We've only been dating for a few months. He doesn't want to get married, ever. I do. What now?
February 18, 2012 2:01 PM   Subscribe

We've only been dating for a few months. He doesn't want to get married, ever. I do. What now?

Kind of similar to this question, but the timing is important, I think: http://ask.metafilter.com/113004/

I've been dating a guy for two months now and we've been exclusive for most of that. He's fantastic. We have tons in common, he's extremely caring and thoughtful and kind, and we have so much fun together. While I haven't admitted it to anyone, I have had thoughts about a long-term future with him that I have never entertained with anyone else. Everything feels just so comfortable and different from every other relationship I've been in.

We met online, and he stated on his profile that he didn't want kids. We haven't discussed it at all, but my profile said the same thing; in the last year, I've become pretty certain that I'm not interested in kids. I have always thought I would get married, though, and I'm at the age (25) where marriage and babies are happening all around me. Today, however, my boyfriend explicitly told me that he does not believe in marriage and never wants to get married. This was in the context of something else that we were talking about, so it wasn't some big hairy discussion, but I think it was his way of putting it out there.

I have no clue if I want to marry him, of course; I have no clue if we'll still be together in two months or two years. But I have to admit that my heart sank a bit when he said that. Is this even worth exploring or discussing more at this point? I know it's extraordinarily premature, but he did bring it up. And if he is as truly committed to never doing this as he says he is, what do I do?
posted by anotheraccount to Human Relations (92 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
It seems a bit early to be thinking about marriage and children after dating for two months, and being "exclusive for most of that." Take your time.
posted by Linnee at 2:08 PM on February 18, 2012 [2 favorites]

How old is he? Just for data points, everyone I've ever known who said this has since gotten married or is currently engaged. Most of them said it when they were 20-25 and then got in serious relationships before they were 30. Now if he's over 30, it's a bit more of a considered statement.

2 months is pretty soon, too. If he's still saying that, and not something along the lines of "I don't want to get married anytime soon but I have no problem considering it abstractly happening at some point" and that really bothers you, then I'd worry you were incapatible. For now, why don't you just see if you all are compatible in other ways besides life goals. And just enjoy his company!
posted by Potomac Avenue at 2:11 PM on February 18, 2012 [3 favorites]

Considering the financial, legal, and medical ramifications of being long-term with someone and not being married in our current system, a lot of people end up changing their minds in some respect as they grow older and particularly as they grow older with another person.

But what should you do? Chill out and don't worry about it, lest you scare him off. You're two months in.
posted by Modica at 2:12 PM on February 18, 2012 [2 favorites]

I can't tell you what you should do but I can tell you what I'd do.

I'd think through my own attitude to marriage to be sure I knew what it was about it I wanted.

- A commitment? To what exactly? What is it about commitment that's important to you?
- A commitment in the form of a party in front of family and friends?
- Legal protections against being financially screwed in case of splitting up?
- Something religious?

Once I was pretty clear in my mind which of those things was important, I'd try at some point to have a non-committal and impersonal chat about which of those it is that he has a great objection to.

After that I'd expect the problem to be much better clarified. He might say he's all for commitment, but objects to legal marriage - you might find that you really want a formal commitment but don't care about the legal aspect. Or he might tell you that he really wants to be able to decide at very short notice to go and sow his wild oats, in which case you might decide to run away screaming on the spot.
posted by emilyw at 2:12 PM on February 18, 2012 [9 favorites]

I think not being on the same page about marriage and/or children is a dealbreaker. It might be early now but why waste time if you're not ultimately going to be going in the same direction on this? Maybe play it a little more low key since you like spending time with him, and date other people. I don't know. It's hard, but I've known people who were mismatched in this way and then after several years one of them starts in about marriage while the other doesn't want it and complains that they TOLD them the whole time it wasn't what they wanted.

When people tell you who they are, believe them.
posted by sweetkid at 2:14 PM on February 18, 2012 [34 favorites]

it worries me that he says something that is so black and white and absolute to you so easily. if he was really interested in you and your relationship, he should be a little bit worried that that might really turn you off and perhaps not have said that unless he was absolutely certain of that truth and of that never changing. i would keep seeing him but keep you options open, and if in a few months you haven't grown closer and he is still very certain about his feelings about marriage, you may want to plan an exit strategy.
posted by BlueMartini7 at 2:15 PM on February 18, 2012 [13 favorites]

A philosophical stance against the institution of marriage is the sort of thing one might set aside if sufficiently in love with a partner who wants a wedding. (Likewise you might find you are not as attached to the idea as you thought you were.) If you two are meant to be, it won't really matter what you decide to do, because being together will be important than whether or not you're married. If you find yourself digging in and battling over this, then it may be a proxy war over questions of long-term commitment and that is a signal that it is perhaps not meant to be. Give it time and an open mind.
posted by PercussivePaul at 2:16 PM on February 18, 2012 [3 favorites]

Of the people I've known who said they didn't believe in marriage, some of them later chose to get married and others of them didn't. I know people who are in a 30+ year partnership who choose not to get married. I know people who chose not to get married, even on paper, even when the alternative was spending thousands of dollars they could ill afford to resolve one partner's immigration status.

Some people really do not believe in marriage. We don't know this guy, and none of us are psychic. What we do know is that he refused to even consider something that you seem to think is really important to you. If neither of you can change your position on this, it will have to be a dealbreaker eventually.
posted by Sidhedevil at 2:18 PM on February 18, 2012

It's up to you to decide whether this makes the two of you definitely incompatible. But if you think it does, then you should simply end things today. Otherwise, don't keep pushing the point. If you want to try to make things work with him, put this issue aside for a while. If he is going to come around to wanting to get married, it's going to be because the relationship is going great and he really wants to, which can only happen naturally, not by debating the issue.

When people tell you who they are, believe them.

Actually, this is a great example of how this perennial Metafilter advice is not really true. You can't just assume that what everyone says about what they'll do in the future is going to come true. As Potomac Avenue said, it's extremely common for people to say "I'm not going to get married" at one point in their 20s but end up getting married because they found the right person.
posted by John Cohen at 2:18 PM on February 18, 2012 [13 favorites]

People make snap judgments about superficial qualities in people immediately, yet when the BIG things come up as deal breakers, people are afraid to cut the cord. I don't get it.
posted by thorny at 2:19 PM on February 18, 2012 [13 favorites]

Some more info: he's 31, I'm 25. We are both children of divorced parents who went through extraordinarily messy divorces. I've found that I'm the opposite of most people on this issue who had parents who hated each other: I've seen everything that can go wrong in a marriage, so I feel like my marriage could never be that bad. It seems like he's gone the opposite route: why marry if it's just going to turn out terribly?
posted by anotheraccount at 2:20 PM on February 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

Why would he say that if he had the slightest inkling that he might want to get married to you someday? There are only two reasons, as I see it: he has no such inkling, or he's sure you're opposed to the idea of marriage in general. Unless you've said that specifically, it's almost certainly the first thing. I was in a similar situation and I really wish I had not wasted my time.
posted by desjardins at 2:20 PM on February 18, 2012 [4 favorites]

I think waiting it out is a terrible strategy. If this guy is 20, ok, maybe he'll come around, but if he's 30, get out! You could waste your prime years for finding a husband (sorry, society is cruel and unfair, but women under 30 have a much easier time attracting a mate than older ladies) on this guy. You're sitting where a lot of my single and 40-ish girlfriends were when they were 25-30 and tried to "change" a man, for any reason.

Another thing: yes, men who say this often change their mind and get married when they meet the right person. I wonder how often the "right" woman hears the same "No, never getting married" that all the "wrong" ones did. I'm just saying, men who change their minds tend to act differently than before they changed it, ya know?

He's telling you not just that he's abstractly opposed to marriage but that he does not ever want to marry you. Why second-guess him? Take it at face value and RUN while you still can. It may sting now, but imagine the pain factor in a few years, if you stick it out and watch all your friends getting married while you NEVER will.
posted by devymetal at 2:21 PM on February 18, 2012 [13 favorites]

If he's making a black-and-white statement about it and not hedging at all, I'd drop him. Do you want to spend the rest of your life HOPING he changes his mind?

Would you want someone to stay with you and spend the rest of their life hoping in vain to convince you to have kids and being sad that you won't?

There are guys every bit as compatible as him who will want to get married.
posted by toomuchpete at 2:24 PM on February 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

31? Please get away from this dead-end relationship!
posted by devymetal at 2:24 PM on February 18, 2012 [5 favorites]

So, what is it that you want; to be with him forever, or to be with him forever and married? And what does he want; just never to get married, or just never to stay with the same person forever?

Those are the real questions, right? Would you stay w/ him without a marriage? Would he stay with you?

You really have to be able to talk about those questions with him before you can know what to do.
posted by emjaybee at 2:24 PM on February 18, 2012 [12 favorites]

Tons of people say this but very few follow through. I've always said I would never get married but I have softened my stance somewhat. I would agree to some form of ceremony but don't want to get legally married.

You have got to think what you really want. Do you want a demonstration of commitment? Him standing up in front of people proclaiming his love and devotion? Do you want to be princess for a day? Do you want legal protection and tax advantages? All of this stuff is negotiable these days, you may find you are closer in philosophy than you think.
posted by Ad hominem at 2:28 PM on February 18, 2012 [3 favorites]

Break up with him -- you don't want the same things.
posted by spunweb at 2:31 PM on February 18, 2012 [2 favorites]

My grandmother is with a guy who went through a terrible divorce and is militantly anti-marriage. They never did get married - but they've been together for 22 years.

