Priorities and Timing in a mans Life...
August 28, 2008 10:32 PM   Subscribe

Priorities and Timing in a Mans Life...

So... I recently broke up with my boyfriend of 1 year. He is 43 I am 33. He said "I really really really do love you but the timing is not right for us, do you think its easy to walk away from the most wonderful girl I have ever me in my life, the answer is no". Says he's not in the right "headspace" to commit to me. He's a good and honest guy and I do love him and I was really upset over it. We are still keeping in touch now (been 3 weeks since we broke up) but I refuse to see him as the chemistry is very strong and I don’t do friends with benefits. He says he misses me. I don’t know if he misses ME or the regular sex, probably both.

I am not naive in thinking that timing is not important but I guess I thought since we were both in love it would just work out... somehow. Just before we met he had recently broken up from a 10 year relationship and the same with me. So the timing wasn’t good but we both felt a very strong connection and kept seeing each other. We took things fairly slowly and saw each other about twice a week, he took me out for dinner during the week and then would see him over the weekend. He feels allot of guilt from that last relationship. He knows that in the future I want a family and he felt the pressure to know if he wanted one too, he doesn’t know and he’s confused. I don’t feel like I put allot of pressure on him, just a reasonable amount that comes naturally after dating for a year. He thinks he’s doing the honourable thing in letting me go.

I think he also thinks that we will get together again down the road. I’m not 100% sure he’s not just given me a crap line but I think he really believes that he has to get things in life sorted out first like family matters, a new job and rebuilding his house. How do you men think and feel about priorities and putting off serious relationships in life? Shouldn’t relationships come first?
posted by CharlotteSarah to Human Relations (23 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
 
Shouldn’t relationships come first?

Not necessarily.
posted by LionIndex at 10:40 PM on August 28, 2008


Shouldn’t relationships come first?

No.
posted by pompomtom at 10:51 PM on August 28, 2008


This question is impossible to answer in general terms. It doesn't matter what "men" think as a group. It matters what your man thinks as an individual. This individual man has said that he doesn't want to make you a priority in his life. It hurts, of course, but you really should take the opportunity to move on. Don't waste your time analyzing him or trying to figure out how to get him to something he doesn't really want to do. You deserve better!
posted by JennyK at 11:00 PM on August 28, 2008 [3 favorites]


A relationship is not just two people who love each other, it's two people who are simultaneously in the right place (in a host of ways) to be with one another when they feel it. Tragic, yes, but as the saying goes...


I hold it true, whate'er befall;
I feel it, when I sorrow most;
'Tis better to have loved and lost
Than never to have loved at all.

posted by phrontist at 11:03 PM on August 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


Shouldn’t relationships come first?

No.
And I'm female.
posted by jacalata at 11:11 PM on August 28, 2008 [2 favorites]


Best answer: He knows that in the future I want a family and he felt the pressure to know if he wanted one too, he doesn’t know and he’s confused. I don’t feel like I put a lot of pressure on him, just a reasonable amount that comes naturally after dating for a year. He thinks he’s doing the honourable thing in letting me go.

From the information you've given, it sounds as though he may not want a family. If that's the case, on one hand, he really IS trying to do the honourable thing, because he knows that you do want a family--he's 43 and you're 33--so maybe he's either past the point of wanting children, or perhaps has already had his family (if he has kids - you didn't mention so not sure on this one). At any rate, he probably recognizes that your biological clock will only tick louder as your relationship progresses, and he may not want to 'lead you on' for another year (or two, or three) if he really doesn't want to go down that road.

On the other hand, it also sounds as though he simply wants to be on his own right now. Personally, I've never bought the whole "I need to get my life sorted out before I can be in a relationship" thing. You "sort out your life" as you live it--it's not as neat and compartmentalized as a) first I get my shit all sorted out, then b) I am completely together and awesome, then c) I find an equally awesome mate, then d) I live happily ever after. (If only!)

A relationship only comes first if it's a time/effort/desire priority--regardless of gender. It is obviously a priority in your life, and it's important that you recognize that and accept nothing less than the same level of commitment and love that you have to give. I would encourage you go out and find someone who has the same goals, and the same level of energy and desire to commit to a long-term, eventually-family-oriented relationship. You deserve it. Good luck to you!
posted by parkerama at 11:17 PM on August 28, 2008 [5 favorites]


Best answer: If he's anything like me, he has a strong sense that he will make a relationship permanent when he's ready to have children, and that he won't be ready until he has enough financial stability to know how he'll provide for them without scrimping or compromising.

I'm about to turn 43, and I'm dating an utterly amazing woman in her 30s who split with her husband largely because he wasn't interested in having children. I'd be a fool to let her get away, and a creep to disappoint her. But I've just started a company, which may make me rich or may leave me broke, or somewhere in between. While I'm on my own that's fine - I can stir an egg into some Sapporo Ichiban just as well as I could when I was 25 - but I cannot for one second imagine having a kid and wondering where rent or food was coming from next month.

So, should I put this relationship first? If she asks me "I want children; am I wasting my time with you?", doesn't my honest answer have to be "I hope you are not, but I don't know. I love you and I hope you'll take the same chance on me that I'm taking on myself, but if you need an answer now, ask another guy."

