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Should I stay with my girlfriend?
February 17, 2007 2:41 PM   Subscribe

Is it a bad idea for me to stay with my girlfriend if I see no marriage potential for our relationship? For the record, we're both in our 30's and we've been together for about half a year.

It's come up in conversation a few times that she'd like to be married at some point in her life, though she's always phrased it in general terms rather than specifically saying that she'd like to be married to me at some point (though I get the feeling that may be what she's thinking).

She's very friendly and considerate, and I think that's what's kept us going. However, the long term deal-breaker for me is that she's care-free/apathetic to the extent that she's lacking any sense of initiative. For instance, there was a community event last fall that she really wanted to participate in. She had all the skills and was qualified for it, she just needed to fill out the registration forms beforehand. Registration was open for several months, but the registration deadline just came and went before she got around to doing anything about it. Sigh.

She's nice person and it's fun to hang out with her, but I get the feeling that personal ambition just isn't her thing. So, um, what do I do now? On one hand, I could see myself continuing to float along for the ride, but on the other hand I'm not sure how I feel about doing that since we likely have different ideas about where things are going/aren't-going in the long term.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (23 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
 
If you don't want to marry her, you probably shouldn't let her waste her childbearing years on you.
posted by konolia at 2:47 PM on February 17, 2007 [4 favorites]


You might want to tell her that her inability to register for that community event is just a sign that she can't be the mother of your children.

So, you're looking for certain things and this chick doesn't have'em. Think about those qualities you need or want and decide if they are that important to lose this woman. If they are, tell her goodbye. If not, then sign her up for the next event she's interested in, to give her a reminder/kick.
posted by The Behatted Wild Man of Greenfield at 2:59 PM on February 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


It's come up in conversation a few times that she'd like to be married at some point in her life, though she's always phrased it in general terms rather than specifically saying that she'd like to be married to me at some point (though I get the feeling that may be what she's thinking).

I get the feeling that's what she's thinking too.

we likely have different ideas about where things are going/aren't-going in the long term


Well, maybe you need to talk about it. Marriage is about communicating and finding a future good for both. Talk to her.
posted by scheptech at 3:01 PM on February 17, 2007


As always, you need to communicate. Six months is, for lots of couples, a good time for the first "where do we see this going?" conversation to happen. No one has to make some sort of huge commitment at six months or move on, but it's important for both parties to know if you're both even in the same ballpark in terms of long-term potential.

I've seen relationships "float along" for years without either partner ever screwing up the courage just to have the "are we serious or not" talk, and -- unless you're both perfectly happy to float along without any defined sense of your relationship (certainly possible, but not a given) -- it can lead to greater disasters down the road than if you just TALK at six months or so when the question naturally starts arising (as it obviously has for you). So do the decent thing and talk.
posted by scody at 3:02 PM on February 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


If you don't think she's "marriage material", then I think you should talk over where you/she see this going, and LET HER GO if you don't agree. I spent three years with a guy who was all "I just don't KNOOOOOW" when what he meant was "I can't marry you, but I love the whole sex without committment thing I'm getting right now." She'll have more respect for you down the road if you come clean sooner rather than later.
posted by lleachie at 3:22 PM on February 17, 2007


With respect, it seems you're being selfish and not willing to open a door to communicate. Take the initiative to talk sincerely and without reservation to her rather than living in a wishy washy way. You already knew that, though, so don't wait any longer.
posted by Burhanistan at 3:36 PM on February 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


My ex was always convinced that I wanted a commitment with him, and it drove me nuts. I did not see us getting married, or staying together long-term, and his insistence that he was somehow forcing me to waste time on him was infuriating. I was a big girl, I knew why I was with him and that if I wanted a long-term partner, I would have to leave him.

All this to say -- don't make assumptions about what she wants, or why she's with you, or where she sees things heading, and please don't assume you need to save her from herself. Certainly let her know where you stand (this isn't a relationship you see ending in marriage) and find out what she's thinking, but again, as long as you're truthful about your needs, it's not your job to make decisions for her about her life. Get out of the relationship when *you* want out, not because you somehow magically intuit she'd be better off.
posted by occhiblu at 3:58 PM on February 17, 2007 [2 favorites]


I don't sense you love her. You like her, get along, enjoy the sex. But love?


She's very friendly and considerate, and I think that's what's kept us going.


And

She's nice person and it's fun to hang out with her, but I get the feeling that personal ambition just isn't her thing. So, um, what do I do now? On one hand, I could see myself continuing to float along for the ride

C'mon. There was no mention of passion or love in your question. Just complacency. If you loved her, you'd have said something about your feelings beyond "nice" and "floating along."

Talk to her (not us.) But if you had that feeling, you might not care so much about her lack of drive or her feeling on marriage.

It really, really, sounds like you know what your problem is...just how to best handle it.
posted by filmgeek at 4:15 PM on February 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


Well, on the one hand, don't string her along if you don't want to be with her long-term. On the other hand, why do relationships have to lead to marriage? I have an uncle who has been with one woman for 15 years and aren't married. We call her "aunt" anyways.
posted by IndigoRain at 4:18 PM on February 17, 2007


Don't string her along.

Talk to her about how you feel.

If she thinks she might ever want to have children, get out of her life asap so she can get on with things.

If she knows she never wants to have children and is happy to float, then I don't see any problem continuing.
posted by alms at 4:35 PM on February 17, 2007


I'm with IndigoRain in one respect... why be normal? Life is what you want it to be.

