Could this relationship realistically work?
May 31, 2016 7:57 PM   Subscribe

How should I pursue this, if at all?

Long story short(ish) - Last summer I went on a weekend vacation with some girlfriends to a city about 3 hours from where I live. On that trip, I met a friend of a friend who lives there (he met us for dinner one night). From the first second I looked at him I got this really amazing feeling like I'd just met someone really special, and we talked for a little bit at dinner. Afterwards, he and I both separately approached our mutual friend to say that we'd both felt a really special connection with each other (this happens to me almost never). Our mutual friend told me that he is an amazing guy, but warned me that he just finished going through a very nasty divorce and has sole custody of his three kids right now in addition to a demanding job and school. She also mentioned that the ex-wife is unstable and still has some emotional grip on him because of the way her dysfunctional behavior affects the kids. (I don't think he's in love with her anymore, but he has to deal with her constantly because she is the mother of his kids and she frequently causes drama).

He and I kept in touch loosely via text/email, and over this past winter started texting/talking almost daily and made a few trips to see each other whenever he could get a free day or two away. He basically has very little free time and was squeezing me in whenever he could, but it was really hard on me as he would frequently cancel and not know when he could even make it up to me (the mother is unfit to watch the kids for any lengthy period of time and sometimes cannot take them at all, and he and I were not at a point in the relationship where it would have been appropriate for me to meet the kids).

Anyway, a few months ago I asked him if he ever thought he'd be able to prioritize our relationship more than he was, and he basically said no (totally understandable), but that he would like to keep getting together whenever we could. At the time I decided I was not comfortable with that, I wanted to be more of a priority to someone, so I broke it off. Definitely short sighted of me. I understood that his kids had to be the priority, I was just thinking at the time that I would be happier dating someone who lived closer and didn't have all these extenuating circumstances.

About a month later I realized I missed him a lot and had regrets about the situation. I wrote him a long email about missing him, feeling like we had a special connection, realizing I hadn't done the best job of trying to understand what his daily life is like, had been somewhat selfish, etc. I was pleasantly surprised when he wrote back the next morning saying that he missed me a lot too, felt badly that he hadn't been able to prioritize me more, and that he definitely wanted to get together soon and talk. I replied that I wanted that too.

That was about 6 weeks ago, and he has made no effort to set up a get-together. I have texted him a few times just to say hi, and he always replies very quickly and enthusiastically, but no mention is ever made of us getting together. Also, he replies to my texts but does not initiate contact.

Is it my move to try to pin down a meeting time/date at this point, or is the ball in his court? I'm certain at this point that I want to date him, because after some reflection I realize I'm not likely to meet anyone I feel more strongly about. I should mention that my life is basically the polar opposite of his - I'm a career woman in my late 30s who never plans to have biological kids, although I'd love to have kids in my life and be a mentor/mother figure. I know that my walking away from the situation the first time wrecked some of the trust and confidence we both had in the ability for this to work out. At the same time, the situation with the ex wife is also intimidating to me.

I am willing to go far outside of my comfort zone to explore this relationship further. I am willing to be patient and let it develop slowly over time. However, I'm thrown off by the fact that he doesn't initiate contact anymore and hasn't revisited the subject of us getting together to talk.

I'd really appreciate any insights from single parents, or others who have had similar experiences. Are our worlds just too different, or could this work out somehow? I am genuinely seeking insight, please be kind. Thanks.
posted by Yellow78 to Human Relations (30 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Why have you not revisited the subject of getting together to talk? Have you suggested a meeting and been rebuffed, or have you been sitting around for six weeks waiting for him to make the first move?
posted by palomar at 8:04 PM on May 31, 2016 [1 favorite]

Just one brainstorm: could you make it easier for him to see you? E.g., could you go to his town and (without meeting the kids) go on a date or two with him that weekend? The questions you have seem best answered by him in person.
posted by salvia at 8:06 PM on May 31, 2016 [2 favorites]

He hasn't rebuffed me. I've been waiting for him to bring it up because he's the one who always has scheduling constraints.
posted by Yellow78 at 8:06 PM on May 31, 2016

I'm a parent. I think he realizes he can't develop a relationship with you because full custody of three kids is a lot + his ex is totally in the way.

