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He loves me but wants space? What does it mean?

Tagged as: Breaking up, Faded love, Family<< Previous question   Next question >>
Question - (10 February 2018) 14 Answers - (Newest, 18 February 2018)
A female United States age 51-59, anonymous writes:

I have been dating a man I met 6 months ago. His wife cheated on him and now lives with a new partner but they had only just stopped sharing the marital home just before we met.

He treated me like gold, told me I was the woman of his dreams and told me he loved me 2 months in. At first I wanted to go slow and told him I wasnt sure but he kept saying 'I am going to make you fall in love with me', inevitably that is what happened, I did fall for him. He was very keen for me to meet his friends and family and was making plans for the year ahead. He has his young children half the week so our time was more quality than quantity but things were going well and I introduced him to my family.

Suddenly about 2 weeks ago, he stopped smiling and seemed stressed. He seemd aggitated about his life and we saw eachother less. He continued to text and call me every day and tell me he loves me but within the last 3 days has told me he needs space.

I have been divorced for over 10 years and hadnt dated for a long time due to crappy treatment from the few men I dated since, but when I met him after a long period of being on my own, I felt he was different and really began to be comfortable in the relationship with him.

I feel really hurt and confused that he has withdrawn and it's hard not to think he's not coming back. I spoke to him last night after asking him to call me. He seemed calm but a little distant. He told me he loved me but that I 'had to give him space' as he was having some issues he wanted to think through and said he didnt know what he wanted.

Again its hard not to think he doesnt want me in his life, but why not just dump me?

I was upset and told him I loved him but 'ok' to the space, I also asked him to text me just once a day and to promise that if he wanted to end things to let me know and not keep me hanging, he said he would do this.

He hasnt text today and I dont know if I should wait or quit (for my own sanity). I dont want to lose him but I also dont want to be left hanging around for someone who may never come back.

What should I do for the best? How long should I wait? and why didnt he just dump me?

Please help!

View related questions: divorce, needs space, period, text

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (18 February 2018):


I am the original poster of this question.

Well its been a week of no contact, which I was getting used to and then last night he dropped a note through my door which said.

'I have been thinking about you a lot and I miss you. I am worried you are not OK. Please can you unblock me on the phone so we can stay in touch. I am sorting myself out but I want to keep in touch, I Love you please unblock me'

I was out last night so I dont know if he knocked on my door.

Men are soooo confusing, Im not used to so much comings and goings.

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (14 February 2018):

Sorry but you were the rebound girl and that is all you were.Next time do not date a divorced man until he has been divorced for a few years.Rebounds never work out.sorry.

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A male reader, Serpico United States +, writes (13 February 2018):

It means he doesn't want to commit to you but is willing to keep you around for sex.

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A female reader, Honeypie United States + , writes (12 February 2018):

Honeypie agony auntGood for you in not ghosting him, OP

You are correct that you do NOT owe to listen to a reply from him. If you have decided it's not what you want, telling him, dropping things off and moving on is the way to go.

For me personally? I think NO ONE who is separated should be dating AT ALL. They need to TAKE the time (while the divorce is going through the process) to go through the emotions and motions of what went "wrong" in the marriage. I think that is WHY there it is a 6-12 months process. For me, I think people TRY and skip this step and end up with a delayed reaction down the line that CAN hurt any new partner.

While his soon-to-be-ex-wife cheated on him, he STILL has to process it all. From what you write of him maybe she had good reason to no longer wanting to be with him (though cheating is never the answer and him being an unfit slob not an excuse to cheat.) He still needs to look back and MAYBE realize that the end of his marriage was PARTLY his own fault. If you know what I mean?

I think you are making a WISE choice to NOT try dating someone who is separated as they have some baggage they NEED to go though BY themselves.

Live and learn, OP

You now know that you CAN pick a guy with a GOOD personality and qualities you want, so you know they are out there, now the next step would be to maybe... be a little more critical in what YOUR standards are. What you REALLY want in a guy.

