By Hara Estroff Marano, published on December 1, 2003 - last reviewed on November 20, 2015
Is It Time To Quit?
I have been engaged for 11 months to man I dated 17 years
ago; we broke up over another woman. He called a year ago and
eventually I forgave the unforgivable. He is sweet, fun and loving when
we are together, which is once every three weeks as we live two hours
apart. At first we owned separate businesses but he since changed
jobs—against my will, because the hours are long and often
involve weekends. A September wedding date got broken in July,
supposedly to accommodate his family’s seasonal business.
Although he paid for my wedding dress, he has still not set a new date.
Nor does he yet have a job here or moved here, both of which he agreed
to do, as I still own a business and can't move. I feel like I'm in
limbo. After taking the ring off it has crept back to this. I’m
not sure he isn't jerking my strings. Is it time to quit? Should I be
glad I didn't marry him? When do ultimatums turn into begging? I am
tired of having to make him respond.
The answers to your questions, in order:
When you feel you have to make someone respond.
Limbo is a rough place to dwell—all those uncertainties. But
orders and ultimatums no more build trust between lovers than infidelity
Your boyfriend is either an exceptionally slow learner—it
took him 17 years to come around the last time—or he is passively
resisting your efforts to impose your will. The more you try to make him
respond, the more he’s likely to say one thing but do another.
It’s not a mature way of dealing with conflict or planning a
life—it is, in fact, a way of being controlled by others while
trying to escape just that—but it is common.
That’s not an endorsement. Yes, it’s time to walk away
and get on with your life. Don’t make any announcements. Just stop
pursuing him. If that eventually lights his fire and you’re still
interested, then you have to start building a relationship that works by
mutual consent, not by ultimatums and decrees.