How Long Should I Wait for a Man to Respond_Header

Dear Paulette,

I have been in a relationship with this guy for 2 ½ years and he has yet to tell me he loves me. We don’t live together, and sometimes we will go days without talking to each other unless I either call or text him first. We only see each other on the weekends and for the longest time I always went to his house where I would cook and clean for him.

Recently, I haven’t been going to his house to see if he would come to me and that is not working. I am afraid that he has gotten content with the way things are because we do not talk about where the relationship is going or the future at all. I also have a 3-year-old that is not biologically his, but he says that he loves her. I don’t know what to do and I’m afraid to talk to him due to the outcome for my little girl. He is the only thing that she has known for a father figure.

Please help!




Dear Frustrated,

I’m sorry you are going through this. In general, it doesn’t sound good when after 2 ½ years there isn’t much movement towards further commitment and intimacy. It sounds like he is content and you aren’t.

Since you can only work on and control yourself, my suggestion is that you begin by getting clear about the five following things:

1. Irrespective of him, what do you want in a relationship? Is it reasonable?

Everybody is different in terms of their relationship vision and you need somebody with whom you can co-create a good life. Today some single men and women want a companion and an independent life. Some people even marry and live apart; I’ve read about single moms and dads who marry, but live in separate houses with their respective children. On a regular yardstick though, most singles still want a relationship to progress in intimacy and commitment, usually towards living together and marriage. So the first issue is: what do you want and what does he want out of a relationship? You must know that yourself before you can communicate it.

2. Is this relationship balanced?

I don’t know you, but I’d like you to consider whether you are the main giver in the relationship. And do you ever ask for what you need and want?

In your brief description you said you go to his house, clean his home and cook. It sounded like in 2 ½ years you haven’t asked for what you need because you were afraid to ‘rock the boat.’ (This is an assumption on my part that you need to verify). But, you may have set up an unbalanced relationship from the start. Now you can recognize it and begin to assert your needs and agenda, regarding it as important as his. You can also set boundaries about giving and taking.

You’ve invested 2 ½ years in this relationship and have given him space so maybe it’s time to think about what it is that you want and whether he can meet you there.

3. In a healthy relationship you can be honest and share your feelings. There is also enough room for both people’s core needs and desires.

For example, you may want to live together, but he may still only want to see you on the weekends. The first step would be to see whether your relationship visions can mesh, if at all. Does he want to live with you in a year… or ever? Is he willing to meet you in the middle meanwhile? If he wants to see you on weekends and you want to see him 24/7, would he stay over on weekends and two weekdays to start? Is he flexible enough to stay with you at your place too? Can he hear you, compromise and negotiate?

This process and your communication is as important as whether you get a ring, or the results. Because, if it’s not this issue, it will be another one in a lifelong relationship. Relationships are about mutual respect, honesty, communication and compromise. I hope you two can come together to create a shared vision that works for you both, and your child, in the long run.

4. Sometimes you have to choose yourself.

Love is considering the other person too, but the right lifetime relationship works best when it reflects your core relationship values and vision. If you talk to him and he refuses to listen or move in your direction, than you have a choice to make: Do you choose yourself or him? What will be more painful: walking away now and finding a better match, or settling for something you really don’t want for the rest of your life?

5. You must factor your daughter into the equation.

Lastly, you mentioned your child. It must be a very important factor for your child to have a father figure and I don’t want to minimize the importance of this for all three of you. I am unclear how good he is to your daughter, and how much of a loss this would be if you were to break up. The thing is, he’s only there on the weekends, so there’s the potential for you and your child to have a full-time emotionally available father figure and a fully committed male in your lives. Of course, there is no guarantee this would happen.

I thank you for sharing this question because as a psychologist and dating coach, I know it’s a common issue singles face. You have some hard choices to make. Only you can decide what you want out of a relationship and what you are willing to accept and why. I do think it’s time to be honest with yourself and the man you’re dating. If he is content, then he doesn’t have the impetus to have a conversation. It’s time to take responsibility for your choice and the relationship you are creating so you don’t feel like you’re a victim – knowing what’s possible and choosing consciously. As you do this, you will more powerfully manifest your vision of love, whether it’s with him or someone else.

I wish you all the love you deserve,


Dr. Paulette Kouffman Sherman is a psychologist and the author of “Dating from the Inside Out” and “When Mars Women Date.” She also works as a love coach and runs groups on dating and relationship issues in Manhattan. Learn more at: and
  1. Words are not always that important. I think it’s more about how the man treats you. There are many people who don’t like to say, ‘I love you.’ They’d rather show it, and I think that’s what counts.

  2. Dr. Paulette is being very professional, diplomatic and gave great advice. I’d like to add that what is best for you and your daughter is knowledge you have deep inside yourself. It might mean a “new courage” to change a pattern or comfort zone of a “wishing syndrome”. Unfortunately, as the doctor inferred, you’ve set a precedence that might (you know in your gut) be taking advantage of a sweet lady and child just because it’s easy, available and he doesn’t have to work hard. A man who loves your daughter, yet doesn’t express the same to you isn’t going to be a great mentor on how she should expect to be treated in an adult relationship with a man as what she is experiencing isn’t as much his love for her, yet how she views he is with you. Be strong and love yourself. Answer the questions the doctor poses in her article. Something tells me that you are worth more than you give yourself credit to as perhaps you are listening to the messages others give you in how they treat you, instead of mentoring for others how you want and deserve to be treated. THIS is the ultimate Mothering and modeling for a woman with a daughter – Go do your self-love, strong woman number and attract what you are truly worth inside!

  3. I agree that it is important to know what you want and need and to be able to make that clear to a potential partner, without being afraid that it may drive him away. This guy sounds like he doesn’t really care if you are in his life or not. You deserve more. Work on yourself first, do what you need to secure a good life for yourself and your child, and then look for a partner who has the same goals as you, and who values and appreciates you. Good luck!

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