I think the people suggesting you examine what aspects of marriage are important to you have the right idea. If this guy doesn't ever want to get married because the financial entanglements give him the rollicking twitches, well, is that ok with you? (That's my grandmother's boyfriend's problem.) Is it a commitment thing? A monogamy thing? Is it a public avowal of love thing? Marriage is complicated and means a lot of different things to different people.
posted by restless_nomad at 2:31 PM on February 18, 2012 [8 favorites]

I really like the way emilyw laid out a way of thinking about your own attitudes and expectations related to marriage. There is so much social pressure to get married, even in this day and age, that it is ridiculous. In a way I can totally understand why your guy is taking such a strong stance. I can also understand your feelings of deflation: women are taught that if a guy doesn't want to get on his knees with a rock in hand, he Can't Possibly Be In Love With You. I don't think it's that easy. Simply stated: I don't think you have to be married to have a long-term loving relationship. See restless_nomad's comment above.

If I were you, I wouldn't be in a rush to come to any conclusions regarding this relationship or your own desire to get married. If you feel affection coming from him and you feel the same way, by all means, continue the relationship if you want to. If he's offhand, brusque, abusive, neglectful, what have you, that's a lot better reason to get out of the relationship than the simple fact that he said he's not interested in marriage.
posted by Currer Belfry at 2:38 PM on February 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

It's okay for you to want to get married someday. Really, it is! It doesn't make you a needy demanding high-maintenance harpy. If your life plan includes marriage and you know it, then you have every right to be married (if you're heterosexual, alas, though this is changing).

What you don't want to do is pressure or browbeat him into marrying if that's not what he really wants to do. Your BF may be opposed to marriage on some personal ground OR, sadly, he may want to get married, just not to YOU; either way, his telling you so flatly and with so little prompting that he doesn't want to get married, ever, is a bad sign, IMO.

Either way, if you see marriage in your future and he doesn't, that is probably a dealbreaker unless one of you changes your mind. Only you can decide whether you want to wait it out with him, give up on marriage to be with him, or leave the relationship.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 2:45 PM on February 18, 2012 [4 favorites]

Disagree with those suggesting you wait for a change. Relationships starting out on a note of resentment and expectation are a bad stew. Assume he won't change on this matter. Decide if you want him as a non-married person.
posted by ead at 2:46 PM on February 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

I just recently got out of a relationship with someone I loved dearly and wanted to marry. We had a very similar conversation to yours, early on in our relationship. After that conversation I got all sad and mopey about our future, and he started saying things like, well, I'm not opposed to the idea of marriage... so I stuck around.

I wish I hadn't. That was two years of my life, not quite wasted... but only beneficial to me in that now I know when I want something out of a relationship and the man I'm dating lays it all out on the table in a blunt way like that, that's my cue to walk.

Think about what you really, REALLY want out of a relationship. If marriage is something that you require in order to be in a long-term relationship, then this guy may not be for you. If marriage is something you feel a bit more flexible on, after long thought, then maybe he is the guy for you. You're only two months in, take some time to figure out what you actually want before you make any decisions.
posted by palomar at 2:46 PM on February 18, 2012 [4 favorites]

Dang it. I forgot to mention up there that it was two years of my life not quite wasted because in the end, it turned out that the man I was dating was not being honest with me when he said he wasn't opposed to marriage. He actually NEVER wants to get married (he was married once already and it was not good), and he admitted that he only said positive things about his feelings on marriage in order to make me happy although he never had any intention of actually marrying me.

So. Take that for what it's worth.
posted by palomar at 2:48 PM on February 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

Sure, it's possible that he'll change his minds after a year of dating you followed by a year of living together. It's just as possible that you'll change your mind and think to yourself "well, we do live together, I don't like the history of the institution, I don't need this any more". But the chances of either event happening are slim. And unless you'd like to spend two years hoping that one of the two of you flip-flops (FSM forbid you both flip-flop!) and then breaking up after you've gotten all attached, it's best for you both to end it early, assuming you want two different things out of life that you cannot compromise on.

That's not to say you should just dump the guy. Many others have already mentioned this, but you need to figure out what he does and doesn't want and compare that to what you do and don't want. Do you want the legal/tax/medical/etc benefits? Do you want a ceremony in front of family and friends? Do you just want the world to see your relationship as more than simply boyfriend/girlfriend (I know, I'm assuming you're a lady, you could just as well be a dude, too)? Do you want commitment from him that he'll try and be with you for the rest of his life? You've cleared the "what if he have kids and people view them differently because we're not married" hurdle by removing it.

Be careful how you frame it, don't express it as "why won't you marry me?", but instead aim for "what don't you like about marriage as a concept?". You can say "long term, I know I want someone in my life who promises that I'll be the only one he wants for the rest of his life" but try to avoid saying "if we're going to be together, you need to promise me forever". This isn't about convincing him that you two need to get married now or in the future. It's about figuring out your long term goals in life.

You might want (1) lifelong public commitment, (2) ceremony in front of family and friends and (3) to be a princess for a day. He might want lifelong commitment and be open to a small ceremony of less than a dozen people. If that's the case, there's no reason to dump him just now if you're willing to scale down your wedding day. Your goals can mesh a bit.

On the other hand, he might want none of the things you want and neither of you might be willing to make concessions about your life goals, and that's OK. But having this conversation is something you should do sooner rather than later. The likelihood of him changing is about the same as you changing; not very likely at all.

Best of luck.
posted by Brian Puccio at 2:50 PM on February 18, 2012 [4 favorites]

I actually don't believe in marriage as an institution and am quite wary of it, but I could see myself making some kind of formal commitment to someone in some way, or at the very least communicating EXPRESSLY, "I see this relationship as permanent and am going to plan and act as though it is permanent."

Basically, it's one thing to be distrustful of marriage, and it's another to want to keep your partner at a distance indefinitely. Which does he want? The first one wouldn't be a dealbreaker to me, the second one would.

Also- it's great that you feel such a connection to this guy, but keep in mind that the reason you didn't feel that way about other guys was partially because you were younger when you dated them. At 22 or 23, you probably weren't feeling like you wanted to be tied down to someone forever. Now as you see more people getting married and having kids, your feelings shift and you're more amenable to that. YOU'VE changed, not the guy, you know? So don't feel like he is the last person on earth you might have a future with and you have to either settle for never being married to him or settle for being alone forever.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 2:50 PM on February 18, 2012 [2 favorites]

Ideally, a couple makes a decision to get married together. Or, if one party doesn't want to get married but wants to stay committed, then they talk about that and decide to pursue that together.

Right now, your guy isn't saying either of those things. He is just expressing a personal preference.

It doesn't sound like you're at the right point to have a conversation about marriage. But it also sounds like you didn't get a chance to tell him that someday you see yourself married. To give him something to think about.

Look, I've been in relationships where I didn't even notice that it was all about what the other person wanted. They were more comfortable stating things and I was more passive. And it's my fault actually for participating in relationships on that level because it was all about making the other person happy and what I wanted just kind of naturally started slipping away. Beware of this. The best kind of relationships are where you are comfortable making yourself happy and asking for the things that you want and that person is put in your life as part of that process. Don't cower so easily. You are acting as if the right guy will slip through your fingers. The right guy sticks around.

People give you signals about who they are. You need to give people signals too. Don't be too stubborn, and if stubbornness comes your way, take note of it. A note about online dating is that it's easy to crash into someone and like them a lot. Maybe this guy is the one for you. Or maybe he is here to show you something, like that you really do want to be married. Or that you are looking for someone a little more flexible.
posted by phaedon at 2:53 PM on February 18, 2012 [6 favorites]

It is so fortunate you have found this out now, so early in your "relationship." You have to get out now. You will thank yourself later.
posted by GeniPalm at 2:53 PM on February 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

I've been dating that person for six blissful years, since I was 21 and he was 23.

We got engaged in January, are getting married in July and are both incredibly excited and happy about it. i wouldn't count on it, but people change.
posted by halogen at 2:55 PM on February 18, 2012

Thanks, all, for your thoughtful responses.

I really like the idea of thinking more about why I want to get married, as it's something I've never really done. I think doing some more complex thinking about why I supposedly wanted to have kids is what made me decide I didn't - I realized that it was something that was really socially expected of me, but I didn't necessarily want. Perhaps I will find the same for marriage, or maybe I won't.

I guess my question now is how to bring this up to him to discuss it more without completely scaring him off? I do feel like we have great open communication, but he said this as we were lying in bed and he had to leave for work in a few minutes. I didn't really feel like opening up a big long discussion about it at that point, but I would like to discuss it more. Would it be okay to bring it up the next time I see him: "Hey, remember the other day when you said something about never getting married? Why do you feel that way?"
posted by anotheraccount at 2:57 PM on February 18, 2012

I'm not sure what you mean by "would it be okay," but I think you have to accept the chance that he will think "oh shit, we're going to be on different pages here" and balk.
posted by desjardins at 3:06 PM on February 18, 2012

That is not a reason not to bring it up - I would, if it's going to be on your mind. Or it will drive you nuts and poison the well.
posted by desjardins at 3:07 PM on February 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

I guess my question now is how to bring this up to him to discuss it more without completely scaring him off?

