Cold Feet or Reasonable Doubts?
February 27, 2013 8:30 AM   Subscribe

My boyfriend treats me wonderfully, like I'm the most important thing on the planet. Now, we are taking our first steps down a very quick path towards Full Lifetime Committment: moving-in, with the understanding that marriage and kids will follow shortly. (Why the speed? I'm 37 with some history of ladytroubles that require maximum time to try and get pregnant.) I was feeling very ready for all this 2-3 months ago, but now am having doubts. Help! Are these standard cold feet, or do you spot any red flags here?

Well, gosh. Aren't I lucky? I have an absolute dream job, and a super supportive boyfriend who adores me and tells me how lucky he is to be with me every day. Although he is a few years younger, he understands I'm on a faster timeline for children biologically — and is ready to do that together, as soon as we need to. We've been dating a little over a year and a half, and started talking about Big Life Plans about six months in. We've met each other's families, made some big purchases/commitments together, and I'm moving in with him soon.

I should be excited, I know, but the last few weeks I've been experiencing some emotional flatlining and I don't know how to interpret it — cold feet? skittishness from being hurt in the past? red flags I shouldn't move forward with this man?

Here are my feelings:

* Emotionally, he's off-the-charts-amazing. I am not going to find a better candidate for a father. He is loving, considerate, caring, generous, hardworking at home and totally supportive. He makes me feel safe, trusting, calm, easy, comfortable and totally accepted. He loves doing household tasks for me, much of the cooking, grocery shopping and even cleaning. He gives me frequent compliments and never fails to tell me what a lucky man he feels like for being with me. The sex is amazing, too.

* Practically and financially, I'm in much better shape than him. Granted, I'm a little older but my career, finances, and ability to practically get by in the world are a lot stronger than his. I'm not the kind of woman who cares very much what kind of salary her partner makes, but he doesn't have much professional ambition, and that bothers me somewhat more. I worry I might lose respect for him over time if he stays ambivalent about his career (he says he wants more, but it's very halfhearted. His past is an indication that he has struggled getting any traction at all in his career). But hey — maybe this is a great thing? Maybe he'll be the stay-at-home dad? I can easily support us both, but I'm starting to think he sees our relationship as the sole successful thing in his life but worry about that becoming a strain over time.

* I love him, but I've never felt insanely crushy about him. I am typically attracted to super intellectual guys (who treat me like crap) so this relationship has been a bit of an experiment for me. I sometimes feel intellectually alone in the relationship. I have felt bored in his company from time to time (this feels like a big red flag, yes?) and have problems with occasional bursts of ignorance of basic American history or inadvertently bigoted comments (which I lovingly correct, and he honestly works to end). But I miss having serious conversations. I miss reading together. I miss feeling intellectually challenged, and heard. I worry I won't end up in this life as smart as I might if I was with someone who challenged me everyday. But I don't want to go back into the crazy/hot/crushy/problematic relationships of my past, so maybe a little boring is a good thing for me? Or is it? This dynamic feels so new and I don't trust it at all. Gah.

* My last serious relationship before this was with an abusive alcoholic who wasted many good years of my fertility stringing me along with promises he never meant to keep (but hey, a challenging intellectual! And an ass!). He cheated and walked out very suddenly with no explanation a few years ago. I was deeply scarred by that. After lots of therapy, alone time, and active dating I found this wonderful, sincere, loving man. This relationship feels solid and safe, but I worry: am I'm simply taking shelter in it after my years of being treated so badly by someone I loved with a super-hot intensity? Could this all be — gasp — just a very slow-motion rebound, after a very long-running nightmare? Or did I learn something fundamental about what makes a healthy relationship, forgoing the flash of intellectual spark for the heartfelt substance of real supportiveness?

Other basic facts: I definitely want to have a baby, and I want to have my own. I don't want to be a single mom, adopt, do in-vitro, or spend the $8-12K it costs to take the risk of egg freezing (which doesn't have very high success rates to begin with). I feel like I should be trying to get pregnant in the next 12-18 months if I want a good chance at doing so.

