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Dear Mary: Men want to be my friend, but they don't want marriage

Q: I am in my late 20s, I have a career that I'm happy with, lots of friends and a good social life. I'm not in a relationship now, but have had a couple of good relationships with guys I have retained as friends. I can't, however, seem to get beyond an old love affair.

I met this particular guy in college and we went out on and off for about four years. Though we dated on and off for a while, it was never really steady.

I was mad about him but he couldn't commit -- though he acted as if I was his soulmate and seemed pleased that I felt he was mine. I finished it about four years ago and I have gone out with several people since. I never felt as strongly about any of them as I did about him but I was glad that I had got over him.

We remained friends and he often spoke about how he felt he would never commit to anybody.

You can imagine then how shocked I was to hear that he is married. He wrote to tell me and asked me if I would meet him and his new wife. I went to see them and wished them well -- which I truly meant. I can honestly say that I felt nothing whatsoever for him. I didn't fancy him and certainly didn't feel any jealousy of her.

Yet I have felt inordinately upset since then. I keep asking myself why, as I couldn't imagine being with him still, let alone married to him. Yet I can't shake thoughts of him from my mind and I find it hard to motivate myself into meeting anyone else.

I wonder am I the type of person that men like to be friends with, but not marry. Is there something in me that frightens men off? I know I'm pretty and have a good personality, yet I am terrified that I will be alone.

A: YOU don't say why you actually finished this relationship so I have to assume that it was because he wouldn't commit to you. So as you weren't getting everything you wanted from the relationship, you ended it.

He, on the other hand, was perfectly happy with how things were going, and was probably even surprised that it was over. But now the difficulty is that he ended up committing to the girl who is now his wife, although he used to say to you that he had a problem with commitment.

I realise that you didn't fancy him anymore when you met him, and didn't feel any jealousy towards his wife, but you did fancy him when you were going out with him and had he committed to you it would have made you very happy.

Therefore, you are entitled to feel upset by what might have been, and this is one of the reasons that you are upset and keep on thinking about him. There may also be an element of wanting what you can't have, and if he were to be suddenly free again, I am sure you would not be at all interested.

Just because this happened to you once it doesn't mean that men would like to be friends but not want to marry you. However, both men and women pick up vibes very quickly if a prospective partner is anxious to marry and settle down, and this is very much a turn-off.

It would be good if you don't look too far down the road when next you have a date. Enjoy the date for what is happening at the time, rather than wondering if he is going to be a life partner. Then, when you are least expecting it, the right man will come along. So don't be too hard on yourself -- focus instead on moving on and enjoying life with whatever it brings.

Submit your letters to Mary anonymously at dearmary.ie.

Sunday Indo Living