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Does communication help or hurt?

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I met this man online 4 months ago who is a divorced father of 3 kids. We hit it off. Due to the distance we have only seen each other a couple of times. We talked on the phone daily but I think I was suffocating him. He told me I should still call him but he would call me back when he had time and asked me to be patient between calls.

As the holidays hit he started to get really depressed remembering how things were prior to his divorce. He was married for 14 years. In addition his ex started contacting him and his kids (1 teen and 2 preteens) don’t want him to date . When I saw him just prior to Christmas he said he wanted to slow down but wanted to continue to grow our relationship over the next year. He said I was his dream, in me he found exactly what he was looking for. Although he stated firmly that he doesn’t want to get back together with his ex he said that he still loves her and doesn’t know if he can ever love me.

I last saw him 3 weeks ago. I’ve only called him 2 times a week the first two weeks. He has yet to answer or return calls from me, I have not called him for over a week now. I only sent him 3 emails but he only replied once to tell me one of his kids was ill and he’s been too occupied with that. I left two messages asking how things were going. I realize that he needs to get through the holidays, work things through with his ex, transition his kids into accepting his dating and if his youngest seriously needs treatment he needs time to work through that. In addition he has all the signs of depression. I gave him three opportunities when I saw him to break up but he said that was not what he wanted. He knows I’m concerned regarding the seriousness of his child’s illness but he didn’t return the two calls I left asking about it.

I believe with all going on he’s probably setting me on a shelf until he had the energy and frame of mind to contact me. If I didn’t see a match in us I would just walk away but something tells me to hang in there. What do I do? Do I stop all communication and move on with my life and see what he does or do I continue to leave a message or two per week to keep the lines of communication open? I feel silly leaving messages of concern with no response. I also feel silly talking about my life when he obviously has difficulities. I’ve changed my dialog to be more formal so I don’t come across clingy or pushy. What is the most effective thing to do at this point? I don’t know if communication helps or hurts the situation.

Does communication help or hurt?

Answered by on -


As you said yourself, this man does care about you but has so much going on right now that you are, frankly, his last priority. You’ve only been acquainted 4 months and you have only seen each other a couple of times. Stack that against a 14 year marriage, children who want their parents back together, a child who is ill, the holidays, and his own confusion and possible depression and you are definitely at the bottom of the list.

The fact that he has said anything encouraging to you at all is an indication that at least you’re still on the list. My suggestion is that you give him plenty of room. Let him know that you are still interested but that you understand that he has a lot on his plate right now. Tell him that you care enough about him that you don’t want to add to his stress so you’re going to leave the next move up to him. Ask him to call when he’s able to explore a relationship with you. Then go about you life. Let yourself meet other people. When and if he calls, either you will still be available or you won’t.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

Does communication help or hurt?

Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Dr. Marie is licensed as both a psychologist and marriage and family counselor. She specializes in couples and family therapy and parent education. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2018). Does communication help or hurt?. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 23, 2019, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 May 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018
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