But about you: If you want to be with this guy day-to-day, even if there won't be any other return on your investment than the pleasure of his company and the experiences you share, then stay with him and back off the "reasonable" pressure you've been putting on him. If your top priority is getting married and starting a family soon, then let him go and find someone who's ready for that.
posted by Now I'm Prune Tracy! at 11:49 PM on August 28, 2008 [8 favorites]


parkerama took the wind out of my sails by writing exactly what was on my mind, only better.

This, in particular, is something I've long believed:

Personally, I've never bought the whole "I need to get my life sorted out before I can be in a relationship" thing. You "sort out your life" as you live it--it's not as neat and compartmentalized as a) first I get my shit all sorted out, then b) I am completely together and awesome, then c) I find an equally awesome mate, then d) I live happily ever after.

Now, it will be true on occasions that somebody is simply too freaking busy with work, study, or whatever to have the time & energy to pursue a relationship at all, but most times if I hear people saying things like "I just need some time off to sort things out in my head" I put that straight into the file marked "not into it but either don't want to admit the fact, or can't understand the reasons myself".

In my experience & observation, nobody who has ever called "time out" to go away & sort things out has changed one jot in that period of supposed personal development. They just want out of the situation, and put the blame onto some kind of confused state of mind, because for whatever reason they can't or won't commit, and can't or won't verbalise what the underlying issue is.

In other words, it's probably not a crap line, but it probably is an indication of just not being into the relationship in the way he feels he should, so he's doing the right thing & not leading you down a blind alley any further.
posted by UbuRoivas at 11:50 PM on August 28, 2008 [4 favorites]


Don't define yourself by your relationships with men.

Hint: he isn't defining himself by his relationship with you.
posted by wfrgms at 12:12 AM on August 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


he has to get things in life sorted out first like family matters, a new job and rebuilding his house. [...] Shouldn’t relationships come first?

If he's 43 and wants children, he maybe wants to place some priority on a relationship. Other than that, what's the rush? It's not like he's going to turn into a pumpkin at age 44.
posted by Mike1024 at 1:00 AM on August 29, 2008


He knows that in the future I want a family and he felt the pressure to know if he wanted one too, he doesn’t know and he’s confused. I don’t feel like I put allot of pressure on him, just a reasonable amount that comes naturally after dating for a year.

The pressure on him comes from the fact that you're 33 and he's not sure he wants children. In that situation, it's only natural for him to be worried about the possibility that he might be wasting your time, whether you're actively pushing the question or not.
posted by tomcooke at 3:21 AM on August 29, 2008


I don’t feel like I put allot of pressure on him, just a reasonable amount that comes naturally after dating for a year.

This sentence alone speaks volumes. You have very definite ideas about things should be, but I wonder if you ever stopped to ask him how he thinks things should be or just assumed that what you thought should or is the things are.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:50 AM on August 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


People have different priorities. I am a person who does NOT think relationships should come first; I am female, I am an undergraduate student who will be spending the next six years (finishing up the last two of five years of undergrad, and going to grad school to earn a PhD degree in neuroscience), does not want children because they will not fit in the life I want to live and I don't want to inflict psychological pain on children I would not want, and is largely focused on devoting life to the study of neuroscience. Relationships are secondary for me, and serve as enrichment to an already full life. I am also an introvert, which factors into my comparative loner-ness.

I think you may have put a lot of pressure on the person, and I think you didn't ask that 43-year-old fellow enough questions.
posted by kldickson at 5:21 AM on August 29, 2008


I'm a female and if someone was putting pressure on me to think about children after just a year, it would really, really worry me. Of course that may be a personal reaction based on how I feel about the topic in general - I'm in a relationship, happy, and want to move in together when the time is right. Sounds like the time is not right for the pair of you just now. Carry on doing your own thing and see what happens. He's taking time out from things, whether it involves you getting back together or not - you should too. Do something for YOU.
posted by mippy at 5:37 AM on August 29, 2008


In my experience & observation, nobody who has ever called "time out" to go away & sort things out has changed one jot in that period of supposed personal development. They just want out of the situation, and put the blame onto some kind of confused state of mind, because for whatever reason they can't or won't commit, and can't or won't verbalise what the underlying issue is.

Ubo though I thoroughly disagree with this statement....At the current moment I am in a point in life where I took a 'time out' from serious dating and I feel that I am getting a lot from it....I've met and clicked with a few people here and there but because I am not in the right place it hasnt worked out.....I have a couple of very important projects (getting in shape, working on my music, etc) that unfortunately were taking a back seat while I was in a relationship....I feel that getting those out of the way before I get into another one will not only the best thing for me to do but will also potentially allow me to be a much better person for whomever is my next partner.
posted by The1andonly at 6:36 AM on August 29, 2008


Best answer: Parkarama is right on the money. He is doing you a favor by letting you go.

