This week’s question comes from Suzie:
“Dear Orna and Matthew,
The crux of my question is this: How long should I wait for him?
My boyfriend and I have been together for a couple of years and I love him and yet I don’t know if it is ever going to work out. He is still dealing with his ex and working through custody issues with their 7 yr. old son.
They spend a lot of time together (at events for his kid’s school, at parties and gatherings with their friends from their marriage) sometimes it’s like they aren’t even divorced. I feel excluded from his life in many ways.
He says he still cares for her but that they will never get back together because they fight so much. But it seems like she is always reaching out to him when she needs something. I don’t think she wants to let him go. He tells me that he feels guilty for the divorce and that’s why he spends so much time with her.
The thing is I’m really in love with him. When we are together I feel so loved by him and we really complement each other so well. I’m getting tired of playing second fiddle to his ex-wife. So that’s why I’m asking, should I wait for him?
Have I wasted the last couple of years? Will he ever step up and choose me? How long should I wait for him to figure it out?
Thank you for reaching out during what must be a very frustrating situation. The question, how long should I wait for him, is one that many women ask us wondering if things will ever change. The truth is you’re asking the wrong question.
The question you want to ask is: “Is he worth waiting for?”
Sure, you like him and find him attractive, but are you ever going to get what you really want? Long-lasting, soul-satisfying love doesn’t just show up because you’re willing to wait to see if his behavior will change.
You don’t know if or when this man is going to step up for you. However, there are some good questions you can ask yourself to see if he is acting like a man who really wants a relationship with you.
Here Are 7 Things To Consider When Wondering: How Long Should I Wait For Him?
How Does He Utilize His Resources?
It is certainly important that your boyfriend co-parent his child with his ex, and that he is a good father to his son. There are only so many hours in the day and raising a child with an ex can be demanding on his time.
You can always tell what and who is important to a man by how he spends his resources. We are all limited by time, money, and energy. So, if he is spending the majority of his resources on other people in his life, but not you, that can be a big warning sign.
If he is spending quality time with you that is really all that you can ask of him. Your question: How long should I wait for him, has us wondering if you’ve made things too convenient for him.
You teach people how to treat you. From the moment you met your boyfriend you showed him what was and wasn’t acceptable behavior. It could be that he was looking for some companionship and you went along with his desires leaving your needs and wants unfulfilled.
If your boyfriend is spending the majority of his time, his money, and his energy on his ex and his child and has little of those things to spare for you, you may want to cut your losses and take time to grieve so that you can move on and find a man who is a much better match for you.
Does He Make Plans For The Future With You?
In your current relationship if you’re wondering, “How long should I wait for him,” you’ll want to take note how your boyfriend communicates about the future with you.
Does he share what your life together will be like when custody is resolved between him and his ex? Does he make plans for the future with you, like a vacation, a concert, or tickets to the theatre?
A man who wants to claim you and take you off the market will ask for exclusivity. He will show you his intentions by discussing future aspirations with you and making plans for the future with you.
These discussions have to lead to execution so that after a couple of years in the relationship you ought to have a treasure trove of memories and photographs of the two of you and your lives together.
If he is all talk without follow-through you may be with a man who thinks you’ll settle for the hope of a future without actually creating one with you.
Does He Include You In His Life?
Every soulmate relationship is unique; there isn’t one vision of what an ideal relationship should look like. For the relationship to last both people’s needs must be met. Questioning if/when things will change like – How long should I wait for him? – Is a sign that you don’t feel like a part of his life.
Has he introduced you to his friends, his co-workers, family, and his child? Are there photographs of you in his home? Does he make an effort to spend Valentine’s Day, Christmas, and your birthday with you?
As you’ve been with him for a couple of years it would make sense that you would have met his ex and that you would be present for some of the events that your boyfriend attends to support his child. If you are not at all a part of his life with his child, we are curious why that’s the case.
A man in love wants to show off the object of his desire. He’ll introduce you to the people in his life that are important to him. If you are segregated to only spending time alone with him and not with the other people close to him, then your concerns are warranted and it’s time for you to think about moving on.
Does He Honor His Word With You?
As you consider whether to stay or go, and wondering how long should you wait for him, you’ll want to pay close attention to whether or not he honors his word with you.
Does he show up at your place to take you out on time? Does he follow through on the dates he arranges for the two of you? When he makes an agreement with you does he honor it?
If he is constantly making excuses for why he cannot follow through, or he is always asking that you be understanding and take a backseat to all of his other commitments, it’s time for you to evaluate whether you are a priority for him.
When it comes to a lasting relationship, you’ll want to know that you can count on your partner to honor his word. If your boyfriend isn’t doing that, perhaps it’s time to have a meaningful heart-to-heart conversation with him where you share how you’re feeling and what you expect of him.
