How Long Should I Wait To Hear From Him?

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Reader’s Question

How do I know if he is really seeking answers or just ignoring me?

I met this guy online, and to get to know each other he traveled all the way from the US to Europe and we spent five days together in Paris. We had such a lovely time. But when he got back home, he called me and said he had to do some thinking and probably has to go see a psychiatrist.

He wants a serious relationship, children, marriage, etc. He is 49 years old and finally wants to settle down. He also said that once he starts to love me it will be forever. I am much younger than he is, but I have already told him I’m not afraid to settle and would love to have kids with him.

He suffers from anxiety and thinks stuff happens for a reason. For example, he had a cold sore when we were in Paris and he wouldn’t kiss me. He said God sent it to him to get to know me even better.

Since he told me he has to go see a psychiatrist, he hasn’t answered any of my messages. I asked him a couple of times if he wants me to give him some thinking space, but he won’t answer. Is he just ignoring me or does he really need thinking space? How much time do you think somebody with these issues needs? Should I keep showing my interest? Or should I just leave it this way and forget about him?

Psychologist’s Reply

So you are asking whether you should wait, and for how long, before knowing if the relationship is going to move forward or not; and whether you should continue to contact him in the meantime. It must be difficult to be waiting for an answer with so little information from him!

I guess my short answer is, you might find that this is a decision you make on your own, rather than something you find out from him. From what you have said, it is impossible to know right now if he has decided against this relationship or if he is actually working on his own issues. He is not including you in his decision-making process, so you are really faced with making a decision about this relationship on your own. Because you cannot predict what he will do, you can only base your decision on the objective information (i.e. facts and events) and the subjective information (i.e. your thoughts and feelings) available to you.

The facts and events as you told them appear to paint a mixed and confusing picture. On the one hand, he flew a long way to meet you and you had a good time together. On the other hand, he chose not to become physically intimate with you and has been out of touch since he returned home. While it is unclear what he is thinking exactly, what we do know is that it is extremely difficult to have a relationship, especially a long-distance relationship, when one person is refusing to speak to the other. In all relationships, we slowly gather information about the other person in terms of how he or she handles differences, fears, and challenges. The data you have in hand at this point suggests that at best, he prefers to process alone rather than together and he seems to take a long time to do so. At worst, when he becomes anxious or uncertain he tends to withdraw from or perhaps terminate relationships. Whatever the case, you have access to a glimmer of the type of problem-solving he would likely use if you two were to wind up together. You might ask yourself if this is compatible with your style of handling differences.

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Now, let’s review your feelings. You mentioned that you are in love with this man and would like to marry him and have children with him. Those are strong feelings! You might decide that because you feel so strongly, you are willing to wait to hear back from him. You might feel open to hearing from him even if he gets in contact with you only after a long period of being out of touch. With feelings, it is impossible to know how you will feel a week, month, or year from now, so the trick is to evaluate your current feelings and let them guide you. For example, if today you are feeling mostly love and affection, mixed with fear, concern, and hope, then you might choose to keep an open mind. If tomorrow you wake up with more of a mix of anger, resentment, irritation, or indifference, you might choose to close this chapter in your mind and heart. Of course, your feelings may change gradually over time, depending on what happens. You might find that as you ask yourself, “Am I still open to this relationship?” that one day, the answer is no. Or, you might find that you move on, find another relationship, but find yourself still with a bit of hope that this man contacts you again someday.

In terms of what and how much to communicate, there is no right answer there either. It sounds as if prompting him to answer questions about himself has not worked. In that case you are left with a choice about whether you want to inform him about your own thoughts and feelings as they arise, e.g. “I’m feeling hopeless about us” or “I am waiting to hear from you but it is difficult.” You might find that communicating where you are with this relationship may prompt him to communicate with you also. Or, you might be met with silence. Again, it would seem that the alternative is to choose based on what feels best to you, as it is unclear what he needs or wants from you at this point. Best of luck to you as you try to find closure one way or another!

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