I'm in a new, nearly-perfect dating relationship, with one caveat: I'd love to be exclusive, and he's not ready (and may never be). I'd love some advice on accepting this and not sabotaging myself with insecurity.
posted by anonymous to human relations (37 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I had my first date with an incredibly exciting, awesome new guy about 6 weeks ago. We met on a dating site and since our first in-person meeting, we've had a fantastic connection: great conversation, just enough in common, and off-the-charts chemistry (seriously, best sex ever). We both have weird schedules but they seem to mesh well together, enabling us to spend more time together than we've both had with other people we've dated. In a typical week we spend about 2 days/nights together and we text throughout the day, every day. And we have a blast. Sounds good, right?
My problem is that this isn't an exclusive relationship (on his part - I'm not dating anyone else) and this is bringing up some old demons for me. He is currently seeing one other woman and he also occasionally has a sexual relationship with a couple (the couple part doesn't actually bother me too much; I'm much more worried about the other woman he's dating).
The thing is, I don't *want* to have this bother me so much. This guy is amazing in so many ways: I'm so over-the-moon happy when I'm with him, and he makes me feel incredible. He's acknowledged that he's developing strong feelings for me, I've met his family, friends and coworkers, and we've had some really intense conversations about personal stuff. (He's also explained to me that part of the reason he seeks out multiple partners is that he has some very deep-seated self esteem issues. He doesn't seem super proud of his job, he has some minor financial problems, etc - none of this really fazes me, but he seems to feel bad about it and is
"medicating" himself through relationships. He is in therapy, FWIW.)
If I'm being honest, what he has to offer me (extremely fun, intense, romantic time together, albeit without a monogamous commitment) seems to fit pretty well with what I need right now. I'm very busy with work, I'm finalizing a contentious divorce, I have kids that take some of my time, etc. I do get to see him almost any time I'm available - I'm not left sitting around lonely - and he's great at keeping in touch the rest of the time. He makes me feel good and special.
Still, I just have this little niggling feeling of wishing he was "all mine." I do have a history of being somewhat controlling in relationships, largely out of insecurity and fear of abandonment. I have a tendency to develop very intense (monogamous) relationships quickly, and to test my partners' commitment constantly. I look for evidence of them cheating, I try to catch them in lies, I occasionally cause drama and see if it will push them away. I'm codependent. AND I HATE IT. I know, intellectually, that even if he did agree to being exclusive, if he's not "wired" that way then it will always be a struggle. And there are no guarantees in life - hell, I've been married twice and know that people change, and sometimes they say things and don't mean it. I know a promise of commitment doesn't mean it will happen. That's why I want to get comfortable accepting things as they are in the present, instead of obsessing over extracting a certain outcome from someone.
I don't want to be like this - I want to be able to soak up all the good parts of a relationship and not dwell on things that I don't have and may not even need. I could break things off with this guy on principle because he isn't ready to be exclusive, but then I'd be losing out on time with him that I really, really enjoy - it feels a bit like cutting off my nose to spite my face, and what's the point in that? I don't want to give him up - I like him that much and I think I could learn to be accepting of his quirks and ride things out. I just don't know how.
So I guess my question is this: does anyone have any advice on how to let go of obsessive worries/thoughts and just enjoy the present? Any experiences with opening one's mind to different relationship dynamics and just seeing where things go? I'm really not looking to DTMFA and I don't want to sabotage what I have now. I'm also not harboring any illusion that he's suddenly going to have some epiphany that I'm "the one" and will change into someone who's comfortable with exclusivity/monogamy, at least not in the near future. I'm realistic to know that 6 weeks also isn't very long at all, and certainly not enough time that it's unheard of to be still dating other people!
Any advice would be so appreciated. Throwaway email: email@example.com.