If I were 27, instead of 37, I would probably slow this whole thing down another year or three before we headed down Committment Road. But at 37, the whole decision matrix feels really different now. My single friends my age are all dating divorced dads in their 50s. My older women friends lean into me hard and whisper: "marry this man!" — then, they lean in a little harder to whisper, "get off the birth control NOW."

But in the last two weeks I have looked at my boyfriend and felt very flat, a little bored, and we've had more little spats than usual, which I think has been my fault. He loves me more than ever, and it feels like we're hurtling towards a whole big life together and wish I felt 100% behind it. But I feel shaky — more like 68% behind it. I sincerely worry if I don't take this opportunity to build a life with him, I may wind up in another crappy relationship with an asshole, or childless.

Are these cold feet or legitimate concerns? What say you, AskMe?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (26 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
A lot of what you've written describes my relationship with my husband. I also knew all this going in, but I LOVED him and it all seemed somewhat irrelevant. After 30 years, I still love him and it all WAS irrelevant. In our relationship, I remained the breadwinner and he became the stay-at-home parent. It worked out really great for us. We made compromises, worked with each others' strengths and weaknesses, and shared a common outlook of "moving forward in a positive direction." It sustained us for thirty years. I realize now that I wouldn't have been happy with someone more like me, I like the differences my husband's personality brings to my life. Every relationship is a compromise. Do you share the same basic values? Do you love him?
posted by raisingsand at 8:39 AM on February 27, 2013 [14 favorites]

It's next to impossible for one person to fulfill all one's needs. Do you have friends that can scratch that itch for intellectual conversation?
posted by meijusa at 8:40 AM on February 27, 2013 [16 favorites]

We can't make this decision for you.

But no matter who you marry, there will be times of boredom.

My recommendation is premarital counseling. You can hash out your concerns together. Perhaps he has some of his own?

One final thing. No partner can totally meet all of your needs. I love my husband but for example, our musical and entertainment tastes diverge wildly. That's what my best girl pals are for.

OTOH if you don't feel you can have respect for him as he is, that probably needs to be a dealbreaker for HIS sake.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 8:42 AM on February 27, 2013 [6 favorites]

...but I'm starting to think he sees our relationship as the sole successful thing in his life but worry about that becoming a strain over time.

I think this may be more of the issue than his half-hardheartedness about his career. Encourage him to do something, anything, he actually has serious interest in. Develop some hobbies. Volunteer. Whatever. Maybe he'll find something he actually wants to pursue with vigor as a job. Maybe he'll just have a hobby or volunteer position he loves. Either way, I bet that will more than compensate for a lack of purely professional ambition.

I have felt bored in his company from time to time (this feels like a big red flag, yes?)...

Are you bored of him? Or are you just bored? Two people can't expect to be each other's permanent entertainment source. Even with a million things to do, everyone feels bored from time to time. The important part is how you handle it. Do you sit there and resent the boredom, or do you say "hey, dude, let's go do something fun, or at least plan something fun to do later."

You can also get your intellectual challenge in a lot of places other than this guy. I mean, if he's anti-intellectual or derides your desire to do intellectual things, that's a problem. If this is a Hard Dealbreaker for you -- which it doesn't seem to be -- that's a problem. But your significant other can't be expected to be all things to you. There are many things it is perfectly okay to seek outside of your relationship, and this can be one of them. You can join a book club or take some classes.

Or did I learn something fundamental about what makes a healthy relationship, forgoing the flash of intellectual spark for the heartfelt substance of real supportiveness>?