You guys do have a special connection. Nothing can one of it right now at all. I think he's just letting you... realize this on your own?

Nothing has changed. Not even you. This situation won't work because of all the moving parts. He knows you deserve better. I think wish him well in your heart and let it fade.
posted by jbenben at 8:07 PM on May 31, 2016 [13 favorites]

I completely hear you on that, and thanks for your input. Let me ask you this though - is it possible he could slowly integrate me over a long period of time if we just stay steady with it? I know the moving parts are complex, but what if I could be an asset to him and help out by being an emotional support rather than him feeling like I'm just one more priority? Just so so so SO sad to think about having to let it go completely...
posted by Yellow78 at 8:13 PM on May 31, 2016

Oh my gosh, yes, just contact him and propose a time and place.
posted by lalex at 8:15 PM on May 31, 2016 [11 favorites]

I'm certain at this point that I want to date him,

Then you're not listening to him. He can't date you. He likes you and can fit some time with you in occasionally, but it's as a break from his life, not as part of it.

I realize I'm not likely to meet anyone I feel more strongly about.

Not until you move on from this one.
posted by headnsouth at 8:20 PM on May 31, 2016 [14 favorites]

You will grind yourself into dust trying to make yourself smaller and smaller to be small enough for him "over time", and then his kids will get old enough to free him up and he will dump you for someone he hasn't fucked around for years because that's too embarrassing to face. It is possible to be short on time and still bring extraordinary focus to someone and make those little bits of time count, and he is not doing that.

Keep chasing it until you can't take it anymore, if that's what you want to hear. Just know that there's a cost for every bit of yourself you put away to match his low stakes.

He sacrifices nothing to do this, and gets sex and attention and affection on his terms, his schedule, and makes no accommodation for you. What you're getting in return clearly isn't enough or you wouldn't be here asking, and clearly doesn't have any real end game or you wouldn't be here asking.

Just...take that in. If you're able, go completely no-contact for a few weeks, long enough to break the addiction of waiting and craving the slightest bit of attention from him and finally getting the relief of it, and see if you're so sure then.
posted by Lyn Never at 8:21 PM on May 31, 2016 [51 favorites]

I date a guy with sole custody (kid is now older but was younger when we met) and an unreliable ex and he lives three hours from me. We've been together eight years. It can work! Part of what you need to deal with is boundaries. And he may have poor ones with his ex and you may need to coach him through some of that to find space for you. It's work and, I won't lie, often not worth it. That said, I think there are ways to work things out especially if you really truly are a busy career woman and don't want to eventually ramp this into something else that it can't be. So for example you could

- spend sometime where he lives and just start to casually meet the kids (at the point at which you guys decide to be serious about these things if you do). So not "Hi I am staying here now" but "This is a new person in dad's life, let's start to get to know each other" via skype or something
- He needs to find other back up plans so his ex leaving him in the lurch doesn't always mean he cancels on you. Three kids is tough but a not insurmountable problem to get an overnight babysitter one night a month for example.
- You could all arrange to be at the same third place over a weekend, again when you are in meet-the-kids but not "this is dad's new girlfriend" mode
- You could work on finding ways to communicate that do NOT get derailed by his ex and you and he can develop your own patterns and routines

At some level the way to help this along is for you and this guy to basically make it a little more serious a little more soon which is possible but unusual. Think about what you'd like out of this and see if you and he can get together and at least talk about that and move forward from there.
posted by jessamyn at 8:27 PM on May 31, 2016 [5 favorites]

This is all very helpful. A few clarifying things:

1) I have NEVER felt disrespected by him in any way, and before I broke things off he definitely did a good job of giving me his full attention when we were together. I never felt used for sex or affection, and he made the effort to come to my town more than once, so I don't feel like it was all on his terms. I know from conversations we have had, and conversations he's had with our mutual friend that he genuinely cares for me.

2) I agree that his boundaries with the ex are poor and he would need some coaching around that.

3) You may be right that I am more of a break from his life than part of it at this point...and you're right that I'm on here to see if there's a way I could help that change.
posted by Yellow78 at 8:34 PM on May 31, 2016

You asked him if he could prioritize you the way you want. He said no. Are you truly comfortable going back to how things were? Because if you're going back, it can only work if you (try to) rekindle things with him without any expectation it'll change, because the strong likelihood is that it really won't. He's told you where he is--newly divorced with three kids. He's putting them first, as is his obligation as a parent.

