Am I crazy to consider an old 'marriage pact'?
May 3, 2013 7:31 PM   Subscribe

I've been in a relationship for 3 years, waiting on a proposal. I don't know if it will materialize. Lately I've been fantasizing about an ex-boyfriend who I made a marriage pact with.

I lost my virginity in college right before I turned 20. It was amazing and romantic. I was CRAZY for the guy, I'll call him B. We would spend all day and night in his dorm room and (whoops) miss class sometimes. There were sparks and lust and lots in common between us. We are passionate about old music and books, and introduced each other to a lot of things. We were playful and found the same things funny. I used to think 'this is the guy. The ONE'.
Of course, he broke my heart. After 6 months of dating he spent a semester abroad and decided that he needed to be free--this was before cell phones and skype were common. I can't say I blame him now, but at the time I was crushed and it took me at least a year to really move on. He ended up with a serious girlfriend in Paris and moved there after graduation, I got involved with another guy. When I was 23 he got back in touch with me, missing our friendship, so we became long-distance/long-term friends.

When I was 26, my sister and I traveled to Paris and B and I decided to meet up. It was a blast. He and his girlfriend were living together but he didn't introduce us because she was 'the jealous type'. We stayed up late talking in outdoor cafes and he told me that he was so thankful we were together again, and how he felt really bad about how he dumped me. He also said that he was young and dumb then, not fully realizing at the time how incredible I am. He confessed that things were shaky with his girlfriend, but nonetheless she was pushing for marriage, and he didn't see himself making that kind of commitment until his 30s. Me, being blissfully newly single (I had just ended a 4 year relationship) and slutting around Europe agreed marriage was something I don't want until later. (Btw, nothing romantic happened between B and I that night, at least physically, but just being with him in Paris was certainly romantic. I felt sparks but didn't act on them since he still had a girlfriend.)

Anyway, at some point we half-jokingly decided that WE should get married at 35 if nothing else has worked out.

I've only seen B once since that night in Paris. It was 3 years ago. He had broken up with the girlfriend and moved back to the states, a few hours from where I live. I went to visit him as well as another friend who lives there. B and I had a great day, laughing and hugging but just as friends, since I had just started dating the guy I now live with (I'll call him C). He said he was happy for me in my budding relationship, and we have kept in touch through text. There were a few Friday nights that I wasn't with C that I would text B to say hi, or vent about a recent fight I had had with C, or B would text to complain about his dating life. We jokingly called 'em "Friday night advice line" were we traded relationship tips and encouragement. Every once in awhile we'd quip about the pact.

Fast-forward to now. Last week I turned 34. I've been wanting C to propose for almost a year. He just isn't ready. Our first 2 years were great, and last summer I thought for sure we would get married, but now that feeling is fading. We are in a rut sexually and romantically. My birthday was pretty 'meh'. He got me flowers, but no card or heartfelt gift. We spent the weekend out of town but it was my idea / gift to myself and he didn't even try anything sexy.

That night I had a sexual dream about B.

It was hot, but when I woke up to C next to me I felt guilty and confused. C woke up and could tell I was shaken by something. I told him that I was bummed that he didn't put the moves on me last night. He said he was too tired from the drive. He hasn't done anything wrong per se and is really sweet and awesome and all that, I do love him, but I'm wondering if we are just dragging it out. I can go on about it but this post is so long already. Anyway, I was feeling pretty upset about it last night, and texted B. I didn't tell him about the sex dream, just the disappointment in C lately. B said he was sorry to say that it doesn't look good for C and I, and I should give him an ultimatum (propose by a set date or I'm gone). He ended with 'theres always the pact *wink*'.

I'm feeling crazy right now. For the first I'm considering this pact as more than a joke. B and I haven't even really been in an adult relationship, and I haven't even SEEN B in 3 years, but all day I've been caught up in this romantic fantasy that B and I SHOULD get married, that maybe he HAS been The One all along but our timing was all off, and I should go see him soon to see if its real.

Is that terrible of me? or totally naive? If I went to see B JUST TO TALK is that cheating on C? Should I just break up with C first or would I be throwing away years of investment in C on some ridiculous idea of someone I haven't even been physically intimate with in 14 years!?
Am I just starved for romance or could this actually be reasonable?

Has anyone been in a situation like this??? What did you do/any regrets???

posted by anonymous to Human Relations (47 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Why would you not break up with C, or at least take a break, regardless of if you have a future with B? Like, right away. If B were totally out of the picture, would you still want to get married to -- i.e., theoretically spend the rest of your life with -- C? It doesn't sound like it, and that's the angle you should probably approach this from.

Once you're single, and B's single, maybe something will happen. Or your desire for him could be totally driven by an unsatisfying relationship now.

Forget the pact. Take it one day/step at a time. Start with cutting C loose, for his own sake, so he's not the target of your resentment that you don't get to be with your "what could be THE ONE".
posted by supercres at 7:39 PM on May 3, 2013 [25 favorites]

Oh, Lord. I say this as an outsider, with love: Dump them both and focus on you.

