Patience is a virtue, I guess.
July 29, 2013 1:11 PM   Subscribe

How do you learn to be patient? Specifically, patient for a relationship to move to the next step?

That's it, really. I am in an amazing relationship. We are an excellent match in every little way and in every big way. It's delightful and fun and rich and fulfilling. We agree about these things, and that it's the happiest and best relationship either of us could have imagined. We communicate openly and comfortably. We've talked (hypothetically) about the future almost from the beginning, and we've grown closer and closer over the year we've been together. We agree that this relationship is It.

I'm ready for the next step; that is, to move in together and share a life. He says he wants it and wants for it to happen in the near future, but can't make concrete plans or even a timeline, e.g., "When my lease is up, let's talk about it for real." He says the pace is just right for him, and that he's not quite ready. He likes things as they are - we do lots of our own things with our own friends but also see each other every day and spend most nights together. He has been kind, honest, and open about this. I've been honest and open about my desire to take things to the next step.

Well. Okay. If he's not ready, he's not ready. How do I:

1) Learn to be okay with this? As we've discussed this over the last couple of months, I've started to realize that I feel at least a little rejected and hurt by his not wanting what seems to me to be the thing that makes the most sense, logistically and emotionally. I feel like he doesn't love me as much as I love him. Unfair and irrational, but there it is.

2) Not pressure him about it? I do not want to nag or make him feel like I'm watching and waiting. But it's really hard not to talk about it when it's something I want SO much, and it's the first time in our relationship I've got something going on in my life that I feel like I can't really talk with him about.

3) Not get crazy? I tend to fixate on ideas, and in the past have been very self-destructive when overwhelmed by emotions. Lots of therapy sessions later, I'm in a generally good place to deal with strong feelings. But I occasionally begin to feel like it's never going to happen and I'm just kidding myself, and feel an overwhelming urge to end it before it inevitably ends because we wanted different things. That is a crazy reaction to someone I love honestly saying that they're at a slightly different place than I am. What do I do to stop those bad patterns?

We are both in our very early thirties; both of us have been in serious relationships and at least one cohabitiation before. We are very equal as far as experience/income/etc. goes. There are no practical or logistical barriers to us living together that I'm ignoring. I feel confident that it will happen someday, and it will be awesome, but I also hate waiting. Can you please help me get through this purgatory period gracefully?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (30 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
If you have to tell yourself/train yourself to be patient about the progression of the relationship, then that's a sign that this relationship isn't for you. He's told you he doesn't want to move in together yet. You'd like to. He could string you along forever before he's ready.

The pace of this relationship isn't right for you. Reevaluate. I know it's easier to just accept the person you're with than to consider dating people again, but you really should consider if you're getting what you want.
posted by discopolo at 1:20 PM on July 29, 2013 [9 favorites]

A relationship is not a series of steps. If you stop thinking about it that way, then you won't be frustrated when it doesn't progress according to some timetable you've made up.
posted by kindall at 1:22 PM on July 29, 2013 [11 favorites]

What I have done when in this situation:

Wait for things to play out without pressure, however, have an expiration date set in my head for when I will be done waiting.

I say this because:

We are an excellent match in every little way and in every big way.

This is not exactly true. You and your partner seem to be mismatched on the rate that you would like the relationship to progress, and possibly the direction that you would like it to go. As ruthlessly hard as it may be, you really need to decide how long you would be willing to wait, mark that date on your calendar, and stick to it as if your life depended on it.

If you want to move the relationship forward and your partner doesn't (within a reasonable amount of time) then that is a really big incompatibility.
posted by Shouraku at 1:22 PM on July 29, 2013 [17 favorites]

You've been together for a year? That's pretty early in a relationship to agree that the relationship is "It" and move in together. Not too early if you're both on the same page for those things, but definitely too early if one of you isn't ready.

You're looking at this as something that is an obvious step after one year of dating, but many people wait years before moving in together. It's a big step, one with a lot of potential headaches involved, and one that goes much better when both people are fully on board. The fact that he doesn't want to move in together this early means that he's being cautious, not that he isn't committed to the relationship.

