Is He Really Available?

Dear Dr. Laurie:

I am a 35 year old woman living in San Diego. My boyfriend is a kind, hard working, honest, man and probably the best father I have ever known. His son comes first. His son and I get along wonderfully.

The mother of his son will call to create a "situation." He recluses, becomes angry, shuts down, vents with me, and things subside over time. Then he and I return back to the level of intimacy we had prior to the upset and are free to keep growing as a couple.

We both care about each other tremendously. He has recently told me that he is just out of energy and can't take care of my needs when all of this is going on. He also turns to me for support and guidance and thanks me for being his friend and tells me "you're the best". I don't want to allow "her" to get between what he and I have. We both love doing the same things and ultimately want the same things in life.

Our morals are even similar. We have something special and I want to be the person he needs right now without sacrificing myself. How do I maintain the intimacy that we have through all of this mess? I have gone to therapy for years and my friends say that I have become a very healthy person. I don't want to lose all the work I did. - Janet

Dear Janet:

It takes two to create intimacy. Your man is making a choice when he lets his ex partner take his focus and energy. He has the opportunity to set firm limits with her and devote his energy to his son and you. If he is unable to do that ask him if he will get some outside help so that he can get better at it. If he won't, you are in for ongoing difficulty. You deserve the love of someone who is FULLY available. As wonderful as this fellow is in MANY ways he may not be able to give you what you need. Tell him what you need. Ask him to set better boundaries with his wife. If he is able and willing to respond you can have the closeness you desire. If he doesn't, go through the grieving of letting go so that you can be with someone who is FULLY available. Relationship is not based on one person needing another because he has troubles. Healthy relationship is based on two companions choosing to give to each other and receive from each other.

I wish the best for you.

Sincerely,
Dr. Laurie Moore


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