I think you are unhappy in your current relationship and are using your fantasy of a relationship with your pact buddy as a distraction. Infatuation is just that, but your stagnating current relationship is clearly not working for you. Move on, focus on yourself for a while, and find a guy who is uber into you. (He might seem more boring than the guy who is conveniently into you when it works for him, but you deserve the former.)
posted by mynameisluka at 7:40 PM on May 3, 2013 [49 favorites]

1. Your issues with C have nothing to do with B.
2. The odds of you marrying B are very, very small.
3. I seriously doubt if you went to see B it would be JUST TO TALK.
4. You deserve to be happy and C deserves to be treated with respect.
posted by nathancaswell at 7:41 PM on May 3, 2013 [42 favorites]

Give it a shot. You have nothing to lose.
posted by Ideefixe at 7:44 PM on May 3, 2013 [2 favorites]

Break up with C if you don't want to be with C. That's a valid life choice, even if you have years invested in him.

If and when you break up with C, consider meeting up with B to see if the old sparks are still there now that the timing is better.
posted by jacquilynne at 7:48 PM on May 3, 2013 [2 favorites]

Yep, if you don't see yourself with C, nothing else really matters. You have to figure that out with C.

You could potentially reconnect with B, although if you did that while still with C then I am not sure if it's cheating. It depends on what you do and what YOU define as cheating. Also, you haven't seen B in 3 years. Do you even really still know him? I mean REALLY know him?

Sex dreams happen. Personally I don't see anything about them that means you should be with B. I have had sex dreams with bosses in them(EW!), old acquaintances from high school, my exes (Scary!) they are all meaningless. Your mind can only use faces you have seen in your dreams (you can't make up new faces.) So having a dream about sex with another person isn't weird. I've had sex dreams that didn't have my husband, and I have no idea WHO they were - maybe a cashier I saw or a college classmate? Who knows. Dreams don't mean shit.

So what I'm trying to say is don't make it seem that "Oh, because I had this dream, it must mean I'm thinking about him so much, and have to resolve this." You are thinking about him and want to catch up with him, because you want to catch up with him, not because you had a random sex dream.

Either way I don't think it's a B or C situations it's an A situation. A is YOU!
posted by Crystalinne at 7:49 PM on May 3, 2013 [2 favorites]

B may be functioning as a catalyst here to let you know that your relationship with C is not, in fact, going where you wanted it to. Think about where you want to go with C and give attempting to contact B a miss for a while. You don't need to stop having your fantasies, though, until that happens of its own accord. What you need to do is identify what they show that your current relationship is missing. Figure out how important to you those things are, and balance them with what C does for you. By which I do *not* mean bird-in-the-hand, settling kind of stuff.

Honestly, "he's done nothing wrong, but..." isn't encouraging to me. On the other hand, it could just be a three-year itch, and you could just be horny, and maybe C will get back into the groove next week and all will be well?

Mainly, just be mindful of what this is telling you, and don't run after B right now. This isn't about B, not really. It's about you and C, and you need to treat it that way.
posted by Because at 7:58 PM on May 3, 2013 [2 favorites]

Am I doing the math right here? You've seen this guy once in the past eight years, and you dated him for six months 14 years ago? And because you are unhappy with your current boyfriend's level of commitment and you had a sex dream about the other guy, you're thinking of hunting up the other guy and seeing if he's ready to commit?
I don't think the world works like that outside of romantic comedies.
Propose to your boyfriend. If he accepts, set a date. If he won't set a date or he waffles or he refuses your proposal, move on. Get in touch with B but brace yourself for disappointment.
Seriously, waiting for a proposal is not only sexist hooey, it's bad for your brain and probably most of why you are fishing around in your head for better options and might-have-beens.
posted by gingerest at 8:00 PM on May 3, 2013 [37 favorites]

Not that this is the key point here, but B is the worst. Calling his girlfriend "the jealous type"? (RED FLAG). Complaining about his issues with her to you, an old flame? Encouraging you to flirt/cheat when he knows you're in a serious relationship? Cheaty McCheaterson, right there. You might have good reasons to break up with C - sounds very possible - but trust me, if you break up with him in the hopes of jumping into marriage with B, you will probably regret it, and you almost certainly will not end up married to anyone.
posted by pretentious illiterate at 8:01 PM on May 3, 2013 [60 favorites]

I dunno, it does sound a bit like a juicy romantic movie. Why not go for it if you want to marry the original guy you loved? I'd say you probably want to be "all in" on this one though, and not do it on a whim.

Maybe give it some serious thought rather than deciding the day after a sexy dream? (Meant in jest, but also seriously :-)

I can see a few sticky points, like the above-mentioned talking about potentially marrying you while with another woman. And also maybe he would have made a move if he really loved you. But on the other hand I can't say it doesn't sound super-romantic, if a tiny bit messed up.
posted by mermily at 8:03 PM on May 3, 2013

All that's happening here is that you are reaching the milestone age where you thought you'd be married. Since marriage to C is looking like a non-starter you're reconsidering B.

It's okay to be 35 and unmarried (and 40 and unmarried and 102 and unmarried).

Break up with C if you want to, but don't go back to B simply for a safe harbor.
posted by 26.2 at 8:06 PM on May 3, 2013 [7 favorites]

Break up with C if you're not happy with him.

THEN pursue things with B. If that doesn't work, move on to D, E or F.

Please don't go on a fishing expedition with B while you're still in an exclusive relationship with C. That's selfish and disrespectful, and you know it. You're not entitled to a ring on the finger by 35.

I blame Hollywood rom-coms for this kind of thing. Sheesh.
posted by Salamander at 8:13 PM on May 3, 2013 [11 favorites]

If I went to see B JUST TO TALK is that cheating on C?