If you're in a relationship with a Good Person whom you love and respect and said love and respect is mutual, what possible purpose would assuming anything but this serve you?
posted by griphus at 8:42 AM on February 27, 2013 [5 favorites]

If your career is important to you, having a husband who likes and is good at domestic matters is not a bad arrangement. However, one of the messiest things you can do is have kids and then get a divorce, and alternatively you don't want to feel trapped in an unhappy relationship, so it's definitely important to think long and hard about whether you want to stay with him long-term. It's easy to think he's great for you because he's so much better than the last guy, but that doesn't mean he's necessarily "the best you can do" (realistically speaking). Take some time to think about whether this is really the guy you would want to be with under different circumstances (or in a vacuum of no circumstances).
posted by Dansaman at 8:44 AM on February 27, 2013

If you don't have some level of cold feet, you're not taking this seriously enough. I can understand where your doubts come from, and they may be real, but I also like that you don't seem intent on changing your man into some kind of ambitious career man if that's not something he is. You have to accept him as he is now, not what you want him to be (and it seems like that's what you're doing).

The world is changing and I know of a few couples where the major, sometimes sole, breadwinner is the woman and the man is the stay-at-home parent.

Only you can decide if these are legitimate concerns or simple cold feet, but I'm not seeing anything that screams at me that this will never work.
posted by Doohickie at 8:45 AM on February 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

There's a lot to be said for supportive, involved spouses. Really. I have a similar dynamic in my marriage. My husband is the stay-at-home parent, because it made so much sense. I'm the one with the career, the clear breadwinner, and he was not fulfilled by his work. I think values and lifestyle preferences matter more than anything else. Politics, religion, whether you want to live in a city/suburbs/country, what kind of hobbies you have, etc. Friends fill in the gaps.

Have you talked to him about whether he would want to be a stay-at-home parent?
posted by rabbitrabbit at 8:46 AM on February 27, 2013

Yes, definitely legitimate concerns.

I feel like, before deciding to marry someone, nearly everyone comes to this point where they have to face the things that make them least compatible with their partners, and decide whether they are dealbreakers. For you, it seems like it's the mismatch in intellect and ambition.

Without trying to predict what might happen to you if you leave this relationship, can you try to figure out whether you can live with that mismatch?
posted by chickenmagazine at 8:53 AM on February 27, 2013 [4 favorites]

My favorite comment ever on this subject.
posted by deanc at 9:02 AM on February 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

I agree with the posters above: this sounds great, I think your expectations that one person should fulfill all yours needs is not realistic, and I'd like to add that a freakout before a major life transition is normal. I freaked out before moving in with my now-husband because, like you, it was not just moving in together - it was the first step in living together, getting married, having kids and being stuck together basically forever. I read The Concious Bride (way before we got engaged) and found it valuable to examine what this transition meant for me. (FWIW we were married less than 2 years after we met. That may be relevant to you.)

My sole concern is this:

I am not going to find a better candidate for a father.

Do not make this why you marry this man. The two of you need to be able to be a strong and happy unit on your own for the following reasons:

1. Having kids will put your relationship under more stress than anyone ever tells you it will. If there are cracks, they'll become caverns.

2. At any age, there exists the possibility you will not be able to have kids. When it turned out we can't, I cannot tell you how relieved I was and what a big difference it made to know that, complex feelings about infertility aside, the person I married is someone I am pretty happy to spend every year of the next FIFTY YEARS with, with very few distractions.

Had I married Awesome Dad who was otherwise a bit of a dud, well, I'd be pretty fucked now...
posted by DarlingBri at 9:04 AM on February 27, 2013 [20 favorites]

Personally I see your guy's lack of ambition as a plus. If you want a child, perhaps he can be the primary care-giver while you are out in the workplace.

But that's immaterial.

What's worse, dealing with the fact that this guy is not 100% what you want? Or the fact that although he's not perfect, you are better with him than without him.

There's an awful lot to be said for being with someone loving, giving and who is on the same lifepath as you are.

Can you see partnering with him for the rest of your life? Do you envision growing old together? Do you see rearing children together and being happy doing that?

Not everyone fulfills every need. Perhaps you can have wonderful dinner parties with amazing conversation and debate. Perhaps continued exposure to such things will elevate your boyfriend and he'll soon be able to hold his ground in these conversations.

