How do I feel better about my boyfriend not wanting to live together?
December 30, 2010 8:44 AM   Subscribe

My boyfriend of 3.5 years doesn't want to live with me yet, and I'm incredibly hurt by that. Please help me think about this in a more constructive way, and help me move on from toxic thoughts about his lack of desire to live with me.

My long-term boyfriend and I are generally a very, very happy couple. I love him dearly. However, his indecision about moving in together followed by his ultimate decision to not move in together have really hurt me.

A brief timeline:
August 2010: I say to the boyfriend, "Hey, my roommate's getting married, and I'm going to move out off my place. I spend 29-30 nights a month at your place. I think we need to take this step to start figuring out our future. What do you think? I need an answer by November 1 so I can give 2-months notice to my landlord." He says he's on the fence, but he'll think about it.
September-October 2010: We talk about it. He can't decide anything.
November 1: Still no decision. I give my 2 month notice anyway.
November 15: Still no decision. I tell him he needs to make a decision now. He decides he doesn't want to live together.

So, I'm moving into my own studio. Which should be and exciting and fabulous thing for a young woman, but I've been totally miserable.

Things that bother me about this whole ordeal:

He's had little compassion about why this upsets me, and he has acted pretty cold about the whole thing. However, he does have a point that I gave him a choice and agreed to live by myself.

I'm frustrated that it took him so long to give me a "No." If we weren't going to change the status quo, why not tell me 4 months ago?

He's very indecisive in general (about life/purchases/everything).

The reasons he gives for not wanting to live together are
A) Well, we already practically live together, so we're learning about each other that way, so why change things?
B) If we live together we might as well get married.
C) If we move in together and break up, it would really suck.
A and B seem really inconsistent to me, but C is right, but it's going to suck regardless.

Factors that may be contributing to my unhappiness:
We've spent 3.5 weeks apart during the time between his decision and now (2 days before my move) due to vacation, so we haven't had the usual amount of lovey-dovey time.
He scheduled his flight back from home for 3 days after my move-in date. This makes me feel frustrated as I've helped him move multiple times.

Anyway, I want to feel optimistic about the boyfriend and I's future as well as optimistic about my living situation, but I'm having lots of doubts and unhappy thoughts. Please give me advice for thinking about this in a way that doesn't leave me unhappy/lets me embrace what has happened.
posted by superlibby to Human Relations (48 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
...he has acted pretty cold about the whole thing.

If we weren't going to change the status quo, why not tell me 4 months ago?

This is 99% conjecture, but pressure makes certain types of people respond in certain types of ways. I also get very cold when I have to deal with Big Life Decisions because I feel like emotions will interfere what, in the end, needs to be a logical decision based on facts and not feelings. Moving in with someone while only considering the emotional part of it is a giant mistake. There's a whole lot of things to consider -- things that may well take more than four months to sort through -- before you decide to share a home with a significant other.

Even if you spend every day at his place, it is still his place with his rules and abandoning that idea to our place with our rules is a big step. And it is a step that has no inherent relationship-length associated with it. I have friends who moved in together after a couple of months, and friends who waited over a decade. It is different for everyone.
posted by griphus at 8:57 AM on December 30, 2010 [4 favorites]

A) Well, we already practically live together, so we're learning about each other that way, so why change things?
B) If we live together we might as well get married.
C) If we move in together and break up, it would really suck.

A) Living together is a whole different ball game from practically living together.
B) That's ridiculous. My partner and I lived together for two and a half years before signing the piece of paper. And we only did that for financial reasons. One thing has nothing to do with the other.
C) Yeah, so what?