Under the circumstances, it sure sounds like it. But I don't think the pertinent question is, "Would this qualify to be labeled 'cheating'?" I think the pertinent question is, "Would doing this help me to find my way?"

Having said that, someone once said something very insightful. There are many different paths to happiness in this life. Try to find one that doesn't hurt other people.

He ended with 'theres always the pact *wink*'.

Not that you asked, but he's either genuinely flirting with you here and hoping for something to materialize or else he's a jerk. Point being, in the context you've described that isn't a comment that a guy just casually tosses off. I'd pay attention to it.

Good luck with your situation. I don't have specific advice for a course of action; but I do have some experience with similar situations, and based on that experience I think it's likely you'll feel worse before you feel better—whichever route you choose—so brace yourself.
posted by cribcage at 8:14 PM on May 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

Well, it seems you have nothing to lose and everything to gain where happiness is concerned. Hit B up, ask him if he wants to get married and see what he says back. Either way, you will have your answer and not have to do mental somersaults wondering what would of been for the rest of your life.
posted by bkeene12 at 8:16 PM on May 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

I've been in a relationship for 3 years, waiting on a proposal.

This is where you lost me. Why are you waiting for someone else to do that? If you want to marry the guy, tell him and see how he feels. But don't spend your life waiting.

As for B, I'd say go for it, but then I'm a hopeless romantic.
posted by alms at 8:24 PM on May 3, 2013 [12 favorites]

B said he was sorry to say that it doesn't look good for C and I, and I should give him an ultimatum (propose by a set date or I'm gone).

Don't do this. Do you want to marry C? If so, propose. Prepare for how you'll react if he says yes, no, or anything in between.
posted by christie at 8:29 PM on May 3, 2013 [2 favorites]

Yes, I've pursued a version of this.

- Dump C! Immediately!!!

- Pursue B.

B is likely a cheater cheaterson as someone noted above, btw, but you NEED to get away from C, regardless.

Once you get B out of your system, you'll (hopefully) move on to someone wonderful. Or maybe B will turn out to be wonderful? Who knows.

I do know that C is holding you back from finding someone to marry, so dump him.
posted by jbenben at 8:50 PM on May 3, 2013 [5 favorites]

You never got out of the "honeymoon" phase of the relationship with B.

Seriously, this post reads closer to a sixteen year old girl's diary, describing a crush on a "perfect" guy. In fact, I think it's incredibly troubling that you've been in a relationship for 3 years, but aren't realizing how blinded one can be in the early stages of a relationship. The fact that you've known B for years since you dated, does not in any way change this.

Do you want to try to marry B? Really? Date him for three years, and then decide.
posted by lobbyist at 8:56 PM on May 3, 2013 [22 favorites]

...waiting on a proposal...

If this is how you frame your relationship, it is not surprising that you're unhappy.

Reading what you say about your expectations and sense of entitlement make me think that you're probably better off dumping C and looking for someone who shares your (tacit) expectations for relationships. C clearly does not.
posted by yellowcandy at 9:06 PM on May 3, 2013 [4 favorites]

From your post I'm getting that C is not ready for marriage and has expressed that in some direct way, so it sounds like you ought to just break it off with him.

You are getting into dangerous territory with B. It is NOT OKAY to be texting someone you're romantically interested in and complaining about your sex life or relationship issues with your current significant other. That is like waving a flag to say "hey, I'm looking to cheat on this guy, are you game?" No wonder B brought up the pact in a flirty way. He was receiving your "I'm thinking of cheating on my man" vibes.

If you really want to test the waters with B, go ahead, but you have to be free and clear of C first. And be prepared for it to go badly as so many others have suggested.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 10:12 PM on May 3, 2013 [13 favorites]

Why are you waiting for a proposal? I'm not sure if you know this, and just in case you don't, I suggest you sit down because what I'm about to say might be a bit of a shocker. WOMEN ARE EQUAL TO MEN. Y'all got the right to vote & everythin'!

If you think what I just said is offensive, you're right! It is! So why ISN'T it offensive to think you have to put your future - your hope for marriage - in a man's hands rather than in your own? You want a marriage proposal, right? ASK HIM TO MARRY YOU. Get down on one knee, make it lovely and romantic. Tell him how you feel. Tell him about the life you'd like to share together. And then ask him, "Will you marry me?"

If C says yes: Congratulations! Plan for a marvelous wedding.
If C waffles in any way, it means his answer is no. DTMFA and move on.
If C says no: DTMFA and move on.

Rejection sucks. Breakups suck even more. But do you know what sucks the MOST? Wasting years on someone who doesn't want the same life together that you want. That sucks the most. By taking a proactive approach, you put a stop to what could have been even more wasted years of waiting for a man who isn't going to marry you.

The idea that it's a man's job to propose and a woman's job to wait until he does... it's ridiculous. The 1950s are gone. Let the sexist stereotypes be gone with them.

YOU want marriage. Propose to C.
posted by 2oh1 at 10:21 PM on May 3, 2013 [10 favorites]

"Is that terrible of me? or totally naive? If I went to see B JUST TO TALK is that cheating on C?"

By asking if it's terrible, you've told us you already know how bad it is, which means it's not naive. It's just terrible.

