It fell apart after four months

I received this letter while the writer was giving her guy "space." By the time I went to answer it, that space was over. Let's see if we can help her make sense of what happened. (I put the updated info in italics.)

Hi Meredith,

We are both in our late 40s and the gentleman I've been dating for the last 4 months is currently finalizing his divorce papers (court date set for June), despite being separated from his ex for a year and a half. He was married less than a year and he filed for the divorce, stating they were not compatible. I met him online 5 years ago and then lost contact with him for a few years. He re-initiated contact this winter.

His ex is living in another state now but keeps in constant contact by phone and email. He says he needs to maintain open communication until the divorce is final as he does not want any troubles to arise.

He and I had been spending just about every weekend together, at his invite, as we live a few hours away from each other. He had been calling several times a day during the week, consistently. The relationship was growing, and we were enjoying each other's company

Abruptly, after having a nice dinner, he states he needs his space and is feeling overwhelmed. He gave no indication that he wanted to end the relationship, just that he needed some space.

He eventually (more than two weeks later) reached out to thank me for a favor and was wishy-washy about what would happen next. I told him I needed to stop by and get my things, and when I did, he said things that were not true and that seemed fabricated in a way to have an excuse to break off the relationship. I did not feel he had the ability to discuss things openly and honestly.
And, yes, as for the divorce, I do realize I should have waited until the paperwork was completed, and I do know he filed because I made the trip the court with him.

I'm extremely disappointed this happened, and sad because of loss of the "good things" we shared, but glad I did not discover his true personality after investing several years in the relationship.
We should all try to get thru this life being a little more compassionate toward one another.
Shouldn't it be easier when you get older?

Thanks, Meredith. Appreciate your column and your responders!

– Older Boulders, Westborough

You're right -- this is just a case of you seeing someone's true colors after four months, and you're lucky he didn't keep this going for eight months or a year.

As you get over this, though, please don't beat yourself up over not seeing the signs or putting up with the unfinished divorce paperwork. It's kind of weird (and dramatic?) that you went to court with him, but you weren't wrong to date someone who was just about divorced but not quite there. That wasn't the issue here.

The issue was that he's someone who gets excited and invests, perhaps too quickly. Then he gets overwhelmed and can't maintain his interest. Too bad ... but how would you have known?

This just goes to show you that it doesn't necessarily get easier as we get older. (Sorry.) In some ways it does, because we can judge people for who they are in the moment instead of wondering what they'll be like when they grow up, but people are people, no matter how old they are. They can be stubborn, controlling, evasive, noncommittal, scared, and defensive, and they tend to be all of those things when a relationship ends. We never age out of the awkwardness of saying goodbye.

The good news is that you're free to move on. Just make sure you're kind to yourself. And maybe focus on finding someone who lives nearby. The dating process is much easier -- and involves less investment -- when everything is a short drive or T ride away.

Readers? Should all of these divorce issues -- and their own history -- have stopped her from starting this relationship? How can she make sense of what happened? Is it easier as you get older? Discuss.

– Meredith