I think your boyfriend is stalling for no good reason. You don't mention how old you are, but if you're both adults (older than 25 or so), 3.5 years is long enough of a relationship to know if you're ready to move in together!
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 8:58 AM on December 30, 2010 [11 favorites]

It sounds like you should ask him to marry you. Would you marry him?
posted by CrazyJoel at 8:59 AM on December 30, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: You want him to move in with you because you see this as the next step forward in your relationship and indicative of whether your relationship will continue to progress. He has declined to do so. It is quite possible (indeed likely I would argue) he does not want to make any decision and is happy to let things 'go on as they are'. You have to make a decision as to whether this is acceptable to you or whether you need some greater form of commitment. If you decide you need a greater commitment and he will not make one then you leave him or put up with it. You need to put this to him (perhaps not so baldly) and be prepared to accept the consequences.
posted by biffa at 9:00 AM on December 30, 2010 [31 favorites]

He took a vacation without you? Was it with family or something? It sounds like he's not as serious about the relationship as you are. Which is kind of sad because most people are pretty serious after 3.5 years, but that's a generalization. It might be a good time to sit him down and ask him what he sees himself doing in 5 years. I'm not saying you should break up with him, but if he's considering it as a possible reason not to cohabitate, that'd scare me a little. I personally couldn't imagine not living or even being with my SO, but that's just me. Some people are highly dependent in relationships (me and my SO) and some aren't. You just need to know what you should expect if you are interested in being with this fella for a long time.
posted by two lights above the sea at 9:02 AM on December 30, 2010 [1 favorite]

I don't think you can or should feel better about this - your feelings are a fact of life and you shouldn't have to ignore them or bottle them up in order to salvage a relationship. I rewrote this a few times but ultimately I agree with biffa.
posted by muddgirl at 9:03 AM on December 30, 2010 [4 favorites]

Obviously he's happy with the way things are now. And he doesn't want to commit to you.

You may be in different places in life. You want a relationship that moves forward and becomes something. He doesn't.

I think you should be hurt, because it is a rejection. He's rejecting committing to a life with you. He wants things kept neat and separate so that if he doesn't like you, or finds someone better, it won't be too messy when you break up. He may like you a lot, but you're obviously not the only one for him.

I mean, 3 and a half years, really, is enough to decide whether someone's the one you want to be with or not.

You need to decide whether you want to keep dating him, or if you need a relationship that moves forward. If the latter, then you probably have to give him an ultimatum. And you may need to break things off for a while.

Sometimes people are emotionally lazy. They don't want to make commitments or decisions. Sometimes it takes a guy almost losing a girl to realize he really does want to make a commitment. Sometimes it takes a girl insisting on commitment to discover that the guy isn't really into her that much, he just likes having a relationship.

You might try withdrawing a bit. Be too busy to get together. If that doesn't bother him, if it's a relief, then you know where you stand. If he freaks out, then maybe you're important to him after all.
posted by musofire at 9:04 AM on December 30, 2010 [4 favorites]

As a married man of 7 years I truly believe that living together prior to marriage is a great idea, it helps both of you realize the quirks the other has and allows you the freedom to cut the relationship off, even if it is a long one, if the living together brings out personality traits that reduce the relationship to something that can't live on.

A: that being said, his point A makes no sense, actually living together and living together are two totally different things. One means you are holding onto a crutch of a place you call your own that you can go back to alone without making each other deal with problems you may be experiencing. (I hope that is a good way to put it).

B: No. Living together allows for the people in the relationship to learn how they act under the same roof knowing (either subconsciously or right out front) that they can't run and hide somewhere, and how they combine some financial decisions, etc... It also allows for you to call it quits without the hassle of a divorce.

C: yes it would, but it would be better than getting married and then learning that he likes to sit naked on your couch eating Cheetos and drinking beer when you're not around. Nothing against beer or Cheetos.

I know some men in their 30s that still won't move in with their girlfriends, so keep your chin up and stay in there, he might just need a bit more time, but DO NOT force the situation, lest you chase him away.
posted by zombieApoc at 9:06 AM on December 30, 2010

1. Did you ask him to help you move? Men are pretty clueless about things that haven't directly been communicated to them.

2. I don't presume to know anything about your boyfriend and what's going on in his mind. My thoughts: he definitely isn't ready to get married. Moving in together has pretty much all the responsibilities and implications of a marriage without the legal binding. Despite the fact that you spend most of your nights with him, he enjoys his autonomy. There's a difference, even between spending every night together, and actually living together. I spent about 75% of my free time at my husband's house before we got married, but actually living together was still a whole other experience--laundry, dishes, cleaning, bills...basically the minutia of life. It's wonderful, but it's also often frustrating.