Good luck, OP

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (12 February 2018):

I did text him last night.

Said I would drop his stuff into his yard so it didnt get taken. I said I realised he didn't want me in his life anymore and that because I no longer allow men to treat me badly that I have no choice but to move on. I also wished him well.

He was about to type something back but, quite frankly, I didn't want to hear it so I blocked my last channel to him and that was that.

I never wanted it to end...or end this way but when you realised you may have been used (knowingly or not by the other person) it puts a different slant on it.

I feel a little sad and dismayed but I think this is the best way to go.

Life goes on and I don't think I will be dating any more separated men...lesson learned 3

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A female reader, Honeypie United States + , writes (12 February 2018):

Honeypie agony auntPersonally?

I'd leave a note with his things, just telling him that you wish him well and have decided to cut all contact and move on yourself.

I think "ghosting" people is super rude and coward-like. but I do understand if you don't want to have a "talk" about it with him - thus the "note" instead. That way you have extricated yourself in a fairly respectful manner.

Some times a little "distance" helps us see clearly. I do think you would be selling yourself short with this guy.

You can do better. (no offense to him)

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (11 February 2018):

Again I am the original poster of this question and offer thanks for all your advice and kind words.

I think sometimes you can be blinded by what you believe is real without considering the circumstances. Now that I look at the big picture I can see this man was not right for me. I am 53, he is 47, he has young kids whereas mine are grown and gone. He is at least 200lbs over weight whereas I am in good shape and work out. His home is a mess and despite me helping him clean and get back on track he still prefers to live in a mess rather than clean up...(wow im on a roll here lol) He is also in a lot of debt.

He told me I was the woman he had always longed to be with, connected emotionally and physically, he said he and I had great communication and that I was his unicorn woman (apparently someone who has their life together, he says).

I have blocked/deleted him from all my social media and I shall drop off his things to his house tomorrow on my way home from work. He gets in 30 minutes after me so he wont be home.

I dont have to say a word do I? Its ok to just dissapear because he no longer sees me. I dont want him to know my thoughts or anything else about my life...the chapter is closed.

You have helped me to see things as they really are and I feel empowered.

Thank you so much xxx

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A male reader, WiseOwlE United States + , writes (11 February 2018):


"We men skillfully suppress our emotion and hide our distress. That ability is only a facade that was developed by our intense-conditioning from boyhood."

Sorry, totally missed the point intended!

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A male reader, WiseOwlE United States + , writes (11 February 2018):

Beware the man who uses the "L-word" too generously; and pours it on all thick and sticky like honey. You have to grow some immunity and ability to neutralize "sweet-talk." Men know many women like a romantic; and we all (male or female) want to find someone to sweep us off our feet. We'd like to do the same in-return.

We men have our ways when it comes to how we deal with our emotions and how we expose them. We are generally more likely to avoid showing our emotion/true-feelings and finding some way to get around them. We reward ourselves with something to ease the pain. Alcohol, drugs, toys, or sex!

We feel all the same emotions women do; but have trouble allowing other people to visibly see our emotional-displays or vulnerability. It feels like walking in a parade completely naked. You ladies let it all hang-out! Thus you live much longer!

Now think back. No sooner than his ex left the/their house; he jumped into a relationship. Like a player, he turned on all that mushy-charm that only too easily got to you. I don't blame you, I used to be a sucker for it myself. I had a long-term domestic-partnership lasting 28 years. He died! And there I was; thrust into the world of single-folk! Not prepared for the dating-world. I didn't date and stayed celibate for a over a year after he died!

His objective was to replace the woman who left him, protect his ego damaged by the fact his ex left/rejected him; and he had to prove to himself (and her), he still has it going-on. Even if there was a major love-loss or emotional-wedge between him and his ex, her leaving demonstrated the reality and the finality of their dead-relationship. It is now completely over. That sudden gap left-behind had to be filled. You were a willing and eligible candidate. You were his rebound-romance in-waiting.