Family planning, if you want one, is a huge issue when you're 33 and a woman. I don't know when you want to have kids, but if he honestly doesn't even know whether or not he wants kids at all--and he's 43--I don't think he's the right guy for you. You want someone who is emphatically on the same page you are when it comes to that. If you know you want kids, don't waste your time at age 33 even dating guys who are ambivalent. It's a crappy feeling to think that you need to convince or pressure someone on something that should be really happy and come from a person's own heart.

I have seen "reasonable pressure" towards marriage and kids work--but on a guy from age 25-30 who, clearly, was growing up in all sorts of ways (first real job, first real girlfriend). If someone is already grown, I've never seen that work.

Good luck! And although there certainly are people like mippy who needs to take it slow, there are also people (like me and my husband) who can get married and pregnant within 2 years of meeting each other.

There are men who don't--and will never--put relationships first, and there are also guys (really) who are at a point in their lives when they are really ready to put relationships first. Look for someone who is happy in his career, at peace with his family, and comfortable around kids. This is not a good time for you to be with a guy who is still figuring himself out.

It is good and right to ask for what you want, and if you aren't getting it, move on.
posted by tk at 6:57 AM on August 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


A dude who is 43 and still doesn't have his shit together may not be worth your time. If relationships are a priority for you, then you should try and find someone who shares that same view.
posted by chunking express at 7:35 AM on August 29, 2008


I’m not a guy, but I’ve prioritized other things over relationships. I put relationships second (or third or fourth) for a long time...until I met the right guy. Now I try to do it all and weed the garden.

Why the change? This boyfriend makes it easier for me to do it all. We are very different people, but we want some of the same basic things. With this boyfriend, there’s no need to prioritize.

For me, it wasn’t about being in the right place for a relationship. It was about finding someone who had similar goals and the willingness to compromise (as I am willing) on the bendy issues. Armed with this and love, then, yah, things do just work out....somehow. But it takes more than love.

Kid/no kid isn’t a bendy issue. As others have said, maybe your boyfriend recognizes that. Maybe he loves you but is letting you go before he wastes more of your time.
posted by fiore at 8:35 AM on August 29, 2008


Response by poster: It is good and right to ask for what you want, and if you aren't getting it, move on.

It's a crappy feeling to think that you need to convince or pressure someone on something that should be really happy and come from a person's own heart.

A dude who is 43 and still doesn't have his shit together may not be worth your time. If relationships are a priority for you, then you should try and find someone who shares that same view.

I love these comments... Thanks everyone for all your advice it has helped me immensely to continue on my path of letting go and moving on.
posted by CharlotteSarah at 9:37 AM on August 29, 2008


I think he really believes that he has to get things in life sorted out first like family matters, a new job and rebuilding his house.

I would not have the emotional fortitude to deal with major life changes such as this + the pressure to define a relationship and have a family after only a year of dating. It would be unfair to my relationship partner as they would get the short end of the stick. He is doing the honourable thing by realizing his limitations and staying true to himself. I'm female.

(Also I don't understand why people don't think he has his shit together. People get new jobs and rebuild houses all the time. It doesn't mean they're irresponsible or shifty. Family matters could mean taking care of a parent in a nursing home, not necessarily major drama.)
posted by desjardins at 10:44 AM on August 29, 2008


desjardins, the OP knows if the dude has his shit together or not. We can only guess based on this question. Also, I don't think there's really anything wrong with being 43 and confused about what you want to do with your life. What I meant with my comment was that such a person isn't going to be suited for the OP, who is trying to move forward with her life. I agree that the dude is probably doing the OP a favour by calling things off. Men have more leeway than women with respect to when they decide they want to start a family. He is probably aware of this.
posted by chunking express at 12:02 PM on August 29, 2008


You're hurting right now and you're hoping you can get back together. Maybe that will happen or Maybe it won't. Usually (statistically) it probably doesn't. There's no way to answer a question about what he wants. Different men want different things. It sounds like this guy doesn't know what he wants.

I'd say do the best you can to move on. If somehow you end up back with him and happy, so much the better. But at least you'll know you didn't waste your time waiting for him to make up his mind.
posted by bananafish at 2:49 PM on August 29, 2008


Best answer: Ubo though I thoroughly disagree with this statement....At the current moment I am in a point in life where I took a 'time out' from serious dating and I feel that I am getting a lot from it.

Same here, and it's something I often try to promote in RelationshipFilter as a rich & fulfilling life beyond the usual expectation of partnering up. To clarify, I was trying to distinguish between two different things:

1. People devoting their priorities to other things outside of relationshipland, such that there isn't much time or energy left to pursue a relationship beyond a kind of subsistence level of involvement; and

2. The cliche of "I just need some space to sort things out"

The latter, in my opinion, is little more than a symptom of being not into the relationship, and no sorting-out actually takes place. I think it's also a distinction between people who are not in a realistic position to actively pursue a relationship (1) versus people getting cold feet about an existing relationship (2).

Overall, kinda in contrast to what parkerama said, I think it is actually very important to have a life, have your shit reasonably together, and have your friends, work, financials, interests, and general stability etc in place as a foundation before getting too involved with somebody else, but the point again is that it's something you do before you start a relationship, not a reason for a time-out once you're already under way with one.
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:10 PM on August 29, 2008


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