He said he never wanted to get married, flat out, without worrying too much about scaring you off. Why are you trying so hard to keep him pacified? You're setting yourself up for an unfortunate power imbalance if you start making these kinds of unrequited compromises in behavior and expectations for him.
posted by devymetal at 3:13 PM on February 18, 2012 [32 favorites]

He's 31, brought it up when you were lying in bed, and at 2 months into the relationship- this tells me several things. 31 is not the typical youngster who is afraid of divorcing like his parents did. 31 is old enough to know. Bringing it up when in bed with you during an intimate moment, means it was specifically designed to be a message to you. There was nothing casual about what he said. And 2 months into the relationship- that's the clincher. He's bringing it up now exactly because he's anticipated this is when you're likely to start feeling a bit more attached. Another thing- it won't get better. If he's not head over heels in love with you now, he won't be in two years.

He's sending you a clear, deliberate signal. He's letting himself off the hook in advance. Don't be like so many other women who hear what they want to hear.
posted by stockpuppet at 3:14 PM on February 18, 2012 [54 favorites]

Thanks, stockpuppet. Obviously not what I want to hear, but it all makes sense. Now I'm stewing at home and really upset, and he doesn't get off work until midnight. Ugh.
posted by anotheraccount at 3:25 PM on February 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

Well, he's sending a signal, for sure, but what signal is that? That's the real question. It's not worth stewing over until you've figured out how he's defining marriage and what his objections are.

(I'm not really sure that "he says he doesn't want to get married ever" equals "oh God he's a cad dump him right quick," especially when you're not totally sure why marriage is important to you. Beyonce is great, but I wouldn't necessarily turn to her for relationship advice.)
posted by restless_nomad at 3:29 PM on February 18, 2012

Another thing- it won't get better. If he's not head over heels in love with you now, he won't be in two years.

I'm sorry to have to point this out but not wanting to marry does not, in any shape or form, equal not being in love with someone. As someone who has at best a very pragmatic view of marriage, I find it really disturbing that anyone would want to measure a person's love by this metric.
posted by Orchestra at 3:42 PM on February 18, 2012 [7 favorites]

Yeah, I think a lot of this depend on what he actually means by never wanting to get married. I'm in my early 40s, so I've known my fair share of guys (both who I've dated and just as friends) who have said this in their 20s and 30s. I have found that the real meaning of this statement has boiled down to about three categories:

1) "I have profound, philosophical concerns about marriage as an institution that have led me to believe quite strongly that I will not partake in it. These concerns do not translate into any misgivings about romantic love or long-term, committed relationships in general." I have found that the men in this category tend to end up in stable, long-term, committed relationships, possibly including having kids. Sometimes they have actually wound up getting married after all (sometimes for the primary purpose of legal/financial advantages, though sometimes for more purely "romantic" reasons).

2) "I have very personal misgivings based on my own experiences of watching other people's unhappy marriages, such as parents or friends. I don't want to go through the sort of pain that I have seen them go through, and so I think I will be able to avoid that pain by swearing off marriage (and possibly any long-term commitment as well)." I've found that these guys can ultimately go either way in terms of ultimately wanting to get married. Some of them find the right partner and realize that they do want to find a way to create a happy, healthy, long-term bond (whether formally involving marriage or not), despite the fact that they didn't have that kind of relationship modeled to them. Some of them don't.

3) "I am terrified of being tied down or 'settling,' because I am secretly convinced that the second I commit to anyone, someone better will come along and I won't be available to pursue her. I don't want to get married so that I can always keep my options open." These guys almost never make a choice or a commitment in relationships. This seems to work out fine for them in their 20s and 30s, but then they very often enter their 40s and realize that in keeping all their options "open," many (if not most, if not all) of their options have disappeared. I have seen one case where a guy like this actually wound up kind of coming to his senses and getting involved in a somewhat unconventional-but-works-for-them committed relationship in his mid-40s; the rest of them have either been dragged, kicking and screaming, into miserable marriages that they never wanted to be a part of, or end up somewhere on the alone-and-bitter spectrum.

Which one is your guy? It's impossible to say, and you'll only find out by A) talking to him, and B) getting to know him better in general. My advice is to take a little while to think (as you have mentioned) about your own assumptions about marriage. While you're doing that, just spend some more time getting to know him better. I wouldn't bring up the marriage conversation right this very minute -- not because OH NOES DON'T SCARE OFF THE PRECIOUS MAN, but because I think it's actually valuable to consider your own assumptions, needs, expectations, etc. without muddying the water right now, especially as this is still very early in the relationship.

This also gives you a little more time to spend getting to know him better and to see how the dynamic progresses between you. It may very well be that in another month or so, it's clear that you guys don't really have the chemistry for a long-term relationship. But it may also be that you find you have a really good dynamic that you'd like to continue to pursue. At that point, it's crucial to open up the conversation about this topic. You'll not only find out (at least a little more) what he really means by this statement, but you'll also find out how well the two of you navigate more complicated communication issues. Both are indispensable in making the decision about whether to keep pursuing this, or whether it's time to move on.
posted by scody at 3:43 PM on February 18, 2012 [30 favorites]

He may change his mind about what he wants at some point down the road, but why put your own needs or happiness on hold indefinitely while you wait to find out one way or the other?

He probably has a decent grasp on what he really wants at 31, relationship-wise. And he's telling you (point-blank, it sounds like). He doesn't want to be married, period. If he thought that you were a possible exception to the rule at this point in your acquaintance, I'm guessing he wouldn't have said NO MARRIAGE EVER quite so firmly. He's drawing an explicit line with you. Listen to him!

You want different things. Why not part amicably and leave yourself open to other guys who might want the same things you do, with no convincing? It's easy to get hung up on one person when you've gotten to know each other romantically a little bit, but think--before you ever met him, you had no idea that this particular, likable person was out there, ready to cross your path someday. Surely, there are other undiscovered, equally great and interesting people all around you--some of whom probably want to get married someday, or at least are willing to entertain the possibility on a case-by-case basis (hint: I mean in your case). Don't shut yourself off to those happy possibilities when this guy has already told you that what you want isn't part of his plan.
posted by anonnymoose at 3:45 PM on February 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

If he's not head over heels in love with you now, he won't be in two years.

Oh, and I have to strongly dispute this as well. The idea that long-lasting love must mutually present itself to both parties this early in a relationship is absolute bunk, as I am so happy I allowed myself to find out nearly seven years ago.
posted by scody at 3:46 PM on February 18, 2012 [2 favorites]

On preview: stockpuppet has it. SERIOUSLY. This isn't even some reactionary, dramatic DTMFA situation. You two are on different trains headed in different directions. Shake hands, move on.
posted by anonnymoose at 3:47 PM on February 18, 2012 [3 favorites]

Also, I'm going to disagree with this comment:

It seems a bit early to be thinking about marriage and children after dating for two months, and being "exclusive for most of that." Take your time.

I agree that it may be early in the case of this particular relationship, but I don't think it's too early to think about what you want for yourself and your life in terms of those things. I feel like people--especially women--get a lot of crap for being honest if they do see marriage or children as part of the lives they want to build for themselves. We're supposed to be hyper-casual about the commitment we want until a man decides he wants to take things there. I think it's unfair. I'd rather have a good grasp on what I do and do not want so I can steer my own ship and know what I want to plan for. That just makes sense, and is part of handling your own life in an empowered way.
posted by anonnymoose at 4:03 PM on February 18, 2012 [11 favorites]

Just be very careful. The same thing that happened to Palomar happened to me. He said right in the beginning that he didn't believe in marriage and I was disappointed but put it out of my mind. After a couple years it seemed like he was sort of warming up to the idea . . . a tiny bit . . . but in the end, I realized he was just saying it for my benefit, and not really intending to follow through on it. Eventually I realized he really was just incapable of marrying anyone, even me, even if he thought he wanted to. It was about him, not me. And after seeing your first update (he's the child of a messy divorce), well, that was my ex's problem too. The divorces that happened in his family really killed his belief, not just in marriage, but in the overall value of relationships and the value of trusting people, etc. He was pessimistic not only about marriage, but about all aspects of relationships to some degree. Our relationship not only ended, but in ended horribly in a big dramatic mess that was devastating to me. Sure, he had been on the fence about marriage in the beginning. But we were in love now. We'd been living together for going on two years. And all his friends were starting to get married. Surely he'd come around?

Nope. No fucking way. I should have listened to him right in the beginning. Next time someone tells me that, I'm not going to waste my time. If I were dating your guy and he said that to me, I'd probably break up with him. If marriage is important to you, it's not like you're probably going to come around and decide it doesn't matter to you after all. Instead you'll probably just feel more and more frustrated and confused as all your friends and his friends get married and you don't. And eventually you accept the fact that that's never going to be you and it's profoundly depressing, and you'll get in fights every time you go to a wedding because the tension between you will be so high. I had accepted my fate as being with him, but my life never being how I wanted it to be. I was resigned to it for a while. Luckily, I came to my senses and dumped him, but I can't believe how close I came to giving up everything I'd wanted for this guy who I thought loved me, but didn't.

In the best of cases, I think it basically boils down to incompatibility. In the worst case scenario, if you're especially unlucky like me, the "doesn't want to get married" thing is sometimes code for "i have all sorts of issues with women and relationships that i refuse to address or resolve. and as such, nothing lasting is going to come of this in the long run, so consider yourself warned."
posted by Argyle_Sock_Puppet at 4:11 PM on February 18, 2012 [8 favorites]

You just want different things - I don't think that's going to change. Move on if you want something else.
posted by mleigh at 4:12 PM on February 18, 2012

Just to clarify, I do agree with Scody who I think did an excellent job describing the different types of men who say this. I'd be a lot more open to the possibility of staying with someone who falls under the #1 category. It's just that unfortunately a lot more of them seem to fall into # 2 and 3. So, trust your instincts when you're trying to figure out which it is.
posted by Argyle_Sock_Puppet at 4:18 PM on February 18, 2012

Go get what you want. Go. Leave. Dump.
posted by oceanjesse at 4:19 PM on February 18, 2012

Wow, I can't believe how upset I am about this.

