Dear Harlan,

I’m 26 and have been dating this guy for four months. He is just amazing, smart, successful, interesting and caring. The only problem is that he makes it clear that he’s not ready for a relationship right now, and he could break things off if I get too attached, or if work and studies take him to another city. When he first said this, I was already in love with him. I thought I could handle the whole “dating just for fun” thing or win him over, but now I’m not so sure of either. It hurts me to think that he will be this close with other women in the future, and eventually marry someone who is not me. Should I break up with him? I’m afraid I’ll never meet someone like that again.


Dear Insecure,

You’re better off not meeting someone like him again. Don’t you want a man who is going to encourage your feelings rather than limit them? All the love and energy you’re pouring into this relationship is being poured down a hollow tube. Date someone who is emotionally willing and available. This breakup doesn’t have to be messy and ugly. It can be kind and caring. Tell him: “I love being with you, but I’m not comfortable being with someone who puts a limit on my feelings. When you’re ready to be loved, see if I’m available. But I have to move on.” The other plan is to ignore your gut, hide your feelings and hold your breath hoping he doesn’t break up with you. If you do get dumped, don’t blame him. He told you he isn’t a man who can love and be loved.

Dear Harlan,

I’m a 26-year-old optician aspiring to be an optometrist. I’m usually very quiet, but can be extroverted around the right people. I decided to step outside my comfort zone and tried an online dating site. I ended up meeting a guy who was handsome, smart and has similar interests. We live about six hours from each other, but traveled to see each other. When I first met him, we were so into each other we got physical the first night. We saw each other for a few weeks, but then he broke up with me, explaining I didn’t meet his standards because we got physical the first night. I felt terrible. We ended up getting back together because he felt he made the wrong decision in breaking up with me. We continued to date and met his parents, went to his sister’s wedding, and then he expressed doubts again. He says he thinks he needs help and wants to speak to someone about relationships. Maybe he has an unknown fear or commitment issues. I really like him, but I don’t want to be anyone’s guinea pig. I told him I want to move on because I can’t take this whole back-and-forth thing, and now he wants to get back together. What should I do?

Back and Forth

Dear Back and Forth,

You’re an optician, so you know all about vision. Open your eyes and let this wishy-washy guy with commitment issues focus on himself. Give him time to sort through the past, say, 20 years. Give yourself permission to date other men who know what they want. An indecisive man riddled with self-doubt, double standards and personal issues is not as good as it gets.

Harlan is author of “Getting Naked: Five Steps to Finding the Love of Your Life (While Fully Clothed and Totally Sober)” (St. Martin’s Press). Write Harlan at [email protected] or visit online:

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