3. Why did he take so long to get back to you? Well, he knew which answer you wanted. Perhaps we was trying to convince himself to give it a go. The truth is, none of us know. If the indecisiveness bothers you beyond this one incident, you need to communicate that. In general, just communicate. Ask him where he sees your relationship going. You deserve an answer to that question.
posted by litnerd at 9:08 AM on December 30, 2010

Well, you gave him a deadline, and one with some pressure (your homelessness or new lease) behind it. And, to be fair, "start figuring out our future" is about as euphemistic as "where is this relationship going?" It's not a question of where, it's a question of if. Where is pre-ordained and the signposts up ahead read "Engagement," "Marriage," "Children," "Death," maybe with some detours past "Divorce" or "Falling Rocks Ahead" or "Serious Illness."

You basically asked the guy to decide to commit to spending the rest of his life with you, by November. Stop and reconsider that without all of the euphemistic language, from his viewpoint, as if you were him (knowing him as you do), and you should have your answer.
posted by adipocere at 9:09 AM on December 30, 2010 [4 favorites]

It's good that you're evaluating. Try to be honest to yourself about what's going on and don't make excuses for him (eyes wide open). Recognize both what you need and that sometimes things just exist in gray areas.
posted by sarelicar at 9:11 AM on December 30, 2010

He's very indecisive in general (about life/purchases/everything).

This is the big issue, in my opinion. Ask yourself this: are you ok with him being this way when you've decided something? Did this situation instill you with comfortable or confidence about how you two reach a decision as a couple? If not, how do you see ithigns changing so that you're both happy how decisions are made and communicated to each other?
posted by nomadicink at 9:12 AM on December 30, 2010

Best answer: I think you're giving him too much power and control over your life. He let you dangle for months while he dillydallied over whether or not he'd let you move in with him. That's not nice, thoughtful, considerate and kind which are qualities that are important to me and hopefully to you too. You're letting him decide what your future will be and these are choices you should be making for yourself.

What do you want in the future? Do you want marriage and maybe kids, either specifically with this guy or just in general? Three and a half years is plenty long enough to know a person pretty well and to know if they have the qualities that would make a good life partner. I think you should ask yourself if you'd be happy with things continuing like they are indefinitely, and with him getting to make these big decisions unilaterally. Then sit down and ask him where he sees your relationship going. If he can't tell you, that's your answer, and then maybe it's time to cut your losses and take back control of your own destiny. Seriously, why does he get to decide where you live? If you're a committed couple, shouldn't you be making those decisions together?
posted by Kangaroo at 9:17 AM on December 30, 2010 [43 favorites]

It's hard but it shouldn't be this hard.
posted by notned at 9:21 AM on December 30, 2010 [2 favorites]

I meant to add ... those "toxic thoughts" about what his actions are telling you are there for a reason. Don't banish them .. listen to them. It's most definitely a rejection of sorts, and you feel better about it by seizing back control of your own life. If I were in your shoes ... I'd say "see ya". New year, new you.
posted by Kangaroo at 9:23 AM on December 30, 2010 [1 favorite]

I agree with previous posters. This happened to me and it ended up being largely indicative of my ex being in a different place than I was, which I wish I could have accepted (like it sounds you are in the midst of) rather than hoping he would change and waiting.

In my case, I needed more. Your decision is whether or not you do. Good luck!
posted by stranger danger at 9:23 AM on December 30, 2010

People might not agree with me but if he does not want to move in with you after 3.5 years then it sounds like break up material to me. It is not worth your time to continue this relationship.

Now if your only say 20 then ignore this advice but if your say 28 then dump him.
posted by majortom1981 at 9:25 AM on December 30, 2010 [1 favorite]

He's had little compassion about why this upsets me

I also mentioned to touch on this point. Many people can't look at a situation, or themselves, from another person's perspective, so it's common for people to not have compassion.

And others said above, you need to make decisions for your life to be happy. If he is at a different place in life then maybe after a tough conversation that means you two part ways in some form of a friendly ending of the relationship.

good luck
posted by zombieApoc at 9:27 AM on December 30, 2010

You're not going to like this answer, but I think this is a sign that he's not willing to commit to the relationship in ways you'd like to, which demonstrates incompatibility. He wants things to stay as they are. If you were happy with the way things are and didn't want them to change then you wouldn't have wanted to move in with him. Maybe he needs an ultimatum.