He's given absolutely no indication that this is an issue with long-term commitment. He's been in long-term relationships and was the one who instigated the exclusivity and relationship between us. He has made it very clear that he is happy being in a relationship. He told me today that he highly values honesty and commitment and has never cheated on an ex. He also told a story about an uncle and aunt who divorced (the aunt cheated on the uncle and had a baby with the other man); he said that he refused to talk to her and found what she did despicable.

I certainly don't know exactly what he's thinking, but based on these stories and what I've heard about his parents' marriage, he has been around a lot of really dysfunctional marriages that ended horribly. As I said, my parents' marriage did, too, but that's never turned me off from marriage like his experiences have. So based on Scody's descriptions, I think he seems to be a mix of #1 and #2.

Anyway. I don't really know how to deal with this at this point. I was just talking out loud to myself about why I want to be married. To me, it's the idea of commitment. I know there are plenty of people who believe that marriage is no guarantee and that commitment does not have be legal and binding - but to me, what makes marriage so important is that both people in the relationship are willing to take that huge step and state out loud, in front of their friends and family and the state, that they are committing to each other for the rest of their lives. I'm very certain that someone would be able to tell me that they are committed to me and very well be for the rest of their days. But that's not marriage.

Part of what attracted me to this guy is that he is so open and honest about his feelings and how he feels about me - he's always telling me how wonderful I am, how much he enjoys being with me, etc. I've never dated anyone like that before. It's kind of tough for me to reconcile in my mind that he enjoys me so much, but some day down the line if he loved me, he wouldn't be willing to make the commitment I'm looking for. I understand that this is about his own views, not me, but it's still tough to take, especially when I see men all around me willing to make that commitment to my friends.
posted by anotheraccount at 4:26 PM on February 18, 2012

It sounds to me like he has a bad attitude towards relationships in general (those are some pretty bad examples he's focusing on, and one day soon he'll turn on your relationship for some weird unexpected reason that will REALLY catch you off guard.

It was kinda an asshole thing he brought up to kill the vibe JUST as you guys were beginning to relax, enjoy each other, and have fun. It's a pattern he'll repeat, but in bigger ways. RUN.
posted by jbenben at 4:33 PM on February 18, 2012 [5 favorites]

How long is it worth it to be in a relationship that you're really enjoying, if you know it won't include marriage?

In other words, can you imagine saying one day "I had a summer fling with the best guy, but he wasn't never going to marry me." Or, "I had the best lover for two years, so romantic...we knew it couldn't last because he wasn't going to get married and I was. But, gosh, those two years were delicious."

I can imagine this being totally worth it, but you really need to decide what that amount of time is that makes it worth it, and then end it, lovingly and without resentment, when the time is up.
posted by vitabellosi at 4:44 PM on February 18, 2012 [4 favorites]

Oh, I don't know. Part of it might be that just the word "marriage" has so much baggage for him. Of course, even a legal marriage can be dissolved, so it's not like a living-together exclusive relationship has to be less permanent, especially if you get legal paperwork done together and buy a home together. Maybe his parents were more miserable because they used the words "married" or "you're suppose to be my ___ -- but you're really not".

Weddings, too, are a huge stressful thing. People have all these expectations; he'd probably have to involve his parents (as would you), which, just, ugh sometimes. Then everybody would probably start asking about kids. Plus, people *assume* things about married people, which really isn't fair, but we can't help it.

So, look at whatever legal framework you really want. Look at whether it's a big party you want. Talk about those specifics.

I think part of the reason some people want weddings is that there are all these unspoken feelings, assumptions, and associations with them that are wonderful for them. However, some of that amorphous emotional stuff is awful for others -- and those feelings can't be wished away. They're real and durable.

Whatever it is you want, maybe you can call it something else.
posted by amtho at 4:45 PM on February 18, 2012

I feel like people--especially women--get a lot of crap for being honest if they do see marriage or children as part of the lives they want to build for themselves. We're supposed to be hyper-casual about the commitment we want until a man decides he wants to take things there. I think it's unfair.

I totally agree with this; there is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting marriage and children, and with being clear about it, and with making decisions accordingly.

At the same time: at the cultural level, women are fed a shit-ton of very loaded expectations about marriage/children-as-ultimate-goal that often go unexamined -- and when they are examined closely, as the OP has indicated she's starting to do, some women find that our real wants and needs on this score may not be exactly what we thought they were.

I don't know that this guy is the right guy for the OP, and I certainly don't think she ought to spend too long (certainly not years, probably not even more than a few months) finding out if they're really on the same page. But given that they seem to have a good dynamic otherwise, AND the OP is questioning her own assumptions about marriage, I don't think it's a question that has to be answered immediately.

Yes, sometimes (even very often) these situations are indeed that cut-and-dry, but not always. Had I followed my own "OMG we aren't on the same page/we want different things!!!" instinct early on with my boyfriend nearly 7 years ago, I would have walked away from the man with whom I've built the best relationship of my life.

On preview: OP, I understand being really upset right now. But I also think that when you say this:
It's kind of tough for me to reconcile in my mind that he enjoys me so much, but some day down the line if he loved me, he wouldn't be willing to make the commitment I'm looking for.
...you're actually jumping waaaaay ahead of the game. Already you have talked yourself into a situation in which he loves you and is refusing to make the commitment you're looking for. But you don't actually know this.

it's still tough to take, especially when I see men all around me willing to make that commitment to my friends.

Ah, I think we're getting to the crux of some of this anxiety for you. I understand -- truly, I understand it to my bones -- that "but what about me?" feeling. Let me tell you straight up: a good number of those marriages you're seeing right now are going to end in divorce, no matter how chipper all the FB updates are and how awesome the weddings seem. And I'm not saying this as a cynic, or because I think marriage and love are fantasies; I'm saying it as someone who got married in my late 20s (feeling much the same pressure you're feeling) who got divorced within a few years, and then watched over the past decade as literally half (if not more) of the same women who got married around the time I did got divorced as well.

Take a deep breath. Let yourself reconsider some of your own expectations about marriage in your own life, entirely separate from the existence of the guy you are presently seeing. At the same time, as you continue to spend time with him, observe how he continues to treat you. Observe how you feel when you're with him. Observe how you two communicate regarding disagreements and differences of opinion. Observe whether he continues to treat you with respect and honesty. All of this will give you the real information you need to help make the decision whether to stick around or not. Put your running shoes by the door, by all means, but I don't think you have to start lacing them up tonight.
posted by scody at 4:45 PM on February 18, 2012 [7 favorites]

I feel like people--especially women--get a lot of crap for being honest if they do see marriage or children as part of the lives they want to build for themselves.

I feel that people—especially women—are often very hung-up on their big preconceived plans in life and will let great opportunities pass them by as a result of their hyperfocus. There is an air of desperation and dogmatism in this thread I find a bit uncomfortable.

anotheraccount, you are in a relationship with a fantastic guy who you feel very comfortable being with. Before you start talking about break-ups, make sure you value the idea of being married more than the things he is in fact giving you. Is being married really more important than being with a person you love and are happy with?

Also note that marriage doesn't actually guarantee you any commitment. People get divorced, separated or just estranged all the time, despite their best intentions. Marriage as institution can give you financial security but it's really not an insurance against uncertainty.
posted by Orchestra at 4:48 PM on February 18, 2012 [11 favorites]

My (now) husband was a confirmed 57 year old bachelor when we met, whose parents had a LOT of issues. He made it very clear that he never wanted to be married.

I, who wanted to get married, fell in love with him anyway. After two and a half years together, we ended up with a domestic partnership. The only legal things we cared about were succession rights (we have a rent controlled apartment in Manhattan) and health insurance, so it worked out fine.

I had also wanted children when we met, but he didn't have any or want any. I wanted to be with him forever way more than I wanted children, so that worked out, too.

A lot of things that people think are deal breakers in fact are NOT, and a lot of awesome relationships get ruined that way.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 4:53 PM on February 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

I'm just fantasizing that you say to him in a chipper voice, with a smile, "Oh! Thanks for letting me know that. I am going to get married someday. Let's go get lunch, shall we?"

There. Now you're on equal round. No hand-wringing. No big discussions. Something for each of you to think about.

You are each merely a blip in each other's lives so far. No need to have a BIG DISCUSSION that's out of proportion to size and importance of the relationship.
posted by vitabellosi at 4:55 PM on February 18, 2012 [21 favorites]

Orchestra said everything I was trying to say, only much more succinctly and clearly (and, on preview, roomthreeseventeen's example is great, too). I really, strongly urge you to take their comment to heart.
posted by scody at 4:57 PM on February 18, 2012

My husband didn't want to get married; I did. During seven generally wonderful years, I became desperately sad and angry as he continued to hold his ground. (He wanted to be with me for life, just did not want to be married. Terrible parental divorce history, etc.). Eventually he decided he did want to get married, we did, and he loves being married. I was in it way too deep to not be devastated if he had held the line though. (And this with not falling in love with him for a year.) Now that we're married, I have to say though, losing him over the marriage issue would have been a colossal mistake.

