Should Love Make Sparks?
Q: I have been divorced for two years from a 35-year marriage. Now I want a man who is as excited to see me as I am to see him. For four months, I've been dating a 62-year-old man, widowed for 9 years, who is fun, has a good personality and integrity. All he lacks is that he has difficulty opening his heart. He had a 3-year relationship that broke up because he wouldn't marry. We split and got together again, and he told me, "No promises." He sees me 1-2 times a week but never calls or texts in between. When we broke it off, we understood we each can date. I have dated often so I'm not sitting around waiting for him. It all seems on his terms.
Do I stop this altogether and get over it or do I continue knowing we are basically friends, which is more agony than it's worth? I am always busy, lots of friends, etc. My head tells me one thing while my emotions tell me something else. I want someone who misses me and wants me in his life. Will this ever come? Because I just can't settle again. -- Debbie, 56
Dr. Susan: Sounds like what you're missing is a level of intensity, of first-love passion that often hits with full force and then ebbs away over the first year or two or so of a relationship. I agree that it's great when a relationship has that "can't live without you" aspect, but not all couples start this way. Your heart beats faster in his presence, and his doesn't react much whether you're around or not. Could just be the way he is and always has been. You really do have to take him at his word though. "No promises" means "what you see is what you get," and even that is likely to diminish in time. My feeling is that if the excitement isn't there early on, you shouldn't count on it's showing up later. What can develop is a strong loving bond, and if you marry or live together, at least you'll be together a lot more. Still, I wouldn't expect him to suddenly change. And no, if it truly feels like "settling," then don't.
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Susan K. Perry, Ph.D.
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D., is a social psychologist, relationship expert, and bestselling and award-winning author. Her books include Loving in Flow: How the Happiest Couples Get and Stay That Way, and Kylie's Heel, a novel for adults.
Pamela G. Chollet, Ph.D.
Dr. Pamela Chollet has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and Master degrees in educational psychology and fine arts. Her passion has been helping people face and get through those times when they feel trapped and unable to move forward.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, stress management expert, and author. If you're feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, or struggling to make changes in your life, Anna can help.