Swept Away

Asking For It with Sibyl

Hello Sibyl,

Last summer while at the Paris airport on a layover, I met a guy who was also there on a layover.  We emailed and texted and he came to visit me in Amsterdam in November, and again in December (he lives in Venezuela). During these first visits, he opened up and told me that since meeting me he was thinking about a future with me and that he has never done that before.  We fell in love, discussed marriage and where we could both live together (he has a 5 year old son, so cannot move here, and after a recent visit, I know I could never live in Venezuela).

Once he was home (in January), I mentioned something about the future, and he said he could not talk about it.  I wrote him a long email explaining that HE was the one who brought up the future and talked about plans, etc.  He said he was sorry, but just needs more time, and for me to please be patient.  

I do understand we need to be patient and get to know each other better, but it seems like he has changed.  He used to be very open about sharing feelings and affections, but now seems to have pulled back (I visited him 2 weeks ago in Venezuela).  Plus i wonder if there is a future between us given the distance and the fact that it would be difficult to find someplace to live together.

I wonder if I should end it now or just enjoy the times when we see each other?

Thank you very much and kind regards,

Futuretripper

Dear Futuretripper,

In the short time since I started this column, I have received several quandaries like yours.  They are from women who are disappointed by the men in their lives, but claiming that they love them, and hoping for a future with them still.  Here is what is missing in these letters: any indication of what there is to be loved about these men, why they are worthy of such undying love, and what makes them eligible to be a good life partner.

From your letter, it's clear that the two of you had an immediate connection that went very deep, and made both of you want to hang on it to forever, by planning a future together.  However, other than the fact that he's a father, and he lives far away from you in a place that you never want to live in, what have you told me about this man?

Paraphrasing The Little Prince, I want to know what his voice sounds like, what games he loves best, and if he collects butterflies.  I want to know why he is worth the struggle of a long-distance romance.  Just the fact that he changed his mind and no longer wants to talk about the future with you is not enough to end the relationship, as most people have trouble with commitment.  However, it does seem like there is some denial of the reality of the issues the two of you are facing, if you chose to go forward with this relationship long-term.

You had a lovely Before-Sunrise-esque connection with this man.  However, not every connection one makes with another person needs to be followed to the fullest extent.  Some people, no matter how deeply we feel we are cosmically drawn to them, are meant to just be brief interludes in our lives.  It's hard to make meaning of those experiences and let them go, but otherwise, it is like trying to hold the ocean in your hands.

Of course, there is a chance that you do indeed have a future with your cross-continent lover.  However, my advice to you is to hang back, and give the relationship room to grow.  You need to let it breathe, and see what transpires in the space between the two of you---which for you, is a lot of space!  Just let that be the reality.  Don't force anything, and use the time you used to spend planning the future reflecting instead on why this man is so special, and what he can really offer to your life.

And then write back and tell me of all his stunning substance, and how it resonates with who you are and what you need.  But please, if you find that you only like this man for nebulous reasons, and if he doesn't seem to really want all that you are willing to give him, release your hands, and let him float on.

Love,

Sibyl

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