The guy I've been seeing is super hot-and-cold with me. Am I just supposed to wait around for him to make up his mind?
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Dear Miss Information,
I've been seeing a guy for the past few months, and I think he's fantastic. We agree that we have a connection. He's said he sees me as an equal and feels understood. The problem is that he's moving away, and though it's only an hour commute, he's very wary about pursuing what we have. When we met he'd only just come out of a long-term, long-distance relationship and was still very confused about the whole thing, leading him to run fairly hot and cold with me. He freely admits and feels ashamed about this. It's like we get to a relaxed place, but then he freaks out and hides under a rock for a day or so, and then we see each other and everything is great again.
We had a discussion a week ago about what was going to happen between us when he moved. He was sure that we should call it quits because we're both starting new chapters in our lives (I'm going back to university and he's starting a new job). Then, during our last weekend together, he told me not to be upset and that we were "just getting some time apart, some head space" and we'd "see what happens." Then he talked about future events we'll go to together and said he couldn't stand the idea that we wouldn't be in each other's lives at least to some degree.
We've tried being friends before, and we know our mutual attraction is too hard to ignore. He's been gone a couple of days and I haven't heard much from him. I don't know whether to give up on this and move on or be patient and wait and see.
— Waiting Hopefully
Dear Waiting Hopefully,
Here's the answer key: "let's see what happens" means "let's see what happens." Neither of you have any idea what the relationship will look like in a week or a month, so you'll just have to… see. And — I hear you — it is the worst. Don't you hate when words mean what they mean?
I'm not being hard on you. "Just chill and coast on life's mysteries, bro!" is obnoxious. But you and he are both in big transition phases. So take your relationship being a gray area as a given. The real question is, how able are you to let things shake out?
Note that "let things shake out" doesn't mean "wait passively by for him to call the shots." You're 50% of this ambiguous relationship, so don't sell out your stake for fear of stepping on his toes. One thing I gather from your letter is that, as the flightier member of the relationship, he holds much of the power. He'll freak out, and you'll dutifully wait for him to show back up. In order to "see what happens," you should be putting your focus on your own happiness. If it's uncomfortable, speak up; if it turns out not to be what you want, do the same. Maybe staying in touch will be effortless, or maybe it will be strained. Only time will tell, which is what makes "let's see what happens!" such an unflinching bastard.
Ultimately, you get to feel out your own boundaries. Look at it as a strong position to be in, rather than a weak position of waiting around for him. If the whole "waiting and seeing" thing makes you miserable, then drop it and move on. But it's up to you to decide whether the relationship is worth waiting for, even if the wait is painful.