Donna in Mesa writes:
I am in an entanglement with a fellow 10 years my junior – he’s 25 and a young 25 at that. We started out friends, sharing the same interests and hobbies. One day, he said “I’d really like to kiss you…” and then didn’t. Two months later he moved in with a woman from his job. I tried being “just friends,” which didn’t really work for me (no cheating, just unhappy). He left her after 8 months and got more entangled with me. Right around the same time, the next year, he told me he didn’t want a girlfriend (meaning me) – immediately after, he started dating a woman who became his gilfriend for five months. I stopped speaking to him for a while, and eventually asked him to let me go completely. Instead he asked to try to rebuild our friendship. The newest girlfriend is now gone.
This third try at some sort of closeness has been just as messy as the other instances, but now I let nothing slide. I complain loud and long when there’s a problem, I smart off when he does inconsiderate things, and when he fails to meet my expectations for any close friend, I tell him I don’t need him. I am trying to use this situation to learn to be more challenging and assertive – I may as well get something out of it. I fully expect this to be another train wreck, but working against my easygoing nature, and against my hopes, takes its toll on me sometimes. I expect the worst, but I can’t help but hope for something better to grow out of this. My question: how long will this take to resolve? How can I best protect myself while it plays out?
There is something within your friend that borderline likes being treated with less-than-kindness, but, this tactic isn’t necessarily going to help your man grow up. Only time will allow him to evolve into more of the person you want him to be. Even then, he isn’t always going to live up to your expectations, because as he improves, your expectations of him will become higher.
There is no real or good way, to protect yourself. All you can do is accept him for who he is, with his list of shortcomings and flaws. Continue to make your boundaries and expectations clear to him -but you don’t have to do this in an adversarial manner. Changing yourself doesn’t guarantee that you can bring about changes in your friend. Just be careful with your new-found assertiveness. It isn’t limited to just this particular relationship, and I don’t think your personal goal is to become a…negative person.
When you expect the worst, you will find it. He will continue to learn and grow, but there are some things about him you just want him to flat-out change. Here’s where the train wreck comes in. You can’t expect a person to change to meet your will and desire without some type of backlash.
As for when things will be resolved, I suppose that depends on what you consider resolution to be. Your relationship with this guy is going to continue as it has been for at least another two months. If you can be happy with things as they are, and with him for the person he is – this relationship can continue to grow. If you decide the process and concessions you make for the sake of this relationship are too much to bear, then you most likely will pull away from him (or sabotage the relationship) in February – but will find your way back to him once again over the summer months.
Your friend is always going to be younger than you, chronologically and emotionally, but he will grow to be more responsible and mature. He’s already better now than he was when your friendship began. Unless you allow yourself to be swept off your feet by another man, you will remain in this back-and-forth relationship with your current fellow for another two and a half years. When he is 28, he will be more of the person you wish he were now, and the relationship will stabilize.
If you are strong enough to withstand the passing of time and a few more girlfriends during the “down time” of this relationship, it will grow into a life partnership. But, if you are looking for that level of happiness and stability sooner, you will meet a man who is your age or older in the fall who will do his best to make that happen. I don’t know how you meet him, but he has dark hair and blue eyes.