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Dating Advice #81 - Pre-Occupation Hazards
Dating Advice 81

Dating Advice #81 - Pre-Occupation Hazards

When someone is pre-occupied with an outside relationship, is there room for dating to fit in?



Dear Rosie & Sherry,

I have been dating the same guy since the beginning of the year. We have a lot of the same interests and I think that we have some of the same goals -- i.e. family, etc.

In the past six weeks, I've been "put on the back burner" because of a family problem, his mother is sick. I have had very little contact with him either on the phone or in person. He is a really nice guy and I like him a lot. I have given him all the space in the world (very unlike me), and I was wondering do I keep hoping that he'll "fit me into his schedule" when his life calms down, or do I call it quits and move on. He says it's not me and that he just has his plate extra full...


Dear Vanessa,

This is a very close call. Sometimes, family problems can be so severe that they tie a person up emotionally for a very long period of time. Occasionally, though, someone can use an unplanned event such as a relative's illness as an excuse to back out of a courtship. Even though you believe that the first possibility is more likely, it's wise for you not to get too emotionally involved until you see how things transpire over the next few months.

Six weeks is really not a long period of time to deal with a family medical crisis. However, you should think about how long you are willing to wait for this man to be able to give you some attention. Another two months? Less? More? Once you decide this, speak to him about it without sounding as if you are giving an ultimatum.

If he continues to be preoccupied with his mother's illness for an extended period, you may want to end your courtship and start to date other people, but at the same time you can let him know that you are open to resuming things when he is ready. However, if you choose this route, you have to be willing to put him behind you, or you won't be able to devote enough emotional energy into developing something new. You can't "hedge your bets" in the emotional arena. If something is worth pursuing, you need to give it your undivided attention.

If at some time in the future it turns out that he is ready to start dating you again, and you are not dating someone else, great. Just don't live your life expecting that this will happen. It's just as likely, if not more probable, that one or both of you will not be interested in resuming your courtship in the future.

We wish you the best of luck.

Rosie & Sherry



Dear Rosie & Sherry,

I recently began dating a man who is freshly out of a previous courtship. He is still spending some time with this other woman and feels that he must do/go to certain engagements with her and believes that he owes it to her to help her out with certain situations. I told him that we needed time away from each other so that he can figure out whether or not he is ready to start a new courtship. My sense is that he is not ready right now because he continues to do things with this other woman every now and then.

I think his friendship with her is unhealthy and was wondering your opinion. I told him that he may still have feelings for her and may be in denial about his true feelings. Why else would he feel the need to help her? He tells me that he is just respecting her feelings. Is this normal for a man to feel like he owes her his time? Will he get over this feeling?? Is the breakup still too fresh for him?


Dear Marjie,

You are absolutely right about this man's friendship with the other woman. There are a few possible reasons why he is still so involved with her -- he may not have gotten over her; he may secretly hope to get back together; or he may feel guilty about how things ended and is helping her to make himself feel less guilty. Or she may be making a play to get him back by "needing" him to help her out.

Another possibility is that they still have a few things they feel obligated to handle together, even though each of them wants to move on. If this latest explanation is the case, then after two months they should have wound down their "business" together.

It really doesn't matter what is the reason for his continued involvement. It simply isn't healthy for any new courtship, and it isn't fair to you. Unless he wants to flit from one short-term situation to another, he needs to give the person he is dating his exclusive energy so that the two of them can concentrate, without the distractions of others, on developing a connection that leads to marriage.

We think that telling him to reassess what he really wants before you continue to see him is a very wise move. However, you should have some idea about a time frame. After all, if he decides that he isn't ready to concentrate fully on seeing how your dating develops, you'll want to move on yourself, and you don’t want to be waiting for an indefinite period of time.

Rosie & Sherry

January 19, 2003

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Visitor Comments: 2

(2) Anonymous, September 30, 2001 12:00 AM

family crisis

Regarding issue number one (family crisis): I think that there are a lot of good points that are raised here. Good advice. I just want to add in from my own experience, that in the middle of family crisis, sometimes things seems so "out of sinc", emotionally overwhelming, and sometimes one can not focus on more than whatever is at hand at the moment. One might be in shock, trauma, or a whole array of feelings (hope, guilt, etc., etc.) At times, having the space one needs, can be emotionally supportive in it's own way. And sometimes there are other ways for someone who cares to reach out during that time to help the one going through the crisis, to let them know that you care, and empathize with their difficulty....want the best for them. This doesn't in any way disagree with the 'time limit' factor, but it is quite important that if you do want to continue the relationship, even on a temporary basis, it seems most worth it to try to apply yourself fully and try to understand where he is coming from, trying to make the relationship really work.
Wishing you all the best! (and most of all for clarity)

(1) , September 30, 2001 12:00 AM

more information required

You don't say what is wrong with his mother. If she's not hospitalized or in the ICU G-d forbid, it would sound like an illness that may be of a long term nature. My father has faced illnesses in the past and if he was stable, I was always encouraged to go out. I think more information is needed. Maybe beyond the space of this column.

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