That said, re: zombie's post, I've been married for 9.5 years and we never lived together before we got married. It's been wonderful. I just wait until the kids go to bed before I drink beer on the couch in my underwear. Compromise is important.
posted by monkeymadness at 9:28 AM on December 30, 2010 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I'd start spending some time alone at your place some nights. Rediscover yourself--invest less in what is going on with him, so that these things upset you less.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:35 AM on December 30, 2010 [21 favorites]

Not living together after dating for 3.5 isn't necessarily a big deal, but it becomes one if you *really* want to cohabit and he doesn't. I don't blame you at all for being sad and upset. It sounds like you both want different levels of commitment to the relationship, and an issue like that isn't going to go away--it's just going to come up more often.
posted by smirkette at 9:39 AM on December 30, 2010 [2 favorites]

Best answer: However, he does have a point that I gave him a choice and agreed to live by myself.

This is a little bit of a red flag for me. Not a huge one, but something to think about. Does he generally have a habit of treating your statements like contracts or depositions, of ignoring your feelings and then pointing to something that you said as a kind of technicality to let him off the hook? I mean, it's true that you gave him a choice, and I think he can be a perfectly good boyfriend and not want to live with you. It's less clear to me that he can be a perfectly good boyfriend and not care that you're hurting.

Actually, that's my advice more generally - what I'd think about is whether this is a pattern of behavior, or is confined to this one issue. If he's normally compassionate and cares how you feel, but not now, maybe he has some weird thing about his living situation. But if he generally ignores your feelings and doesn't care when you tell him you're hurt (and you are telling him, right?), then it may be time to move on.
posted by Ragged Richard at 9:53 AM on December 30, 2010 [13 favorites]

Best answer: The question is framed as "teach me mental hacks that will stop me from feeling bad about this!", but it is written in such a way as to slant-invite "sympathize with me about how unreasonable my boyfriend is being!" -- and indeed many answerers are answering the second formulation.

The second formulation is a bad question that will inevitably receive bad answers: regardless of what sitcom culture may teach, there is no single "reasonable" approach to commitment, and the most that can be said is that the OP and her boyfriend may not be fully compatible in their instincts here (which does not mean they aren't fully compatible as a couple).

But the first formulation ("How do I feel better about" this?) is a much wiser question, which I hope more posters will start answering.

My own response to it: remind yourself that not all people share your instincts about how to express love, and that it is perfectly possible that your boyfriend loves you completely without feeling that cohabitation is a pragmatic or effective means of expressing that love.
posted by foursentences at 9:53 AM on December 30, 2010 [19 favorites]

How can someone "feel better" about anything? Time, possibly, and meaningful conversations with the offending party. "Just getting over it" or "convincing yourself that your instincts and feelings are wrong wrong wrong", in my experience, are unproductive.
posted by muddgirl at 9:57 AM on December 30, 2010 [1 favorite]

You've asked for ways to feel better about this, and I think one of the big ways to do that is to realize that what this means to You is not, likely, what it means to Him. You feel like it's a rejection of you and your relationship. He would probably say it's just protection both of you and avoiding risk (his Point C).

So! The good news is that he wants to spend time with you and continue the relationship. You didn't ask for this but I think it'd help you guys in the future if, after some lovely dovey time, you can help him to see why you were hurt, and talk a little bit more about his risk-averse and commitment-averse reasoning for making his choice.
posted by ldthomps at 9:59 AM on December 30, 2010

Best answer: From my standpoint this is most likely not a "rejection" or a sign that he is not "willing to commit". Commitment isn't just determined by where you put your personal material shit and where you sleep 7 nights a week. The dude's not ready to give up his castle. He values his personal space. That's all. He could be less wishy-washy about the whole thing though and just tell you. However, setting deadlines like "I need an answer by November 1" for life changes that require significant insight would stress me out. I don't schedule my future and I'd rather take things at pace that allows for things to unfold naturally. Perhaps he is the same way.
posted by Beardsley Klamm at 10:00 AM on December 30, 2010 [1 favorite]

I'm of two minds in response to this question. On the one hand, I want to make snide remarks about the boyfriend, along the lines of the old saw about "Why should he buy the cow when he gets the milk for free." On the other hand, I can sympathize with his indecisiveness and resistance to change, because I sometimes share those qualities, and I don't think they make me a bad person (although so far in my life, their consequences have mostly just affected me, not the people around me).