If having someone challenge you intellectually is a HUGE part of what you want in a mate, then this may not be a match. It was a deal-breaker for me.

My favorite saying is "You get what you settle for." If you settle for this guy, merely because your biological clock is ticking, then eventually, you'll resent him for not being what you really wanted, and that will suck!

Take having kids out of the equation. Would you want to marry him if you COULDN'T have kids together?

That would be your answer.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 9:06 AM on February 27, 2013 [3 favorites]

It sounds like you're doing interviews for a position as the father of your child, not in love with a guy you want to be your husband.
posted by Feel the beat of the rhythm of the night at 9:08 AM on February 27, 2013 [6 favorites]

If I were 27, instead of 37, I would probably slow this whole thing down another year or three before we headed down Committment Road. But at 37, the whole decision matrix feels really different now. My single friends my age are all dating divorced dads in their 50s. My older women friends lean into me hard and whisper: "marry this man!" — then, they lean in a little harder to whisper, "get off the birth control NOW."

This is a big red flag for me. It sounds like you're only moving this fast because you believe that you need to have a baby NOW NOW NOW. This is (1) not a good reason to marry someone, and (2) not a good reason to have a baby. It reminds me somewhat of those women who have kids to save a relationship, only you're having a relationship to save your ability to have kids.

Slow down and think about what you are doing and why. Premarital counseling sounds like a great idea if you believe you can be honest about everything with both your partner and your therapist.
posted by blurker at 9:14 AM on February 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

Marriage is about compromises. You will see people write that it doesn't have to be, but the majority I've seen post that opinion usually have at least one divorce in their history. You're 37 years old, which means you have life/relationship experience to base your decisions on. You've been dating a year and a half, that's not "fast" for an adult relationship in my experience.

Realistically any person you choose as a partner will have some compromises, that makes sense because if you evaluate yourself as a potential partner you're going to have some shortfalls right? Here are the questions that matter for making this kind of decision. (There really is no judgement in these btw, if you need something but think you should settle for the "right" answer your just setting yourself up for a harder conversation later)

Who are you? Are you a hopeless romantic who believes and needs the fairytale? Or are you a more practically minded analyzer who can really believe in the idea of a good, practical fit?

What do you want? Do you want a stable partner to grow through life with and build a family with? Or do you want a whirlwind life of romance?

Do you really think your smarter than your S.O.? In like all ways? That's actually a pretty major red flag for me, the ambition thing can be dealt with by focusing on his contributions, and if you just used unfortunate shorthand for "different types of smart" then that's fine, but you need to know which it is - I honestly don't believe there's anyway for a relationship to succeed if there is a disdain for the others ability.

If you think your S.O. smart, and you just mean it's frustrating that he doesn't like to read books with you then ask yourself if you can be satisfied filling that particular void with a book club or friends.

The truth is, based on what you've written here you could easily and legitimately talk yourself into either answer. I don't know you, I can't tell you which one is the right answer for you. I married very young, husband and I are both more in the "practical" category and I can tell you that for us the "great partner, great parent, comparable life goals" factors have been wonderful. For the most part our marriage has been an amazing force for balance, support, and personal growth for both of us.

I expressed some of the same concerns when we got engaged (at 20 fwiw) "Am I settling" "Are we getting married because it's the next step, or because we're scared of breaking up and trying something new". I can't honestly tell you that none of those things are/were true, they may have been factors, but I CAN tell you that they really don't matter. I have a deep and abiding love and respect for my partner, and he has the same for me - the decision to get married was at least a 50% practical analysis of our compatibility for long term. Personally I would rather have that then passionate butterflies and a less compatible partner - but there are lots of people who would disagree with me.

How does that last sentence make you feel? Do you gain satisfaction from making "good decisions" or do you need a fiery passion to feel fulfilled?

(if it matters for credibility, I've been w/husband for 16 years and we've been married for 10 w/ a kid for 6)
posted by dadici at 9:20 AM on February 27, 2013 [7 favorites]

He's there in all the things that matter.


