Hi Lucia,

I have been dating a guy for four months now. We met many years ago, but I was married at the time and I am now divorced. He got out of a 5-year relationship a little over a year ago, and once we were both single we rekindled our friendship.

His relationship ended when his ex-girlfriend walked out on him, but I know if she knocked on his door today, he would probably go back. He also remains on a dating site, but tells me that the girls he chats with are “friends” and nothing more.

I want him to get past his feelings for the "ex" and focus on me, maybe even try to forget her completely. I have developed real feelings for him –feelings I have never felt with anyone else. I have such an attraction for him, and we have a wonderful relationship in the bedroom. 

He says he can’t make any commitment to me because of these feelings he still has for his ex, but assures me that I am much more than a “friend with benefits.” He beats himself up about still having these feelings and not being able to move on.

I have broken down in tears and expressed how I felt about him, and he says that he really likes me but doesn't want to hurt me. He has pulled back from me a bit, and says he wants to take it slow. It drives me crazy not seeing him like I used to. Every day I ask myself what I should do. Do I walk away from someone I care deeply about and hurt terribly, or stay with him and maybe get hurt anyway? What do you think is going on in that head of his? Does it really take a man that long to get over a relationship?  -Donna

Hi Donna,

Why is it that every week I seem to be answering the same e-mail? A woman meets a guy, sees the red flags, jumps in anyway and then wants to know how she can change him. So, I will answer yet again, and hopefully some readers will have an epiphany and approach dating differently.

When you first start to date someone, if you’re looking for a committed relationship, one of the first things you have to find out is if there is someone in their past they still haven’t gotten over. If there is, you can certainly be friends, but having sex with someone who isn’t emotionally available is generally not a good idea if you’re thinking long term. How long will it take him to get over her? Who knows? Some people never get over a past love.

You also said he’s on a dating site, so I’m assuming there was never any talk of exclusivity. Therefore, you are free to date other men, and I highly recommend you do. Otherwise, your situation is usually the end result –you develop feelings for someone, ask for more than they’re ready to give and they back off. By having several men to date, you won’t become obsessed with any one man.

Continue to date three to four men (though not necessarily sleep with them) until one of them brings up the subject of exclusivity. Then it’s up to you to decide whether you too want to be exclusive with him, or want to continue dating. 

Now, doesn’t that sound a lot more empowering than pinning your hopes on one guy who may or may not want a relationship with you?

Write to Lucia at theartoflove.net. Read an excerpt from her book, Lucia’s Lessons of Love, at lessonsoflove.net. Listen to Lucia live every Sunday at 3 p.m. PST on latalkradio.com. Remember: Love inspires, empowers, uplifts and enlightens.