We men skillfully suppress our emotion and hide our distress. That ability is only a facade that was developed by our intense-conditioning from boyfriend. We don't cry, show weakness, and visibly show people that we are in pain. The reality is, what we repress or bottle-it-up inside; only for it to force it's way back to the surface. We do have a saturation-point. By this time, the negative-emotions are a lot more potent than it was before; because it had a chance to fester, intensify, and expand itself.

He's coming down off his high from the rebound love-affair; and sobering-up from that intoxicating retreat into romance. His real feelings and personal-problems are back. The dopamine-rush from the beginning isn't quite as exhilarating or mind-blowing. He's starting to miss his ex. Maybe she has found someone; which would only drive another stake into his male-ego. He may have gotten all he wanted once you had sex.

He wants you out of the way so he can focus on himself and assess his losses. Maybe make a final plea to get her back.

He found you before he fully came to terms with ending his past relationship; and realizing how it affected him emotionally. He's asking for space; because he probably thinks that's kinder than dumping you altogether. Which he is likely to do, since his "rebound-feelings" have now subsided.

Start detaching your feelings. Your romantic-connection had a sell-by or expiration-date on it from the start. You have to avoid getting romantically-attached to people just after a breakup, or a recent divorce. Living with your ex long after your divorce typically means someone (or both) are still holding-on. I think realization that his marriage is truly over just hit him. Unresolved-feelings and loose-ends are yet to be addressed. You're a victim of circumstance.

Give him space, and don't stop until he's on the other side of the universe.

You're a mature and experienced woman. The upside is, he gave you a long over-due taste of romance; and re-awakened some feelings dormant within you.

If you get a chance, read some of my past articles. That was how I was able to recover and survive being blind-sided and dumped by someone who's only explanation was "you deserve better." We traveled, had great sex, lavished each other with gifts, never had a fight; and literally had the time of our lives. Both mature and successful people!

Then, that all screeched to a halt. No fight or disagreement we could pin it on. Only two months later, he was with someone else. That's how it goes sometimes.

It doesn't matter how good it "was." You have to let go to protect yourself, and not be a victim of someone's "uncertainty." You only invest your heart on a sure thing; that's not something you want to gamble with. Not to be overcome by bitterness or cynicism. We've lived long enough to know you win a few, and you lose a few. Cherish good memories and benefits received; and store any lessons learned in the process for future reference. Not to heighten our insecurities; which is weakness, and borders on stupid. That's giving others too much power and authority over you.

A man his age should have the wisdom and experience to keep it all together, be decisive, and not kick his lady to the side like he's some kid in his twenties. Your time and feelings are more precious and valuable than that.

Don't bother waiting, it's beneath your dignity. You're not a child to be silenced and sent to your room; because daddy has a headache!

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A female reader, mystiquek United States + , writes (11 February 2018):

mystiquek agony auntYou sound like a lovely intelligent lady. I am sure that you are "Ms. Right" but for him I think you are "Ms right now". People going through divorces can be absolutely crazy! Your emotions are just everywhere and you truly don't know what you want or what you need. Its even more so if you have been cheated on/left behind and I'd wager a pretty big sum that this is what has happened with your guy. He wanted to prove to himself and possibly his wife that he still had it.

You're a nice lady, someone he could be proud of and he doesn't want to totally end things because he knows that you're a catch, but he can't fully commit to you either.

My advice? Don't be his back up or "lady waiting in the wings". Go on with your life and let him know that you are. You sound sweet I'm sorry that someone messed up with their emotions is hurting someone that doesn't deserve it.

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (11 February 2018):

I am the original poster of this question and I thank you all for your responses to my problem.

I Know for a fact that his wife does not want to get back with him at this point in time. She is living with the man she cheated on him with and he is pretty adamant that he does not want her back as they endured years of problems and depression in their marriage.

I have fitted in around his life and he seemed to know all the right things to say to make me feel loved and needed but I think you guys are right and I am just his rebound.

