DEAR ABBY: I am 23. I was married at 19 and divorced at 22. I then jumped into a highly incompatible match that led me astray from home and family. I came to my senses and ran back home.
Since then, I have fended off requests for serious relationships and opted instead for "flings." I have, however, become attached to one "fling" in particular. He is 31 and lives close by. I have known him almost six months.
We have an "arrangement" -- we are "friends with benefits" only. However, I no longer want this. I want to take it to the next level. I have developed deeper feelings for him and have told him so.
He has not voiced the same sentiments. He said he was hurt in the past and doesn't want to be hurt again, so he doesn't get involved. He sends me mixed signals, and I am confused. He doesn't call for weeks, then calls several times a week "just to talk." When I leave him, sometimes he barely notices; other days he'll walk me to my car and send me off with a kiss. He sends cute e-mails and gives me trivial gifts.
I feel like a pseudo-girlfriend. I am there when he has time for a "girlfriend" type. I don't know where I stand with him. Should I wait it out or just let him go? He's a great person and an awesome man. I care for him on many levels. I want our relationship to progress, but I feel him holding back. What should I do? -- TIRED OF THE GAME IN ARIZONA
DEAR TIRED OF THE GAME: You are very young. With a failed marriage behind you, and a rebound relationship that didn't work out, it's time to slow down and realize that lasting relationships take time to build. Your problem is that you expect instant romance on your terms, and you have forgotten that you set the rules of this "game."
My advice is to stop asking for a commitment, and fill the time you're not with him with friends -- and other dates should you meet someone you "click" with. When he calls, don't always be instantly available. Show some independence. Some men find that trait very appealing -- particularly if they're relationship-phobic. After three or four more months, you can then have that chat with him about "where is this going?"