But ultimately I think biffa, two lights, musofire, Kangaroo, stranger danger, and zombieApoc are right: this boils down to a question of compatibility. It may be time to reevaluate whether you and your boyfriend can both be happy in the same relationship. If not, maybe you should set each other free to find more compatible matches.

And I agree with Kangaroo and muddgirl that what you are asking us for—a way to "feel better," "feel optimistic," and banish the "doubts and unhappy thoughts"—might actually be the opposite of what you need to be happy in the long run. I'm not saying "Break up with him, stat"; I'm saying don't ignore your gut sense that this is a crisis point in your relationship. You don't have to just go along with his choice and be happy about it.
posted by Orinda at 10:00 AM on December 30, 2010 [1 favorite]

In most relationships, couples end up sleeping over at one partner's house more than the other. In this case, according to you it was his house that you stayed over at nearly every night.

You don't say anything about his living situation -- lease, roommate, apartment-size, anything. Would moving in together require him to leave his current living situation, or had you hoped to just move in there? Either way there may be practical reasons that would make him reluctant.

Though if that's the case, then there is a way to communicate that which still leaves you feeling supported emotionally, and he didn't manage to do that.

Honestly, this IS a "where is this relationship heading" issue and should be treated as such. If after this much time he isn't ready to embrace the idea of living together, he sure as hell is not considering any long-term commitments that are any more serious than what you've got going. If that was fine with you, there'd be no problem -- but you are ready for more. People don't emotionally arrive at the same place at exactly the same time, but after 3.5 years together, a couple needs to begin to plan their future together.
posted by hermitosis at 10:02 AM on December 30, 2010 [3 favorites]

This answer doesn't really give you what you ask for but from what you've described, but if A,B & C are a fair representation of his thoughts, then he doesn't sound like you'll be able to run forward together into a future with him any time soon. If you want to feel optimistic, you may need to concentrate on yourself, rather than making the best of this situation.

Honestly, if you've been dating for 3.5 years and he's not helping you move, then I don't see what use he is to you.
posted by bonobothegreat at 10:17 AM on December 30, 2010 [1 favorite]

I see that you're 25. That's an age kind of on the line of where one might feel too young to cohabitate and it being reasonable purely based on age vs. where he should be mature enough to want to do this if y'all are serious. I moved in with my then-boyfriend of a couple years when I was 22 and it was a mistake for sure. Some people just want more time to live on their own. As a non-religious person, I see living together as barely different from being married. The hardest part of being married seems to be being able to live together and work as a team, and you'll be doing that if you share a home.

More concerning than the fact that he won't move in with you are that he left you hanging for months, and that he doesn't seem to care that you're upset. You should probably sit down and have a talk with him about where you see the relationship going and your ideal timelines for milestones like moving in together and marriage.
posted by elpea at 10:46 AM on December 30, 2010

Response by poster: Hey everyone. I appreciate all of the advice so far.

In terms of the slant-invite question of "commiserate with me about this so-and-so," I think it comes across as that way because I am so miserable. I appreciate the sympathy and am definitely taking the commitment issues surrounding this seriously, but I'm not really in DTMFA territory quite yet.

On the him being on vacation thing -- we live in a city that is far away from both of our families -- we live in the midwest, I'm from Texas, and he's from the west coast. So far, we spend major holidays with our own families and take long vacations to our respective homes. I'm not mad that I'm not with him, I am POed that he decided to come back too late to help me move.

