Dating at Midlife/Completely misled


So I was seeing this guy for 3 months and things were great. He was so good to me and seemed like he genuinely liked me a lot. He was always made time for me and did really sweet things for me. He's a medical resident in his last year and his resiency is up in June. When I first asked him of his plans, he said he was trying to get a job here and wanted to stay. Well just recently he casually mentioned to me that he was leaving the next day for a job interview on the other side of the country which completely felt like a slap in the face to me. I asked him if he had feelings for me and he said yes and that he wanted to keep seein me but that it was highly unlikely that he was going to stay because there were limited jobs in his field. He said that it had been stressing him out a lot. I spent the next couple hours thinking about things and at first I told him that I wanted to keep seeing him but by the end of the night, I realized that staying with him until he left wouldn't be fair to me and I told him I couldn't see him anymore. I know I hurt him but I'm pretty hurt too. It's been a week since I've spoken to him ( I told him I needed time before I could be his friend and that if he ended up staying I'd like to pick up where we left off) The thing is the whole 3 months he kept saying that he wanted to take things slow because he's been burnt before and I believed him because I even tried to leave him a few times but he practically begged me to stay and said he really liked me. I really want to ask him why he led me to believe that things were going somewhere with us if he knew they weren't. Should I even bother asking him and if so when? Or should I just leave it be and see if he does anything. I miss him and I can't stop wondering why he did that to me.

Thank you,

ANSWER: Few of us are so psychic we can see where things are going.
Clearly for him, his highest priority is getting meaningful work.  I don't think you blame  him for that.
At the same time, he sounds like he holds on tight to you.
So of course you feel misled.
I doubt that any of this is deliberate on his part, or yours.  Just one of those things that happens.

Breakups like this are very difficult.  I can't stress this enough and I probably don't have to tell you.

The pain you feel is a testimony to how deeply connected you were.

Often in cases like this there is no middle distance, no way to be just friends when you can't be also in a deeply meaningful partnership.
So what you and others have to do is just not talk to each other for a couple years until you've both re-adjusted to this new future, so different from the one you intuitively felt that you had.

Forgive him.  Say you are sorry that it's so painful to you that you can't be his friend right now.

Don't expect him to be able to explain. He can't. It wasn't deliberate. It was clueless.

Let me know how it goes.

My sympathies to you. It's the worst pain in the world.

Philip Alan Belove, Ed.D.

There are some articles on this at

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thank you for your advice. I know I probably shouldn't have but I ended up sending him a message last night asking him why he allowed me to believe things were going somewhere when he knew he was probably leaving. He messaged me back this morning and just said that he still didn't know what his plans were but that he still considers staying from time to time. His mesage was kind of short because he sent it from his phone (I'm assuming he's at work). I messaged him back asking if he liked me enough to risk getting hurt. If I knew he liked me enough to take a chance then I'd consider seeing him even though he might be leaving. I just can't take that risk on my own. I'm waiting to hear back but does it seem lik he at least wants to talk or misses me since he messaged me back and did it on his phone (which I know is a pain)? I really miss him a lot. He treated me better than most guys I've dated but even more than that, I just miss being around him. I didn't think it'd be this hard.


ANSWER: I'm not sure what would be helpful here.

All relationships among older adults, those not kids, those with a history of previous relationships, begin with  period of exploration.

There is no other way.

You can't know a new person well enough to know if you want to live your life with them unless you've shared some experiences and difficulties.  People reveal their styles of relationship slowly.

He has been clear with you that he is trying to make a big decision and he seems to be do the best he can, like you.

Your email to him was an accusation. "why did you allow me to believe...when you knew... that probably."   You communicated your hurt feelings and also blamed him for them.  

and then in the next sentence you ask him to take the risk of getting hurt.  

Your point is that you are both going to take a risk.  That point, very important could have been obscured by your opening accusation. You want to be careful.  

Best to assume that the risks of getting hurt are share and that you can't ever really calculate them.  Tell him that you understand the risk for yourself and you are willing to take it an not blame him  Tell him you support him in making this very important decision and that you still want to see him while he is in this  process.  You have to stay positive even while acknowledging the negatives.

Let me know.

Philip Alan Belove, Ed.D.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Hello again,

Well he messaged me back and basically said that he thought it was really risky to get too emotionally attached not knowing where he'd end up. What I don't get is how a few weeks ago when this all came about he was ok with continuing to see me (however I was the one who wasn't for it then). Now he's saying it's too riky.
Anyway, I know it's probably not advised but I messaged him telling him basically that I fell pretty hard for him and that this really hurt me but that I hoped the best for him and I wouldn't hold a grudge. He said he was sorry that I was hurt and that it was hard for him to talk about and that he just didn't know how things would work if he left. As of right now, I' angry and wish I'd never met him but I know in the long run I'll benefit from allowing myself to feel, be hurt and learn from it all. Thank you for all your help. I think it's time to move on and free my heart for something better. :)

Your message was very sweet and you can be pleased with yourself for being so vulnerable and for deciding to keep your heart open. That's the right move.
Do feel free to write again.
Also, if you ever feel like taking inventory of your dating and relationship experiences and habits, let me know.  It's about four hours of conversation and many folks find it very helpful. We find ways to articulate a lot of your habitual and unconscious expectations about relationships as well as some of your blind spots.  

Philip Alan Belove,

Dating at Midlife

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Philip Belove, Ed.D.


Hi. I`m Philip Belove (that is my name, really). I`m 71 and I`ve been a psychologist all my midlife, the past 35 years. My specialty has been counseling and coaching other midlife adults.  I think we all figure things out as we go along, but even more so at midlife. Being between 40-ish and 60-ish and single is like being a stranger in a strange land. I`ve learned which questions help people find their own way. I created this category, I publish a blog at and I write articles for various web sites. My commitment is to help people 1) understand and improve how they deal with others, 2) understand the forces that rule the relationships they are in, and 3) make the decisions which will shape, or create, or end those relationships  so they achieve the goal of midlife development  to finally live with personal satisfaction. I`ve been divorced twice myself. I`m in a satisfying relationship with a fine person. I`m very interested in learning about your challenges and in offering what I can.


Professionally: Licensed Psychologist. Marriage and Family Therapist. Coach.Author. University Lecturer. Personally: I'm 71. I've probably made all the big mistakes, er, learned the big lessons.I've forgiven myself and made many apologies and I've made it into a good, stable, sweet relationship. I now have a perspective on midlife.

Please check out my book, Rabbis in Love, at Also my blog at The Rabbi book was done as part of a research project. My collaborator, Marilyn Bronstein, and I wanted to interview couples with very successful marriage and also we wanted to talk to people who cared as much about their spirituality as love. Maybe being able to love and be spiritual were one and same, we thought. So we found a rabbi couple and the interview was so astounding that we interviewed nine more rabbi couples. One dropped. They'd revealed too much. It's a fascinating book and, Jewish or not, religious or not, these couples do a lot of things right and there is a lot to learn from them.

Masters in Counseling Psychology, Alfred Adler Institute Doctorate in Consulting Psychology, focus on family therapy, University of Massachusetts at Amherst

©2017 All rights reserved.