Man try­ing to find him­self may be lost cause for dat­ing


DEAR ABBY: I was mar­ried for more than 20 years. My ex and I di­vorced five years ago. Dur­ing that time I stayed busy fo­cus­ing on my chil­dren.

About seven months ago I met a nice guy. We saw each other for about five months, then out of nowhere, he broke things off. I was dev­as­tated. He said his rea­son for the breakup was “he needed time to find him­self.” He was re­cently di­vorced and has sole cus­tody of his kids. He has been un­der a great deal of stress and started see­ing a ther­a­pist a cou­ple of months ago.

I un­der­stand why he needs this time, but I wish he would let me help. He said he wants to re­main friends. I avoided con­tact with him for sev­eral weeks, but now I am drawn back to him. My friends keep telling me to for­get him, but I can’t get him off my mind. We talk al­most daily and have even got­ten to­gether a cou­ple of times. I keep telling my­self all the rea­sons it won’t work. Should I run away or hope to work things out? — HOPE­LESS RO­MAN­TIC IN WISCONSIN

DEAR HOPE­LESS RO­MAN­TIC: When a man says he “needs time to find him­self” and breaks things off, it usu­ally means he’s no longer in­ter­ested or ready for the kind of re­la­tion­ship you’re look­ing for.

This man is newly di­vorced and par­ent­ing solo, so he has as much on his plate as he can han­dle right now. That he’s see­ing a ther­a­pist is a wise move, so give him credit for that. But the kind of prob­lems he is try­ing to work through are not ones you can “help” him with. At a later date things may work out, but clearly not now. A friend­ship may be pos­si­ble, but only if you are strong enough to dis­en­gage emo­tion­ally un­til he is ready — which could take a very long time.

DEAR ABBY: I have no­ticed a trend at chil­dren’s birth­day par­ties. The chil­dren aren’t open­ing their presents at the party. In­stead, the par­ents col­lect the gifts and take them home for the child to open later. To me, this seems rude and in­con­sid­er­ate to the chil­dren who are at­tend­ing the party. Part of the en­joy­ment of giv­ing a gift is see­ing the re­cip­i­ent’s re­sponse. Please let me know the rule of eti­quette in this mat­ter. Am I cor­rect in think­ing that presents should be opened at chil­dren’s birth­day par­ties in front of their guests? — GIFT ETI­QUETTE

DEAR G.E.: No rule of eti­quette de­crees that gifts “must” be opened at the birth­day party. Be­cause this trend both­ers you, ask the par­ent of the birth­day child why she or he has cho­sen to have the gifts opened af­ter­ward, be­cause there may be more than one rea­son for it. One that oc­curs to me might be that it’s a way of pre­vent­ing em­bar­rass­ment on the part of chil­dren who might not be able to af­ford a gift as ex­pen­sive as some of the other chil­dren’s.

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