I talked to him this afternoon. I think since the initial falling out after the moving decision, I haven't been doing the best job of articulating how hurt I am (because I've been trying and failing to move on), and I don't think he realized the extent of my anger and hurt, and he does feel terrible and wants to make a decision about where we're going. He also feels like a jerk about not being here to help me move. I asked him point-blank if this is just a way of telling me he doesn't think it's going to happen for us, and I told him I cannot be uncertain about our future indefinitely. I told him we really need to start figuring out the nuts and bolts of our future (or at least if we are going to give this an honest go with additional commitment and move together after my next lease is up) in the next few months. If it's not going to happen or if he can't make any further decisions, he and I will most likely break up and I will move back to Texas. I cry when I think about this because beyond this major issue we've got a really good and happy thing.

I would say that in general he is fabulous, compassionate, and a great boyfriend except for the whole lifetime commitment thing. I want to give this an honest shot, and that's why I want advice for thinking about the whole not-living-together in a more optimistic way. Strategies for thinking about this from his perspective and making me feel less miserable about this are very much appreciated. Y'all are awesome.
posted by superlibby at 10:56 AM on December 30, 2010

Response by poster: Oh, and one more thing -- he's 28, and I'm 25.
posted by superlibby at 11:03 AM on December 30, 2010

Why do you need to live together?
posted by asockpuppet at 11:06 AM on December 30, 2010 [1 favorite]

"Hey, my roommate's getting married, and I'm going to move out of my place. I spend 29-30 nights a month at your place. I think we need to take this step to start figuring out our future. What do you think? I need an answer by November 1 so I can give 2-months notice to my landlord."

Did you actually say this to him? In these exact words? Because if you did, I think that might be the problem. Were it me being asked to move in with my SO in that way, I would have been very, very uncomfortable because the way that that sentence is phrased is not inviting or loving. It offers no benefits to the person you're asking, and is only about you, you, you. It's not even an invitation; it's a directive, and an ultimatum at that. Sure, you've been together for 3.5 years, and yeah, sometimes being assertive with SOs who kind of dick around before getting to the task at hand is the best thing to do, but if your primary concern is that your BF is not compassionate about this Very Big Thing, consider that the way you broached the topic with him wasn't compassionate either.

If it were me, I would rebroach the topic with him and say something along the lines of...

"Love, I have been thinking about this a lot lately and I was wondering if I could talk to you about the whole us moving in together business again. I realize now that the way I may have asked you to make this big leap of faith wasn't the best way that I could have asked you, and in highlighting all the things I needed, I neglected to propose some things that would be mutually beneficial if we were to go ahead and move in together. I really love you, and since we've been together for so long, I just figured it was natural that eventually we should move in together, and when this opportunity arose, I was so incandescently excited about taking advantage of it that I completely didn't think to ASK you how you felt about the whole idea, and I'm sorry for that. I apologize, because I know that I've been giving you a lot of ultimatums lately. I definitely see a future with you for myself, and I hope that you could say the same. How can we work together to see if we can really solidify who we are together and where we're going so that we can both feel safe and secure as a couple?"
posted by patronuscharms at 11:09 AM on December 30, 2010 [2 favorites]

Are you sure you're a couple and not just friends with benefits? I was with you until the vacation explanation above. After 3 1/2 years together and in your mid-20's, I'm surprised you don't take turns visiting each others families for the major holidays.
posted by onhazier at 11:35 AM on December 30, 2010

Response by poster: Yep, we're a couple. He just doesn't get that much vacation time and wants to spend as much time as possible with his family, and I am the same. We've visited each other's respective homes and met each other's families multiple times, though -- I went on a family vacation with his folks a couple of months back.
posted by superlibby at 11:41 AM on December 30, 2010

Best answer: Here's a thought - maybe he just doesn't understand the hassle of spending lots and lots and lots of time at someone else's house without actually living there? I mean, it's totally a hassle, right?

If I were in your situation, I would start by asserting that I wouldn't spend more than half-time at his place. You have a lovely, roommate-free studio apartment - enjoy it! Of course he's free to join you on those nights at your place. Perhaps it would give him a greater understanding of the difference between "living together" and "sleeping over", which it seems to me he doesn't quite comprehend (seriously, I remember the period before my now-spouse and I moved in together - we couldn't make the move fast enough!).

