Dating at Midlife/Next Steps



Dr. Belove in response to your reply below, no I don't feel exploited by him.  So my comment why buy the cow when you get the milk for free probably is not a fair comment.   It is the frustration talking.

So according to you I have taken step 1.... recognizing the frustration.

Step 2... spoken of it.

Step 3.... what can I do about it?    That is the part I am trying to figure out with your help.

Lastly, to your question about what little piece of change do I need to see from him?  Well recognizing as you said that the relationship can't get from where we are to marriage so quickly (or at least probably should not)  I guess the small change would be to have him actually talk about a future.  Actually speak of it rather than hiding behind the "I didn't say we don't have one, that is  your perception".  

Another thing that he seems to hide behind saying regularly when pressed about the relationship is "I like our relationship.  I only see it growing and growing.  I like where we are"   He has been saying "I like where we are" for almost a year now.

and my feelings to that are.... Of course he likes where we are.  He gets to act married without the marriage.  He gets to act like we live together without actually moving my things in and living together (which btw I said to him... to which he didn't have a reply)   I probably spend about 2 total hours at my house 7 days a week.  Every minute not spent at work is at his house.  For most intents and purposes I live there....Yet I don't keep any personal belongings there.  I don't even shower there!

For all intents and purposes we act married.... but he doesn't have to take the step of actually  marrying me.   Why wouldn't he like where we are?????   He has what he wants but without having to actually commit to it fully.

So... what do I do?  I am really trying to figure out how to handle this.  How to move back to move forward I guess.

My immediate thoughts are to stop letting him have a marriage without a marriage.  A live in without a live in.   Start staying at my house some nights and if he wants to spend the night with me he can spend the night at my house.   Start spending a bit more of my time at my house.  And he can join me there... or not.  but stop spending every minute of my time at his house as a married/live in couple who is not married or living in.

Start spending a bit of time taking care of me.  Generously ensuring he knows I love him, but that this is about me taking care of me because I am frustrated with where we are.

Maybe giving less of me until he is ready to give more of him.

Which is ironic... because he is absolutely willing to spend every minute with me.  Wants me to sleep by his side at night.  Wants to wake up with me etc.  He is very comfortable with having that with me.  Just he wants to have it in this non married, less committed way and I am not interested in that long term.

What do I do for my next steps?  I don't want to throw this relationship away because it is absolutely amazing...every minute.  But I also don't want to exist the way it is now indefinitely.


QUESTION: Dr. Belove, since I wrote this email to you everything has remained the same.  We have talked "somewhat" about it, but still don't seem to get very far with it.  One day when we were together he started talking about stuff that should be done in the future but his words were "I", "you" etc.  Not we.  I got quite and when he asked what was the matter I told him that after all of this time he still speaks of our futures separately, not as a "we".  I told him that I was beginning to feel as if I needed to accept the fact that he doesn't have thoughts about our ever being anything more than we are now.  Simply dating.   He asked why I said that and when I told him that he still continues to talk about the future as separates, All he said was "that is your perception".  I told him that it wasn't a perception... he actually continues to refer to us as separates for future issues.

He pretty much wouldn't engage in any more conversation about it.  Just continued to act as though nothing was wrong.  So, I let it go for a bit.  Several weeks went by and I got a job offer a few hours from where we live.  I told him about it and I told him I was considering the job.  He asked me why I would do that.  I told him that I had told him in the beginning of our dating that if I got to a point where I felt we were on different pages regarding what we want for our futures that I would move on.  His response was that he never told me that we didn't have a future, that it was my perception.  I told him he also hasn't given me reason to believe we do.  Again, his reply was cryptic.  All he said was "don't do anything rash.  Just stay in the saddle and stay focused".   I asked him what the hell that meant and I told him that he apparently doesn't think about us in terms of a future together.  His response was "yes I do think about it.  All the time".   Then he repeated the "stay focused" part.  In my mind yet again...he really didn't commit to anything.  He is always as cryptic and non commital as he can be.  And he knows it frustrates me.