If I were you I would think about what is motivating the desire to move in ASAP (money? tangible sign of commitment? moving towards having kids?) and see if you can address those issues directly. Drop the subject of cohabitation for a while - it doesn't have to be a mutually agreed timeline, but maybe agree to yourself that you will bring it up again in 6 months, or a year, or when someone's lease is up, but not before then. Pressuring him will only backfire.
posted by randomnity at 1:26 PM on July 29, 2013

À year is really early.

If you'd been together two years I'd say "wait until thé lease is up, and if hé waffles

[I changed m'y langage to French damn autocorrect I havé to retape every word déverse times]

let him go, but at à year I think you are gong too fast
posted by tel3path at 1:47 PM on July 29, 2013 [11 favorites]

You know, within 12 months, Husbunny and I met in real life (were were chat room buds before that,) got engaged and got married. Specifically 375 days from start to altar/chuppa.

Now, that suited us fine. (and that reminds me, our anniversary is in two days!)

What's he waiting for? Husbunny did wait out his lease in NY, before moving with me in FL. He also had to quit his job! But he did, right when he said he would. But while we waited, we planned the wedding and his move.

These things don't just happen, they have to be planned.

How do you envision this coming about? Do you both move in together first, then get engaged, then married? So how does he see that happening?

I think you need to be crystal clear about what you want. "I want to be married before December 31, 2014. To that end, when your lease ends in March 2014, I'd like for us to get a place together. What do you think of that?"

It's sort of a joke, but I just assumed we were getting married and planned accordingly. The night Husbunny proposed, I had schlepped him to every Kinkos in Manahattan looking for a specific Save The Date paper I wanted to use. He had given me my engagement ring on my birthday two months previous. When he actually did the formal proposal, I was a bit shocked, "Um, yeah!"

So the next question is at what point to you pull the plug? He's not ready, suck it up, at this point in time he doesn't want to move in with you, or marry you. Are you okay with that? Or are you afraid that if you leave him now, you won't find anyone you like as much? How long are you willing to be in limbo? I'm serious, put an expiration date on it. In your head, decide "If he's not talking about co-habitation/marriage by X, then I've got to bail." Then say nothing until that date. If at that time, he's still not able to decide or pull the trigger, then for your own sanity, you have to leave.

No need to rush anything, but no need to hang around for years waiting for HIM to be ready.

You're impatient because you're insecure. I'm telling you, you should be.

Can you go on for another year, letting him decide this? What if he decides he doesn't want to marry you?
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 1:57 PM on July 29, 2013 [3 favorites]

Yep - in general for worrying about stuff, you can set a date and say, "I'm not going to let myself worry about that until January 15, 2014". And then just don't. Enjoy your time together and don't look at Brides magazine or anything like that. On Jan 15, start thinking about where you want to go in your life and all that.

If he's not receptive to discussing it then his answer is no right now. And, yeah, you have to decide how long you're going to wait for his answer to be yes.
posted by dawkins_7 at 2:16 PM on July 29, 2013 [3 favorites]

I agree with randomnity and ruthless bunny: is moving in together the endgame? Or is it just the step before getting married and/or having kids?
Take it from me, if you want something beyond just living together, *that* is what you need to talk about with him. My boyfriend and I moved in together after a year and a half, but I never fully expressed my expectation for marriage to follow shortly after. Once I did bring it up, he said he wasn't ready. I decided not to pressure him for a year. After that I brought it up again and he confessed he didn't think he ever wants to get married. I broke up with him a few months ago. He's a great guy and I loved him so it was very hard but I couldn't wait anymore.
So, the moral is I was pretty patient, and it didn't work out for me. If I had to do it again I'd get a concrete answer on marriage before moving in together.
MeMail me with any questions.
posted by hellameangirl at 2:26 PM on July 29, 2013 [12 favorites]

xingcat, she said he did not say that about the lease.

Personally, I'd decide for myself how long I'd be OK with the situation being as it is. How much status quo would be acceptable to you - 1 year, 5 years, 10 years? Or maybe you'd rather always be with him, like this, than not with him. But just decide for your own sake. Then I'd try not to think about it until that time comes, at which point I'd talk to him about it. If he totally agrees, great! If he never wants the life you want, then maybe it turns out you're incompatible and it's time to move on. It's not fair to him to pressure him or just expect him to share the exact timeline, but it's not fair to yourself to put yourself in a position where you always feel like you're waiting for something.