If you do, it’s important for you to own your feelings and to take responsibility for them. Then evaluate his response to you. Does he get defensive? Does he downplay your concerns? Or does he blame his behavior on his ex?
If possible, ask him directly, “How long should I wait for you?”
How long does he expect to keep things as they are? If you’re currently on the sidelines and not involved in every part of his life, share with him how you feel about the current situation and make a request for a change. At that point, you can evaluate if he is capable of delivering on your expectations by seeing if he enacts any changes that you two have discussed.
Do You Share The Same Goals And Values?
You can wait for him to step up but if the two of aren’t on the same page about what you want from life, then your wait isn’t ultimately going to be worth it. Long-lasting relationships don’t just happen. Life will inevitably bring you challenges, and it is so much easier to navigate those challenges when the two of you are on the same page.
Are you clear about what is really important to you? Do his actions show you that he shares those values?
It’s great that you feel good when you are with him, that you feel loved by him, and that the two of you are compatible. The problem with feelings is that they change. The Romance Stage of a relationship inevitably leads to the Power Struggle Stage. You can’t avoid it. But you can navigate through it more easily when the two of you are committed to putting the relationship first.
Look over the past couple of years and see if he has shown you through his actions that he wants the same life that you want. If you find that his actions haven’t given you a clear indication that he wants what you want, then you should consider moving on.
The alternative is that you continue to wait and see if things are ever going to change.
Are Your Needs Being Met?
This is really the lynchpin because only you can tell if you’ve gone into sacrifice. By asking us, “How long should I wait for him,” it’s possible you’re feeling angry and resentful which is a key signal that you’ve given up your needs for too long. That can be a difficult situation to move forward from.
It’s likely that your needs have gone unmet for so long that it feels par for the course at this point. Because you’ve tolerated the situation for as long as you have, it seems that you’ve made things very convenient for your boyfriend. He is getting everything he wants and needs and then some.
Your needs are not a long laundry list of everything you desire in a relationship. Instead, separate your needs from your wants because needs are not negotiable, however, wants are. It’s very important for you to know the difference so that you’re able to make requests and ask for what you need and cannot do without.
Communicating with your boyfriend authentically will allow you to see how he responds to your request for things to change. If he is able to make the changes you require, great! You can continue on in the relationship with him.
However, if he is incapable or unwilling to make the changes you desire it’s time to throw in the towel and do what you need to do to take care of yourself so you can in the future find a man who is willing to make you a priority. If you need him to change in order for the relationship to feel satisfying then it’s possible he is not a good long-term match for you.
Don’t Get Hung Up On Sunk Costs
The sunk cost fallacy is when you continue doing what you’ve been doing because of a previous investment of resources (time, energy, or money) despite the fact that the cost outweighs the benefit. Simply stated, just because you’ve invested time and energy into this relationship doesn’t mean that you should continue to do so if it is not meeting your needs.
You may dread having to end the relationship and start dating again, but that discomfort doesn’t outweigh the fact that the relationship doesn’t appear to be going anywhere. He’s not suddenly going to wake up and realize that he should stop spending so much time with his ex and start showing you how important you are to him.
He’s showing you who he is and what is important to him by his behavior. Instead of worrying about how long you should wait for him to get his act together, start asking for what you desire and see if he is capable of delivering them to you.
There is nothing lonelier than being in a relationship that isn’t working for you. Ultimately only you can make the decision to stay or go, just make sure you aren’t sticking with your current boyfriend because of the time you’ve spent together. It seems you’re not completely satisfied thus far.
How Long Should You Wait?
Love isn’t a mystery. When you like someone and you want to be in a committed relationship, you don’t have to make things complicated. There is a natural flow to a relationship that happens when the two of you are clear about what you want and able to communicate about the relationship.
Things get complicated when one or both of you aren’t sure what you want. It’s perfectly okay to take time in the beginning of the dating process to discover who someone is and if you want to make a deeper commitment. Going slowly at the beginning allows you to discover if you two are a good match before committing your heart too deeply.
Once the two of you make a commitment of exclusivity the relationship should move forward towards a deeper and deeper level of commitment. If it doesn’t, then maybe you both don’t want the same things out of life and the relationship itself.
Approaching your relationships in a more conscious way is more likely to get you the type of relationship you truly desire. Taking a mindful approach is easier when you understand the natural stages of an intimate relationship. Get a copy of our special report, “The 5 Stages of Relationship.” You’ll get a map to move through the power struggle to create a lasting partnership filled with co-creation and bliss.
Orna and Matthew Walters are TV’s favorite dating and relationship experts. They uncover subconscious blocks to love so that you can select an ideal partner to share your life with. Follow them on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.