If you think you can stand it, I'd give the relationship four more no pressure months or so where you examine what you want and need. Don't worry what your friends are doing - you have no idea if those marriages will last or be happy. Revisit the topic more seriously then, and DTMFA if life without him is better than life with him.
posted by semacd at 5:14 PM on February 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

I'm going to echo a lot of sentiments here. Do soul-searching on what your long-term goals are, talk to him to see where he stands, and if you're not compatible, shake hands and walk away.

I think Orchestra and roomthreeseventeen have great insights. The thing is, it's important to know what each party's expectations and boundaries are, but you have to be honest with what is more changeable or not. Roomthreeseventeen's relationship worked out because her goals and expectations changed or weren't what she thought they were originally.

You need to figure out if you're in her boat, or if this is such a critical component what you see as part of a long-term relationship, that it'll be a deal-breaker. Then talk to him about it without judging where he's coming from.

If it's important enough for you to ask Metafilter about it, then you should bring it up ASAP. Don't be afraid of "scaring" him. Being able to talk about what matters is what good communication is about. If you don't talk about it but it seriously bothers you, then it would be your fault for not bringing it up.

If he hasn't lied, cheated, or deceived you anyway, don't give him crap or don't guilt him for not prioritizing what you prioritize. I like marriage on some level and maybe would be married in the future, but I also really want people to get out of the mentality of "marriage + babies + mortgage by 30 is real success and love. If you don't have any of those three, you're fucked." No, I think there are multiple ways of having healthy relationships, and people have the right to pursue what arrangement works for them. People should have the backbone to say what they are looking for and not be condoned for it.

His openness to marriage in the future has nothing to do with you, or how much he cares about you, etc. It's about him and the goal posts he wants/doesn't want in his life. Do not try to change it, belittle it, or make him feel guilty about it. If you do and you both care a lot for each other, you will encourage an environment where you will each tell each other white lies to keep the relationship going, when you are in fact going in separate directions.

So figure out your priorities, talk to him about it without judging him, then act. Do it as soon as possible. And action doesn't necessarily mean only stay together or break up now. You can also say that you want to continue to see him, but "since this is a fundamental issue that we disagree on, it will come up in the future. But in the meantime, let's just enjoy each other." Kind of like a trial period. Then you can open up the discussion again in 4 months then make the big decision.

You need to lay down your priorities and expectations, and if it doesn't work out, don't take it personally.
posted by Hawk V at 5:34 PM on February 18, 2012 [2 favorites]

More anecdata: I was 34 when I met the astonishingly wonderful woman I am now married to, and at the time I was firmly convinced that two concepts were completely flawed and that I wanted nothing to do with either: marriage and owning real estate. It seemed to me at the time that if two people were committed to each other, and that both of them knew that, then making a public spectacle of the fact could not possibly make the commitment any stronger; the decision to commit to one other person for life is something that has to come from inside if it's actually going to work, and nobody else has or even deserves a say in that.

I'm 50 now, we've been happily married for 11 years, and three months after marrying we bought our own home.

In my opinion, two months is not long enough for you to have found out whether your bloke is more attached to you than he is to his ideology. It's far too early to be building this issue up into a major stressor. Give it more time. Don't even consider dumping him until you know each other well enough to be able to explore each other's attitudes to marriage without either of you feeling threatened by that discussion.
posted by flabdablet at 5:36 PM on February 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

I tend to believe what people tell me, especially when they tell me in such a direct and sincere manner.

I was someone who swore up and down I would never get married. Despite one 6 year long relationship, in which my partner desperately wanted to get married, I was completely uninterested. The idea was repellent. My parents' marriage was awful and until very recently it would be understatement to say that I had never seen a marriage that made me think, "Hey! I want THAT!"

Well, I'm 40 and still not married but seven weeks ago my sweetie of less than two years asked me to marry him, and to my surprise I not only said yes, but I find I'm very happy about the idea and am looking forward to us being publicly and avowedly committed to each other for the rest of our lives.

I changed my mind only partly because my sweetie is so awesome (he wouldn't have broken up with me if I had refused, anyway, though it would have changed things, I'm sure). The other, vital part is that I've reached a point in my life through age, therapy, changing friendships- some of which include happy, unclaustrophobic marriages- and so on, in which I am willing to reconsider aspects of myself that I'd always held to be immutable. At 31 I wasn't there yet. At 35 I wasn't either.

So a person can change, but the question is, is he at that kind of moment? It really doesn't sound like it. Do you want to wait 10 years to see? 15? What if it's never, which is as likely as not?
posted by small_ruminant at 6:46 PM on February 18, 2012

Well as for never wanting to get married, I was in a comitted relationship for 13 years. It isn't because I wanted to bed hop it is for, maybe idiotic, philosophical reasons. Nothing to do with love.
posted by Ad hominem at 7:01 PM on February 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

phaedon: Look, I've been in relationships where I didn't even notice that it was all about what the other person wanted. They were more comfortable stating things and I was more passive. And it's my fault actually for participating in relationships on that level because it was all about making the other person happy and what I wanted just kind of naturally started slipping away. Beware of this. The best kind of relationships are where you are comfortable making yourself happy and asking for the things that you want and that person is put in your life as part of that process.

I maybe could have been the other person. Though I don't know if my instance of this was due to an imbalance in who was getting what they want, all I know is that I came home one day to tears and, "ARE WE GETTING MARRIED OR WHAT?" totally out of the blue. So beware the effects of repression. Seek the process phaedon describes above.
posted by rhizome at 7:37 PM on February 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

Right off the bat (pre first date), I told my boyfriend that I only wanted to date someone if marriage was on the table. Since then, while the option is still open if I really wanted it, I kinda don't think I need to get married anymore. It's no longer of importance to me. What I love, though, is that he knew right away what my deal was. I don't think it is too late to tell the guy you are dating that it is something that you are interested in, and think you might like for yourself in the future. It's not that you are telling him that he needs to marry you, it's just telling him what you want for yourself in your life. I think that is an important thing to share with people. You could absolutely make this a casual conversation without putting pressure on him or making him feel weird. Just more of a FYI of how you see your future.
posted by Vaike at 8:17 PM on February 18, 2012

I'm a guy who could be your boyfriend. I would prefer not to get married if I can get away with it, but I may give in someday if I KNOW that the woman would be the "wife of my dreams". So really, if it is that important for you to be married, figure out what this guy truly, deep-down WANTS out his relationship with you, and if you are cool with it, give it to him.
posted by blargerz at 8:18 PM on February 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

Part of what attracted me to this guy is that he is so open and honest about his feelings and how he feels about me - he's always telling me how wonderful I am, how much he enjoys being with me, etc.

You are not ready for marriage.
A good, loving relationship is not just something that happens to you, predicated upon whether someone feels something for you. It's a long process that happens when two people care about each other.

Maybe, don't bring this up.
Maybe, don't think about marriage.
Oh, you can totally think about marriage a little later. But for right now, what might happen if you put a moratorium on that line of thinking, took the time to really get to know him, and to get to know how you feel about him, and then revisit you own thoughts on the marriage issue? Things may look very different than the perspective you're riding on now.
posted by vivid postcard at 8:24 PM on February 18, 2012

I've been on the other side of this - just months into a neat new relationship suddenly an invisible marriage-monster showed up and loaded every interaction with resentment, uncertainty, and unhappiness. And it destroyed us.

If you need a guarantee of marriage from the outset, you are likely to wreck things with some good, interesting people. That might not be so bad, but know that some loving, dynamic people are going to want to try out life with you before EVER thinking about marriage. That probably takes longer than two months. How can you seriously require a lifelong commitment if you can't even try someone on for 1/70th of said life?

Think about what makes spending a lifetime together desirable and what might make it marriage-worthy.

1. Having great (&terrible) experiences with them (taking chances, being open)
2. Talking about those things, seeing thru your partner's eyes (communicating)
3. Being present with them in the moment (not in your head worrying about forever)
4. Working toward a life together (which is a kind of commitment and investment)
5. Changing together, and becoming closer, as a part of 1-4.

If you get as far as 4, and you are changing together, you will be different people than when you started. Not because you set out to change the other person into marriage material (please, don't), but because you explored them, felt them, and shared yourself honestly. As scody said above, many people with hard-line ideas about marriage change their mind after some time with the right person. Personally, I've found myself changed by relationships in ways I never expected.

Point is, I know I would have loved to have spent more serious time with my marriage-monstered love. I would have loved to have that insecurity and angst banished from our relationship while we figured things out together, while we traveled the world, while we worked on creative projects, while we spooned. But she was rarely there with me. She needed to be promised forever and all before we even began, and I couldn't say a thing I didn't know. I respected her needs but couldn't set out on a false premise, and couldn't handle the resulting ugliness leaking out at the seams of our relationship. So we aren't. So it is.

Think (&feel) hard about what you need, and try to feel whose pressures push you, and what doors you close pursuing things like this. I'm not telling you that you shouldn't desire marriage... I'm just saying that maybe it shouldn't be your goal.
posted by fake at 8:39 PM on February 18, 2012 [15 favorites]

I'm married to a guy who didn't want to get married. When he first told me, I let it lie. When things started getting serious, we talked about it. It's not about commitment for him; it's about public spectacle and getting up in front of everyone to express what he considers to be deeply private emotions. So, cool. We didn't do that. But damn if there wasn't a few years of strife in the middle. (I'm glossing here -- this whole decision was complicated and emotional and we both changed a lot.)

