Today’s article is in response to a question from a reader (via Ask Melissa!) about whether she should reconnect with an ex-boyfriend when he’s more ready for a relationship, and whether there’s hope for a new relationship. In my response, I provide guidance on how to approach this question, whether there’s hope for her relationship, and whether it’s appropriate to reconnect and give it another try.
I recently broke up with an older, separated, soon-to-be divorced man that I was dating for over a year.
He has two young children. I am much younger than him. He told me he loved me dearly, but he wasn’t ready to commit to me like I deserved.
I have met many members of his family, and his best friend. But I’ve never met his ex. We have toured houses together, and talked about our future multiple times.
I feel like the different life stages we are in, partnered with the period of personal growth we denied ourselves by jumping into a relationship that became serious so quickly made him say, “He’s not ready.” But I feel strangely hopeful.
He wants his space, and I should take some for myself too. But, he made it very clear how much I mean to him and how much he wants to stay in contact with me.
I have not spoken to him since the breakup, but I am curious to know how appropriate it would be to ask him if he’d ever like to try again after we’ve both spent some time apart, as he has expressed to me that he has never shared a connection with anyone like the one that he has with me.
I truly love this man and I will be happy for him and continue to be supportive no matter what becomes of us. But am I being too hopeful for even considering asking him that? He is going through a great period of transition right now, and I understand that balancing a divorce, a new job, a move, and a relationship with me isn’t conducive to his personal growth.
But he has expressed to me various times how much he loves me and how important I am to him. I still have hope for us, but I am by no means going to put my life on standby.
I plan on having a genuine conversation with him in a couple of months to ask him about how he has been. I know he would be happy to speak to me again. But, during that conversation, should I express to him that I feel like we could still have something together when we are truly ready for what we have to offer each other?
Is there hope for us? Is it wrong for me to ask him to agree to re-evaluate our future in a few years?
– Heartbroken but Hopeful
Dear Heartbroken but Hopeful,
I feel your concern…I know it’s hard when the person you’re in love with doesn’t feel ready for a relationship.
But it is actually really good that he is being honest with you about his own readiness for a relationship and where he is at in his life and in his heart, and that you’re not feeling led on or confused.
In many instances, it doesn’t happen that way.
People often go months, or even years, without feeling clear or confident about the status of their relationship.
I know that doesn’t make it any less painful, but your openness with each other makes it easier for each of you to make decisions about the future of your relationship.
Is There Hope for Your Relationship?
The long-term success of a relationship depends on a number things.
These articles describe the key indicators for long-term relationship success, such as having a shared vision for the kind of life and relationship that you want and having your needs and relationship requirements met.
Would It Be Appropriate to Reconnect and Give It Another Try?
Sure! Why not? I don’t see any reason why it would be inappropriate to reconnect.
There’s no way to know for certain whether he will come back.
He’s ultimately responsible for that choice.
But there’s nothing stopping you from reaching out to him when you feel ready.
What’s KEY to having a shot at a successful reconnection is that, when you reconnect, you should both READY and AVAILABLE for a relationship – meaning that there’s nothing major that could interfere with the two of you building a relationship together.
(I encourage you to take a look at my article on relationship readiness: Is he ready for a relationship after divorce?)
It’s also important to have a clear vision for the kind of life and relationship that would be fulfilling for you, and ensure that that vision is aligned with and supported by your significant other’s vision.
Does Age Matter?
While he might be older and in a different part of his life, that doesn’t mean that the relationship can’t work.
My husband is older than I am, too, by 20 years!
But what’s important is that we share a vision for the kind of life and relationship that we really want and can support each other’s vision.
It’s also important that we can meet each other’s needs and relationship requirements.
So I encourage you to get deep clarity on what your needs and relationship requirements are and, in your subsequent relationships or when you choose to reconnect, test and observe how (or IF!) your needs and relationship requirements are met.
I know these things take a lot of time and thought to consider, but I hope this helps provide some guidance!
Please feel free to reach out if you need any other support!
To your success in love,
Have a burning relationship question? Send me your question here.