If you found out C went to visit an old flame to see if maybe he'd be better off with her instead of you, how would you feel? You'd feel crushed because it's a horrible thing to do.

THE GOLDEN RULE: If you wouldn't want C to do that to you, don't do it to him.
posted by 2oh1 at 10:29 PM on May 3, 2013 [3 favorites]

The limerence / courtship period and hormone roller coaster you have with B, or with D, E ..., will always be more fun then parts of the 'generally a comfortable old shoe of a relationship but he's stressed about x this week and I'm fretting about y so we didn't have great sex last night' long-term spouse.

Fast-forward to now. Last week I turned 34. I've been wanting C to propose for almost a year. He just isn't ready. Our first 2 years were great, and last summer I thought for sure we would get married, but now that feeling is fading. We are in a rut sexually and romantically. My birthday was pretty 'meh'. He got me flowers, but no card or heartfelt gift. We spent the weekend out of town but it was my idea / gift to myself and he didn't even try anything sexy.

Pair bonds have months like this.

Now, make a bit effort to ignore the big fun touching-wedding thing.

Could you imagine another 4-5 decades of being with C, when sometimes you have a bad month, and sometimes it's like your great first 2 years?

Because if not, you need to leave. If so, you should stay. And propose. "I need a strong commitment from you, right now, that we're going to go steady for 5 years, and then marry, May 4th, 2018."

And if you stay, you should probably quit the text-message based emotional affair with B. For all three of your sakes.

I'm feeling crazy right now. For the first I'm considering this pact as more than a joke. B and I haven't even really been in an adult relationship, and I haven't even SEEN B in 3 years, but all day I've been caught up in this romantic fantasy that B and I SHOULD get married, that maybe he HAS been The One all along but our timing was all off, and I should go see him soon to see if its real.

A week fucking your brains out with B, in Paris, on silk sheets, will be more fun than a meh month with C.

What you need to ask yourself is: What's a meh month with B like, when you're a decade into a marriage with him? And what's the comfortable old shoe, longterm spouse time like with B?

Limerence eventually evaporates, and then you're in the sometimes meh, sometimes comfortable, sometimes exciting longterm partner period. All this is assuming you're sharing a domicile with C.

And, also, regarding your current bad mood, some people are crap at doing birthday stuff and setting up fun excursions but are still good partners. You need to stop looking for C's romantic gestures like prezzies and trips and, instead, cold bloodedly tally up stuff like: does he casually touch me in a caring manner? does he like feeding me when we're eating treats? does he make little contempt gestures?

All that little stuff is the important bit, not the prezzies, parties, and trip planning.

You can buy yourself knickknacks, organize the party, and plan the trips. And may have to, if you end up with a loving, good spouse who's bad at that stuff.

If you're not sharing a domicile with C, you have no idea what marriage with him would be like. Especially since you're currently doing the text message bigamy thing with B on the side.
posted by sebastienbailard at 11:21 PM on May 3, 2013 [6 favorites]

i think you need to be a bit more assertive in general with C. if you want to marry him then propose to him or give him an ultimatum. a proposal would be better imo. as for B you really need to stop with the flirty texts and having him as your relationship confidant. i think you'd be pretty upset if you found out C was acting this way with an ex of his: complaining about his relationship with you and exchanging flirty texts about a marriage pact. do not go visit B unless you break up with C. doing anything else is testing the waters and really not fair to C. decide what you want and go for it. don't play C against B.

btw, dreams are almost always symbolic, not literal, but they are meaningful. so, your dream is most likely telling you you want more than you have with C. B probably represents romance, passion and adventure to you. so, if you want more with C ask for it and if he doesn't come through then leave. or, if you decide C really isn't someone you are in love with then end the relationship and go pursue B. just don't do both at the same time. don't settle for anyone but marry someone who is both your lover and best friend.
posted by wildflower at 11:35 PM on May 3, 2013 [2 favorites]

Yeah, I did something like this once, though fortunately there was no "C" in my equation. It didn't end well, but I don't regret it, if only because it finally cured me of a stupid persistent crush.

C deserves better than to be the Baxter in your romantic comedy. If you genuinely prefer the fantasy of your ex-boyfriend to him, you owe it to him to break up. Then you get to decide if you want to pursue B. Should you take that route, I predict that one of three things will happen:

1) "I was kidding. Who makes a pact like that outside of a movie? But we can, you know, hook up if you want."

2) You and B have your first adult relationship. You find out you're not compatible when you're not having sex, and things crash and burn.

3) You marry B. Happy romantic ending. A few years from now, you post this on Metafilter:
I've been married for 3 years to someone I'll call B. Our first 2 years were great, but now that feeling is fading, and we're in a rut sexually and romantically. Lately I've been fantasizing about someone I'll call D. I'm CRAZY about him. There are sparks and lust and lots in common between us...

(on preview: what sebastienbailard said.)

I don't see this ending in true love and eternal commitment, but sometimes you've gotta pee on the electric fence for yourself. When it's over, you'll either keep on chasing fantasies, or you'll be ready for a real relationship. Good luck.
posted by lilpinksockpuppet at 11:38 PM on May 3, 2013 [3 favorites]

After dumping my B, I met and married the partner of my dreams in a relatively short period of time... So I can not recommend actively pursuing B after dumping C (which is a dead relationship, anyway) fast enough.

That said.

OP, I am appalled at how people in this thread are judging you and the way your question was phrased.