(A year would be more than enough for me, but then I'm older than you and just have a really low tolerance for complacency/indecisiveness in general.)

Or, on preview: what a bunch of other people said while I wrote this and forgot to hit "post."
posted by DestinationUnknown at 2:30 PM on July 29, 2013 [1 favorite]

Yes, re: timeline and agreeing on a general timeframe.

I completely understand where you're coming from, and am in a similar situation. One of my friends, who waited until marriage to engage in any sexual activity, after dating her man exclusively for many years, couldn't *WAIT* to be with him, and even their sped-up wedding date seemed forever away, and he with her (as you can imagine!). Older married women at her church told her to enjoy the anticipation and longing of being with the beloved; soon enough, she would be married, and she wouldn't have the same feelings about wanting to be with him every waking moment - their relationship would move to a different stage, a more mature one.

I urge you not to wish away the happy, fluttery feelings of finding that perfect love, and waiting, provided you trust he feels the same and is generally agreeable to your time frame. Enjoy the emotions and the feelings of the moment, drink the nectar of pleasure from the pain of waiting, and allow what will be to come in its own time.
posted by Unangenehm at 2:40 PM on July 29, 2013 [3 favorites]

One year in your thirties is very much enough time!! You've both had more than enough life experience to judge this.

Dump him now, or wait a few months - that's OK.

But wait another whole year? HELL NO.

In short, this isn't a timeline problem.

I agree you just might not be ultimately compatible.

The conversation and decision to move in shouldn't be this difficult.

Unless he has some super compelling and deep reason for delaying getting engaged or moving in together, please cut bait and move on.

You want someone who wants you. It isn't worthwhile any other way. Go find this if you current guy doesn't want what you want.

My good friend was delaying getting engaged because he's slow like that, and he did not know where she'd be going to grad school. I told him, "Grad school can always be accommodated, but
passing up the right life partner? Not so much."

That said, if this guy doesn't want to be your life partner, don't you wait around.
posted by jbenben at 4:54 PM on July 29, 2013 [9 favorites]

It seems to me that you've attached an inflated value to when he will want to move in together as opposed to if he wants to. I think your boyfriend has pretty sound reasons for not wanting to start this process right now, but it sounds like to you, moving in together is the next "checkbox" on your relationship list and without it, you feel like things have stalled/will stall. But, is that actually true?

My point is that there are other ways that a couple can grow together and I think that if your relationship continues to go well, deepen, and all that good stuff, you can re-address cohabitation few months down the road. If it feels like it just stagnated, then you need to consider whether you will ever be on the same page.
posted by sm1tten at 5:14 PM on July 29, 2013

He likes things as they are - we do lots of our own things with our own friends but also see each other every day and spend most nights together.

It sounds like you are kind of co-habitating but without the formal acknowledgement/signed lease. Maybe back off from seeing each other everyday and spending every night, not to play games but because you need that space to keep your options open and not become enmeshed with someone not that into you. At 30, with both of you experienced in relationships and cohabitation, most adults would be able to discuss marriage/commitment/cohabitation with definate timelines/plans. To me, it sounds like he doesn't have the level of commitment you need. I'd have a conversation where you state again that this is an important need of yours that if he is unable to meet he needs to be honest about and then give him either three or six months for him to percolate on the idea. If after your deadline he has not made plans you are happy with I would let this one go, sadly yes, but better it would end sadly after 18 months and not five years, ten years, etc
posted by saucysault at 7:14 PM on July 29, 2013 [2 favorites]

He wants it to happen in the "near future" and he's "not quite ready." Sounds good -- though of course some people are perpetually saying those sorts of things.

No guess if there are logistical elements, if it would be one person moving into the other person's place, y'all getting a new place together, if leases are a factor, but it's hard to see how you could be taken as unreasonable if you relate a desire for greater clarity, ask when this will happen.

