(The Root) —
"The love of my life played my 'Big' for five years. He wined and dined, bought gifts, we went on trips, etc. He is in a relationship. I am recently single. He wants to do dinner so we can have a serious talk. 'No B.S.,' is what he said. What is there to say now? He made his decision to pursue someone two years ago. Now he says he's not ready to marry because of me." —U.P.
The hopeless romantic in me wants the same thing that you ultimately want: that this "Mr. Big" you speak of — a nickname adopted from the leading male love interest in Sex and the City — will pull off some miraculous sort of personality turnaround in which, despite ducking commitment (to you) for years, he will suddenly see the light and realize "you're the one." The realist in me knows people don't work that way.
I hate to break it to you, but the guy who is charming but ultimately really bad for you only becomes boyfriend-husband material in romance novels and romantic comedies (even Mr. Big finally committed). In the real world, guys like Mr. Big remain uncommitted to you and continue to string you along for as long as you'll allow them to.
It's been five years. Surely this isn't the first time he's pitched having a "serious talk," and the results are going to be the same as all the ones before — a seemingly grand gesture in the moment (more on that below), a brief stint when he looks like he's really, finally ready to commit this time, and then ultimately he doesn't. Again.
The blinking red light here that this guy isn't good for you is the TV character with whom you equate him. Mr. Big was all flash and sparkle and meaningless grand gestures. He spent a lot of money just like your guy, which meant a lot to Carrie — that would be you in this scenario — because she was broke. Big had it to spend. It wasn't the big deal she made it out to be.
Too many women get so caught up in the romance (and money) that they overlook the lack of a man's substance. Big was a baller, but he also moved to another country and didn't invite his girlfriend to go along (which says mountains about how committed he was to the relationship); he came back from that brief jaunt engaged to a woman half his age; married her (though he claimed for years that he wasn't up for commitment — it wasn't commitment that was a problem, it was Carrie); cheated on his wife (with Carrie, who was good enough to be a mistress but not a wife); moved across country (to Napa) only telling Carrie he was leaving because she happened to stop by; and after 10 years of mo' drama, mo' drama, mo' drama, he stood Carrie up at the altar.
I can't help but notice that despite dating for five years, you don't call the "love of your life" your "ex." Maybe that's semantics. But maybe that's because despite all the gifts and trips and fancy dinners, he never committed to you. If that's the case, that says a lot about how he feels about you. You call him the "love of my life," but does he feel the same about you? That matters.
He can have a lot to say now, but really it's just empty words. He's not in a position to explore anything with you because he's already committed elsewhere. What it sounds like is he is bored in his relationship and needs an outlet — you — to spice up his life. If he were really unsure about his relationship, and truly interested in pursuing you as you seem to hope, he would have left her already and be coming to you with some real options on the table. He's not doing that.
A final thought on "Big" types. This back-and-forth game of emotional highs and lows will continue as long as you allow it to. If you want to end this tug of war — which I'm not sure you do — you're going to have to be the one to let go of the rope. Start by declining his invitation and asking him to give you a call when/if he's ever single and can offer you a commitment. Unfortunately, if he reminds you of "Big," that's not likely to happen.
Demetria L. Lucas is a contributing editor to The Root, a life coach and the author of A Belle in Brooklyn: The Go-to Girl for Advice on Living Your Best Single Life. She answers your dating and relationship questions on The Root each week. Feel free to ask anything at firstname.lastname@example.org.