Go for it.
posted by Capt. Renault at 9:26 AM on February 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

Standard AskMeFi Answer #3:

The future is uncertain.
People change and who you marry is not who you live with in 10 years.
There is no 'perfect' mate, but there are many 'more than adequate'.
Relationships age.
People in relationships age.
Kids change everything.
Marriage usually doesn't succeed.
Postponement is progressively less of an option for women who want to breed.
Assessment is easier after you try something than by trying to imagine it.
Your decision is not final and very likely is it not fatal.
Most folks get through life OK in these parts.
Some decisions work out better than others.
Fear will always compete with optimism.
You are in charge of your present, only.
Life is so, so short. (Stops typing to wipe eye. Dusty in here.)
Happiness and heath are never guaranteed.
Love is the only antidote to the sad human condition.


Good luck. You sound like you are in a promising place. I am sorry you have doubts, but who doesn't? I hope you live 1000 years, have a ton of wonderful children and die happy in the arms of a loving family some distant day in the future. No kidding. Rock on.
posted by FauxScot at 9:40 AM on February 27, 2013 [52 favorites]

Oh sorry the other thing I meant to add is, I think, critically important: marry someone exactly as they are today, not as you hope they'll be tomorrow. You need to be happy with your guy precisely as he is right now in case his career ambitions never change.
posted by DarlingBri at 9:43 AM on February 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

As many people above me have said, you can't have all things in a partner. It's unfair to the partner to expect him to provide for 100% of your needs. So you have to ask if he provides the things you need in your at-home together-all-the-time relationship, and if you can get what he doesn't provide from your not-at-home together-for-specific-reasons friends.

My breakdown is that, at home, you want: trust, honestly, affection, respect, love, sharing, and qualities like that. These are the things you say that he provides, and the white-hot passion you've felt with past assholes is the only thing really missing. You want a good father to your children, and he's that. You want someone who loves you deeply. He gives you that. You want stability, so that you're not afraid to come home. He gives you that too.

You can get other things from yourself and from non-spouses: intellectual challenges, money, fulfillment in your career. Even passion, as long as it comes from shared external passions and not a shared bed (and you say you're getting great sex from this man, so that doesn't seem to be something you'd need to find outside the marriage).

My math tells me that this man gives you what you need from a partner, and you can find what you want in other places.

Additionally, he's still young enough to really surprise you. When I married my husband, he was 31 and not particularly good with money -- in debt, spend happy, etc. He's now 46 and quite the opposite, and his steadiness is such a great thing. He has changed his career focus and become someone I couldn't have predicted. And against all odds, he turned out to be the perfect father. All of these things grew over time, and my point here is that who your partner is now is not a cast-in-stone prediction of who he will become over time.

Someone upstream said that marrying him because he'll be a good father is a bad idea. I disagree. If you want children, having a good father is absolutely key to your happiness. Imagine if you married a bad father! It would ruin everything for you, for the rest of your life. You can build a wonderful marriage with this man, and a beautiful family, and I think you should marry him and focus your energy on making him as happy as he tries to make you. This kind of cross-focused marriage is a wonderful thing to live in, and I am happy just thinking about you being with a man you describe as "loving, considerate, caring, generous, hardworking at home and totally supportive" who "makes you feel safe, trusting, calm, easy, comfortable and totally accepted." Wow, what a perfect description of a perfect husband.
posted by Capri at 9:44 AM on February 27, 2013 [8 favorites]

All the best (longest, happiest) marriages I know have this in common: the partners don't look to the other to fit together. They look to the other to bring other qualities and interests than their own to their shared lives. And as they enrich each other, love deepens.