I'm sure he cares for you, and you for him. That's not enough, sometimes, and it sounds to me like he made it clear where his life is and what he can commit to. It sounds like you want to change him, and that's an ineffective way to (re)start a relationship, not to mention somewhat disrespectful of his agency and his choices.

If you are truly, totally, 100% down with meeting him where he is--and, again, he has three children and not much of a co-parent, he has demands on his time that pretty much anyone is going to agree outweigh yours by a lot--then sure, go ahead and suggest next Monday at 8pm, or whenever he's free.

If you're not, then stay distant friends. Otherwise you, and maybe he, and maybe three children, will get very hurt.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 8:45 PM on May 31, 2016 [2 favorites]

That was about 6 weeks ago, and he has made no effort to set up a get-together.

It is amazing how fast time can slip by when you have a lot of demands on your time. Sole custody of three kids, a job, school, and an unstable ex is a lot of demands (two out of the four would be a lot to handle). As you've observed, this has its own problems, but I would not take it as a signal of disinterest alone, particularly when you're getting other kinds of responsive communication.

Is it my move to try to pin down a meeting time/date at this point, or is the ball in his court?

I'm not sure at this point that it's anyone's "move" -- I generally reserve that judgment for when I've clearly communicated a desire or suggested a plan, and have had that refused or shut down.

That doesn't sound like it's happened between you two at this point. So the remaining question is pretty much: are you comfortable initiating? If you don't want to be in a relationship where you sometimes have to take initiative, that's a valid choice.

But that's a choice, not necessarily How Things Should Be. And it sounds to me like communicating your feelings and desires has worked well enough for you so far. Maybe you should keep that up and either:

(a) propose two times/dates for meeting up and ask if either one would work for him


(b) tell him you'd really like him to be the one to plan your next meetup

Those are clear communications rather than guessing games, and the response will tell you a lot about how viable this really is.
posted by wildblueyonder at 8:53 PM on May 31, 2016 [2 favorites]

I think it's pretty telling that you said you broke it off because you were unhappy with the situation. Breakups don't always make you happier, especially when you're left in a "but...what if...?" state. But. You weren't happy. You won't be happier next time around, and second chance in this case doesn't even mean "do it right this time"... Trust past-you's emotions and find the type of relationship you want.

Sometimes the right person just doesn't line up with the right situation.
posted by zinful at 8:58 PM on May 31, 2016 [6 favorites]

I know that my walking away from the situation the first time wrecked some of the trust and confidence we both had in the ability for this to work out.

Maybe it did. On the other hand, you were both honest about your needs and limitations, which is important. It's just a tough situation - as you say, hard to begin a relationship in a natural way in the spaces between. Maybe if you worked at it over a long enough period of time, it would evolve. But I think you might end up resenting the constraints unless there are major shifts of the kind jessamyn suggests. Would that be enough for you?

But I mean, it's still all so new for him and his kids, they're still adjusting to post-divorce life. It might take a couple of years (and maybe some battles) for them to find a way of living around the kids' mom (and I'm guessing she's going to be a source of pain for them all, probably for life :/ unless she gets amazing help and/or gets lucky, but I'm betting it's a world of hurt for the kids right now, and there will be scars. Who knows how that'll play out for them :/ and how that will affect their dad :/) Not to say that it can't be worked around in principle. Just that it wouldn't be easy, at all, and you'd have to be ok about getting less of what you want than you need, and, just, a lot of work.

Also what, am I reading things right - he's in school right now, as well? I'm amazed he thought he had time for a relationship at all. But, a lot of students are just out of crunch time. He's assuredly been busy. (When does the program end?)

Should you contact him - you could try... I'm guessing that after the breakup, he shifted his attention toward the things needing attention, and has probably found they take up a lot of it. He can't give more to you, and knows you need that... If you're honest with yourself, would what you can get be enough? Are you ready to dive into this family, as it is?
posted by cotton dress sock at 8:58 PM on May 31, 2016

I think you're placing too much value on having an initial spark.