I am a strong person, and I do not want to cause him any more suffering as he is a good guy, he is just going through a terrible time but I certainly do need to set my own agenda for how long I will wait for him. I figure even if he does return, we have years of potential issues ahead as he is very overweight and it is severely affecting his health and his energy levels and he has a very stressful job and the kids to deal with.

I dont think this is the right time for me to offer friendship (cannot think of that right now) as I now feel I should take this space to reconcile my own feelings and dissapointment, but the worst thing is being in confusion and not knowing what to do for the best.

I don't think I have been had, I know he genuinely liked me but I think 'right guy, wrong time'. I do feel a sense of 'Oh no, another heartbreak' and I feel wounded and damaged again somewhat! but I am sure I will feel better when I know I can move myself foward and not think about him all the time.

I miss him

Thank you again for your help.

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A male reader, CMMP United States + , writes (11 February 2018):

Whatever his reasons are, don't take it personally. Either he has his own issues that have absolutely nothing to do with you (realized he doesn't want a relationship after all, his wife is trying to talk to him again, etc) or possibly he thinks the two of you aren't a good fit.

In the first few months of a relationship it's incredibly easy to be convinced that someone is perfect. You both convinced each other and it's certainly not true.

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A female reader, Youcannotbeserious United Kingdom + , writes (10 February 2018):

Youcannotbeserious agony auntMy guess? His wife has been in contact and has asked if they can try again. Life was simple while she was with someone else. However, if she has heard he is in a relationship, realization may have suddenly dawned that he is not waiting "on the back burner" for her in case her new relationship doesn't work out and she could lose him for good.

It is up to you how long you decide to give him to decide who he wants but I wouldn't be giving him too long, otherwise he will just keep you both dangling. Perhaps the best thing to do would be to tell him "I will consider our relationship is over unless you contact me within x number of weeks and tell me different. In the meantime, I think it best if we cut contact so you can decide what you want without any outside influence."

Sending hugs. Never easy but you deserve someone who wants to be with you 100%.

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A female reader, Honeypie United States + , writes (10 February 2018):

Honeypie agony auntI think when a person says:"I don't know what I want"... they don't WANT what they have (as in BE you in this instance).

YOU were/are a rebound. He went ALL out with the "love-bombing" of you to prove to the "not-quite-ex-wife" that he is still attractive and can STILL find a partner. Which is not strange at all. Most people who have been cheated on or who's partner has left - will date someone JUST the make sure that they "still got it"!

I know that's probably NOT what you wanted to hear. And I am sorry you that find yourself in this situation. He isn't being fair on you.

You ask why didn't he just dump me?

Well.... He knows you are decent person and potential a good partner. So he WANTS to hold on to you... IN CASE. Have you as a "spare", so to speak.

DECIDE for yourself just how long you are willing to "sit on the shelf" while he.... sorts out what he wants. IF you want to sit on the shelf AT ALL. All up to you.

You can decide RIGHT now, that if he has doubts - he should just walk away and LEAVE you to find someone who DOESN'T have doubts about being WITH you.

Or you can decide that you want to give him 1-3 weeks to let him sort out whatever it is.

One thing I DO want to say is that we women so OFTEN put up with crap in the name of love. The sentence "but I LOVE him" is SO uttered here on DC as a reason why a woman can't just leave or end things.

YOU CAN LOVE SOMEONE and NOT be a good fit. Understand that. He might even CARE for you, even love you - but he MIGHT be in a time in his life where a relationship is NOT what he needs. Given that you have also (if I read between the lines here) been the one to adjust YOUR life to his. As in when you are together it's quality not quantity - you have fitted yourself around HIS life/kids/schedule. Which means you are NOT) his first priority (the kids should be) but he is YOUR first priority. If that makes sense.

All in all, How do you feel about the guy having doubts 6 months in? Without really TELLING you what it's about? Without including you? Just asking you to (basically) stop contacting him and stop bothering him while HE figures it out?

THAT is where you need to go. NOT focus on he is a good guy blah blah... but HOW does he make me feel when he is doing THIS?.

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