When Do You Cut and Run?



How do you know when to stay in a relationship, or to even pursue a relationship, when there are obstacles in the way?

After reading Tamsin’s post on knowing if they’re the one, I wanted to talk about when you may have found the one and there is a problem or obstacle in the way.

This could be deal breakers (or that clichéd “women are too picky”) or a more maybe a more serious situation such as someone who is in rehab or just come out, recently divorced/separated or you are in a relationship and trust has been broken.

Do you stay and work it out? Do you go?

I meet a guy on Tinder late October last year. We went on a short date and I wasn’t sure if I liked him or not but thought it wouldn’t hurt to have a second date. Then we went on a third and a fourth.

It was our fourth date that I decided I really like this guy.

We had spent the day in the Royal National Park and he told me that he had brought a ham that he wanted to glaze and cook that evening. Just for him, cause it was Christmas. It may seem like such a little thing to some people but that is the kind of geeky cooking thing I would do (actually I do, every year). And there is the fact that my family don’t like glazed ham so if I don’t do it for myself, I wouldn’t get it. So a man who loves a glazed ham AND makes the effort to cook it even if it is just for one? *swoon*

That was also the day he dropped the bombshell on me.

It was a new relationship, so I decided to just take it one day (date) at a time. That was 6 months ago.

I am mostly happy. Technically I am supposedly not his girlfriend – that doesn’t bother me. I am certainly not a secret to his close friends/family. I have even met a few of his friends.

We went away together at Easter and are planning another short trip in June (where he will meet/stay at my parents’ place with me – not sure how I am supposed to explain we are sharing a bed but are not a couple but oh well!). If that goes well there has been discussions of a longer overseas holiday together early next year.

I think that he is just afraid of being in a relationship whilst he is sorting out his issues (thankfully he is not going it alone and has sought professional help) and I am very much respectful of this. I am also trying not to be the fixer (I have done this in the past) but I give advice when asked and I believe he is keeping no secrets from me. I realise he needs to fix his issues himself and not rely on me or anyone else.

You see, I have this unique ability to fall for guys who are either emotionally or physically unavailable. I have lost count of the number of times  the guy I have the courage to approach in a bar is married or doesn’t live in Sydney (or has just applied for a job overseas and then got the job and moved not long after we started dating!). Then there was the guy I had a short “affair” with who actually had a girlfriend and never actually told me, but there was all these red flags that I ignored.

Am I repeating old patterns? I feel like I’m not as I didn’t know about his issues at first. But then again I have never had a serious relationship. Actually, even though I am supposedly not his girlfriend, he is the longest relationship I have ever had. There is part of me that feels I am running away if I broke it off now. But if I push the issue I know that he would end it because he just can’t handle a relationship now, or worrying about someone else’s feelings. That’s not saying that he treats me poorly. Sometimes I think he worries about me too much, and that is when he pushes me away a bit. That makes me want to share with him this quote I had been told recently which really resonated with me

“I’ll look after me for you, if you look after you for me”

Funny story, I mentioned that I was seeing someone to my parents the other day. My mum got all excited and so I said to her “don’t get too excited” and was going to explain that it was… actually I don’t know what was going to come out of my mouth but it didn’t matter cause mum cut me off and was all “Oh what’s wrong with him” and Dad was all “Yeah why isn’t he perfect” and both laughed. The topic just happened to have changed and we haven’t discussed it since.

That says it all – even my parents (who I didn’t know thought this way about me) seemed to think I find something wrong with every guy I ever date.

I want my parents to meet him before I explain “the problem” because a lot of my friends when they have heard it have told me I am nuts for pursuing it. I don’t want my parents to judge him without meeting him.

I remember years ago reading an article in the paper about there being seven types of commitment phobias. The one that resonated with me was “People who want love so badly‎ that anything less than perfect is not good enough”

And so there is part of me that has been happy our relationship was/is going at such a slow pace. I think I need this just as much as him. But that maybe I am ready now to go to the next step, but he is not quite there yet.

Should I push the issue and risk losing him. Or keep going as we are knowing that most of the time we take two steps forward and occasionally one step back?

Any advice? 

  • Helena

    hard to say without knowing what the “obstacle” is, but on the surface it sounds like you have a good relationship with this man, are meeting his friends and going away on trips together :) go with your heart I always say :) – if it is something that you can both overcome then it might be worth staying – but if you are in doubt the time you spend with this man may be wasted when you could be “available” for somebody else

    • Ozgirl

      Thanks for your thoughts Helena. I know its hard to comment without knowing what the obstacle is but that is his story to tell not mine.

      I think we can both overcome the obstacle he is getting professional help so I think as long as he and the relationship keep taking steps forward I should continue.

      But yes the wasting time part is a concern – I have promised my friends that I wont close doors to other people but its hard. The longer this goes on the more attached I get to him and the thought of dating someone else horrifies me.

      Actually a old online guys just got in contact with me tonight. I will follow that through at least,

  • Karen

    Hmmmm… well you might not like what I’m going to say, but I’m saying it with love. Also, it’s *exactly* the advice I wish I could give my younger self…

    The way you’ve phrased your dilemma has a very, very strong focus on other people. You talk about his possible fear of commitment, his personal issues, the opinion of your friends, and the opinion of your parents. You’re concerned that you’re not giving him enough of a chance, that your parents think you’re too critical, that you’ve developed somewhat of a knack for picking unavailable men, and that if you don’t stick with this it’s like you’re running away and repeating past mistakes.

    Before you worry another second about his feelings, your parents’ criticism, or your friends’ judgement, you need to take a huge step backward and figure out what YOU want. Yes, some people can be too picky when it comes to superficial things, and it’s important not to set the bar too high on personal qualities. If his qualities appeal to you, that’s great. Truly – it’s great.

    BUT… don’t set the bar too low with the stuff that really matters. There are some basic standards that you need to set with respect to how you will allow yourself to be treated. And this guy is demonstrating serious flaws. You’ve been dating for 6 months (no, you’re not a couple, but I think we can agree you’re dating) and he has said or implied that (a) he has major personal issues requiring professional help (b) he has not made a commitment to you (c) he can’t see a time when he *will* make a commitment to you.

    He’s using you.

    He may be the sweetest, loveliest guy on earth. His personal problems are probably genuine and he is probably being courageous in solving them. But a man of integrity and emotional maturity would allow you the scope to get on with your own life. This whole setup is on his terms. He gets to keep you at precisely the range that he is comfortable with, and when it gets too much he knows you’ll accept his personal problems as justification for withdrawing back to his comfort zone. He might not be manipulating you deliberately, but he’s still doing it. And you don’t have to put up with it.

    If you feel that he HAS been completely upfront with his inability to commit, plus whatever other things are going on, then the answer is clear: You’re dating. So date. And date as many other people as you can. You are free to consider him as one of many options for a future partner. Show him the same level of consideration that he shows you. And while you date other people, really consider whether you’d accept his lack of commitment and emotional unavailability for the next 2, 5, or 10 years. Consider how it would feel to be his child, or the mother of his child.

    Decide what YOU will put up with and then act on it. It has nothing to do with your parents, your friends, or even him. It has nothing to do with HIM. It’s all about the standard you will accept from someone who you’re hoping to share a fair chunk of your future with.

    Good luck, my dear!!!! Hope you get lots of great advice and many perspectives to help chew it all over xx

    • Ozgirl

      Wise words I knew I could expect from you. Will mull over what you have written.