Should you wait for the other to fall for you?

Dating Goddess reader Mark asks:

How do you know if it’s time to move on when you are enamored of the other person, but that person doesn’t return those same feelings yet is still willing to stay in the relationship?

My situation is that I really, really like this woman. She seems right for me. I’m very attracted to her, think about her all the time, gush to her in emails, and so on. I’ve been seeing her for nearly eight months, too, so it’s not like these feelings are the initial rush of romance.

She has feelings for me too and is attracted to me as well. However, she says she doesn’t have the kind of feelings she would expect to have after this much time, and the thought of meeting someone else doesn’t bother her, though she isn’t interested in looking right now.  She wonders if it’s something about where she is in her life right now rather than me, but she doesn’t know. We are both in our late 40’s and divorced.

I enjoy being with her and I really don’t want to date anyone else, and the idea of going through the whole discovery process with someone new makes me feel tired rather than excited, so I feel like I’d like to ride things out with her. I also think that we could be happy together, though for her she might be settling if she decided to stay with me.

I really like her, though, so I feel like holding on as long as she lets me hold on. No relationship will ever be perfect, and it’s entirely possible that she and I will never be in a better relationship than what we have right now.

There are a lot of bad dates out there waiting to happen. It’s the imperfect bird in the hand versus who knows what is in the bush? two birds? no birds? lots of birds that are a waste of time?

Dear Mark:

Right now you are her Better Than Nothing guy — the common expression for a lopsided relationship. She likes hanging around with you, but is open to meeting someone else. When she does you’ll be dropped into the “friend” category pronto. That will hurt.  I understand part of your rationale, if it were me I’d be thinking, “We just need to hang around more for him to see what a fabulous person I am and fall in love with me.” It could happen. The question for you is, how long are you going to wait? You could be in this limbo for years, not moving forward in the relationship, just hanging out, perhaps friends with benefits from her perspective.

I know you aren’t interested in dating someone else right now, but I’d encourage you to keep dipping in the pool. Two things might happen:

  1. You may meet someone who returns your feelings equally, or
  2. She’ll see you’re not waiting around for her and aren’t available anytime she wants so she may see what a great guy you are and those feelings of passion may get kindled.

But putting your life on the shelf while she is ambivalent isn’t fair to you. You don’t want to be with a woman who you fear might feel she settled. You will always be tiptoeing around, concerned that you will do something that will make her leave. You won’t be able to be yourself as you would with someone who is equally committed to the relationship.

I know all too well how daunting it is to think of beginning the dating process again. Yes, there are many, many, many not great starts. And when you find someone who you really fancy, you want to give them as much room as they need to come around. So far — after going out with 91 men in 4 years — I’ve only got heartache from that wait. And wasted a lot of time in the process because I’ve taken myself out of the dating pool.

You deserve someone who thinks you are as magnificent as you think she is.


Readers, what do you think? How would you advise Mark?

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6 responses to “Should you wait for the other to fall for you?”

  1. Elena Avatar

    I can totally relate to Mark’s email. I’ve been in that situation too. It sucks and it is tiring having to get back out there into the dating pool, but 8 months is more than enough time to know and it’s clear that his lady friend isn’t feeling it. I think DG’s advice is the right advice…get back into the dating pool and if his current lady friend has a real change of heart, Mark will know that right away. The thought of losing him will either jolt her into making a deeper commitment or free her from feeling obligated. Either way, Mark can’t lose, so I say he go for it. Good luck, Mark, and stay positive!

  2. nysharon Avatar

    I couldn’t have said it better.

  3. Bigir5 Avatar

    I WAS the girl who ignored the flags that the relationship could end if my guy met someone new and exciting. And he did. Our relationship ended the day he left my bed and met a guy friend for drinks, asked a girl to dance, got questioned by my girlfriend who saw him…. and decided he wanted to move on to a place without drama. And I was left standing alone, wondering what had happened. We had been together for a year…. every weekend as he traveled during the week… and it was really good! the POOF!
    We have talked since that happened 3 months ago. He is with the same girl but tells me he is not in love. And doesnt think he will ever be in love again… but he says being single sucks… and this is better than nothing for right now. I am afraid he just might do the same thing to this girl when he decides he is ready for something new.
    I hate where I am but that hurt SO much…being in love with someone who is not in love with you is just going through life with blinders on…. and you will eventually get hurt…. I know I will be better off eventually and glad it happened after a year rather than after 2 years……

  4. Devon Avatar

    I agree, having played the wait and see game myself, but not for 8 months. DG has given you great advice. There has to be a shared attraction and interest by both parties for things to work. Are you really satisfied with the current arrangement?
    Good luck

  5. Liz Avatar

    To her credit, she has told you how she feels about you. Although she is satisfied to keep things the way they are, obviously you are not. I have been down that same road as you are in the past and nothing really felt right. There is no reason for either of you to settle. The advice by DG and Elena are right on.

  6. Sherri Avatar

    Hm. It sounds like you’re The Emergency Fallback Guy – the one women keep around just in case nothing else is happening. I’ve been guilty of that and have been on the receiving end of same. She did tell you how she feels, so at least you have information.

    It comes down to what you’re willing to live with. If you can accept being with her knowing that she will probably not ever have romantic feelings for you because that feels more positive than the dating world, then that’s your decision to make. If deep down inside you harbor the hope that she’ll change, I believe you’re on a frequently traveled and difficult road. Initiating a few dates here and there with other women at least keeps you “in the game” and opens your world to marvelous new possibilities!