Obviously, your idea to try and meet B without it being romantic is silly and just prolonging the pain of dumping C - I feel you here. It's a dumb idea, but you are mentally grasping at straws, and of course you are going to do the right thing IRL. (Duh, people.)

Your real issue is that you are conflating your disappointment in C with whatever you truly desire in a partner (as first experienced with B) into something that means: "C did not work out, therefore B is the answer."

NO!!!!!! Just, NO.

Things did not work out with B or C! That is the lesson. They both have things you want, but they both are not right for you!!

C stayed around, but was boring.

B was passionate, and you are more attracted to him, but B did not chose you.


Hey! There is a guy out there that is MORE attractive than B, is more faithful than C, and LOVES YOU in a way you never thought possible. And you can have a family with him.

How do I know?

Because I met and married someone just like that.

F$ck all of this romantic bullshit noise and all of the haters in this thread. You know what you want in a lifelong committment. Go find it. Don't cling to these guys that don't want what you want. Find somebody who wants you, and wants what you want in life. Love that guy until the end of time.

Stop wasting your time on losers who are using you.

That includes people judging you in this thread who don't have experience with your situation. It's nice to feel superior. The OP wrote precisely because she feels Big Feelings and did not want to do anything shitty to her current partner. I think this is pretty admirable, OP.

I've been 34 years old. Priorities shift mightily from this point on.

OP, of course you don't want to waste any more time on someone (C) who is stringing you along at the 3 year mark. You gave it enough time, the relationship is flat.... Let it go.

I hope this helps answer your question as you intended.
posted by jbenben at 12:42 AM on May 4, 2013 [26 favorites]

No, just no. I strongly believe that if B really wanted to be with you at all, that would have happened a long time ago. Here's my read. B knows you've always been totally infatuated with him. Therefore, he can always go to you for a quick ego boost and validation about what a great guy he is compared to his jealous and bitchy girlfriends. He can always count on you to supply some easily gotten flirting. Or when he wants some quick female attention, there you are always at the ready. I would be shocked if he did anything other than run like the motherfucking wind if you wanted him to step up for something more real.

Here's something else I think. B is not the prince charming that you think he is. He sounds like a bit of a snake. (That line about "my girlfriend can't know about our romantic, sexual-tension filled evening in Paris because she's just so jealous." Really??) There is no, no doubt in my mind at all that if you somehow did end up with B, you would end up at home by yourself watching the clock and wondering where he was, while he was out getting validation from a lusting female friend and telling her how unreasonably jealous you were. You would sit alone on the couch and watch him text to "a friend" complaining about how awful you were, while she adoringly validated him.

Just because you have had these feelings for B for all these years does not mean that he is "The One." All it means is exactly what you said, that you've never had the chance to have an adult relationship with him. If you did, things would get real with a quickness. Right now much of what you "know" of the person you think of as B is simply your projection and fantasy. If you were with him you would start to get to know the actual B and I can guarantee you, either way, you will find a lot of ways that it differs from what you think now.

All of that being said, I think you should just go for it and just get it out of your system. Take the lumps, live and learn.
posted by cairdeas at 12:43 AM on May 4, 2013 [11 favorites]

Should I just break up with C first or would I be throwing away years of investment in C on some ridiculous idea of someone I haven't even been physically intimate with in 14 years!?

If you break up with C, it should be for a reason that you can look back on and say "that was the best choice for me to make at that time." If you break up with C for the chance of B, and it doesn't work out with B, you won't be able to do that. If you're going to break up with C, do it because that relationship isn't working out, not because the idea of B seems better than the reality of C.

But I do think you should seriously consider breaking up with C. You aren't happy, things feel stale, you want to get married and he "just isn't ready". And marriage is a totally valid thing to want from your life! I think as women, we're often so strongly socialised to avoid seeming needy/clingy/commitment-hungry in relationships that we ignore our own desires, and can end up in a place where we're quietly and resentfully "waiting for a proposal" for years from someone who isn't interested in going there, feeling like we shouldn't push the issue. I think you should see your dreams and daydreams about B not as a sign he's The One, but as a sign your brain is desperately trying to tell you that you could be happier than you are right now.

If you want to try making it work with C, lay the marriage thing explicitly out there on the table and find out where you both stand. Be open about your own wants here - if marriage is what you want, say it's what you want. It's been three years, you live together, you (and I'm assuming he) are in your 30s, ask the question. If you don't want to propose to him then don't, but at least consider what would happen if you did, because proposals have a way of putting the question unavoidably right there in front of you. "What are your thoughts on getting married, hypothetically" + "eh, maybe one day" = "stick around and it might happen". "Will you marry me" + "eh, maybe one day" = "no."

(Although, keep in mind that the marriage issue might be masking some of your other problems here. If the relationship isn't working in and of itself, marriage won't fix it.)

If you end up breaking up with C, tell yourself - and tell B - that you're going to spend X months single before getting involved with anyone else. If B still seems appealing when that time's up, then maybe this is something you need to go for just to put the 'what if' question to rest, but don't bet your future and happiness on it leading to anything long-term.
posted by Catseye at 12:45 AM on May 4, 2013 [4 favorites]

What's not clear is what and how much you've communicated with your partner and his responses to the extent you have.

What's unknowable is how much C is coloring your thoughts. Much a sense, though, that presence of the possibility of semi-mythical magic does not make a positive contribution to an ongoing relationship.