A spark like that is a great way to start a relationship - but it's not the whole relationship. This guy can't even have a relationship and has told you so upfront. So just because you have a connection with him in a way doesn't mean it's okay to not line up in terms of relationship goals. I've been friends with / dated plenty of people that I think are dandy but we don't work in a romantic sorta way.

You're young. There's plenty of time to have another amazing spark with another person who is actually available to date you. Let this one go. He's got too much on his plate already and he can't prioritize you.
posted by Crystalinne at 9:01 PM on May 31, 2016 [9 favorites]

What would you be getting out of this relationship?

Despite the amazing connection you feel, does his life, which will stay the way it is for the foreseeable future, match with your goals?

If a relationship is to work, it will take the two of you to make it so - do you think he will put the work in too?
posted by NatalieWood at 9:52 PM on May 31, 2016 [2 favorites]

I am willing to go far outside of my comfort zone to explore this relationship further. I am willing to be patient and let it develop slowly over time. However, I'm thrown off by the fact that he doesn't initiate contact anymore

One thing I've learned is that if someone is thinking of you and wants you to know it, there is always time to send a text. "Super busy miss u!" Or one emoji. You can do it while you're on the can or in line at the market. Personally, if someone can't meet that minimum level of outreach it would be a deal breaker. And as always, the MeFi maxim holds true: believe what people tell you about themselves.

I would do a fast fade. You should not have to go "far outside your comfort zone" to establish a basic relationship with someone; that's for threesomes and agreeing to move into a Tiny House. OP, you deserve to be with someone who has the time and motivation to want to talk to you.
posted by Room 641-A at 10:18 PM on May 31, 2016 [11 favorites]

I am in a similar situation (1 kid instead of 3) and the only way a relationship would work for me is if my Mythical Other wanted a minimal amount of contact. You seem like you want more than the one or two or zero nights a month he could provide. That conversation should have already taken place and you should be in no doubt as to where you stand. The fact he hasn't made sure of this doesn't really reflect well on him. Sure he could never prioritise you, but he owes you an unambiguous answer. That you need to ask the question kind of answers the question.

Three kids is hard mode, but he's a single dad not a saint.

Move on, you found him you'll find another.
Good luck.
posted by fullerine at 11:30 PM on May 31, 2016

POTUS runs a country and still manages to maintain friendships, play basketball and go on vacation. In six weeks, this man has not found 30 seconds to spare you a thought and send you a text. This tells you everything you need to know. No one is that busy.
posted by Jubey at 12:06 AM on June 1, 2016 [15 favorites]

A relationshipfilter chestnut which seems especially relevant here: "Never make someone a priority when they consider you an option."

He is absolutely not going to take the initiative of setting up a time to talk, and after six weeks I don't think you should bother trying to schedule it. I once broke up with a "too busy" boyfriend with a bald "so, are you going to bother making an effort, or are we done?" His answer was predictably wishy-washy, and I knew it was over, and it was one of the best things I'd done in my dating life. In your case, you already have your answer.
posted by Metroid Baby at 3:47 AM on June 1, 2016 [4 favorites]

Thanks, everyone. You've given me a lot to think about. There was a period of a few months when he was communicating multiple times per day and moving mountains (when he could) to see me, like hoping on planes and trains to get to where I was just to see me for 24 hours. But since the break-up and me trying to rekindle it, he is no longer doing any of that. He is probably over trying to put any more effort into it b/c he likely thinks it's unsustainable and that his life won't be changing in the forseeable future.

I actually could see myself fitting into his life, I've accomplished most of my career goals at this point and have been looking for a change of direction that involves a balanced life, relationship, being more domestic, etc. I never explicitly communicated to him that I am at this turning point, which is probably why he's let things fade...I'm going to take a few days and decide if this deserves one more really open conversation or whether I'll let it go.

I definitely deserve someone who wants to put in the effort, and the only reason I have even found myself asking this question is b/c of the incredibly strong spark. I tend to be driven by my emotions and need to bring more logic into these types of decisions going forward. You're right that spark is not everything. I'm going to meditate on this for a day or two. Will write in when I have more internal clarity.
posted by Yellow78 at 4:24 AM on June 1, 2016

I think it would be very hard to plan a LDR in these circumstances, especially with three kids, a flakey mom, a busy job, etc. It sounded like you both made efforts at the start, but then

There was a period of a few months when he was communicating multiple times per day and moving mountains (when he could) to see me, like hoping on planes and trains to get to where I was just to see me for 24 hours. But since the break-up and me trying to rekindle it, he is no longer doing any of that.

