Dear Dr. Love,I enjoy reading your advice column on the internet. I know you only choose 3, but I think alot of women need this question answered. I’ve been dating my boyfriend for almost 7 years. We have had and still have a wonderful time together. Just recently I brought up the future and the word ‘committment. ‘ Neither of us are quite ready for marriage today, but I wanted to discuss it.He said he loves me and can’t live without me, but now needs some time ALONE. The past 5 Friday nights he has wanted to spend time with his new Friends, that I’ve never met. He met them at a little Pub. We have only been seeing each other for a date on Saturday night, and a couple of nights during the week.I’m confused, and feeling alone. We are back to a ‘Dating’ type relationship and it feels weird because we had gotten to the point that we saw each other every day or every other day at least. He said he does not want us to date other people but Friday night is a date night to me.I guess my question is: How much time alone or with friends do guys need? Should I understand and give him some space. He really does not want to discuss it because he says that I am trying to Control him. Help!!!!!Confused at age 35
You asked me how much time alone do guys need? No two men are the same, so what we really need to figure out is, how much space does your guy need.Before I answer this question, we must back up and understand what is causing your man to run for the hills. It sounds to me like he is terrified of being close because, to him, closeness means being taken over and controlled. Where does his fear of being controlled stem from?When a man (or woman) is terrified of being controlled, we know that he or she was injured during a particular phase of the formative years (age 2-3.) During this phase, every kid says no to everything. They are stretching their wings, developing their identities and need to feel like king. If a parent squashes, controls, and overly dominates the child during this phase, that person is left with an unmet need to be in control. Cut to when the kid grows up and develops an intimate love relationship. Beneath the grown-up surface lies this unfinished business, the need to be in control and not swallowed up by someone else’s demands and orders.Here’s where you entered the scene. When you asked for marriage, he freaked out and saw shades of his controlling parent(s) reappear. Somebody is trying to move in on him again, run the show, take his freedom. Now you understand why he is running away.The question is, what can you do about it? Clearly this man needs you to allow him that freedom, until he feels that the need has been adequately met, at which time he should be ready to settle into marriage. So, what you need to do is to send the message that you have no interest in taking him over. To do this, you need to take on his position of doubt (act as though the marriage doubt is yours) and mirror the doubt back to him. This is done by saying: ‘I think you felt pressured to get married. But, I don’t think I was clear in how I expressed myself. You see, I’m not sure that marriage is for me, and I wanted to discuss my feelings with you. ‘By taking the doubt on yourself, you are removing the pressure from him and giving him freedom. If he brings up the question of marriage on his own, you keep mirroring back your doubts. I can assure you that, if you have the patience, giving him this ‘I’m not sure message will provide him with the emotional room his parents never gave him, and he should come around if he isn’t too emotionally damaged. The only way we will know the extent of his damage, and whether or not he can heal and move toward commitment, is time.So, privately set an end-date for yourself (this could take a year or more) and give him the psychological room. If he’s curable, time will tell. But, promise me one thing, please don’t waste your life waiting. We will give this man the healing message he needs, but if he doesn’t come around by your end-date, please don’t give up your entire life on an incurable case. Let me know how this works out.