is an Advice Column for Humans by One Human. We want to hear what you’re struggling with these days. Relationships? Breakups? Family? Friends? Jobs? Mental health? Anything.
I have been in a relationship for 4 plus years, we actually got engaged 2 plus ears ago. I have always praised and pampered her in many ways. She gives great presents and shares her life with me in ways that no one else has before. Our history begins more than 22 years ago, with a courtship that was mostly nightlife karaoke outings and she choose to marry someone else, which was cool and at the time showed her superior intelligence. Today we have progressed in ways but have stumbling blocks for us growing and marrying.
She has been reluctant and steadfast in her desire for me not to see her with her make up off, although I have because I cared for her when she had an operation. I have been in her home only like 10 times in the four years, she currently has two son’s, 42 and 35, living with her and a grandson, 13. But that has varied in the past 4 years with this being the least of family that has lived there.
We joke about her makeup thing that when we turn 90 she will go without make up. That is 27 years away. Our life centers around; karaoke (she sings, I do not), cruises (although that has not happened this year), and now weekends at the beach, but we are limited to 2 hours from her home.
Sundays is her absolute rest day and she does not come out at all. We went to church once. And every Sunday I drop off a homemade dessert and she will not greet me, sending a son or a grand child, so I just hang it on her door now and texted her it is there.
I get frustrated often by her seclusive way at times. We can sit in my car in her drive way and talk for hours, yet she will not come over my house. Only once in 4 years while she drives by regularly. I have given her a pass because her life has been difficult and well I am crazy about her.
We can have conversation and she has revealed things from her past. But her future and what she wants is impossible to ascertain. At times I want to walk away, but those thoughts are negated by the way I feel about her. For awhile her granddaughter, who I am close with, taught her to drive, chauffeured her to and from work, always said be patient. Socially, we are seen as married and a couple that is admired for the way we are together. Well, I just want to get an opinion about this being normal behavior/know this is normal behavior.
If it were a few months into the relationship, I’d say that she’s likely trying to take it slow and maybe heal past wounds. She may still be trying to heal past wounds or scared to move on. But some of that behaviour doesn’t seem normal 4 years in.
Firstly, she sounds like someone who needs a lot of time alone. That’s totally okay and normal.
However, my question to you is: When do you get to see her? You say you’ve been in her home 10 times and she’s been in your home once. So, where exactly did this relationship develop? All your conversations take place in the car? Or on walks only? This is abnormal.
Perhaps she doesn’t want you over to her home because she doesn’t want her family to get attached or ask questions. But that doesn’t explain why she won’t go over to your home. And the thing about her not even answering the door on Sundays sounds suspicious until I thought about it a little more: It’s probably her no-makeup day and she doesn’t want to put some on just to answer a door. I hate strangers seeing me without makeup, no matter how irrational others think it is. And on my no-makeup days, I don’t even leave the home. And if I do, I’m wearing sunglasses. Perhaps one of her fears in going to each other’s home is staying the night and seeing her without makeup. If that’s the case, working on boosting her confidence (without being pushy) could help. Although you sound like a caring guy, so I’m betting you’ve already done that.
There’s many possibilities but I can’t say which. Maybe she doesn’t take the relationship as seriously as you take it. Maybe she thinks of you as a friend. Maybe she’s not sure you’re the right person for her. Maybe she’s afraid of getting attached and her heart breaking. Maybe her life is so full with family that she can’t find the time (although not going to each other’s houses is still abnormal). Or perhaps the reason is something different entirely.
The only solution is to ask her. To have the awkward and vulnerable conversation.
You say her future and what she wants is “impossible to ascertain.” It likely isn’t impossible. You just have to ask and be open to hearing it, whether it’s what you want or not.
“Can I ask you something? I really like/love you but as time goes on, I’m getting confused about the future. We rarely go to each other’s houses as most couples, and I’m wondering if there’s a reason for that?” You can also add, “Is there anything I can do to make you more comfortable getting closer to me?”
Then you can start asking about the future.
“How do you see our future? Do you want things to remain this way forever? Or are you open to [what you want, seeing each other more, eventually living together, getting married, staying nights over, etc.]?”
Try to come across as understanding instead of pressuring her to spend more time with you. Instead of saying “you never come over” or “you never answer the door on Sundays,” try to focus on how it makes you feel. Maybe something like, “I’m just trying to understand how you truly feel because sometimes I feel like you don’t like me too much or you don’t want us to move forward.”
Having conversations like this is tough because it requires us to be honest and to face the things we’ve tried to ignore or hide from—for both parties. But getting vulnerable together is great for building the connection that could make the relationship better. Or, it could give you the answers you need.
I had to have one of these tough conversations when I realized a man I was seeing was becoming more distant than usual. His answer wasn’t what I wanted. Instead, I heard that he’d thought about us and he didn’t think he’d be able to move to my city as quick as he promised. I asked more questions and heard more of what I didn’t want to hear. Never. He was never moving here. I’d wasted so much time on something that had no chances of developing. I was hurt, angry and depressed. But having the courage to ask those questions saved me even more heartache.
Let’s say you ask her and she has no plans on changing this way of communicating/seeing each other. Are you okay with that forever? Try to answer honestly. She’s allowed to have her needs. But you’re allowed to have your own too. And you should honour them.
It sounds like you need a partner to be there in person more. That’s a normal need. After 4 years, you don’t need to live together, but you probably should be able to spend time in each other’s homes instead of in a car. If she doesn’t want this, you can try to work out compromises. For example, maybe you never live together but she agrees to spend a few nights a week at your home. If she’s not willing to compromise, you may ask yourself if she’s the best fit for your life.
In any case, at least as you’ve described it, she treats you as more of a friend than a partner. I can tell you are wild about her. But you deserve someone who’s equally as wild about you, whether that’s her or someone else.
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