By the way, to some extent, the right time for one person has nothing to do with what's right for another. I know people who've been engaged or living together after knowing their SO for six weeks; they've been together for 21 and 27 years, respectively. The idea of moving that fast is damn sure not for me, but so what.

One person's opinion: A year, 18 months or so sounds about right. Some might prefer a longer time, though it's hard to see how people could reasonably contend that it's too fast, unrealistic, etc.
posted by ambient2 at 1:19 AM on July 30, 2013

I spent some time earlier this week at a cabin on a lake with some friends. The last time I was there was exactly two years ago, and I remember being so sad that I was 40, and hadn't found a partner, and would probably never have a child, and though I wasn't the least bit suicidal, I briefly thought it might just be easier if I was, since I obviously had nothing to live for.

This week, exactly two years later, I hiked around that lake with my son. You just can't know what your future holds, and that's the scary and wonderful part of being human. It's hard to let go of the desire to know exactly what comes next, but if you can, it's often incredibly rewarding.
posted by judith at 1:39 AM on July 30, 2013 [9 favorites]

He's not quite ready. After one year, with a relationship as good as you say you have, it's worth giving it more time.

I'd have a conversation with him regarding that it's important with you, and with a timeline on when you want to revisit this conversation. Maybe you want to revisit this conversation in three months. Maybe a month before his lease expires. Whatever. Then drop it till then.

Similarly, have a mental idea of how long you're willing to wait.

Also, you say there are no practical and logistical barriers. Have you considered that there might be? Is his place big enough for both of you, or would he have to move? It's fairly easy for someone to be set in their ways a bit more by that age - even unconsciously, perhaps the thought of having to move his stuff around to give you room for yours, for example, is making him want a little bit longer. Or dealing with your ugly looking couch. Or not having anywhere to retreat to when he wants alone time. Alternatively, well, having to move house if you're moving into a new place is a hassle in itself.
posted by Ashlyth at 5:06 AM on July 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

This is hard. I was sort of you. I was in love with my boyfriend for well over a year before we got in to a relationship (we were good friends, I had a secret love that I never told him about because he was in a relationship with someone else), so when we actually DID get in to a relationship I was waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay ahead of the game. I knew he was The One for me, and I am not the most patient of people in the world. He knew I was The One as well, but he needed to take things a bit more slowly. I got impatient.

My solution was to have a long chat with him. I said that I felt the desire to advance our relationship further, but I knew he wasn't in a place where that could happen in a practicality way (going through a divorce, etc). We talked about marriage (we both wanted to get married) and kids (he has a son which is awesome because I wanted kids but have zero interest in having my own bio-kids), what we wanted out lives to look like in 5/10/50 years. We were 100% on the same page, I just wanted to get there sooner. We eventually were able to meet half way. We kept things more or less at the pace he needed, but he made other gestures of commitment to me that satisfied my desire to feel like we were advancing. We spent more time as a family with his son, allowing his son and I to build a good healthy relationship. We spoke of our relationship in terms of "when" not "if" (ie. when we get married, when we retire, etc. not IF we get married). He gave me a truly beautiful necklace that I wear every single day that is was (and still is) a symbol of his commitment to me and his love for me. He wasn't ready to propose but he still wanted me to have something.

Basically, we found our own halfway point, and it worked for us. I felt like our life was heading down a really great path, as did he, but he didn't feel rushed or pressured in to things. It all boiled down to communication and being open and honest with each other about what we wanted and expected and needed from each other. It has been my experience that a LOT in a healthy relationship has to do with communicating and compromising to make sure everyone is happy, so that was a really good lesson and starting point for that. :)

We're getting married in 6 weeks. :)
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 5:27 AM on July 30, 2013 [3 favorites]

Someone up thread said you need to address the insecurity that's driving the anxiety. That is 100% the best idea. From the opposite position, Mr. Loompa and I were nuts about each other and ready to move in together in less than a year, but I was panicking a bit because I had lived with someone previously and swore I wasn't doing it again until I met the guy I planned to marry. I knew i wanted to marry Mr. Loompa, but didn't want to move forward/invest any more until I felt he was on the exact same page. So we talked about that. He said he understood and respected that and we moved in together on our first anniversary. We celebrated our second already married.

