Dear Wayne and Wanda,
I have been seeing this guy for about two months now. Everything seemed to be going great between us. He has a busy schedule and has expressed that to me many of times. We recently talked about how we feel about each other and what we both want. He got out of a serious relationship 11 months ago and said that he is not ready to be serious. I told him that I was but that I understood. There is a 10-year age gap. Lately he has been flaking on our plans, or not bringing them up towards the day of the plans -- leaving me asking and bringing it up. Or he won't text or call me at all on the day we are supposed to go out. I don't want to nag him about seeing me. He tells me he wants to see me but is busy doing this and that. We used to be consistent on dates and talking during the week but it feels like he is slipping away and I don't know why. Please help me.
Wanda says: No wonder you're confused. He's telling you one thing but doing another, and that's no good. Relationships are supposed to make us feel safe, confident and content, but his mixed signals are leaving you feeling, well, mixed up -- and full of doubt. You're on the receiving end of two classic male dating behavioral patterns. 1: Men say what they mean. 2: Men don't say things that will upset us.
Your man has told you he's busy and he's not ready for a commitment. He seems to mean that because he's making his flakiness a habit. Well -- he's busy, right? And not ready for commitment. Oh, but -- he's also said he wants to see you. Thus your understandable confusion. I'm sure he means it. His time already spent with you is proof of his interest. But, he's really busy. And not ready for a commitment. Gah. Are you as irritated with this guy as I am? It isn't so much that he's slipping away as that you've never quite had him, and the longer this goes on, the more apparent that is.
If you're to continue spending time with him, you may have to accept your role on the sidelines, at least for the near term. Can you do that? Do you want to? You sound like a thoughtful, compassionate person who is ready for a relationship. You clearly like this guy, but maybe there's someone else out there who can meet you on your level.
Wayne says: Girlfriend, he's just not into you. Sorry to upset you, but I'm just being a man who's telling you what I mean.
Too bad your sorta-boyfriend isn't very good at that. His passive-aggressive breakup approach is also a classic dating behavioral pattern for males and females who aren't grown-up or ethical enough to simply be honest. My guess: He heard you wanted to get serious, he freaked, and suddenly he's too busy to link up or communicate. Now he just hopes that by keeping you at arm's distance that you'll eventually go away. If he wants to be with you, he'd make time, just like he has for the previous two months. And even if he's busy, he'd make time to communicate if he truly cared.
If you want to give it one more shot, go for it -- reiterate that you like him and are willing to work at his pace, but you won't accept being strung out, ignored or neglected. You deserve communication, answers and someone to trust. If he isn't going to step up for that, it's time for you to move on, because he already has.
• Wanda is a wise person who has loved, lost and been to therapy. Wayne is a wise guy who has no use for therapy. Send them your questions and thoughts at firstname.lastname@example.org.