(I am not proud to say I've been there and I've seen the other side, someone's head being a bit in the clouds about someone else. Not good. The idea that all those things don't have some adverse effect on an ongoing relationship is one that is hard to take seriously.)

Anyway, feels not unreasonable to have a heart-to-heart talk with your partner: I need x from you, to know what I can do better. Assuming we can do that work, I need for us to be engaged by Nov. 1.
posted by ambient2 at 1:05 AM on May 4, 2013

Agree that there's no connection between B and C.

To me, B sounds like a self-soothing fantasy you are using because of how things with C are going. Chances are you didn't think about B very often when things were good with C.

Thus, you probably need to get things sorted out with C. There are two schools of thought there. The first is that if it was going to work, it would have. The second is that timing is everything. Who knows which one is right.

I would caution that if you are feeling the Marriage Burn (as in you want that knot tied), B may seem like a very convenient option. Since you have a shared history, maybe you are assuming you can leap past all the getting-to-know-you stuff and walk down the aisle sooner. I would really caution your thinking here. You're fantasising about him because your current relationship is less-than-satisfying. The actualisation of that fantasy may look nothing like fantasy itself. Buyer beware.
posted by nickrussell at 1:40 AM on May 4, 2013

That includes people judging you in this thread who don't have experience with your situation. It's nice to feel superior. The OP wrote precisely because she feels Big Feelings and did not want to do anything shitty to her current partner. I think this is pretty admirable, OP.

posted by jbenben at 12:42 AM on May 4 [+] [!]

Not trying to get in-thread fighty, but you're jumping to conclusions, jbenben. I actually have personal experience with a very similar situation. Advising someone strongly not to do something because it violates the Golden Rule is not 'feeling superior'.
posted by Salamander at 2:54 AM on May 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

Sheesh. Sometimes MeMfites make me crazy. Do you love C? Are you in love with him and things are kinda rough right now (or boring)? YOU want to get married and he isn't ready? Well, either decide that you understand as an adult that things aren't always perfect and you have to weather through some shit sometimes (FFS, my husband and I pretty much never remember birthdays or anniversaries or anything and we both could not care less), OR you decide that you are super unhappy and need to leave. Pick one and move on. Everyone here goes into hyperdrive when there are relationship questions and, frankly, no one knows those answers but you. You have a crush on a guy from your past? Okay. Doesn't mean you and he are going to sail off into the sunset. It means you want a fantasy right now when things aren't Hollywood perfect with C. One whiffed birthday does not equal ZOMGG!!!111!!!DUMP HIM!!!11!! It means that you need to decide what's most important. It sounds like you want this proposal and think everything will be perfect after it happens. It does not mean that. It means you are moving forward, but things will always have difficult moments. With B or C. So you can work through or you can move on, but you are going to face these issues with every relationship and you are going to have crushes for the rest of your life, no matter who you end up with.

My advice? Have your crush. Enjoy it (not physically, but in your mind). Then figure out if you really want to be with C and act accordingly.
posted by mrfuga0 at 3:16 AM on May 4, 2013 [3 favorites]

There's plenty of mention in your post about communications with B.

There is no mention in your post of communications with C - the person you are currently with.

If you don't - properly - communicate with C, your current relationship meandering slowly along is as much your fault at his. You need to start talking to C - not to B, not to X, Y, Z, not even to AskMeFi - about the problems and issues in your relationship. The lack of it going anywhere in the last year or so; the bits that aren't exciting.

Stop the teenage fantasy thing with B for a while. Be mature (as you point out, and it concerns you, you are of a mature age) and start talking things through with C. It may improve matters; it may make him think, and act; he may have issues with you that he hasn't brought up. Do relationship counselling if you need to.

You haven't been working on your relationship with C. Again, that's as much your fault as his. He may not currently be as exciting as B, but - with work - he could be more fulfilling, reliable and stable. Throwing that away for a "low chance of real world success" fantasy based on an ex you had a relationship with the decade before last is likely finish with you without B or C, and approaching 40 wondering what you threw away and where the heck it all went wrong.
posted by Wordshore at 4:42 AM on May 4, 2013 [4 favorites]

This didn't even work for Julia Roberts in "My Best Friend's Wedding."

There's a reason it looks bad to appear desperate. Because no dude is going to make your life happier if you're not already happy single. They will just make it worse. You're not happy with xyz, so that doesn't mean abc is a magic pill. And most women end up feeling unsatisfied by marriage (though kids are pretty great, I'm told).

Break up with whoever you're with, and get further in your career/education, make more money, make more friends, schedule naps, yoga, trips, buy a house/condo, put money in your 401K and if someone comes along that's normal and well-adjusted without red flags, then consider making them a part of your life if they ask you to.

Absent a relationship, find an amazing lover without mental or physical diseases that you wouldn't want to marry/have kids with. And continue dating without expectations.

(Don't forget to use protection/demand regular STD checks if you choose the amazing lover route.)
posted by discopolo at 5:01 AM on May 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

The point of a "marriage pact" seems to be simply that you're guaranteed to be legally married by a certain date/age. It's an arranged marriage, basically. So even if B agreed to marry you (and I think the people who said he'd run in terror are very likely correct) that would say nothing about the quality of the relationship you would have. Which is fine, if all you want is to be technically married by 35...except you could probably have that with C, too, if you pressured him into it. C sounds like he just sort of goes along with things, like your vacation idea, and if that's the case I understand why you'd wait for him to propose instead of doing it yourself: you want to know he really WANTS to marry you, and isn't just acquiescing. But at this point, even if B went along with the pact, that's really all you could be sure of with B, too. Does that make sense?

