Advice for: “I Want A Real Relationship”

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What is a “real relationship?” I feel like I can answer that question because I have been in relationships that didn’t really feel “real” and I’ve also been in “real relationships,” and I can tell you, the two are very very different. I can also say that real is a heck of a lot better and more fulfilling! Here is an email I received from someone seeking advice, who says, “I want a real relationship.”

 I’m in my late-thirties and it’s been a couple years since my divorce. I have recently been seeing a guy (33, single, no kids) who has been through a couple of bad breakups that really did a number on him. Now he lives in this sort of isolation to avoid suffering. I like him but his disconnection is damaging my already damaged self-esteem. I decided to end it because I want more than this. I want a real relationship.

We only see each other once a week, no calls or texts in between “dates” and when things tend to get a little bit closer he “disappears” for a couple of weeks and then comes back. We recently talked about this issue and he made it clear he likes me and likes spending time with me but doesn’t want to have any attachments with me because he’ll not risk being hurt ever again. 

My advice for: “I want a real relationship”

You poor thing! This sounds awful. I completely understand this scenario because in my younger days, I dated a few people like this man. What I finally realized was that I was choosing unavailable men, most likely because subconsciously I didn’t want the pressure of commitment.


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I even dated someone for several years, and the minute he committed I couldn’t go through with it. So I guess what I’m saying is, you might want to think about whether you have real feelings for him, or if his commitment-phobia is the attraction. That said, you are saying, “I want a real relationship,” which makes me believe you have self-awareness and you are realizing what you want, which is wonderful. You should be very proud of yourself. It’s not easy to break up with someone who you are attracted to, who you like, and who you feel comfortable around. It’s also hard to think about being alone.


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In your email, you talk a lot about HIM—HE went through a bad breakup that did a number on HIM, HE made it clear that he won’t risk being hurt, HE disappears… Try to remember that this isn’t about HIM, but rather about YOU. HE sounds like he needs to be in therapy, and needs to think of how his behavior is making YOU feel. By the way, I’m not judging him, I’m just saying he sounds like he has issues.

You have already been married. So, now, don’t you want someone who really, truly wants what you want? Who wants YOU? I’d say at this stage, you should settle for nothing less than a man who is dying to be with you, who adores you, who cherishes you—and for exactly who you are.

You nailed it. There is nothing worse for self-esteem than someone who is hot and cold. No calls or texts between dates? That must make you feel horrible, after the two of you have been intimate. You deserve better! I’m not even saying he isn’t a good guy, but the relationship needs to change or you need to get out of it.


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I think you owe it to yourself to have a talk with him. Tell him how you are feeling and basically ask in a really nice way, “In or out?” Tell him, “I want a real relationship.”

You can tell him you love him, that you won’t hurt him, that you will do your best to be there for him. And then you have to leave the ball in his court. If he walks away for good, then you are better off. And, you never know what can happen in the future. Or, he might surprise you and say he will try to be a more committed boyfriend. Whatever ends up happening, you will be better off than you are now. If you continue on this path, your self-esteem will get worse and worse, and you will become more frustrated, disappointed, unhappy, and maybe even bitter.


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There are so many wonderful men your age out there who want a commitment, who want to be in love and have that nauseating relationship where the two of you talk and kiss and text each other every minute. For me, there is no better feeling, and if you want that, I bet you can have it. But first, ask yourself if you really do, or if this guy is what you subconsciously want because YOU don’t want to get hurt again.

I hope I helped, and I hope you find a “real relationship,” whether it’s with him or someone else.


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Jackie Pilossoph

Editor-in-chief: Jackie Pilossoph

Divorced Girl Smiling is here to empower, connect and inspire you. Jackie Pilossoph is the creator and Editor-In-Chief of Divorced Girl Smiling, the site, the podcast and the app. A former television journalist and newspaper features reporter, Pilossoph is also the author of four novels and the writer of her weekly relationship column, Love Essentially. Pilossoph holds a Masters degree in journalism and lives in Chicago with her two teenagers.

The author of the novels, Divorced Girl Smiling and Free Gift With Purchase, Pilossoph also writes the weekly dating and relationships advice column, “Love Essentially”, published in the Chicago Tribune Pioneer Press and the Chicago Tribune online. Additionally, she is a Huffington Post contributor. Pilossoph holds a Masters degree in journalism from Boston University.

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