It sounds like he was maybe hurt by this and is now taking things on a much lower level?

He does have priorities, and I'd expect him to make the kids #1. I think you both could maybe manage this in the same town/city, with regular short contact over intermittent exclusive contact, but the LDR is very difficult.
posted by carter at 5:03 AM on June 1, 2016

This man is in no position to have a meaningful relationship with you. Things were fine when you were okay with crumbs, that's all he had and has to give.

You have a fantasy where you get together and suddenly he incorporates you into his life. He's not going to do that. He has too many balls in the air, and he doesn't WANT to bring you into the circus.

If someone wants you to be in their life, they will move heaven and earth to make it happen. He likes you fine, and thinks you're neat, but for now, he can't be in the kind of relationship you want to be in.

Also, has it occurred to you that he might have found someone in his area that is willing to be more flexible and casual? You've been thinking of nothing but him since you broke it off. He's been working, dealing with his kids and perhaps meeting new people. It's not like he's been pining for you and hoping you'd change your mind.

Don't make a date to see him, and DO cut off all contact. You had a moment of weakness in sending that email, but you were initially 100% right to stop seeing someone who wasn't making you a priority.

You're disappointed it didn't work out. We've all been there. But trust me, when you find the right person, someone who does make you priority, even if he's got kids, a job and other hassles in his life, you'll see how big a difference it makes.

Stop fantasizing about how it could have worked out. Think about other things that make you happy. Plan a nice vacation, take a class, hit the gym, clean your house, update your wardrobe. Keep busy with other things and keep your options open!

Realize that the reason this relationship ended was not that you didn't try hard enough, it's because he didn't try hard enough.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 8:20 AM on June 1, 2016 [4 favorites]

The thing about spark is that it's only good for ignition; it doesn't keep the engine moving. It's a real plus for the start of a relationship, but it doesn't meeeeean anything mystical and it doesn't do any of the real work.

Excitement is cheap, intensity is easy when there's no stakes. Married cheaters give great spark, because the chase is so delicious. Abusers give legendary spark. Women routinely rhapsodize about the amazing connection they have with the man who will one day kill them. It's not a sign or portent. A wise person will accept spark at face value when it happens, and enjoy it in the moment, but make sure she's checking for what's in its shadow. Because it might be trouble, or it might be nothing. Might be all spark no momentum - it happens. Wrong place and/or wrong time and/or wrong person, in the harsh light of day.
posted by Lyn Never at 9:21 AM on June 1, 2016 [6 favorites]

Is it possible to try and keep things flexible/casual with this guy, with the understanding that you guys can enjoy something limited right now, but also both potentially explore other options, and just see what happens? It seems like a bad idea to put all your romantic eggs in this one basket, given that this dude has a LOT of other things going on in his life. At the same time, you guys also have this great connection and it sounds like you're reluctant to let that go. Is it at all possible for you to keep chatting with this guy and meeting him once every couple of months for a fun 24 hours, but also leave yourself open to other people and other relationships? I think for some people this is more emotionally possible than for others, but if you think it could work for you, it could give a chance to see where things develop with this guy (who may have more flexibility as kids get older and/or be more willing for you to meet the kids as time goes on) while also not closing yourself off to the possibility of something else
posted by rainbowbrite at 9:33 AM on June 1, 2016

I think you, and most of the commenters here, are missing the part where the guy is the sole custodial parent of three kids PLUS has a demanding job PLUS school. It is hard to overstate how those obligations absorb all of one's emotional energy, and time. This is really not the same as someone who just isn't into you enough to call -- but the result is the same, for you.

You already tried being his here-and-there, occasional fun times hookup, which is all he has bandwidth for, and that wasn't enough for you (which is totally legit! I couldn't do it either with someone I really cared about.) And he told you: he doesn't have the bandwidth to be your boyfriend, or even to attempt to be your boyfriend and see how it goes. He can't right now.

