Love, Lindsay

'The Guy I'm Dating Keeps Making Excuses. Is It Time To Move On?'

All your relationship questions answered — right here, right now.

Lindsay here, A Plus's resident relationship guru/columnist. While I may not know everything, I do know a lil something about love and our seemingly endless pursuit of it. Having written dozens of A Plus articles about dating, relationships, and sex, I'm ready and willing to investigate all of your romantically-inclined questions (submit here!) — because I've asked them myself. What I hope to bring to A Plus's readers is a sex-positive, body-positive, and most importantly, you-positive perspective on modern love. Consider Love, Lindsay your digital Cupid. 


Dear Lindsay, 

I've been "seeing" a guy for a few months now very casually and I've started to develop more feelings for him. Initially, we both lived in separate towns and thus only saw each other maybe one to two times a month. I recently moved to the same city as him (this had been planned for a while) and figured our proximity to each other may help move our relationship along further. 

Unfortunately, we haven't seen more of each other and his typical excuses of family problems and low financial funds have continued to keep us from hanging out. When we're together, he seems really interested and has expressed that he would really like to spend more time with me. 

However, several personal problems have been distracting him, and he hasn't been himself lately. Do I continue to hang onto our few dates here and there and wait for him to figure out his issues, or should I finally close the door fully and move on? I have been open to other people, but I find myself not fully opening up because I have him in the back of my mind. 

- Lauren

Dear Lauren,

Your submission boils down to one universal question: How can I have the relationship I want with the person I want? We all strive to answer that question every day, whether that relationship is with a romantic partner, a family member, a friend, or yes, even yourself. From what you've written, it seems pretty clear you know you want your relationship with this guy to develop beyond its current "casual" stage. You just don't know if he can give that to you. 

Often, we hope that relationships will progress naturally over a comfortable period of time, and when that doesn't happen, you can feel stuck in a Catch-22. On the one hand, you've already invested a fair amount of time and effort into a person you genuinely like; on the other, he isn't reciprocating in a way that fully satisfies you and waiting for him to do so could mean closing yourself off from someone else who actually will. 

"There are no simple answers about the right time to move on," dating expert Nancy Slotnick tells A Plus. "However, the fact that proximity did not improve the frequency of seeing each other is not a great sign." Before you see him again, she recommends asking yourself some questions about his actions: "Do you see each other at least once per week? Does he make plans in advance or last minute? Do you feel there's a good chance he's dating other people? Would you know if he were or would he hide it?" 

You've been dating him long enough, albeit casually, that you can answer these questions and additionally have some inkling whether his excuses are valid or not. Let's give him the benefit of the doubt and say they are. Even so, those "excuses" shouldn't be without explanations. If you want to have a real relationship with him — and he wants to have one with you — that can only begin with a shared level of trust. To build that level of trust, you need to begin with open and honest communication. 

So the next time you guys hang out, suggest a night in. This will not only work around the money excuse, but more importantly, create a relaxed, private atmosphere where you both feel comfortable. Once you've settled into a conversation, if it feels possible, find an opening to tell him everything you've just told me. If you're not sure how to begin, you can say something like, "I've had a lot of fun with you over the past few months, and I want us to become more serious, but sometimes your actions confuse me ... " 

Ultimately, it doesn't matter what you say. What matters is that you tell him what you want and ask him directly if he can give it to you. Hold him accountable to giving you an answer, not another excuse. Then, decide if it's good enough for you. 

If it is, then you can work on deepening your existing connection by building trust. One way to do this is to learn more about each other's personal lives outside your relationship by asking specific questions about his friends and, yes, family. While that might be a delicate topic, you have a right to know what's going on if you expect to be in a relationship where you would (eventually) meet them. If that seems too invasive right now, you can begin a trust-building conversation by revealing something vulnerable about yourself. This will signal to him that he can feel comfortable doing the same. Being vulnerable with another person for the first time isn't easy, but it's key to establishing the kind of emotional intimacy found in committed relationships.

If he can't give you the answer you want, then he's now given you every reason (and then some) to move on. Maybe there's a reason why he's not willing to open up right now, but until he shares that reason with you, he won't be able to give you what you want. This doesn't make him a bad person — we all come with emotional baggage —  but it also doesn't make him your person.

As strong as your feelings may be for him, there isn't much point in dating someone who ultimately can't give you what you want. "You mentioned that he's not himself 'lately.' If you feel that he has proven himself in the past and just started being different temporarily, then he may be worth some more time," Slotnick says. "It sounds possible to me, though, that this version of him is him being 'himself.' Your idea of him may be a little more idealized." 

You can't be in a real relationship with someone who isn't real with you. So if he's keeping you at arm's length, embrace the distance and take a step back yourself. In doing so, you can see the situation from a new angle and decide what to do next. So far, it seems like he's had the majority of control in this situation, and that hasn't given you what you want. (If it had, you wouldn't have written it to me.) 

It's important to accept other people's emotional limitations or situations, but that shouldn't get in the way of doing what's best for you. So that may not mean moving on to a new person or people; that may mean taking some time to be alone. Coming back to that universal question of "How can I have the relationship I want with the person I want?" — consider that question in regard to yourself. Are you doing what you need to do for that relationship, first and foremost? If the answer isn't a resounding "Yes!," it's time to start looking into other options. 

Love, Lindsay 

Cover image via Giphy


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