'Emotionally unavailable': What's that all about?

Dear Wayne and Wanda,

I recently met who I think is the man of my dreams. This guy is everything I want: He's handsome, charming, likable, suave, treats me decently and the sex is out of this world.

We're both full-time students in our 20s and pursuing careers. We go on dates, spend nights together, watch movies and TV and have great conversations. We've done this for three months nearly. A few nights ago I confessed that I would like to be his girlfriend and be with him some day. I also told him that if we were in a relationship, I wouldn't be bothered about the time limits since we are both in college and working.

The problem is he's been going through massive rough patches in his life. I've been there for him, given him space and been supportive and patient. He told me he is suffering from depression and not emotionally available for a relationship right now. He also said he might move to another state in a year and a half, one of the top states in which I may finish my master's degree. I didn't tell him that because I didn't want to scare him off. After the talk, I told him I respect him and asked if he wanted to still see me. He said definitely.

It seems like we are everything without the girlfriend/boyfriend label. Should I drop this guy or keep living my life to the fullest? I am perfectly content with no label. He also says he only plans to see me, and I feel the same (I turned down a lot of guys recently). What I'm concerned about is him saying, "my biggest fear would be hurting you," "I've never been good in relationships" and "it wouldn't be fair to you to not give my whole self away."

Am I being too nice or do his reasons sound legitimate?

-- Confused With Good Intentions


Wanda: I can tell you that you deserve more emotional investment and that you should cut your losses and move on -- but the fact is, you care for this guy a lot, and walking away is easier said than done. Even after just three months, you're clearly in pretty deep and have bonded tight with him. The affection appears to be reciprocated. He had the perfect opening to cut you loose and instead, he kept you close.

But be careful: He's clearly in a vulnerable, transitory state. Just because he likes you enough for slumber parties and movie nights doesn't mean he will ever change his mind about being in a relationship with you. Saying he's emotionally unavailable right now does not mean he will be emotionally available eventually, or even ever. If you keep hanging it with him, do it because you're happy with how things are, not waiting for how things could be.

Finally, some thoughts on labels. As life progresses, relationships become less easy to define. There's a whole slew of statuses somewhere between "friend" or "boyfriend" or "husband." If you're getting what you want emotionally and physically, and there's a mutually supported commitment to each other, don't lose sleep on semantics.


Wayne: It sounds like you are already living your life to the fullest. You're hanging with your dream guy. You say he digs you, too. You're a match in some critical areas: trust, communication, attraction. So why over-think it at this point? As long as your needs are being met and you're being fair with him, roll with it.

Sure, you may wake up tomorrow or next week or next month feeling like you need more from him. More of his time and energy. More clarity on your future together. When you get there, make sure you communicate that to him just like you have shared how you've been honest with him up to this point.

Life would be much easier for the many sad and hurt people that Wanda and I hear from if they would simply communicate with the ones they love. You're already there -- props to you. Don't ever stop, even when it feels painful or awkward.

You're young, you're with an awesome guy -- give it a run. And take it from an old dog: In you're 20s, you've got a lot of opportunities ahead of you if this fizzles or blows up. Good luck!


• Wanda is a wise person who has loved, lost and believes in retail therapy. Wayne is a wise guy who has no use for therapy. Send them your questions and thoughts at wanda@adn.com.