-- Question for John --
I have been dating a wonderful woman exclusively for over 3 years. We have much in common. She is a nice, intelligent, attractive, down-to-earth person who is very health conscious and fun. The only problem is she has never given me any indication through her actions she wants a more committed relationship, though she verbally states she does. She just doe not seem committed.
She has not once brought up any topic related to our future, such as children, finances, religion, etc. She does not communicate at all about any relationship topic. I have always initiated the conversations.
I had an injury a couple of years ago. I was off work for three weeks and on crutches for two months. During this time, she did not give of herself any more, such as helping me with chores around the house or yard. These type of actions would have indicated to me she would be there for me during my time of need, such as two people would be in a marriage. She does not like to show or initiate any intimacy. I am the one taking her hand, or holding her, both in public and private. I always initiate our sexual activities.
Also, she seems more comfortable spending time with her female friends than myself. I know her former boyfriend whom she dated for almost 20 years tried to prohibit her from seeing her friends, (he also verbally abused her), so I do try to give her space. But her friends seem to be her number one priority. There are occasions we spend more time as a couple with other people in social settings, than quality time by ourselves. But then there are times when I feel she wants to be with me forever. Lately though, this has been few and far between.
I am not sure what to do. I do love her very much, and think we could have a great life together, but she seems to be content with how her life is now, not having to concern herself everyday with someone else, but still wanting the company of a boyfriend. Plus, I believe she still has many “walls” in place. I believe we could have a great relationship if I could break through those “walls”. Do you think I should continue on with the relationship or am I wasting my time? If you recommend I try to make this work, can you give me any suggestions?
-- Answer from John --
Did you say she dated the ex for 20 years? Not to make any comment about the abusive quality of that relationship, perhaps she is simply in the habit of dating and has developed the expectation that anything more is out of her reach. Perhaps the abusive nature of that longterm deal has left her somewhat in fear on some level. Or perhaps the basic fact that she allowed herself to be abused for 20 years is an indication that she is, by nature, passive and fears to take initiative. Walls are always a product of fear.
These are possible guesses of what might be going on inside of her beneath the behaviors you observe. I do not believe that any of them (if indeed they are accurate) would necessarily mean that this woman is not capable of co-creating a wonderful married life with you. However, it is obvious that some emotional or psychological exploration of what is going on beneath the surface could benefit.
Simply put, the challenge here is to open up a new level of communication that is more intimate on the emotional level, where the two of you could join in exploring what each of your deeper realities are at the moment. If you make this a goal in itself this could be fruitful.
I would suggest that you do not link it to the goal of getting married or solving some kind of problem. Just make it a goal in and of itself, and make it a mutual exploration — not just a look under her hood, so to speak. Make it an invitation to gradually explore and expand the connection you share.
If this journey is done in the right spirit, you yourself will experience your own personal growth and expansion, and it won’t just be about her. In fact, I might imagine that the quality of taking this journey together can, if done right, in itself, address most of the issues you raise in your email.
Hopefully, she will get some experience and loosen her fears or whatever is holding her back, and begin to become more co-creative in it. This will all depend upon your making the invitation in a non-judgmental, non-blaming way, of course. Make it as seductive an invitation as you can imagine… and it will have the best chances to work the way you want it to.