You know what? Let's do some updates. Former letter writers, even recent ones: Tell us what happened after you wrote in, and whether we helped. Send your email to firstname.lastname@example.org with "update" in the subject line. Include your original email so I know it's you.
I have been dating a wonderful man exclusively since the beginning of the year. He's kind and thoughtful and treats me extremely well. I have feelings for him that I haven't had for anyone in a long time. We're both 50-somethings and divorced with kids. I'm fortunate in that my ex and I have an amicable relationship and co-parent well together. He is not so lucky. His ex is a nightmare, and the years since his divorce have been brutal with many court battles, particularly with respect to his kids. Everything was going great between us until three weeks ago when some difficult things arose regarding the current court battle that sent him to a bad place emotionally.
I've been trying to give him space, for which he thanked me, but I've only seen him once since then, and he wasn't in a good place. In the meantime, we've exchanged a few texts. In the last, which was over a week ago, he said he'd check in with me the following day, but I haven't heard from him at all. At this point I have no idea what's going on. I know that men operate with a different sense of time than women, particularly when they're going through something difficult. I have also read that trying to draw a man out of his cave too soon just pushes him further in. I just don't know how long it's normal for there to be no contact in this situation or how long I should leave him alone. I want to give him his space and be supportive, but I also want to be with someone who wants to be with me. At what point do I assume it's over and move on?
– Lost in Limbo
Your relationship is still kind of new (six months?), which means you're still learning how this man communicates and whether he's the right partner for you. At the moment, he isn't. Everyone needs space at some point – and it's wonderful that you were able to respect his boundaries – but he has to consider your needs, too. He should be able to tell you what he wants so that you're not waiting around, wondering when you're allowed to reach out. At the very least, he should be able to tell you if you're still together.
There's no specific deadline for this, no point when you'll know it's over. But if you're confused about what's happening, it's time to ask. You can call him and tell him that the limbo isn't working. You can ask for more information – or tell him that you're starting to assume this was his way of saying goodbye.
People do have caves; it's not just a man thing. But you don't want to spend a relationship figuring out ways to coax him out of his. You shouldn't be afraid to show him how you want to communicate. If he's not up for it, you deserve to know.
Readers? If she tries to talk to him about this, will she lose him? Should she assume this is a breakup?