wife and his back problems, we hugged, he was in tears, told me he was so sorry and that he would try to "expedite things" to figure things out. It's now been one month and I emailed him because I can't stand another month of waiting to know if I need to go on with my life or we are going to get back together. I've waited too long already, and I simply told him in an email, "Let me know what time will work to get together the week of September 13th to talk and the move on with our lives, whether together, or apart."
My question: My counselor (who is a "I am woman hear me roar" type of person) told me that "he's not going to be the same as he was before so you just need to go on with your life and move forward without him." For men who go through these midlife crisis times, approximately what would you say is the percentage of men who actually change in the way they treat the woman they loved for years? Thanks for your time.
MIDLIFE BACHELOR ANSWER:First of all - I am very sorry to hear that you are going through this. Obviously, this is a difficult situation for you. It is good that you are talking to a counselor, too - that is always a good idea.
Here are my thoughts. I do not know that I would necessarily call what he is going through a "midlife crisis". He could just simply be trying to find himself. He split up with his wife of 19 years ... and then just months later, he started dating you ... and has dated just you ever since. That is classic REBOUND BEHAVIOR on his part. My point is - he left his wife, and then (maybe too quickly) tied himself down with you. And now, he questions it. If he were writing me back when he originally split with his wife, I would have told him to take his time - and not jump into a full-blown relationship for a while ... until he really felt like he knows what he wants. That is not what he did though.
Now you did not say much about YOUR HISTORY. Did you date a lot prior to committing to him? Was he your first boyfriend after your divorce? Do you feel a need to always be in a relationship? Have you thought about just taking some time for yourself to figure out what YOU want? It really isn't a bad idea ... just to make sure that you are not clinging to him for the sake of being in a relationship. MANY PEOPLE stay in relationships just because they believe they need to be in a relationship!
My advice to you would be to stop chasing him - and then see what happens. Try dating others, too - you might find that he is not as "all that" as you were thinking. Remember - if someone really loves you, then they won't treat you poorly ... and I think you are being treated poorly right now. Don't permit it - put yourself first.
Your actual question to me was, "For men who go through these midlife crisis times, approximately what would you say is the percentage of men who actually change in the way they treat the woman they loved for years?" And my answer is - people change and evolve ... relationships evolve. I would not suggest that you wait around to find out how he turns out - because time and life is too precious. Focus on yourself right now. Leave him in your rearview mirror ... and if at some point in the future, he is clamoring for your attention then you could consider it. But I'd stop chasing him, if I were you - all you are setting yourself up for is further heartache/heartbreak.
For more information about REBOUND RELATIONSHIPS, you might consider reading these other articles here on midlifebachelor.com:
REBOUND - Does Fear of Being Single Drive Your Behavior?
- from Develop a Strategy for Midlife Bachelor Success
Rebound Bachelor Wants to Marry Again (from ASK MIDLIFE BACHELOR)
You might also consider joining our Midlife Forum here on midlifebachelor.com ... where men and women our age discuss all sorts of dating- and relationship-related issues. Here is a URL to it:
The Midlife Forum on midlifebachelor.com - Discuss Anything, Regret Nothing!
Good luck - let me know how it goes, okay?