Ask Wendy

5 Dating Lessons to Take with You on Your Way Out

Friday, December 11, 2020
Hey Wendy,

I've been dating a guy from Bumble on and off for years. He broke up with his ex because she cheated on him, and when I learned this at the start, I stopped seeing him because I didn't want to be his rebound or anything. I felt he needed to heal.

A long story short, we got back together, but when it came to exclusivity, he liked me but not enough to be with me. He said he would commit to me for a physical part and wouldn't sleep with other people. I don't fully enjoy spending time with him especially knowing he's still going on dates with other women.

To complicate things, he's moving for work (2–3 years) and he doesn't want a long-distance relationship.

I need some guidance. Should I walk away or keep things light with him?

Grace
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Hey Grace,

Can you keep things light? By what you’ve shared, I’m not sure you can (and that’s not a value judgment — just an observation). But ultimately, only you get to say.

I think, while it might be painful, you can take some valuable lessons away from this on-again-off-again relationship if you do decide to walk away:

LESSON #1. WE DON’T GET TO MANAGE OTHER PEOPLE’S HEALING PROCESSES

His ex-girlfriend cheated, so you bailed because you thought he wasn’t healed from the experience yet? His healing or lack of it was not yours to manage. Instead of ending it, next time, have a conversation. You could start with, “Wow, that’s rough. Do you think you’ve got the bandwidth for something new, like the two of us?” Then listen. Really listen. Not like a back and forth discussion-style listen, but instead, let him really talk (even if there’s awkward stretches of silence in between) and see what he has to say about being ready to let go of his past and date you. Then, based on what he says, you can make a decision together.

LESSON #2. BEING AFRAID IS NOT A GOOD REASON TO BREAK UP

If you feared it might rain, would you stay in your house and never leave? That’s absurd, right? Rain just means you grab an umbrella, maybe a coat and gloves, and then leave your house.

You see he’s newly single and could therefore bring some rebound baggage with him? See him anyway, but take precautions. Take it slow, and stay protected by holding boundaries for intimacy until you see a track record of dependability and respect.

LESSON #3. SOMETIMES WE’RE NOT ON THE SAME PAGE

You wanted total exclusivity, he wanted sexual exclusivity — as you’ve seen firsthand, these things are not the same.

Now, we can go down a rabbit hole with this making up all kinds of meanings about him, about you, about everything. We could make him bad and wrong for not committing. We could decide you weren’t enough for him. But none of these things are true or useful.

Stay out of that rabbit hole. Instead, realize you two just weren’t the right fit for each other. You wanted one thing. He wanted another. And it’s not personal to you or to him.

Instead of “he’s a jerk” or “I’m not enough,” let’s stick with “we aren’t a good match for each other.”

The place to go from here is forward — as in on to connecting with someone who is on the same page as you.

LESSON #4. LONG DISTANCE ISN’T REAL

I know, I know, there are exceptions. But those exceptions usually involve people who’ve known each other for a long time, know the exact amount of time they’ll be apart, and already have a solid plan and relationship in place. That’s not you two. You think it’s hard to date him now while he sees other women? Guess what…it doesn’t get easier when he’s out of town.

LESSON #5. TAKE NO FOR AN ANSWER

He said he’s moving, and he won’t do long-distance, so take “no” for an answer. This sounds mean of me to be this blunt, but I say it with love. I want you to move on because forward is the only place your new love lives. Your guy, the one you want to be with, isn’t here yet. So go make room for him to show up in your life by moving forward.

Sometimes we meet our person right away, and other times we meet people who are here to teach us life lessons. This guy is your teacher, not your boyfriend. I hope you can take away some good memories and some lessons that have made you a better person and partner so that you can move on to the one who’s available for you in the ways you need him to be.

Good luck!


Wendy Newman is the author of 121 First Dates. She’s a dating, sex, and relationship expert who’s led hundreds of workshops and revolutionized the lives of over 70,000+ women internationally.

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