If the relationship is mutually satisfying and growth producing for both parties, that's all that's required.

Keep in mind a couple of possibilities; one is that your involvement with her will prevent BOTH of you from finding someone better and the other is that the way you treat her is likely the way you'll treat "Ms. Right". (The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior.)

The best time to establish good, adult, responsible communication habits is immediately, if not sooner. Practicing the artful dodge may make you a good politician, but it won't make you a very nice person.

A good read is Difficult Conversations. You can find the link if you have initiative.
posted by FauxScot at 5:04 PM on February 17, 2007


Did you ask her why she let the deadline pass? There are so many variables here...it's wrong to put it down to a lack of motivation/ambition if you haven't clarified it with her.
posted by fire&wings at 5:50 PM on February 17, 2007


I think she's settling on YOU. Don't get me wrong, you're probably a nice guy (or girl), but it sounds a bit like inertia is keeping her with you, too. You're easy, in the sense that you're there.

It does sound like you've hit six months, though. I second giving Difficult Conversations a read then having a mature discussion about your relationship with her.

Well, on the one hand, don't string her along if you don't want to be with her long-term. On the other hand, why do relationships have to lead to marriage? I have an uncle who has been with one woman for 15 years and aren't married. We call her "aunt" anyways.

Then why not sub in "long-term commitment?" That seems to be the issue here. Marriage is just a symbol of it.
posted by dw at 6:02 PM on February 17, 2007


Hmm, this is going to be real interesting. Here you are, much in the same situation as she was. The answer to your problem is written in your question- it is all about "Initiative". It comes in a lot of flavors. For instance- she knew she needed to get off her ass and sign up for that event but she just let it pass on by. She lacked the initiative called "motivation".

You do not like that. That which you do not like you should not be around; especially for the rest of your life.

So, we have established that it is time to kick her to the curb- because if you don't you are just as guilty as she. Because if you don't you will have demonstrated that you lack the initiative called "necessity". Because if you don't you will have demonstrated that you have no ambition to find someone better to spend the rest of your life with. Because if you don't it will mean that the two of you have more in common than you are willing to admit and you might as well get hitched and enjoy the rest of your life as two miserable peas in a pod that never rise to the occassion!

Looks like the choice is pretty easy now. Get busy.
posted by bkeene12 at 6:23 PM on February 17, 2007


Gotta just point out the brilliant implicit (and probably unintended) message in occhiblu's comment:

Certainly let her know where you stand (this isn't a relationship you see ending in marriage)


The conception of marriage as the end of a relationship is excellent, and one that (sadly) a lot of married people might agree with.
posted by nixxon at 6:27 PM on February 17, 2007


your question does read oddly. it seems to go without saying that you are independently (personally) ambitious yet reading between the lines that assumption is quite a leap. meanwhile she's this and she's that and she's the other deal-breaking thing. procrastinator's projections?

check out where you use the word 'we'. there's your intersection.

perhaps the cat's mother waits on the pair of you to present as a worthwhile happening. this woman wants to marry some day (not necessarily you). there'd be a deadline... maybe a leap year.
posted by de at 6:43 PM on February 17, 2007


Is it a bad idea for me to stay with my girlfriend if I see no marriage potential for our relationship? For the record, we're both in our 30's and we've been together for about half a year.

If you've decided that you don't want to marry her, and being married is important to her, then yes, you should probably end the relationship instead of wasting her time.

Recommended reading: How to Dump a Guy (A Coward's Manual), by Kate Fillion and Ellen Ladowsky.
posted by russilwvong at 7:06 PM on February 17, 2007


Echoing everyone else...talk to her about it. If she wants to be married to you, and you don't want to be married to her, then don't waste one another's time.

Also - please note the difference between procrastination and ambition. I'm quite ambitious and know what I want in life, but the registration thing totally sounds like something I'd do...
posted by echo0720 at 8:34 PM on February 17, 2007


I agree with all the advice, but I must advise you of one additional point. If you do break up with her, let her know the reason, but don't go into specifics. For example, you should say, "I really like you, but I feel like our ambitions levels are not compatible." Do not start going into specifics, like mentioning the registration incident.

Take it from someone who knows, it'll only lead to an agonizing few hours of every little thing she hated about you being rehashed.
posted by reenum at 7:56 AM on February 18, 2007


Can I just be candid even if I don't know you and say - quit being a dick. If you're not in it for the longhaul, get out of it.
posted by heartquake at 10:22 AM on February 18, 2007


i agree with everyone saying you need to tell her how you feel. but you don't have to dump her if you're happy with it for now-- let her decide after she knows your feelings whether she is happy with it for now as well.

on the other hand, if you're happy drifting along, do you see any particular end-point to that? will you one day no longer be happy drifting? and when will that day be? these might be more good things to share with her. alternately, if you can't imagine what would cause that and could see drifting along together for the rest of your life, maybe it's worth reconsidering whether you could be happily married to her.
posted by lgyre at 4:43 PM on February 18, 2007


On the other hand, why rush into getting married?
posted by drstein at 10:07 PM on February 18, 2007


The considerate thing would be to tell her you don't want to marry her. Maybe you are fine to putter along till things come to an end, but she may not be. (Also, I second heartquake's comment.)
posted by chunking express at 6:42 AM on February 19, 2007


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