Wish him well. Let him know you'll be thinking of him with affection, if you want. If it helps, realize that this isn't about him not liking you enough: it's that these circumstances were never going to work. He needs to concentrate on other things now.
posted by fingersandtoes at 11:16 AM on June 1, 2016 [6 favorites]

I've been a single parent of three for over 10 years (with a disruptive and unstable ex), have a career I'm passionate about and also went back to school when my kids were younger.

I actually could see myself fitting into his life, I've accomplished most of my career goals at this point and have been looking for a change of direction that involves a balanced life, relationship, being more domestic, etc.

You asked for us to be gentle, so I will.

You have no idea what his life actually looks like and what it will continue to look like for a very, very long time.

Set aside the incredible issues with the ex (which I wouldn't and forget about coaching him; you are looking at years of headaches).

His work will take his energy. School will use his energy.

But his core energy and passion will be devoted to his children and you will have to be okay with this never changing and that's as it should be.

Years ago I was in a relationship with someone who, like you, felt they could fit into my life. But they weren't okay that my priority was always going to be my kids, not them. I couldn't go see a band or out to dinner or sit on the couch with them chatting because I needed to help a kid with homework or go to a school play or a soccer game or riding lesson. Or I was just too goddamned tired to pay a lot of attention to them.

If you are okay with being fourth fiddle for a long, long time, then sure, try to make it work with this guy but that you're thinking you can fit into his life indicates you aren't thinking really clearly about this.

It's a huge gamble that he will be able to give you the attention and care you deserve. I get that it sucks but it seems that he's been honest about how much he can give and you're NOT okay with this, and you shouldn't be. That he's not contacting you and trying to get together speaks volumes. It may be with a heavy heart that he knows he can't do this to you.

You deserve more. My ex deserved more. Wish him well and move on.
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 1:10 PM on June 1, 2016 [5 favorites]

Hi Everyone,

I would like to say thank you to everyone who wrote in. This has been a very helpful exercise for me, and I have reached a pretty solid conclusion that I will not be pursuing this any further. A few things I wanted to mention though, for clarification and in case anyone else reading this thread might find it helpful:

1) I disagree that any of this is a self-esteem issue for him or I, or that he's some player type or that I'm sitting around pining away and not going on with my life. I make good money, hit the gym every night already, travel a lot, have a lot of friends, and generally feel good about my life. I generally would also walk away from something that isn't working out. What had me confused about this situation is that it was so refreshing to feel that spark, and to find that we also had a great intellectual and emotional connection as well. He told me on one occasion that the reason he was pursuing me despite all the obstacles is because he feels like he can talk to me about his truest/deepest feelings, and that it is very rare for him to find that. I had the same experience with him, feeling like I could open up and be authentic in a major way. It's just that the moments where we could relate that way were fleeting. I think I was hanging on because I've met tons of guys I'm not interested in, and it was just nice to have it feel like an easy connection for once. I also tend to be a hopeless romantic but, as I stated in an earlier post, I need to be more practical in my decision making going forward (and so does he, I think).

2) His kids absolutely have to be his first priority, and I have to stop trying to wedge my way into his life. I would venture to guess that he has mixed feelings about me and the situation, but the truth is that he does not want to get together and discuss things any further. That is clearly reflected in him not making plans, and I have to respect that and believe it is for the best.

3) The crazy ex would have been a huge liability. I have a feeling even more huge than I could possibly imagine.

4) There is no reason why I can't wish him well in my head/heart and move on. If he's met someone else, great. There was no foul play, since we were never exclusive. He deserves someone who fits better into his life, and I deserve someone who fits better into mine. I'm not going to contact him again, but not out of anger or ill will.

It's bittersweet, but it feels good to move on. I have a feeling I will meet someone else soon. Thanks again.
posted by Yellow78 at 1:37 PM on June 1, 2016 [12 favorites]

I'm not sure at all that him not wanting to get together is reflected in him not making plans.