You can't overcome your social conditioning, and you can't change him. If you decide to stick it out, despite wanting to marry him, you have to make peace with the idea of being uncomfortable about not being married for the rest of your life.
posted by linettasky at 8:49 PM on February 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

It's early in the game. Lighten up. Get to know each other.

On scody's scale above I am a hybrid of 1 and 2. My partner and I met producing and event. A week after we got together she found out that her cancer returned. I was in it with her after a day of doubt. My operational language was "take it one day at a time"

We were together for 5 months before she left. While this was going on she asked me if I would marry her. It was a lot to hear. I was scared with what was going on and what marriage meant to me. I really did not have time to think it through or to talk about what it meant with someone who I trusted. With everything going on along with my feelings about marriage. I said something like, "No, I can't think about that now." Knowing Renee's practicality she was thinking of the benefits I would get being a married couple after her death. I think she was also wise enough to know the place I was in.

I am firmly convinced to not rush into anything during your 20's. You have time. There is grace to that. Get to know each other. If the magic is there it will happen.
posted by goalyeehah at 8:52 PM on February 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

You don't decide you want to get married and then find someone-- you find someone and *then* decide you want to marry *that person*. Cart, horse, etc.
(Also, it's 2012 and last I checked you can have a kids either way if that's what you really want.)
posted by Green Eyed Monster at 8:56 PM on February 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

A broad range of answers out there above. This jumped out at me:

"I guess my question now is how to bring this up to him to discuss it more without completely scaring him off? "

Um, please don't feel like this because there is no such thing! At least, not in the context of, "We've only been dating 2 months. I'm not sure why you felt you needed to bring The Marriage Issue up the other day because it's too soon! If it was just a throwaway comment, I guess that's OK. But you made me feel a little uncomfortable."

In my perfect world you (or I in that moment!) would have managed vitabellosi's fantasy retort of, "Oh! Thanks for letting me know that. I am going to get married someday. Let's go get lunch, shall we?"

I don't think you've been trolled in this thread, I think the guy kinda brought this onto both of you when he decided to say that stupid obnoxious thing about marriage the way he choose to say it, leaving you to wonder what in the hell he might have meant! If he were kind, thoughtful, and a serious person, and he was burning to discuss the topic with you in a respectful adult fashion, he could have easily done that.

I think you're upset because he said something pretty inflammatory out of the blue and just left it hanging there for you to deal with.

You don't need to parse this further. It's not what he expressed, it was his timing and delivery. He may be excellent in other ways, but dude was telling you he has baggage.

His baggage is his problem. Don't make it yours.
posted by jbenben at 10:20 PM on February 18, 2012 [4 favorites]

"I guess my question now is how to bring this up to him to discuss it more without completely scaring him off? "

That's asking how to hedge your bet. You've already said you do want to get married, so why are you hedging here? "That thing you said about never getting married was really interesting to me, because I know we come from similar backgrounds and I do want to get married some day. How did you come to where you are on that?"

In other words, don't ever pretend you do not want what you know you want or hide something about yourself to keep a man. Any man. Ever.
posted by DarlingBri at 11:54 PM on February 18, 2012 [13 favorites]

What I would worry about in this situation is not so much whether your guy is telling you he doesn't want to get married, but instead that he doesn't plan on being with you - you in particular, not just a hypothetical wife.

This happened to me. We were a few months in, were having great fun, could talk about anything, and the sex was great. But one lazy morning in bed, he said that he just doesn't see himself as the type of guy who will get married - that he resented the bourgeois assumption that everyone had to get married, and that one could live a satisfying life in many other ways. I remember how my heart sunk; I didn't want to look too deeply inside, but what I was feeling was "He's telling me now that I shouldn't expect him to stick around."

And he didn't. And he married someone else within 15 months of breaking up with me.

Please listen to your gut.
posted by analog at 5:42 AM on February 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

For the people who are saying he doesn't want to marry me: he would know that after two months? I will admit to having daydreams about marrying him, but that doesn't mean that I'm certain that I do. Is this different for men or for him or am I missing something?
posted by anotheraccount at 9:55 AM on February 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

For the people who are saying he doesn't want to marry me: he would know that after two months? I will admit to having daydreams about marrying him, but that doesn't mean that I'm certain that I do. Is this different for men or for him or am I missing something?

You're overgeneralizing your case, here. Yes, a set of men exists (maybe including most men) of those you won't know either way after two months if you want to marry or not. But you're forgetting that there also exists a set you would be pretty sure, after two months, that you didn't want to marry. There may also be a third set, who you were pretty sure you did want to marry- but not necessarily. I think it generally works in such a way that dealbreakers are faster arriving than dealmakers, so to speak- you just keep going until you cross someone off the list, rather. Make sense?

Unfortunately, the same sets exist for him.
posted by stockpuppet at 10:13 AM on February 19, 2012

Is being married really more important than being with a person you love and are happy with?

I think statements like these minimize the (totally okay) importance of marriage to many people. You could just as well say "Is having a fulfilling sex life really more important than being with a person you love and are happy with?" Many people cannot be happy in a relationship without a fulfilling sex life. So too, many people cannot be happy in a relationship if there's no chance it will lead to marriage. I love and adore my husband but if he had said he was never going to marry me, I would have found someone I also loved and adored who would.
posted by desjardins at 1:20 PM on February 19, 2012 [7 favorites]

I love and adore my husband but if he had said he was never going to marry me, I would have found someone I also loved and adored who would.

But what if he said it to you in Month 2, when the possibility still existed that he would grow to love and adore you equally, and therefore change his mind? This would be different than if he said it at Year 2, no?

There's a Schroedinger's Cat aspect of relationships sometimes -- yes, even very, very good relationships with great potential for mutual happiness and commitment, whatever form that commitment may take -- especially at the beginning. Expecting everything to fit neatly at every stage into a flowchart -- "Will He Explicitly Consider Marrying Me After 8 Weeks? If YES: proceed. If NO: find man who will" -- is simply not how many successful relationships come into existence.
posted by scody at 1:51 PM on February 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

For the people who are saying he doesn't want to marry me: he would know that after two months?

If he had any inkling he wanted to marry you, he would hold off on saying he absolutely does not want to get married while you're lying in bed together. He really is trying to permanently ward you off on the marriage-thing. It was very direct, not some vague smoke-signal. Believe it.

Whether he's also saying he can't actually handle forever commitment is a different thing. Seems very likely to me that is the case. Cause a lot of men who profess to enjoy marriage-free commitment are actually serial monogamists who keep things aboveboard while you're together. Ultimately, they are still very poor bets as lifetime partners, no matter what they say. They suck you in for a few months or years, often when you're at your most attractive. By the time you two break up, your choices for marriage are significantly lessened because a lot of he best dudes near-ish your age are already off the market. It's something to consider NOW, not later.

And yes, men do change their minds sometimes, but a lot of the time it's a very young man who says this, or someone who hasn't met the right woman yet. Sometimes much older men also change their minds, after they realize their choices are not what they used to be or when they become lonely or less hormonally-driven.

However, your dude is 31. He's at the prime age for getting married, but instead, he's an outlier. He says that's not for him. He's a statistical minority. When most guys of his age meet a great girl they could see marrying, they do not say the opposite. The hedgier ones may say maybe later, or say nothing at all, but only at first.

He means what he says. And if, somehow, he *could* be persuaded, do you want to spend months or years trying to change his mind? I don't mean to sound unkind, but that's being a beggar at the feast. Please don't think like this-- it's unrealistic at best and utterly misery-inducing at worst.
posted by devymetal at 1:56 PM on February 19, 2012 [3 favorites]

Thank you all again for your great responses that keep rolling in. You're giving me a lot to think about.

I don't want to wait around. I don't want to change him. I've stayed in relationships where I've given up what I've wanted before and I know how unhappy and unfulfilling those relationships are. On the other hand, as many of you have pointed out, I also don't want to ruin something that could be great by ending things so early. I still need to untangle my thoughts on marriage, I think, before I make any decisions about moving forward. Is it something that I could do without if I was with a partner who made me blissfully happy and was committed to me in other ways? I don't know what the answer is yet.

We have plans for Tuesday night. I'm hoping to discuss this with him then (by bringing it up in a way that you all have suggested). I'm going to tell him that marriage is something I want, and see what happens from there.

This is really tough for me in about a billion different ways. My last two relationships were also very short-term and I ignored red flags from day one about them. I really, really like this guy. When I think about breaking up with him, my heart hurts and I can't stop crying. This is such a tough decision.
posted by anotheraccount at 2:15 PM on February 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

This is really tough for me in about a billion different ways. My last two relationships were also very short-term and I ignored red flags from day one about them. I really, really like this guy. When I think about breaking up with him, my heart hurts and I can't stop crying. This is such a tough decision.

Whoa. Whoooaaaa. Back up. Slow down.

Look, everyone who contributes here to questions about relationships, myself included, is projecting a little bit of their own experience. This is helpful in terms of providing perspective, but it doesn't mean that any of us have the magical secret decoder ring for his comment that will illuminate it's One True Meaning.

His oppositions regarding marriage may not be remotely at odds with what you're daydreaming about. "Marriage" isn't a simple concept, it's made up of a whole bunch of traditions and assumptions and expectations and personal definitions and biases.

For instance, for me, I don't have any problem with the emotional commitment part of marriage at all, but I've got a whole collection of quibbles with what a wedding means to me. Which aren't insurmountable, they just require unpacking the concept in more detail. Interesting discussions, but not a simple task, so for the time being, my SO and I are happily but not legally married.
posted by desuetude at 3:42 PM on February 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

It's not what he expressed, it was his timing and delivery. He may be excellent in other ways, but dude was telling you he has baggage.