The biggest red flag to me is your statement that he sometimes bores you. Nobody can bore you. If you feel bored, you're boring yourself. Learning this is Growing Up 101. It sounds as if you get in that bored place -- we all do -- and your solution is to engage in dramatic intellectual conflict to get over it. I don't know you, and you certainly sound sincere, but if that is your pattern and you don't recognize it, then it would be far better for this nice man to find someone who cherishes him, rather than to stay with someone who finds him nice-but-inadequate.
posted by kestralwing at 10:14 AM on February 27, 2013 [2 favorites]

Move in together and try it.

I see no reason why you wouldn't. Moving in together is a big deal, certainly, but it doesn't have to be permanent if it doesn't work out. If your argument is that you don't have the time to waste if it doesn't last, I'll respond that you don't have the time to NOT give this an all-in fair chance. Why spend any more time with only your foot in the door?

Others have said most of what I wanted to say, but I'll add this: in our marriage, I'm the more 'intellectual' one and my wife is the more 'down-to-earth' one (please take all labels with a huge grain of salt). Sure, there are times when I wish we could converse more about things I like (and I imagine the opposite is true as well) - but I have others in my life for that. Ultimately, our differences strengthen us, and in my experience, it can be very helpful for the 'intellectual' to have someone a little more grounded and a little less in their head, particularly when children are involved.

Good luck!
posted by widdershins at 11:09 AM on February 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

I worry I won't end up in this life as smart as I might if I was with someone who challenged me everyday.

I'm in a relationship like yours. I think it has made me smarter. Being in a stable and loving relationship has freed me up to spend more time learning and challenging myself. I also find figuring out my boyfriend and his perspectives to be an interesting challenge in and of itself. He has a curious mind and a fearlessness that I lack, even though he tends to let go of topics fairly quickly. I used to think it made him shallow, but following along with his interests has broadened my own. It's also made me less stubborn about letting go of ideas that don't work. Finally, this sounds corny as hell, but he really does challenge me to be a better person. He's much less negative and critical than I am. He's not snarky at all. He's optimistic and usually the last person to shoot down an idea. He's a better person than I am in a lot of ways. It makes me want to be better too.
posted by rhythm and booze at 11:52 AM on February 27, 2013 [2 favorites]

Your feeling bored at times because he is not your intellectual equal is a big problem. I don't think you should pretend that it's not. Maybe I'm just very attuned to that because for me it would be a deal breaker.

But -- you are 37 and you are very involved with him and he has a lot going for him, clearly, in other areas, and you want to have a baby.

So here's my question: would it feel as if you were jumping off a cliff if you broke up with him now and started looking for somebody else at age 37, given how much you want a baby? Do you think you'd regret it when, let's say, 3 years later, you're not in a better relationship?

I have a feeling the answer to the second question is "yes, there is a very good chance that I'd regret it, because the odds of finding a man who has all that sweetness and giving-ness and loves me and is ready to have a baby immediately within the next couple of years is very very low."

Therefore, on a completely pragmatic (and some would say cynical) level I would continue as per the marriage/baby plans and I would tell myself that some of the other stuff (that you call "intellectual") can be developed (because he seems motivated to do what you want).

And then I would see what happens down the line. The relationship/family could just improve and improve; you could develop other ways to fulfill some of the things you find lacking with him; and you will have children who will take up a lot of your time and energy and even intellectual life, if you want; (maybe you could assign your boyfriend some smart child-rearing books and tell him you want to discuss this subject with him!)


You might wind up breaking up. It happens, you know, about 50% of the time to American marriages. And this will be heartbreaking, but you will have gotten your children. It's really important to have your children, if that's what you want! so I am speaking from that place, which I really, personally, understand -- that place where you don't want to freeze your eggs, don't want all that other stuff. This is clearly your #1 priority, and you have the right to "own" it and do what you need to do to get there.

You know, you could break up with him and find the Intellectual Guy who wants to have children with you and you could have the children and then have to break up with THAT guy, because....who knows why?

I know this sounds horrible, but there it is. I personally like my response better than the "compromise" ones that appear to have a little moralistic frisson going on where the posters seem to be implying that you are undervaluing this nice man who just wants to give you everything.