I didn't expect us to move that fast, but I would not have felt safe moving forward at all without some discussion of my expectations of what moving in together meant for me. Maybe clarifying where he sees your relationship going will help settle your nerves, too.
posted by OompaLoompa at 5:46 AM on July 30, 2013

If you haven't already, I would tell him this:

I've started to realize that I feel at least a little rejected and hurt by his not wanting what seems to me to be the thing that makes the most sense, logistically and emotionally. I feel like [you don't] love me as much as I love [you]. Unfair and irrational, but there it is.

I don't think I agree with the "leave him" advice, but if it had been 2 years, I probably would.

This part:

He says he wants it and wants for it to happen in the near future, but can't make concrete plans or even a timeline

is logically inconsisent. If you want something to happen in the "near future," you start thinking about a timeline for it. E.g. if you wanted a new job in the "near future" you'd make a plan: start fixing up your resume, look at job postings, etc. If you're not doing that... then maybe you're actually kinda comfortable with your current job for the forseeable future.

I would maybe ask him, "Are there any doubts that you have about our relationship that you're not sharing with me? I am comfortable waiting until you're fully ready to move foward with moving in / marriage, but when you tell me you're not ready to even think about a timeline for moving forward, it makes me worry that we aren't on the same page."
posted by Asparagus at 8:39 AM on July 30, 2013 [3 favorites]

Hi there - I'm the OP, with a new sock puppet for follow-up. Thank you so much for the responses, some of them have helped me get some perspective and some have got me thinking about what it is that I really want/need.

Just a couple clarification points:

1) I truly don't think of a relationship as a series of steps or checklists. I chose unfortunate wording by saying that the next step is moving in together, but I just meant that it's where I want to take this, not that I think it's what has to happen according to a secret to-do list I'm keeping.

2) Status quo - we spend 99% of our time together at my house/with my house as a home base. We cook dinner, feed the cat, brush our teeth. We have people over as a couple to my house. He occasionally stays for weeks on end, only going home to get clothes. This is hopefully a little bit helpful in understanding why it doesn't seem like a huge leap to ACTUALLY move in together. It's a house with enough space to have our own areas/places to retreat to; he likes it and said when I signed the lease that he could see living there (and several times since). I get that it's challenging for one person to move into another's established space, and maybe I need to think about them a little more.

3) His current living situation is a no-lease house share near his studio that was supposed to be temporary (but it's been over a year). Most of his stuff is still in boxes, and he has no great love for his housemate or her terrible dogs. My house is less than a mile from his. He could end it at any time or stay there for ten years.

4) I think it's very true that what I really want is some sign of commitment/engagement with the relationship, which to me right now means moving in together. I actually don't care that much about being married. Kids within five years is something I do care about, and he says he's on board with this. Typing this now I realize that if I don't care about getting married and co-habitation is the end game I'm basically asking him to do the equivalent of marrying me, and that's definitely giving me some perspective on why it's actually a pretty big deal.
posted by argyle socks at 8:43 AM on July 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

Does he know that marriage isn't your endgame? Maybe he feels like moving in together = an expectation to soon pop the question, and he isn't ready for that. May he, like you, doesn't necessarily want to get married, so he is hesitant to make the step of moving in together if it is going to create a "Great, now we get married, right?" expectation in you. Or maybe he really doesn't want to move in with you for some other reason. There is no way to know what he is thinking without talking to him. Seriously. Until you know what he is feeling and thinking I don't think you're going to have a satisfying resolution to how you're feeling.

I stand by my inital recommendation of having a long, very honest, very open conversation about all this. Discuss what each of you expects and wants. Say all the things you need to say. Talk this out. I really don't think this is something you can logic through in isolation, or even with the help of the interwebs. You need to address this WITH YOUR PARTNER. If he just isn't willing to move in together, and you still feel you need a sign/symbol of commitment, then you need to think of things that might fill that gap for you until he IS ready (or until one of you pulls the plug).
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 9:27 AM on July 30, 2013 [2 favorites]

Not a threadsitter, but. We've definitely had many long talks about all of these things, and I trust that his objections and feelings are reasonable - he just isn't ready yet, is a little skittish after his last relationship went south a couple years ago and wants to be capital S sure. All that is totally understandable, even mature and positive. I should have made this clearer in my original post but I am okay with waiting (though I agree I should have an internal deadline just so I don't go crazy). I'm not thinking about breaking up at this time.