...when he decided to say that stupid obnoxious thing about marriage the way he choose to say it


The quoted comment isn't fair to the guy, I actually think he did it pretty well. It's way way too early to start planning on getting married or even have a serious talk about it, but now she knows his feelings about it so she can think and prepare to discuss it, as she does by asking this question. I don't see vitabellosi's line as a snappy retort, but as a good and nonconfrontative answer. "I don't feel the same way - I'm quite sure I want to be married some day. So if we stick together we'll have to talk more about that. But now, let's get lunch!" That answer still works - tell him that and you both know that this is a point where you will eventually have to somehow reconcile.

Let me just say that being sceptical or indifferent to getting married does not have to have anything to do with the strength of love. After all, to get married is to say "We'll stick togehter even if we end up resenting each other". I get that it's romantic to think "yeah, that's not gonna happen anyways, so why not make the promise", but at the same time, the only time being married makes a difference is when you would otherwise break up. The really big commitment in many people's eyes is to have a child, whereas the grandness of "showing your love to the world" can seem showy and shallow, much like getting someone a flashy Valentines gift or proposing on a jumbotron. If your formative experience is a marriage that looked great and ever smiling from the outside but turned miserable the moment the camera turned away, I think you'd be extra adverse to that feeling of fakeness.

Where I'm from, many people see marriage differently from people in this thread. A friend of mine got married recently, after her now-husband looked up from some application form on his laptop and said "it looks like we're gonna have to get married" and she said "alright". Some would say it's terribly unromantic, but she didn't feel that way. Neither of them was going anywhere anyways, so marriage didn't change anything, just like marriage doesn't usually do. Again, this isn't an odd thing in my circles. If you have a kid or move abroad, you may decide that it's better from a legal point of view, so you marry with your parents and perhaps a couple of friends present and have dinner afterwards.

As far as I'm concerned, I don't have any active wish to be married. If I was longterm with someone who really wanted it, I would be willing to talk about the whys and whynots. But if it was brought up as a deal-breaker by month 3, especially with a great wedding implied, I would maybe feel a bit like a man-shaped piece in a puzzle meant to impress her friends.
posted by springload at 6:11 PM on February 19, 2012 [5 favorites]

His oppositions regarding marriage may not be remotely at odds with what you're daydreaming about. "Marriage" isn't a simple concept, it's made up of a whole bunch of traditions and assumptions and expectations and personal definitions and biases.

For reals.
Some people get married because they think marriage is the epitome of love.
Some get married because they want health insurance.
Some don't get married because they are scared of commitment.
Some don't get married because they don't want to support what they see as a patriarchal, heteronormative institution, but get into lifelong partnerships supported by legal documents to provide rights and support to their relationship.

The list goes on, and who knows what marriage means to this dude.

Seriously - you should parse out what marriage really means to you, and then maybe find out what marriage means to him, and then you'll find out whether you guys actually want the same things or not.

"MARRIAGE!" in big, capital letters is not a singular concept. It's actually complex, and can be used, interpreted, and achieved in different ways. And, yeah, maybe you guys aren't compatible at all, but maybe you're about to bail based on an issue of semantics...
posted by vivid postcard at 6:21 PM on February 19, 2012

to get married is to say "We'll stick together even if we end up resenting each other"

Before we got married, it seemed to me that resenting one's partner for various things at various times is pretty much inevitable, that deciding to stick together and work through the resulting rough patches instead of using them as breakup triggers is part of what commitment means, and that commitment was something I was willing to risk in pursuit of a life that I could look back on without major regrets.

Actually getting married has not changed that view.

*All* of my objections to marriage were objections to the idea that a public spectacle has got anything at all to do with commitment to a partner. I did and do place a very high value on the latter, and none at all on the former. Basically, what desuetude said.

Is it something that I could do without if I was with a partner who made me blissfully happy and was committed to me in other ways? I don't know what the answer is yet.

Let me suggest to you that the healthiest answer to that question should be "yes", and that you are best advised to keep your eye on the commitment and blissful happiness parts rather than the actual word "marriage". Because marriage doesn't come with guarantees. There are no guarantees; relationship failure is a loss for which full compensation is actually possible.

Deciding to commit to an exclusive intimate relationship with one other person until either (a) one of you dies or (b) they become irredeemably abusive or (c) they dump you: that's a massive emotional risk. But it's also the only honest way to gain the massive emotional reward that comes from somebody else deciding the same thing about you.

It's my long-considered opinion that the courage and inclination to take that risk is a worthwhile thing to have, and that finding somebody willing to take it with you is the best thing that can happen to a person, that the finding of such a somebody is what it takes to make a marriage work, and that having found such a person, the ceremonial aspects of marriage have no power at all to make that person any different.

Another long-considered opinion is that two months of intimacy is nowhere near long enough to find out whether you have indeed found such a somebody. So relax. Take your time. And take marriage off the table until it's no longer something you need to do to address a fear of loss, but something you both want to do in affirmation of what you already have.
posted by flabdablet at 7:12 PM on February 19, 2012 [3 favorites]

Gah. "relationship failure is a loss for which full compensation is actually possible" should read "not possible".
posted by flabdablet at 7:14 PM on February 19, 2012

My last two relationships were also very short-term and I ignored red flags from day one about them. I really, really like this guy. When I think about breaking up with him, my heart hurts and I can't stop crying. This is such a tough decision.

I really, really think you need to slow down. Based on everything you've said here -- namely, the crucial context of how he treats you (which appears to be quite well) and how long you've been together (which is not long at all) and whether he's had committed relationships before (yes) -- I do NOT think you are looking at an unambiguously red flag. (I think that would be different if you were describing someone who also treated you in a not-so-nice manner, or if you were ten years older and wanting to start a family in the next year or two, etc.)

Moreover, I don't think it's the kind of thing that you're necessarily going to resolve in one conversation on Tuesday, especially if you are so emotionally worked up about it right now that you can't stop crying.

Listen: all the storytelling that's been going on in your head about how he'll never give you what you want and now you have to break up him even though he's such a nice guy and it hurts so much? None of that is actually real. None of it has actually come to pass. None of it is based on things you really know about him and your relationship. It's a mental tendency called catastrophizing, in which you imagine the worst case scenario, and then you react as if the worst case scenario is a done deal. You are essentially crying over a phantom, not over a fact.

No one here knows for sure if the two of you might eventually build a long-term, loving, committed relationship, but based on what you have said here about how he actually treats you, I think that the possibility of that happening exists. But I am almost certain that if you bring it up on Tuesday with the expectation that it is a do-or-die conversation, that possibility will cease to exist.

Try to stay in the present with getting to know him better as the two of you are now, and not fixated on whether he's willing to become your hypothetical husband in the future. If I could change one thing about how I dealt with relationships when I was in my 20s, it would be exactly that. I pushed a couple of great potential relationships straight off a cliff early on because I was so fixated on the future rather than the present, then went on to marry someone I shouldn't have (even though he's a nice guy and we both meant well) because I was so frightened of what it would say about me if I turned 30 and wasn't married yet.

Please don't let the marriage monster destroy something that may not need to be destroyed. There is not any sort of unanimity in this thread that says that you are facing a red flag that you ignore at your peril. Lots of people here have told great stories of relationships that didn't appear to be marriage-bound at two months that wound up going the distance, but that would have never come to pass had they not been given the room to grow.
posted by scody at 7:19 PM on February 19, 2012 [2 favorites]

Unsurprisingly, you know what really helped? Hearing his voice. Talking to him. We texted a bit last night but he called out of the blue a little while ago and it was so nice to talk to him in the midst of my panic. I have generalized anxiety disorder that I'm on medication for, so it doesn't surprise me that I did some "catastrophizing," as it were. I didn't bring up the marriage thing since it was just a quick check-in, but it helped bring me back to earth on this issue.

As my posts throughout this thread have surely shown, between the anxiety and the terrible relationship history, I've had kind of a tough time adjusting to what seems to be a happy, healthy relationship. I don't want to ruin that. I do want to mention something to him about it on Tuesday - I would like to hear more about his thoughts on this as part of getting to know him and what makes him tick. But it will definitely more in the context of getting to know him and letting him know how I feel about it in return. It's something we would have to discuss at length later on down the road if things reach that point, but I think it is way too early to make this a dealbreaker for me. So far, this man has made me ridiculously happy. I'm not willing to destroy that just yet for what is at this point a remote possibility.

If it sounds like I'm all over the place on this.. well, I am. This has been a crazy 24 hours as I've worked through a lot of this, but I do feel pretty steady about how I'm going to handle it now. Thank you again for all of your help and for listening.
posted by anotheraccount at 8:18 PM on February 19, 2012 [3 favorites]

So lots of people have had bad experiences with men who said this to them. Others ended up in situations that were totally great. I understand that. It kinda reminds me of the question about turning a one night stand into a relationship, in the sense that- if the two people really click, it can work out. But most often it probably doesn't. The difference, though, with the marriage thing is that if it isn't going to work out, it will probably end in an extremely painful way after years of emotional investment. So the decision to stay in the relationship- because he's great and maybe someone's views (hers OR his) will change and it will all work out- is still a dangerous one, with a good chance of it ending in heartbreak. Not didn't-see-it-coming heartbreak, but why-didn't-i-listen-to-my-gut, i should have known heartbreak which is almost harder to deal with because you feel like an idiot in addition to feeling heartbroken.

