Advice

My boyfriend is great but won’t stay the night, and our relationship is at a standstill

Dear Wayne and Wanda,

I have been seeing this guy for 10 months. After starting as just a sexual relationship, we realized we were way more than that. Things moved quickly and we hang out all the time. This is unlike any relationship I’ve ever had. We are perfect together. We get along so great and have been open and honest about what lacked in past relationships so we won’t repeat those mistakes.

There’s just one small thing: he won’t stay the night with me. He will lay in my bed, cuddle and then wait for me to fall asleep, then leave. Last night he fell asleep and I was so happy. But then he woke up at 5 a.m. and basically darted for the door. It made me feel so low. He isn’t cheating — he says he just likes being around his stuff … and he’s scared. Scared of what? He talks all the time about getting a place together soon but how would that even be possible if he can’t stay a whole night?

Today I decided since I have two dressers, I will clean out the tall one and make it his. I will pack up the random stuff that makes this room mine and try to show him there’s space for his things and hopefully that will help?

I love this man to death, but I have had really bad past relationships. My last boyfriend was not affectionate at all, and I need affection. I have been crying for an hour just because he left. The nights he doesn’t come over, I can’t fall asleep at all. I’ve let him know how I feel and that I will be patient and not push it but I explained why it matters to me. Even if he stayed over just once a week or once every few weeks it would be great.

I feel we are at a standstill in our relationship because of this. Advice?

Wanda says:

There are degrees of intimacy, and they are very individualized. For example, some people find it easier to spend the night and cuddle than to have sex. Others have a more casual approach to sex but see sleepovers as a more serious signal of commitment. Your boyfriend has offered two reasons for avoiding spending the night: one, he’s scared; and two, he prefers his own place.

Being “scared” doesn’t necessarily mean he’s scared of going further with you. It sounds like you guys are in a great place. Maybe he’s afraid of breaking the spell by changing things up and taking them to an even more serious level. Or maybe he really just likes his own bed/PJs/morning coffee/shower and toiletries, etc. Or maybe it’s both.

Maybe he doesn’t want to mess things up, and he also yearns for the comfort of his own environment. Instead of clearing out drawer space for him, pack your overnight bag and prove you’re in this for the long haul. In other words, don’t try to force him to stay at your place: go to his! He’s got a home he obviously loves — the guy can’t bear to wake up anywhere else! Tell him you respect his need to be in his space and you also hear him when he talks about living together being a future step, and that you’re willing to test drive this by being his overnight guest. If he says yes, go for it! If he says no, then you have a bigger conversation and problem on your hands.

Wayne says:

Smooth move with the bedroom switcheroo idea, Wanda! There he is, in his own bed, with his girlfriend, surrounded by all of his stuff. Nowhere to run to, nowhere to hide. Except the couch maybe?

And smart move getting him a dresser at your place, letter writer. While you’re at it, make room in the bathroom for his toiletries, space in the kitchen for his breakfast protein shakes, and upgrade your streaming choices to include live sports. You’ll never get rid of him.

Seriously though, I want to take him at his word that he wants all of this as much as you do — the relationship, moving in together, a long-term future. But what scares me is that he’s telling you that he’s scared. Not that your bed is uncomfortable or that you squirm in your sleep. Not that there’s too much ambient noise at your house or that your couch isn’t big enough for him to move and sleep there. He’s saying he’s scared.

And I’m with you in the confusion and concern — scared of what exactly? Is there a boogeyman that hangs out in your bedroom closet? He’s too vague and too opaque. It’s also in conflict with everything else he’s saying about your future together. Ask him to clarify. Maybe it’s a poor choice of words. Maybe he’s over his head and is leading you on. Maybe he’s frightened out of his mind that this may all implode since these things never work out for him.

Until you get to the bottom of this there’s no way you should look into getting a place together. You’ve both been so honest and upfront with each other. It’s admirable. Now that things are tough, it’s even more important to keep that communication going and hold him to it, as well. I hope you get the answers you’re looking for and a have a happy, snuggly future together. And if not, I hope you at least get clarity and can adapt from there.

[Things are going great with the girl I’m seeing - except for one big thing I haven’t told her yet]

[After 3 years, my boyfriend still says he’s not ready to move in together. What does that say about our future?]

Wayne and Wanda

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 wanda@adn.com.

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