So sure, dump C if you feel there's no future there, and then date B if you want. And he wants. But don't expect too much. Because it doesn't sound like you really want an arranged marriage. It sounds like you want love and romance and all that, and a pact - it should really be called a "wedding pact" or something, not a "marriage pact," - can't guarantee that.
posted by DestinationUnknown at 5:45 AM on May 4, 2013 [2 favorites]

I had a B. When my marriage with C fell apart I convinced myself that it was all for the best because of him -- I would finally be together with The One. In harsh real life? It was a total disaster. Like, TV movie level melodrama and just a stupid amount of self inflicted pain, for me, B and C.

I am so grateful that I had a B, though! I would never have moved on from my relationship with C without my B. Leaving a relationship because the two of you have fallen out of love just feels shitty, cold and empty. It's easy to procrastinate on or make excuses. (I'm not happy in this relationship, but nobody's happy all the time, right? He's not committed to me the same way as I am to him, but no two people feel the same way about each other, right?) It feels mechanical. Leaving a relationship partly because you've Found The One? That has urgency. That is breaks through decision paralysis.

I predict B will be a rebound. The feelings you're experiencing for him (that you're obviously not experiencing with C) needed to be reawakened. It's no wonder your present relationship suffers by comparison. It is OK to dump C. You've got a long road ahead of you.
posted by sweltering at 6:26 AM on May 4, 2013 [5 favorites]

After three years, if you haven't received a proposal by now, that is your answer with that relationship.

Whether or not this other thing works out or not. It's two separate things and should be thought of separately.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 6:42 AM on May 4, 2013 [4 favorites]

Wordshore has the best answer, I feel, and the key data point of the question I really want answered. Its not at all clear to me how well C can read your mind or how much he has to. If C is a legitimate dead end, thats one thing. If C is trying the best he can without communication from you... well, worst case youre going to not communicate with B and after three years... yeah.

Also, I always post about love languages: What do you need to feel loved? What do you give to feel love? Some love languages are: Gifts, quality time, physical touch, words of encouragement, services (like dishes and such)

One thing I often see if people trying to give THEIR love language to the partner, but NOT their PARTNERS love language. If both people are giving and receiving the wrong love language, everybody feels like they are pouring out lots of love but getting none in return.

TLDR, you may or may not be crazy for having a thing for B, and you may or may not be crazy for dumping C. I DO think youd be pretty crazy for dumping C if you havent done your share of the maintenance, relationship support, and most crucial, communicating.
posted by Jacen at 6:58 AM on May 4, 2013 [3 favorites]

My fiance and I just talked over your whole issue. (We use relationship askmefi questions to build our communication and relationship ideals). It isn't cut and dry and I totally understand why you're so confused. Two points you should think on:

1. What would you do/feel if C proposed TODAY? would you be happy and excited? Or would you still be thinking about B and the pact?

2. Do you think your relationship issues with C (sexual rut, etc) are things that can't/won't be fixed? Is your relationship salvageable? Do you WANT your relationship with C to be salvaged?

FWIW it sounds like at minimum you need to have a very honest and direct conversation with C. Talk to him about the problems in your relationship. Discuss where he and you see this relationship going, marriage aside.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 7:29 AM on May 4, 2013 [2 favorites]

Is that terrible of me?

or totally naive?

Break up with C, then sort your self out.

After three years, if you haven't received a proposal by now, that is your answer with that relationship.

What? That's untrue to the point of silly.
posted by wrok at 8:20 AM on May 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

It sounds like you don't want to be with C. Focus on whether or not that's true, regardless of B.
posted by manicure12 at 9:18 AM on May 4, 2013

I haven't read previous replies, so I hope I'm not repeating.

Your relationship with C sounds like it's more disintegrated than you're admitting to yourself, and it has nothing to do with marriage proposals (the very idea of which sounds pretty 1953, but different strokes, etc). Anyone reading your birthday description would have to react with the same dismayed "oof" I did. You surely have brighter moments with this guy (which keep you hanging on, aside from the sheer momentum and fear), but, to quote the song, the party's over.

And the most normal thing in the world in this situation is for you to start flashing back to your idealized memory of true love.

We all have a "B" in our past, and our memories definitely accentuate the positive through long idealization. As time goes by, the memory becomes not so much about "B" so much as your view of yourself at a younger point and in a different emotional place. That's what you're really hankering for - for that historical you rather than that historical guy.

This starts around 34, and it's a bit unconscious (you may insist that it's not true). I'm older, and I can report that it starts happening a LOT, and you'll come to see it for what it is.

It's not "B" himself you're drawn to. It's an abstract ideal of love, and a yearning to return yourself to that image. If you did strike things back up with "B" at this point, it would bring heady elation for about a week, until you start to discover that (to draw on yet another cliche) you can't go home again.

He's not that guy, and you're not that gal (nor were either of you ever those people; bear in mind you're remembering it all through a thick layer of youthful naivete and hormones). That idealized moment is gone, and you need to establish a new fresh iteration of Real Love which organically flows from who you are in the here-and-now.

