Hearts skip to different beats

Dear Dr Sex

I met an amazing person and we have spent the summer hanging out, and it all felt so comfortable and natural and open. He had only recently broken up with an ex and has had other big changes going on and although he, like me, sees us being together long-term, he has told me he is not ready to get into another relationship yet. We have been very open and honest about it, and I have told him I am ready to be with him. We have agreed to still hang out but I am really worried about calling him now as I don’t want to encroach on the space he needs. I really see us being together in the future and know it’s not one-sided. I am finding it hard as I really want to make this work!

OF course you’re finding it hard – because you’re in a place where you’re emotionally ready to move forward into a relationship that excites you, in which you sense real potential, and instead of being given the green light, you’re getting the amber light, and that’s scary, frustrating and unsure for you.
Getting into a relationship is partly about finding the right match for you, and partly about timing. Some people have found potential loves of their life but the timing hasn’t been right, for various reasons, and the relationship never eventuates.
The question boils down to what can you control? Certainly you can’t control the person you’re dating. If he doesn’t feel ready, you can’t make him ready. Although you can certainly do whatever is in your control to help the dating relationship along, so that when he does feel ready, he’s sure to jump in with both feet and move forward with you.
The good news is that he seems sensible. He’s given you reassurance that he can see being in a long term relationship with you, but he’s also wise to not move too fast if he’s got big changes in his life and is getting over a recent relationship. This means, assuming he’s being genuine with you and honest with himself, that when he does say he’s ready, he will mean it. You have to decide how long you’re willing to wait to give him space. And what kind of space is he asking for? Is he asking to cool down the relationship and take it back a step? Or cool down by just not racing forward? Agreeing to ‘hang out’ doesn’t sound specific enough to be understandable. If you’re serious enough about each other to envision a future together, you ought to be able to have at least one heart to heart talk about what you’re doing together, in terms of dating. Are you exclusive? Can you be free to call each other, or does he prefer that you wait to hear from him? You need to know how casual or committed you should be. Does ‘I need space’ mean from the intensity of your summer together, space from dating altogether, or space from you while he figures his feelings out? Is he asking you to wait for him to be ready to enter into a relationship with him, or is he being non-committal? If you’re going to put your life and heart on hold, you deserve to know where you stand (without being demanding as that will only drive him away entirely).
Tell him what you’ve told me: you really want to make this work. So whatever feels right and fair for you both is what you should agree to do. And see if his heart can catch up to the timing of meeting you and wanting to be with you. Sometimes all it takes is a little space to adjust to being in a new phase in life before jumping into the next one.

Dr Gabrielle Morrissey
Human Sexuality and Relationship Expert.
Author, Spicy Sex and Urge
Check out Dr Gabrielle’s new website!

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