I really like him, but I’m his last priority. Help!

I really like him, but I’m his last priority. Help!

Q&A: "I really like him, but I'm his last priority. Help!"I am 47 and dating a divorced dad of 44 with 2  teenagers (a girl, 11 and a boy, 16). He was badly hurt by his ex-wife who had an affair with a much younger man (who she recently married) and is quite bitter. They have joint custody of the children and he has them every Wednesday and every other Friday and whole weekend. He has been living alone for only a year.

It’s very early days and I really like him. I’ve only just started dating myself after a break up 8 months ago and came out of a long term relationship so I am cautious this time around. He was dating another woman before me, but dumped her as he said she was too demanding and she had complained that his kids came first, then his rock-climbing hobby, then her and he said what’s wrong with that? I did reply saying well the kids naturally come first and it’s always good to have a hobby and me time… but she obviously really liked you and she just simply wanted to see you! He couldn’t see that.

So armed with that knowledge I didn’t want to make the same mistake. I think he likes the fact I do have my own life and interests – and he lives a good 90 plus minutes drive from me, so coupled with his tight family schedule we never manage to be spontaneous date-wise. It’s frustrating but I’ve accepted that comes with dating a parent. However…this coming weekend was supposed to be our weekend, but he has announced his friends are all off climbing and he wants to go. I was really bright and breezy and told him to have a good time when really I wanted to howl, noooooooo, but it’s our time! Selfish as that sounds, I’ve not seen him for nearly two weeks. I don’t want to be that clingy woman, but at the same time I don’t want him to have his cake and eat it and slot me in where he can. 

He suggested meeting up Friday for a date and coming back to mine which will end with us having fabulous sex and then him leaving early Saturday morning, but I want more than his snatched time. Is it a simple case of him just not being into me? We get on great, he’s very tactile and communicative, calling me most evenings or sending messages if can’t talk when he has the kids (no mention of me meeting them yet, but like I say, early days).

So what do I do? Carry on playing it cool and easy going girlfriend (if that’s what I am?) and give him his space to enjoy life, but how to create the right balance without coming across like a doormat and setting a precedence here? I don’t want to play games – too bloody old for that! Sara

I hear you Sara. Ultimately, you know what you really want, and let me tell you what I think this guy really wants: he wants to be free. He wants to be a dad to his kids and to have time for his hobbies and any woman he dates has to be content with the crumbs (and some weekends, if the weather’s fine and his buddies are going to scale some sick rockface, not even those). He’s made all of that very clear. Plus, he’s bitter and probably not over his ex and is keeping his kids out of the picture. So while he may be a lovely guy, he’s not looking all that ideal as serious boyfriend material – if that’s what you’re seeking.

That’s not to say you should walk, necessarily. It could be just a timing thing and you’ll naturally become more of a priority in time. But that’s a big maybe. Personally I’d be seriously gun-shy dating someone who’d only been living alone for a year after a bitter divorce. And I think if you push on under the current terms, you’re telling him it’s okay to just slot you into the cracks of his life when it suits him – and it might be really hard to change that dynamic down the track. (It’ll also drive you bananas and you’ll end up resentful and shitty.)

It’s going to be a hard conversation to have. He’s probably going to pop you in his box of demanding exes, but that’s ok. Everyone’s at different stages in the dating game and there’s no shame in putting it out there that while you adore him and love spending time with him you sense you’re just not on the same page in terms of how much you’re ready to invest in a relationship. Maybe you could end by saying if and when he’s up for something more serious – and if you happen to be single – you’d love to catch up for a drink. Which leaves the door open, and you free to get back out there to see if there’s a guy who’s more of a fit for where you’re at right now.

Love, reality chick

Freelance journo, blogger, self-appointed advice-giver and co-author of Get Lucky. If you've got a dating or relationship issue, feel free to ask a question. (PS. You can also find me at The Mama Files and Letter To My Ex).


  1. Katie 5 years ago

    He is happy because you are putting out. You thought by giving him sex you would get love in return. The guy has been there done that and got burnt. He’s not putting you first so I would move on.

    • Author

      Straight to the point Katie 🙂 Totally agree though and if he’s been burned it’s going to take longer than a year to be really ready for something again…

  2. Magic 5 years ago

    You know, the other thing I think of when I read this is that you also may be fundamentally incompatible in terms of need for contact.

    I’m a high contact girl and I do well with men who also like a high level of contact, but I really do badly with low contact men. It quickly leads to me feeling neglected and him feeling pressured.

    So one of the things I do now, is if it becomes clear early on that we have vastly different contact needs—they don’t have to be exactly the same, but certainly in the same vicinity!—I kindly end it early, clarifying why. I don’t let it deteriorate to the point of being that clingy, insecure woman; been there, done that, and it’s not a good look! This way, I keep my sanity and dignity, and he keeps his freedom. It’s hard to say goodbye when you really like each other, but to me, it’s not going to work long term if there’s a wide gap between the amount of contact I want and need and what he wants and needs.

    You may feel your contact needs are not too broad and that it may work with a little compromise—in which case, fine, go with it and persevere. But if it does feel like too broad a gap, be kind to yourself and end it so that you can make space for the man who DOES like a similar level of contact. They are out there, and oh my goodness, it’s SO much better! Much warmth and luck to you, girl!

    • Author

      “It’s hard to say goodbye when you really like each other, but to me, it’s not going to work long term if there’s a wide gap between the amount of contact I want and need and what he wants and needs.”

      So much about dating is about awareness about what you need and aren’t afraid to ask for; I think this is great!

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