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I’m Interested, He’s not

by Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

From a woman in Australia: My love interest asked me to leave him alone and stop pursuing him, even though i know he is interested. I met this man through mutual friends. We had lunch together a few months ago where he told me he is having a mental breakdown and has PTSD. He had been withdrawing for months and was concerned about his relationship with his friends. Months later I find out he also has bipolar disorder.

After our lunch, I try to organize another get together, but he seemed to lose interest and stopped responding to my texts all together. After a few weeks of silence, he reappears, but I was very confused as to where that left me. I would ask him for a coffee, but he would say no. At the same time, he would create the impression that he was interested.

I know he is very fearful of another relationship, but he keeps trying to reel me in, only to push me away when I get too close. A few weeks ago I decided to directly ask him what he wanted from me as things are getting nowhere, to which his response was to stop the chasing as there is nothing between us.

He tried to make it sound like it was all in my head and I was a creepy stalker type. But I am certain he was interested and was trying, but seems so fearful when I get to close. I’m not sure what to do from here. I have to respect his wishes to leave him alone, but he seems to be in a bad place again. I am concerned about his well-being, but I don’t think I can say anything to him out of respect for his request. What should I do?

What you should do is leave the man alone. Your instinct that he is “interested” may be correct. But he also knows himself well enough to know that his other issues and fears are bigger than his interest. He’s probably right about that. Give him room to figure himself out. If he does and is truly interested in you, he will get in touch. In the meantime, understand that a coffee together means only that you are spending a pleasant half hour having coffee with a friend. If you can’t do that, then do both of you a favor and decline the invitation.

You are in your 40s. I understand why it is difficult to give up on a man who interests you and who seems to be interested back. But this relationship isn’t going to go where you want it to go — at least not in the foreseeable future. Take a big step back and make the effort to find someone who is as available as you are for a deeper and more committed future.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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