It's sad that you couldn't fall madly in love with somebody who fell madly in love with you back and was really great and nice and giving and wanted children now. But women ARE on that timetable (although it has gotten better: I remember calling a sperm bank 22 years ago and asking if they froze eggs, and the guy laughed at me, because he said that would be just so complicated, he couldn't imagine how it would ever become a reality -- well, hmmm)

Anyway, I hope you can decide this thing Without Guilt.
posted by DMelanogaster at 11:58 AM on February 27, 2013 [5 favorites]

Nthing the great advice thus far.

Also: unburden yourself of the feelings of disenchantment for your past bad breakup, and use the breakup as a learning experience. Experience has taught you a lesson from your ex; put this to use in determining whether this is a similar situation you should avoid. If self-doubt and indecision are hindering the process, then get to work with some serious introspection.
posted by horizonseeker at 1:51 PM on February 27, 2013

Hey — maybe this is a great thing? Maybe he'll be the stay-at-home dad?

If this were me, I'd say the same thing as above, but the question marks would be exclamation points.

So he doesn't have ambitions regarding a professional career. It sounds like he DOES have ambitions to be a great person, a great husband, and, if he's as onboard with your baby-having plans as you say he is, a great father. That IS ambitious! Just in a different direction. Maybe if you think of it that way, you won't be as worried you'll "lose respect" for him. I certainly respect a man who has those ambitions. In fact, I wish I could meet one myself, because I'd probably fall for one who did.

You have something a lot of people would give anything to find. I hope you think twice, and then three times, and then maybe once more to grow on, before you throw that away.

(Note: I was raised by a wonderful, kind stay-at-home dad myself. My mom loves him to pieces. They're still together, going on 30 years.)
posted by honey wheat at 1:58 PM on February 27, 2013 [6 favorites]

If I were 27, instead of 37, I would probably slow this whole thing down another year or three before we headed down Committment Road. But at 37, the whole decision matrix feels really different now.

i think you need to listen to what your gut is telling you and this sentence is what i believe your gut is saying. i see you making a decision about marriage out of fear and that is never, ever a good thing.

i totally get that you really want to have your own kids but you may need to be more flexible about that. some of my friends over 35 have had a hard time conceiving and had to have some sort of fertility treatment from hormones to IVF to surrogacy.

personally, i wouldn't marry someone i didn't have a big old spark with but that's me. but you not only don't have a real spark with this guy you aren't intellectually challenged by him either. i get that those may be connected too. to some of us that ability to intellectually challenge us is really, really important.

i think this sounds like a very safe, nice relationship but i think for your future happiniess' sake you need to listen to those doubts that are nagging at you. personally, i'd cut him loose, have a little faith, be more flexible about the kid thing and get out there and find mr. right, rather than mr. almost right. don't settle.
posted by wildflower at 5:57 PM on February 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

You wrote:

My last serious relationship before this was with an abusive alcoholic who wasted many good years of my fertility stringing me along with promises he never meant to keep (but hey, a challenging intellectual! And an ass!).

Congratulations! You've learned to recognize that your emotional impulses cannot always be trusted. Welcome to adulthood.

kestralwing: The biggest red flag to me is your statement that he sometimes bores you. Nobody can bore you. If you feel bored, you're boring yourself. Learning this is Growing Up 101. It sounds as if you get in that bored place -- we all do -- and your solution is to engage in dramatic intellectual conflict to get over it.

Hear hear!

"Crushy feelings" are fun, but they aren't love, and they won't change a diaper on a screaming infant or hold your hand when you're really sick or put up with your bullshit. And they never last, no matter whom you're with.

Your most important relationship is not light entertainment. You should both be there to support each other, through thick and thin. Can you laugh with this guy? Did your friends ever meet Mr. Drunk Asshole? They may recognize your patterns better than you yourself do. My hunch: Mr. Right is smarter than you are giving him credit for being.
posted by rhombus at 8:14 PM on March 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

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