The advice here is quite bad because for someone with sole custody of three kids, coming to someone else's place for an entire day is an enormous effort that he made multiple times. And you broke up with him. So the ball is almost 100% in your court, not his. Once you break up with someone, they might not pursue you intently until you make it clear that you're serious about getting back with them. He wrote you a long email responding to your email which seems like a solid signal of interest and then you...nothing. From his point of view you maybe felt nostalgic one night and aren't really interested. And again, that's legitimate and completely warranted given the circumstances and not some kind of ~clear signal~ that he doesn't really like you or whatever.

You might not like his life or want to be a part of it. That's legit, especially if he's always cancelling and shit like that. That is legitimately annoying, a pain in the ass, something that can be solved by babysitters, and not something you have to deal with.

However, you're kidding yourself if you think that it's his decision. It's your decision. The chance that you are accurately mind-reading him as "not into you" is infinitesimal. The conclusions people here are coming to about this super-busy single father as some kind of crazy manipulative game player who obviously isn't into you are truly bizarre and not at all reflected in what you've said about him. In fact, they mostly reflect a complete lack of understanding of what it means to be a single parent.

As someone who has actually worked, single parented (only 1 kid though!) and gone to school at the same time, holy fuck yes you can be too busy to send a text. Especially in the last 4-6 weeks of a semester and the beginning of the summer (meaning the kids aren't in school anymore). It's not that you don't have 10 seconds to text (although you might not) it's that you legitimately don't remember to do it.

"Oh well if you liked her you'd remember!" well maybe maybe not once you're out of the habit since you broke up. And again, you're super busy which means that you are constantly trying to remember the thing you need to do right now to keep things from falling apart, and your brain 100% knows that "texting someone for something non-time sensitive" is not at all important. It just will not pop into your working memory.

The level of relationship where you can expect texting to be a priority in an insanely busy scenario is at least "girlfriend." "Sending tactful texts to ex who might not be interested about something I cannot schedule in the near future" is not even on the list of things he should be prioritizing right now.

Anyway, like I said, if you're not into it you're not into it. But the advice here that indicates that he's not into you is pretty bad and I think you should ignore it.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 4:34 PM on June 1, 2016 [5 favorites]

I agree that the ball is more in your court, not just because you broke up with him, but also because you have far, far more free time. In fact, it's a little crazy to me that for your previous dates, he did the traveling. Arranging childcare for three kids and traveling seven hours round-trip? Man does THAT ever show interest.

It sounds like you are willing to go the extra mile, and that you'd need to for this to work. This doesn't have to be some platonic ideal in which your effort is equal to his, or the guy pursues to show he's "that into you." You sound willing to adjust your life to be more a part of theirs, which is good because that's probably the only way this could work. But yes, if it could get to that point, I bet he could really use a supportive partner who wanted to "be an asset to him and help out by being an emotional support rather than him feeling like I'm just one more priority." And it sounds like that maybe matches the shift you want to happen in your life? (Does he know that?) *I* can imagine a future in which you had regular (quick) evening check ins and came down to stay with them on weekends (assuming you got on great with his kids). But the only way to know what future he'd imagine, assuming all went well, would be to ask him.

If you're interested, I'd offer to come down, and then (assuming everything is going well and the spark is still there) maybe have a heart-to-heart about the possibility of really giving this another try. It's fair to ask him "if we succeeded at building this into a real relationship, what do you imagine it would look like?" And "what would it take to get there?" It's also fair to lightly ask what the deal is with him not texting anymore in an "I'm not trying to say you 'should' be doing this, I'm just trying to understand" way.

Given how into him you sounded, I hate to think that AskMe convinced you it couldn't work. I mean, it may in fact be the case that the future he wants wouldn't be enough for you. Maybe he just wants someone he comes to visit once every two months. But if I were you, I'd try to get that information from him, not by reading the tea leaves with other people on the internet.

You came here with a few fundamental questions -- What would it look like to have a relationship with this person, and is that something you'd want or are your worlds simply too different? Are things broken beyond repair? And if not, what would be the next step? I think the next step is that you should offer to go visit (and in general should be the one to travel more often). But the answers to the other questions can only come from talking to him and then deciding if it's something you want. To me it sounds like there's a possible future there that you DO want? My question is whether that's a future that he'd like to work for, or if he feels his life is too complicated already. I wonder if he knows how much you're willing to change your life.
posted by salvia at 9:36 PM on June 1, 2016 [2 favorites]

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