She's "Not The One"

Q: My best friend is in the Navy, and I moved to live closer to him. We've known one another for 8 years now, and the first 6 years we were both engaged to other people. We both broke off our engagements at the same time two years ago. Since then we see each other all the time, talk on the phone or on IM daily. But I get mixed signals whenever we talk about the future, raising kids, traveling, or making the relationship more serious. He says that I am not the one, and that he doesn't know what he is looking for. Even so, he gets terribly jealous when my ex comes up and has already told me that he is going to chase away any guys that I date because they won't be him nor will they be good enough for me. I've started looking for others, but none of them are right. I know he was really hurt by his break-up, and I think he's scared to have our relationship deepen, yet we do act as though we're more than "just friends." What do all the mixed signals mean? -- Beth, 26

Dr. Susan: You can take it as a general rule that people who give off mixed signals are either genuinely confused about their own wants, needs, and motivations, or else they're trying to drive you mad. Usually the former, as I'm fairly sure is the case here. Your guy friend likes you, enjoys your company, has known you forever (well, eight years at your ages does feel like forever), and he feels protective toward you. He wants you in his life. He's afraid of the lack and of the jealousy he'll feel when you attach to someone else. Yet he has no intention of committing to you for the long-term. He tried that once: six years with one woman and it ended badly for him. Now he doesn't know what he wants or how to trust his own judgment. Another factor may be that after six years with someone, he wants to play the field and he thinks he might meet someone fresh, new, and, thus, more exciting than you, his old pal. I do think you're doing the right thing by expanding your horizons and seeking out other male company with an eye toward finding someone less conflicted. Of course, none of them are right. How big a surprise is that? No one is right until you find the one that is, so expect to meet plenty of not-rights in the meantime. That doesn't mean you should settle for Mr. Anyone-But-You. He says you're not "the one." No mixed signals there. If you're sleeping with him, stop. It's not getting you what you want, which is a deeper, more secure relationship with a guy who thinks you're the best match for him there could possibly be.

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