How do you know that a relationship is progressing without the traditional milestones?
August 17, 2011 8:03 AM Subscribe
How do you know that a relationship is progressing without the traditional milestones (marriage, house, children, etc.)?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (30 answers total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
Short story (relationship):
My boyfriend and I are 26, have been dating for two years and living together for one. Next year he's transferring to a different school (we won't know where until the spring) and I want to move with him and stay with him, but I also want some sign that our relationship is moving forward. I would like to get engaged or married, but he's not ready and probably won't be ready until he graduates.
Long story (relationship plus career):
Boyfriend and I met two years ago when I was living in Big City and he was living about 8 hours away. We dated long-distance for a year, then decided to move in together when he went back to school in Smaller City, about an hour away from Big City. I quit my job (which I hated anyway) and we moved to Smaller City and got a kitten.
I found a new job without too much trouble, but quickly realized that I wanted to completely change fields. I started taking writing and editing classes online and applying for jobs and internships in publishing. A few months ago I got a paid internship at a publishing house in Big City where many interns go on to work full-time. I am thrilled. The commute sucks, but I love the work, and while a job there isn’t guaranteed, I want to see the internship through for this year and hopefully next year stay near Big City where there are more job opportunities and we have few very close friends.
Now Boyfriend is getting ready to apply to universities. He’s looking at schools all over the country, but mostly in our state, including a few very good schools in Big City that he likes.
I love Boyfriend very much and we have a great relationship. I see good things for us in the long-term. On the other hand, I have really struggled with finding a career path and it’s taken me a long time just to get where I am, which is not far. I don’t want to give up on my career before it gets started, but I also don’t want to lose Boyfriend.
A few days ago we were talking about what our future looks like, and I said that I want us to stay near Big City and keep moving forward with my career, but I would be willing to move with him and give up the opportunities in Big City if we got engaged or married. He wants to be more secure financially and be a bit older before thinking about getting married, but he loves me and wants to be with me. On his other hand, his education is important to him and he’s going to go where that takes him.
In the best of all possible worlds he’ll get into a school in Big City and we’ll move there together so I can focus on my career while he’s in school. If that happens, marriage isn't so important to me because I'd be living where I'd be living and doing what I'd be doing if we had never met. What I think is more likely is that he’ll wind up a few hours from Big City. If that happens I will probably move with him and try to do editing and publishing, but it won’t be as easy to find work as it would be if we were in Big City. If/when this happens, I want some sign that he recognizes that I made a sacrifice and that our relationship is solid, and that I didn’t move away from my friends and career opportunities for a relationship that isn’t going to progress.
I know that this is a weird question because it involves a lot of hypotheticals and unknowns. I like to think ahead and plan, and our situation is driving me crazy because so much of our future will be determined by outside factors that I cannot control. So I’m trying to prepare myself for all possible outcomes, which I realize is ridiculous. But it’s what I do.
What I keep coming back to is this: given the fact that he’s not ready to get engaged or married, we’re already living together, we have a pet that we care for… what’s next? Have you been in or seen any long-term relationships that had signifiers of love and commitment that didn’t involve marriage?
Thank you for your input.