Force yourself to look ahead, not back. The best is yet to come. And maybe the next guy won't keep wandering away from you like "B" did. He'll be more of a grown-up.

But first order of business is to unload this current dead-end relationship. Here's the litmus test: if you've been considering breaking up for an extended time, that means you're ready to. People deeply in love don't do that.
posted by Quisp Lover at 9:56 AM on May 4, 2013 [5 favorites]

It's an arranged marriage, basically.

No, families are much more involved in arranged marriages matchmaking. This is more of a case of someone trying to make their life a romcom out of reality.
posted by discopolo at 10:48 AM on May 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

I think you are short changing your relationship with C. It sounds like you have been going out with him for 2 years and of those two years you have been hoping that he would propose for one of them. You don't mention how much you have talked about it. As much as he may love you, C can not read your mind. It's really important if you are set on the guy proposing that you talk about it. Seriously give an ultimatum. If you and C have talked vaguely about ever having kids, it's important that you tell C about how that gets harder to do as time passes. Talk about your goals with him. Mention when you would like to be married by.

Don't sweat the birthday thing. Don't most people plan their own birthday festivities when they are grown up? My husband and I have lists of gifts under $50 we would like for birthdays and Christmas so we don't have to worry about inadequate gifting.

Try not to bring B into this. The romantic fantasy is just that, a fantasy. B, like C, is also a human being and will also have flaws and things that get on your nerves sometimes. While there is the potential for a crazy week of hooking up, you need to remember that relationships change with time. Even if B was actually up for a romantic relationship and not joking about this "pact," the relationship would still run a natural course by mellowing after the first run of passion. You'll run into the same boredom you are expressing about your relationship with C. And you might run into some really not fun aspects too since you really don't know B well enough anymore to know how he would behave in a relationship with you.

Talk with C. Be honest and clear about your goals for a wedding. Then give him a few weeks to let that seep in. If he is responsive, great! You love the guy, right? If he isn't, consider moving on, but certainly do not just move on because you think B will automatically elope with you.
posted by donut_princess at 11:05 AM on May 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

Also regarding the birthday... I'm not saying your expectations are too high, but he did get you flowers. Not all significant others are great at gifts or even remembering birthdays. This is just an opinion of mine but I think anyone who has remembered the date and done at least something nice for the birthday person has met the standard, unless the birthday person has expressed a specific desire for certain gifts or actions above and beyond that standard (and if those wishes haven't been expressed but they are there - then express them before making your judgment).
posted by treehorn+bunny at 1:40 PM on May 4, 2013

This is a terrible idea, don't contact your old flame before you end your current relationship. Can you imagine someone contacting you and saying, in essence, that you're their silver medal? Moreover, it's not fair to use your current boyfriend as a backup plan--and using him is EXACTLY what you'd be doing.

If I can be frank, you really don't sound like you care about either man. You just want to get married to anybody. Not wanting to spend time in a relationship with a partner who's not serious about marriage is a valid dealbreaker. But do him the courtesy of breaking up before your lives get even more enmeshed and complicated.

You know it's okay to be single, right? And your chances of things going well with your old flame will be significantly greater if you contact him when you're unattached, anyway.

Also, every relationship gets into a comfortable pattern eventually. Whether you call it a "habit" or a "rut," things will not magically always be new and exciting with this other guy. No matter who you're with, you will eventually go through ruts and bad times because people get complacent, and nobody is perfect. If you're with a good partner, and if YOU'RE a good partner, you can communicate and come out of a rut with something better.
posted by Rach3l at 5:58 PM on May 4, 2013

Wow, there is a lot in here that is good advice, but somewhat misguided. jbenben hit the mark:

F$ck all of this romantic bullshit noise and all of the haters in this thread. You know what you want in a lifelong committment. Go find it. Don't cling to these guys that don't want what you want. Find somebody who wants you, and wants what you want in life. Love that guy until the end of time.

Stop wasting your time on losers who are using you.

Each and every relationship doesn't always have to be the cake and banana split sundae with cherry on top. They are meant as lessons in finding out about yourself and what you want in a spouse as well as what is meaningful and necessary to sustain a relationship.

You are asking this question because you want to be married but haven't found someone who you want to be married to. Jumping to whoever is nearby isn't going to help. If you are ready to be married, find out what exactly that means to you. I am in the happiest and most loving relationship I have ever been in (yes it doesn't only exist in hollywood movies) and it is more blissful than "marriage". Marriage is a social convention. What matters is sharing your life with someone. You're unhappy sharing your life with your current partner and want more, more of what your ex was like. Find someone who is the best of both worlds and more than you could possibly imagine. Just don't stare at the clock waiting for that person to materialize, put yourself out there and find them!

Relationships are like milk, they have their expiration date and are always best before then. And of course, you would never drink milk past that date. Why date an ex? Sometimes it works out, but most often than not, you broke up for a reason and that reason is still there. (Plus he sounds like a douche, sorry about that)

Find someone who is all that and a bag of chips and brings joy and happiness to your life and someone who you can laugh with about having a weird sex dream that one time (not someone who a sex dream makes you question your relationship of 3 years).

Sometimes true love takes time, but it is definitely worth the wait. Don't let your 'tunnel vision' of marriage blind you to what may very well be the person of your dreams.
posted by lunastellasol at 1:04 PM on May 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

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