I guess my question is really about how to wait patiently and gracefully, and how to talk myself through the reactionary BUT I WANT A PONY feeling.
posted by argyle socks at 9:49 AM on July 30, 2013

Last, I promise - I realize that he may never be sure, and we should probably think about what that means for the future if that's still true after X time has passed. And I realize my knee jerk feeling about his feelings is unfair; I'm trying to figure out how to have a better reaction.
posted by argyle socks at 9:58 AM on July 30, 2013

If I were you, and you want to have kids in five years, go freeze your eggs NOW. Really. Do it NOW. You don't know where this relationship will end up, but knowing you banked some eggs, will preserve your fertility abd keep you from desperate decisions. Then you are okay whether he comes around or not. FYI it used to be they couldn't really freeze eggs, but now advanced clinics can do it.
posted by bananafish at 10:10 AM on July 30, 2013

argyle socks your updates are concerning.

You deserve an equal partner who prioritizes you and the relationship over any personal fears or idiosyncrasies.

Whenever someone on the AskMe's ties themselves in logistical knots trying to justify sublimating their needs for the sake of a withholding partner, I just want to yell: RUN.

- He's in his 30's.
- His stuff is mostly in boxes at another address, but he's essentially living at your furnished and functional home without any formal (or financial) commitment.
- He's talking about the future, but he avoids concrete plans.
- His past relationship isn't at all in the past when it comes to formalizing what he's currently got going with you.

I'm on my phone, but there's A LOT of self-negating phrases and contradictory statements in your update, too.

Bottom line?

Give this relationship 4 more months, then move on. Find someone who can share with you the life you want and deserve.

Frankly, this guy sounds immature. He's willing to live out of boxes and treat your place like some sort of hotel where he stays, but doesn't pay the bill. Your home makes him look like an adult with stability. His true living space that he pays for betrays who he REALLY is, how he truly thinks of himself.

For whatever reason, he's not about generating his own stability, and yet he feels fine about borrowing your stability without committing to you.

You should not be OK with this.

He doesn't show a sense of responsibility or any kind of growth or maturity. He's not partner/parenthood material. He's not the type to ever be "ready."

4 more months, and then you stop compromising on what you want out of life.

PS - Did you mean in one of your updates that you don't care about a big wedding when you wrote that "marriage wasn't important"? Because you also wrote that you wanted to be engaged, and engagements result in marriage, so I was confused.

Either way, don't have children with someone who is happy to pay full rent to maintain an escape route and store a couple of boxes, rather than invest that money in your shared home and the relationship. You be good enough for you, because with children in the mix, you deserve an equal partner and someone who prioritizes you and any children over their own neurosis and fears.

For real.
posted by jbenben at 11:36 AM on July 30, 2013 [11 favorites]

Ooof. He's basically already living at your place but won't officially move in because his last relationship went south? So in other words, he doesn't have enough faith in your relationship to give up his escape route.
Sorry argyle, but that doesn't sound mature and positive to me. But, you have decided to stick it out, so heres what I think..

"I guess my question is really about how to wait patiently and gracefully, and how to talk myself through the reactionary BUT I WANT A PONY feeling."

I don't think you can until you get a timeline out of him. You don't care to get married, but you need some sort of 'save the date' promise. Believe me I understand. A vague 'baby in 5 years' plan is not good enough. Set a date for when you want to go off birth control and tell him that he needs to officially commit to fully move in with you x weeks/months before that 'trying for a baby' date.
If he agrees to that, congrats! and enjoy your freedom for a few months before you start your family! Ask him not to come over so much in the meantime--you should have time to yourself in your house before that will no longer be an option!
If he can't commit to the date you give, I'm sorry but I don't think any advice on how to be more patient is going to help. I've come here on the green to ask about relationship problems many times and I usually don't get what I want to hear, but often what I need to hear.
posted by hellameangirl at 5:00 PM on July 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

What makes this hard is that the "right answer" is what jbenben said above. However, there are countless examples of women who chose the "wrong answer," and issued some sort of ultimatum, or started spending more time outside the house / with other men, or put on enough pressure somehow, and ended up getting married. In many of those examples, the marriages worked out in the long term. People who say "issuing an ultimatum never works" for some theoretical reason or another... those people are wrong. Many times those tactics do work. And the marriages turn out fine. I have seen actual human examples of this. You probably have also.

