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Not in Love with Him
November 4, 2002 Ask Dr. Love Advice Column
i HAVE KNOWN A GENTLEMAN FOR 4 MONTHS, WE HAVE SPENT ALMOST EVERYDAY TOGETHER, EXCEPT FOR 2 WEEKS WHEN i WENT ON VAC. SINCE THAN I HAVE SEEN HIM AGAIN EVERYDAY SINCE AUGUST.
HE REALLY IS VERY GOOD TO ME AND WANTS TO SEE ME EVERYDAY. i HAVE TO HAVE SOME DAYS TO MYSELF AND HE AGREES BUT SAYS HE GETS DEPRESSED AND MISSES ME.
HOW DO I TELL HIM I NEED SPACE. i WAS MARRIED FOR 17 YEARS AND DIVORCED FOR 3 YRS NOW I DID NOT DATE BUT JUST A FEW TIMES. I HAVE MY OWN HOME AND HE DOES HELP ME WITH PROJECTS AND IS VERY GOOD ABOUT THAT. BUT I AM NOT IN LOVE WITH HIM, BUT DO HAVE A GREAT TIME AND LOVE THE ATTENTION HE GIVES ME.
HOW DO I HANDLE THIS IN A VERY NICE WAY WITHOUT HURTING HIM OR LOSING SOMEONE DEAR TO ME?
You have two different questions: how can you help him to give you the space you need; and how can to tell this man that you don't love him and still not lose the relationship.
As for the first question, it sounds like this man is a bit needy. He seems to be using you to boost himself up. When you aren't around to prop him up, he becomes depressed. I am sure that he isn't aware of his problem. If he were aware, he could work on resolving his dependency, and would become less clingy, thereby resolving the problem.
I'm not sure that he's ready to look at himself so the only other thing you can do is to take your space in a way that doesn't attack his ego. You might talk in general terms about the fact that no two people have matching needs for alone time. In fact, a common cause of incompatibility is differing space needs. If you can get him to understand that your need isn't about him--you enjoy him and his company--but simply about who you are, maybe he will feel less hurt, rejected, and depressed. As for the second question, about not loving him,
I wonder why you feel the need to go there. It's not as if he's making love declarations himself or pressing you to declare your love. If he's happy being your friend and companion and isn't pressing you to say you love him, then why make an issue out of something that may not be an issue for him. If and when the issue comes up you can deal with it then.
I suspect that you are afraid that he loves you and that he is forming false hopes about your feelings for him. This may be true, but again, I would be inclined to wait until he makes this an issue. Then you can talk to him in a gentle way, just the way you did about your space needs. Before you speak to him you need to be clear on where you're coming from. Do you see yourself spending the rest of your life with him? Do you want to eventually date other men and fall in love again? Do you think there is a chance that you could come to love this man?
Once you are clear on where you stand, then you can talk to him in an honest way. You can talk about how wonderful and lovely he is and then discuss your inability to go farther in terms of your own limitations--perhaps because you are enjoying your newfound freedom too much, or perhaps because you are scared to give your heart ever again. To protect him from harm, remind him what you like about him, what you enjoy about your connection, then speak your own feelings, or lack thereof, in a truthful way.
He may surprise you and say that he's all right with loving you even if you don't love him back. You won't know until he brings the issue up and all your cards are put on the table. Until then, enjoy what you have. It sounds nice.
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