Furthermore, I think you might feel better if he is also making some visible "sacrifice" for the relationship, like taking on some of the burden of sleeping over.
posted by muddgirl at 11:54 AM on December 30, 2010 [6 favorites]

3.5 years is long enough of a relationship to know if you're ready to move in together!

Some people are never ready to move in together. Friends of mine got together, moved in, broke up. They got back together a couple of years later and have been living seperately in a happy relationship for a decade or so.

That may not be what the asker wants out of a relationship (and fair enough), but it doesn't mean:

And he doesn't want to commit to you..

...since people can and do have different desires around what a committed relationship looks like.

But if you do want to feel better about things, well, listen to your friends bitch about never having space and time for their projects, complaining that they seem to get stuck with more than half the housework, grumble about "boys nights in" taking over the lounge for beer, farting, and video games, or their boyfriend's unbearable dork friend they hate coming over and hanging out. Because those things all happen in your separate spaces, right? You don't have a room of one's own, you've got a whole house!
posted by rodgerd at 12:04 PM on December 30, 2010

I asked him point-blank if this is just a way of telling me he doesn't think it's going to happen for us, and I told him I cannot be uncertain about our future indefinitely.

Good for you! What did he say in response? That has the potential to tell you a lot about what you're dealing with here.
posted by Ragged Richard at 12:46 PM on December 30, 2010

I think a 28 year old man is old enough to see what responsibilities come with commitment, marriage, kids etc. And this guy very well might be unsure if he's ready for all that--"first she moves in, and then we'll get engaged, and then there's the whole wedding, and then we have a kid and AGGGH". If he's not secure in his ability to provide for a family, he might very well want to put the brakes on, no matter how crazy he is about you, etc.
But why should you change your whole life if he doesn't want to move forward with moving in, engagement, etc.? I'd say look for the silver lining, and be glad that you don't have to deal with his laundry, storing his guy junk, and all the rest of it. Find a class, a book group, or something that meets a couple of nights a week, and don't spend every moment of your free time with him. Enjoy your own space.
posted by Ideefixe at 1:31 PM on December 30, 2010

(A) and (B) are BS. (C) is true, but so what? 3.5 years is enough time to decide if you want to take that risk and try to move forward in your relationship. You need to decide if his unwillingness to commit beyond the way things are now is a dealbreaker for you. Making that decision is also how you embrace and feel better about what has happened -- either you will have decided that your relationship as is outweighs this problem, or you'll have decided you need more and to move on.
posted by J. Wilson at 2:41 PM on December 30, 2010

At 3.5 years into a relationship, is there a reason you're not engaged? I think it's time for you to ask yourself what you really want. Do you want to be married someday? Do you want kids? You're three and a half years into a relationship that clearly isn't headed there. What happens when you're in this same spot after another 3.5 years have passed? I know it's hard, but if I were you, I'd start the new year by starting a new life as a single person rather than as someone in 1/2 of a relationship that isn't going anywhere.

Best of luck figuring that out.
posted by 2oh1 at 2:52 PM on December 30, 2010 [3 favorites]

"I would say that in general he is fabulous, compassionate, and a great boyfriend except for the whole lifetime commitment thing. I want to give this an honest shot"

It sounds to me like he's the one who ISN'T giving it an honest shot.
posted by 2oh1 at 2:56 PM on December 30, 2010

Poster, you're 25. PLEASE take it from me. MOVE ON. You still have youth on your side. This guy is not it. Things are out of order. You're chasing him, and as someone else stated, giving him all your power. Men who are ready for "the next big step" are usually the ones doing the pushing, not the other way around. And I think you are hiding behind this "move in together" business. You want to be MARRIED. Just say that, stop beating around the bush. From someone who's been where you are (and made the wrong decision, tried to stay and wait it out, to no avail), get out while you still have your youth. If it's meant to be, he will step up and show you that he's serious. If he doesn't, be very grateful you let him go.
posted by GeniPalm at 4:20 PM on December 30, 2010 [8 favorites]

As a counter-anecdote to some of the others here: my boyfriend (now husband of 9 years) had a similar response two years into our relationship when I broached the subject of moving in together. It took him five years before he decided he was ready for that. Some people are just slow :)

I was very upset when he first responded negatively to my suggestion of moving in, since I took it as a personal rejection, but it was more about (a) him being happy with the way his life was, and not wanting to make any big changes, and (b) him being an introvert and liking lots of personal space. Once I figured it out, I was happy to wait for his own timeline to emerge. But I wasn't too invested in the idea of living together right then, either - I thought it would be nice, and easier, but not essential.