So, I let it go again for a bit and today I just simply got frustrated.  I am tired of hauling my stuff back and forth every day.  I made a comment about it at dinner tonight and all his response was, was that we didn't have to stay at his house every night.  That some nights he could come stay at mine.  At that point I lost it and told him that I really may as well just take the job and go.  He just shot me a look that indicated he didn't agree, but he said nothing.

So, tonight I told him I just wanted to stay home.  So, I came home.  The only reason he didn't balk about it was because he has to get up at 430 in the morning to help with a breakfast event so he thought it would be a good idea so he didn't wake me up in the morning.  BUT he made it clear he was looking forward to my being back at his house on Sunday night.

As I said before, he wants me at his house and with him absolutely every minute when we are not at work.  And I do mean, every minute. If I linger at my house after work and don't go to his house pretty quickly, he will call to see when I am coming over.  We literally play house as a married couple in all ways except that every morning I get up and go to my own house to shower and begin my day so it ends back at his house playing house.  

So to your questions:  Does he know I want more.  Yep.  What happens?  I get cryptic, non committal but somewhat affirming replies.  

Do I feel that it has to come from him?  He is very clear on the fact that I want more at some point.  But I do prefer that the next step does come from him rather than his doing it because he feels he has to.  

So, what do you do when you are frustrated with hauling your stuff back and forth every day (but enjoy every minute you are with him);  want some sort of comfirmation that you are both on the same page about what you want in the future (but every time you bring it up you just get cryptic affirmations); and you feel like you are playing married couple (but yet without the commitment)

"Cow...milk for free" was a rather harsh framing.  Do you really feel you are being exploited?  If that is so, then it's worth taking a good look at that intuition to see how it stands up.  Clearly something is really off for you and, mainly, it sounds like this sense that you could do this relationship indefinitely until ... until what?  

It does sound like you feel you've over invested in this relationship and you are starting to resent it.

And you've done the right thing.  You've started taking your resentments seriously.  

That's step one.

And you've spoken of it. Step two.

The problem is, what's step three? What can you do?

One rules of how things work is this: you can change a relationship, but you can't change the pace of change.  You can't really make it change more quickly. So this is a relationship that has moved slowly and incrementally.  
I don't think you can move from where you are to marriage in one quick step.

My question to you is

What would be the smallest real change in the right direction?

What would make you feel less exploited, more like you're on the right track?

What would you have to see from him?

then maybe we can figure out what you'd need to do.

Let me know.

Philip Alan Belove, Ed.D.
(and don't forget to check out the web site.
and, by the way, i like your sensitivity to the difference between "I" and "We.  Did
I mention that to you or did you figure that out yourself? )

(Hi. I added some thoughts at the bottom)

Well, maybe we should have an actual consultation on this but I'll see what I can do within this medium for now.  

It sounds like something is being triggered for you.  That often happens when you get really really close and want to get closer.
It's a sign that you need to do something different.  Just what is the tricky problem and that's what a consultation might

All this needs to be framed carefully.  You will be shifting some of the basic routines in the relationship and you want to do
it in a way that is generous and natural and that also is expansive for both of you.  

You speak of  him in two senses.  First you talk about how easy and wonderful it is and then, in the next breath you speak of
your fears that you are being too vulnerable and you need some reassurance from him.  His reassurances are not adequate for you either

Maybe ( and this is where the additional information from conversation would be helpful) maybe there is some next step, some increase in
vulnerability that you want to go toward and yet it is very frightening.  I would not be surprised to learn that the things you want him to do
will in your mind give you permission to open even more to him and I wonder how that would work..

Hope this helps  You can contact me directly at


I want to add that another way to look at this is to look at  it in terms of what Gary Chapman called the "five love languages"
You know, there are lots of ways to express love and talking about the future is only one of them.. some men bring their tools over and repair their girlfriend's house, or do yard work.  Others just want to touch and caress.  Others like to be an audience or an appreciator. Others have made an art out of saying the right thing. These are all ways to show and do love. Thats another thing to talk about and think about.  

Dating at Midlife

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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

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