So this isn't a question, really, of whether it COULD work out. Of course it could. The question is, is it worth it to stay in a situation that you know has a decent chance of ending really badly? Having been through it once, personally, I would not.

Anyway, though, I think it might be worthwhile for you to talk to him more about the relationships that have gone wrong in his family (or friends, or whoever.) The question of whether not wanting marriage is a red flag is really contextual, I think- what other red flags might there be? When my ex talked about his parent's and sisters' marriage problems, there was a lot of blame, judgment and contempt in the way he described them. I think that was really the biggest flag- not wanting marriage was just his convenient way of summing up much more complicated baggage about relationships. So, OP, if I were you I'd talk to him more about his family, and pay careful attention to how he describes the situations. And see if it's just his parents' divorce that affected him, or whether there were others in his family (I eventually realized my ex was more affected by his sister's divorce than his parents, even though he talked about it a lot less.) Is he judgmental, angry, places blame in a way that seems unfair? Bail. Seriously.* Or is he mature, intelligent and fair in his assessment of these people and what went wrong? Maybe he deserves a little more time. I guess what I'm getting at is that for guys who don't want marriage due to baggage like my ex's, avoiding marriage won't actually solve any problems. The relationship will eventually deteriorate the more committed you get to each other, marriage or not, because it's the anti-long term commitment attitude that's the problem, not necessarily the institution of marriage itself. Even though I rarely brought up marriage, I think the pressure of seeing his friends and family all getting married got to him anyway. he started treating me really badly really quickly once he realized we'd established a comfortable, marriage-like coexistence and people were wondering when we'd be making it official.

The good part is, conversations like this about his family can be had without making it about you at all. So if you think it's too early for you to come right out and talk about marriage between you and him, have conversations about the relationships in your families. It's a good way to see whether you think the same way on various issues and in general whether his attitudes about relationship problems are healthy. In the end, though, this situation clearly has turned out differently for many of us, so I'll say again- the most important thing, I think, is trusting your gut. If you truly have doubts, don't use the fact that "it works out for some people" to try to quash and ignore those feelings.

*when I think back over all the shit that went wrong between us, I always think back to these early conversations and how his angry descriptions of these situations made me really uncomfortable. at the time i wondered whether it was a red flag or if his anger was justified. this was probably the most significant moment where i ignored my instincts- i wish so hard that i would have just broken up with him then. i'd have saved so much time and heartache.
posted by Argyle_Sock_Puppet at 11:28 AM on February 20, 2012 [5 favorites]

Heh . . . and as I was typing that response, this relevant and excellent song came up randomly in the shuffle. WEIRD.
posted by Argyle_Sock_Puppet at 11:33 AM on February 20, 2012

If you really like him, you don't have to break up now. But after maybe 6 months or so if things are going well I'd sit down for a talk and say, "hey, I know you said way back when that you didn't believe in marriage, but it's something I've started to think about and I'd like to get married some day. I'm not suggesting that this has to be it or anything about this relationship specifically, but if you're really against it, I'd like to know what you think so I can make the right decision for myself."

No one wants to put pressure on a new relationship, but there's no reason at your age that you shouldn't both be clear about what you're looking for. You should be clear, but don't worry too much about the "implications": a mature guy will understand that you're not fishing for a proposal. He certainly didn't have a problem with that. He might soften up and say, "I'm against it but for the right person it wouldn't be an issue," or he might say, "no, I never want to get married, it's nonsense," and then it's up to you how you feel about it. Knowing his reasons might help, too (if they're because he doesn't believe in any kind of long-term commitment, for instance, you should probably cut and run).
posted by stoneandstar at 3:28 PM on February 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

If anyone is interested..

The week after I posted this question, I brought this issue up to him; said something like "So the other day when we were talking about all of these terrible marriages in our families, you said something about your feelings about marriage - what are they?" Basically, he told me that one of his life goals is to find someone that he can be in a very long-term partnership with, but he's really turned off by the legal aspects of marriage. He asked me how I felt about it and I told him that I had always thought I would get married, though I wasn't entirely sure why and it was something I wanted to think about. I told him that there were kind of two schools of thought on this issue: end things now and save yourself the pain of incompatibility down the road, or stick it out and see what happens. I told him that I really wanted to think about my ideas about marriage more before I made any decisions, and revisit this down the line.

It was such an enlightening conversation in about a billion ways. It was our first really serious discussion and I was so happy at how well he responded to everything - he was very interested in what I had to say and more than once said that he totally respects my opinion on the matter. One of the reasons I was so scared to explore this more was because I've pretty much exclusively dated men who react poorly to discussions like these and downplayed my feelings. That was absolutely not the case here.

So I'm doing what I told him I would do: thinking about why marriage is so important to me. I've been reading some philosophers' opinions on the matter (I was a philosophy student in college) and asking other people about their opinions, and thinking a lot about why it's important to me. And I'm starting to think that it might not be. When I think about my future and what I really want, it isn't a ring on my finger - it's a loving, supportive, long-term partnership with a man. And so far, he's giving me the loving and supportive part in spades. He did tell me that he wouldn't have a problem with some sort of ceremony or even wearing rings in the future, but would not want to do the legal marriage certificate thing, which seems to make some sense to me.

We'll see how things play out, but right now, I'm just enjoying my time with him and really paying attention to how my thoughts on the matter evolve. Thank you so much for all of your help, folks.
posted by anotheraccount at 6:54 AM on March 1, 2012 [4 favorites]

Well done you!

I'd like to draw your attention to something Robert McCloskey once wrote: "I know that you believe you understand what you think I said, but I'm not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant."

My late mother kept a poster of that stuck on the kitchen pinboard at all times. It's a really good thing to be reminded of when inexplicably at loggerheads with a partner.

May you live long and love well.
posted by flabdablet at 7:06 AM on March 1, 2012 [2 favorites]

Here we are almost two months later and my guy and I are still going strong. I met his parents over Easter; he's met my mother and will meet my (out of town) father and stepmother this weekend. We make each other extraordinarily happy.

I will admit that I've continued to think about the marriage issue. I had another friend get engaged last week and I'm going to be a bridesmaid for the fifth time, so weddings have been on my mind. Part of me feels like there's no natural progression to a relationship that doesn't involve marriage, as silly as that seems. Part of me is thrilled with the idea of being able to call him my "husband" instead of my "boyfriend" someday. I still haven't completely sorted out my feelings about why exactly marriage is important to me, but it may very well be. But I do know that I would have a very, very tough time ending things with him for this reason. It's only been four months, but he is so tremendously important to me and I have never felt this way about anyone before.

Any thoughts?
posted by anotheraccount at 8:14 AM on April 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

Part of me feels like there's no natural progression to a relationship that doesn't involve marriage, as silly as that seems. Part of me is thrilled with the idea of being able to call him my "husband" instead of my "boyfriend" someday.

It's not silly at all. I love being married. I vastly prefer it to having a boyfriend. I understand it's not everyone's gig but to me there's something wonderfully perpetual about it; it's a social contract that has stood through millenia. The public declaration was also important to me in a very concrete way. My husband knew from Day 1 I wasn't interested in dating him if he wasn't open to the idea of marriage. I was done dating and I wanted to get married. (See my previous advice: don't ever pretend you do not want what you know you want or hide something about yourself to keep - or get - a man.)

What I would say to you is that there is a very identifiable pattern in 20-something relationships, and it is this: Partner A and Partner B are together. Partner A is definitive about something: "I don't ever want to get married" or "I don't ever want to have kids" or "I will never live outside the US" or something pretty key like that. Partner B is unable to live with that major life compromise but hangs around forever waiting to see if A will change. A does not change; B leaves, devastating them both.

A promptly begins dating C, gets married, has a kid and moves to Bolivia.

I don't know why this is but I see it over and over again. A is, of course, perfectly happy, and B is bitter as fuck over the wasted years and the "why not me?"s.
posted by DarlingBri at 9:45 AM on April 23, 2012 [4 favorites]

Any thoughts?

Absolutely. Don't let the desire for perfection be the enemy of the truly and wonderfully good.

Part of me feels like there's no natural progression to a relationship that doesn't involve marriage, as silly as that seems

That's not a feeling, that's a belief, just as is his present belief that marriage is something he's not interested in being part of. Beliefs change. Yours will. His will. Spend the next few years learning about yourselves from each other and then see how both of you feel about the M word.

Part of me is thrilled with the idea of being able to call him my "husband" instead of my "boyfriend" someday.

I resisted the whole idea of marriage for a very very long time. But I can tell you that there is something wonderful about being able to think of me and ms. flabdablet as husband and wife. There is a kind of magic in those words. But here's the thing: it only works if you put the people first, and the magic words second; it's the relationship that makes the words magic, not the other way around.

It's only been four months, but he is so tremendously important to me and I have never felt this way about anyone before.

For ms. flabdablet and me, it took four years of feeling that way before I tossed all caution to the wind and proposed.

If you're going to do marriage in such a way as to make it this wonderful special magical thing that currently has such a grip on your imagination - then you need to do it properly and you need to do it once. And to make that the right thing to do, each of you needs to be sure that you've picked the right person to do it with.

Becoming sure of that requires paying attention to how things are with you right now for a very very long time. Way longer than a few months. It also requires an acceptance on both your parts that people come as package deals, not a la carte menu meals, so that neither of you ends up as DarlingBri's bitter B.

For now, here are some other magic words you might care to substitute for "my boyfriend": My darling. My beautiful man. My beloved. My only. My love.
posted by flabdablet at 10:00 AM on April 23, 2012 [2 favorites]

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