The question is whether YOU can wait (perhaps for years) for him to decide he's ready? And can you live your life and enjoy your relationship in the meantime?
posted by lollusc at 4:33 PM on December 30, 2010

Response by poster: Again, I want to thank everyone for the good advice. I spoke with my parents about everything pretty extensively, and they've offered any support I need (whether I want to go back to Texas to figure stuff out for a while or just to be good friends), which is awesome. I'm not really ready to make any big decisions regarding our future either way -- I think the first order of business for us is some coupling counselling so we can talk with a neutral 3rd party about constructive steps we should be taking and more positive behavior patterns for the two of us. I think if we have a neutral party there we can probably hash out more of the issues at hand. I'm not ready to get married quite yet, but I am ready to be able to say, "Hey! That's where we're heading. That's awesome!" I think more than anything else I need to feel prioritized and committed to in the relationship -- I know there's ways to show that besides living together, but we need to figure out what those ways are so that I feel as valued by him as he wants me to feel.

I think the advice about needing to think of myself and be a little more into self-care and doing my own thing is spot-on, as well as needing to be better about prioritizing my needs. I'm not ready to throw in the towel (I love the dude, and I'm just not there yet, though I understand all the warnings about not throwing my 20s away), but I am thinking constructively and developing an exit strategy for the relationship if it comes to that. Thank you so much for all of your thoughts/experiences/stuff to consider.
posted by superlibby at 7:41 PM on December 30, 2010 [1 favorite]

Not all couples want to live together. I could be madly in love with someone and I'd still want them to have their own place, even if they did stay over at mine or me at theirs 6 days a week. It's a bit annoying I think that just because a couple has been together for x amount of years that 'the next step' is living together...then marriage, then presumably kids, otherwise they're omg not into the relationship or a commitment. Not everyone rolls like that, some couples can be together for years and very much in love but just prefer not to argue about who takes the bins out.

If he's refusing to live with you because he's not that into the relationship then it's fair enough to think he doesn't want to commit, you're more into it than him etc etc. But he might just like his own space, and there's nothing wrong with that. I'm sorry, but if someone gave me a deadline for a decision on moving in when I had been less than enthusiastic about the idea, pressed me several more times over the few months as the deadline approached, then wanted to go to couples counselling to talk about 'constructive steps we should be taking', I'd feel really pressured and would probably start questioning what up until then I'd thought was a pretty happy relationship. Of course he doesn't get to mess you about, but you (generic) don't automatically get to move in with someone just because you've been together for some sort of 'right' amount of time.
posted by mudkicker at 8:41 PM on December 30, 2010

I think part of the problem is how the pressing need to move to new accommodation, frames the choices too tightly as find-accommodation-or-move-into-his-place-now-or-break-the-hell-up, with no room for other solutions. I totally get it, not knowing where you're going to move is as comfortable as hell - I think in the same situation I would be hard pressed to see past the most obvious choices too. But, as a fellow indecisive person I think my brain would implode if I was given so few choices, with only a few months to make a decision, (but actually much less than that right? Because your time frame of a few months actually implies that he needed to make a decision in a much shorter time frame, to give you time to find a new place if it came to that - so it probably seemed to him that you wanted a decision straight away). With it framed so tightly, all the other possible choices are off the menu - what about moving into your new flat on a slightly longer time-frame? What about finding a totally new place together that's more handy for both of you? What about broaching the possibility of marriage even tentatively before moving in? These sort of fall by the wayside if you're being chased by a rapidly approaching deadline.

Nthing Ironmouth's suggestion to spend some time by yourself and keep your eyes open, cause maybe he just doesn't want to move in. But now that you guys have made a decision, maybe the extra time afforded will help you guys time to come to an agreement that isn't so pressured -whether that is to move in, or call it quits.
posted by ultrabuff at 12:58 AM on December 31, 2010

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