The problem is that you never know which case is which - when it'll work out, and when you'll look back on a few years of wasted time with regrets. It's almost impossible to know. Nobody here knows either. What we can say for sure is that, yes, this is probably more uncertain than a situation where you are both fully committed up front and you are both concretely working to make it happen. Whether some tactic will work -- to move you from uncertainty to marriage with a wishy-washy, possibly unsure person who you love and have a good relationship with? None of us knows that. None of us knows you particularly well, nor this guy, and we can't predict the future even if we did. We also don't know which tactic will work, or if any of them will. This is true of all AskMefi questions, but I think what you have here is a rather classic conundrum.

So how to handle it? Probably to set yourself an internal deadline or plan, and try to stick to it. Decide among the options (ultimatum, back off, go all in, whatever) based on what you know of him, yourself, and the situation... and don't beat yourself up for making the wrong choice because it's a tough situation. I find that what also helps is also to be around friends who have been successes. Spend time with people who have successful marriages, and in specific, people who have segued from your exact situation to something more committed. Simply being around good role models and speaking with them can help. But don't cherry pick for advice you want to hear, either.

You're in a difficult situation, and I think your post full of positivity and optimism may belie the uncertainty and anxiety you're feeling. I hope it works out for you.
posted by htid at 6:29 PM on July 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

Ask him not to come over so much in the meantime--you should have time to yourself in your house before that will no longer be an option!

Yeah, I kinda 2nd this. YMMV, but I live alone and I love and relish it. I very much hope to one day get married and live with my partner, but until then, I appreciate having my own space.

Again, YMMV, but I think if I had a boyfriend staying over at my place 24/7, I might start to get resentful if he was ALWAYS THERE and not paying his share of the bills and doing his share of the household chores... but of course, it's not like you can ask him to split rent with you when he's still paying rent on his own apartment!

It's like you have the worst of both worlds: you have to deal with all the compromises and loss of autonomy that comes with being married, but you don't get the security of a lifelong commitment that also comes with being married.
posted by Asparagus at 7:56 PM on July 30, 2013 [4 favorites]

I'm doing a bit of an about-face. I cohabitated once before meeting and living with my SO and I was convinced I'd never do it again, for various reasons; most importantly I love living alone and was myself, fairly skittish after my last experience.

But this guy never spends any time at his own place? He doesn't love living alone/with a roommate and not a partner, it sounds more like he loves pretending he lives with you!

If he was planning to move into his own place before you moved in together (and I mean actively planning, in a "I should try this being on my own stuff for a bit") that'd be different, but I didn't get that impression.

In your talks, have you talked specifically about why he's skittish? Doing a bit of post-mortem in that regard helped me figure out that I was afraid of things like being expected to be a full time nurse, bank, maid, chef, and hooker again. Even though I believed my SO wasn't that type of person (and he's not) I had to work through that fear and doing it together made our relationship much stronger before we moved in together. Is he willing to work through his?
posted by sm1tten at 2:56 PM on July 31, 2013 [5 favorites]

After SO MUCH talking, some issues we've uncovered and made good progress on, explicit agreement about our long-term goals, and (for me) a better understanding of his reluctance and (for him) a better understanding of why I wanted to move in together and what it said to me that he didn't seem to want to...he's moving in in a month. It's something we both want (I was really worried about feeling like I nagged him into it—but I didn't, and I don't). It was really cute when he told me he was ready. I feel totally confident that this will be fun (and infuriating sometimes) and that we'll be very happy building a life together. Thanks so much for keeping my head screwed on about this, folks!
posted by argyle socks at 10:40 AM on August 29, 2013

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