Just got engaged. Problem, I still think about the one that got away.
October 5, 2013 12:16 AM   Subscribe

I just got engaged to an amazing guy. He's funny, smart, interesting, stable, settled in his career, and is going places...basically, a "10" by any and every objective measure. The problem is that ever since we've gotten engaged, I keep thinking of the first and only guy I've ever felt was "the one" I was destined to be with, and the problem has only exacerbated since my fiancé wants to drop his life for a year in California to be closer to me as I finish up college. Snowflake details inside.

Three years ago, at age 18, I met B on an editing site, where he was helping me with my college applications. Though we never met in real life, the process of writing about my dreams and why I'd be a good fit for XYZ school, and him editing everything into beautiful prose endeared me to him greatly. I love how he taught me so much about the English language, about life, and
and quickly felt as though I fell in love with him. I was an ugly duckling in high school and he was the first guy who cared enough to help me actualize a lot of my dreams--it sounds silly, but he was nice to me before I "transformed" into a model and landed contracts. He was literally my only saving grace when I felt like my world was crashing around me and he just made me feel so safe and cared for. It sounds weird, you know, to admire someone so much, but I can't really stop respecting or admiring him. He just really, really, really understood me. I had tears in my eyes when he finished my last essay and answered my last question. It hurt like hell to have to say goodbye that December (2010). We ended up running into each other a few times after that--well, more like, he ended up running into me--but we never said anything. In fact, two times, I saw him and got so nervous that I ran away/was super awkward. And, the one time I managed to smile at him when I was riding my bike, I got so nervous at the prospect of riding up to him and actually having a conversation with him that I changed my route--and I have never changed my route before. Even though B is shorter than me, barely 4.5 years older, and not the richest/most established guy I've ever dated, I can't get him out of my head. Nobody has compared to him, now or since.

In terms of dating experience, I went on dozens of first dates with guys from school and outside of school, had numerous bad experiences with online dating, and then had a number of ill-fated penpal relationships. Fed up with my lack of serious prospects, around four months ago, I procured an elite matchmaker to find me a husband. She set me up with my now-fiancé, P, and we went directly from friends to engaged quickly. Everything in the relationship was easy, I made sure we hit all the RESPECT compatibility matrix points that were important to me, we have matching blood types and birth orders, our MBTIs are compatible, and he's the most dedicated, wonderful guy anyone could ask for. He's just so perfect on paper! The problem is that I've been trying to convince myself to fall in love with P and it's just not working. I can't stop thinking about B and this isn't cold feet.

P lives in a major California city and I currently live in the Midwest. About an hour ago, he called me saying that he thinks it'd be best for our relationship if he moved temporarily to my college town so the distance wouldn't be a major issue for us as we navigate our first few months of engagement-dom. My school schedule makes it hard for me to travel to go see him, so he basically flies to see me every other weekend; as a financier, he has the ability to work remotely and still do his job well. The idea of him being near me and for this turning into something non-abstract really scares me. I'm afraid that if B sees me with P, he'll be heartbroken; I also fear that I only said yes to P's proposal because my leg hurt like hell and I wanted a new ice pack. P's romantic and everything, but I just don't know if it's such a good idea to marry the first guy who expresses a serious, prolonged interest in me. I'm an abstinent virgin and I'd always assumed I'd comfortable giving myself to my husband when married, the idea of engaging in anything other than hand-holding with P makes me sick. I want my first and last to be B, not P.

I told P about B and about my unrequited crushes in high school, fantasy crushes in novels, romantic comedies, and my pen pals, and he seems to think that they were childish things I engaged in to prevent myself from experiencing true love. He continually reminds me that if B wanted to be with me, he'd have made it happen by now, that if I was truly meant to be the wife of Cary Grant, I wouldn't have been born in the 21st century. I know that he's right, but I can't help but think that if I just wait until after I finish college and B finishes law school, B and I will end up together. I mean, I have a feeling that B likes me back, and I don't want to marry someone else to make him jealous and drive him crazy just because we both love The Graduate.

Sometimes I feel like it's just better for me to marry someone who loves me more than I think I could ever really love him, because the prospect of being heartbroken by the perfection that is B makes me think I'd legitimately die if anything were to happen. The dreamer in me likes to imagine that B and I are soulmates, that B shares my feelings, that I belong with him; the pragmatist in me ruminates over the fact that B and I have never had an in-person conversation, that B and I may have run into each other due to coincidence, that B has done nothing apart from editing papers and teaching me new things to make him life partner material. B knew me when I was 18 and a stupid, irrational, highly confused soon-to-be-college-freshman and P knows me as I am now. P was there for me when I tore my ACL, he was at the finish line of my first Ironman, he was on the phone with me when I found out I qualified for the national team, and he's always been there; B was there for me because I paid him to edit my essays.

I worry that if I break things off with P, I may never find any guy who will love me as much and never truly be emotionally intimate. I wonder if I'm more attracted to the idea of being a married couple than I am to the idea of being Mrs. P.

Do I break up a good thing because of a stupid fantasy that is never going to go anywhere, or do I grow up and accept that "the one" is a choice you make? Should I break off my engagement and tell P that I'm just not ready?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (99 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
go shag B. shag his brains out.
posted by parmanparman at 12:27 AM on October 5, 2013 [7 favorites]

> the idea of engaging in anything other than hand-holding with P makes me sick.

Why are you engaged to this man?
posted by SemiSophos at 12:27 AM on October 5, 2013 [34 favorites]

Don't marry P. I have no idea if you have anything real with B, but you sure aren't in love with P.
posted by tinymegalo at 12:28 AM on October 5, 2013 [25 favorites]

I seriously think that you should write up all your posts as a young-adult novel. They always have very unexpected twists and turns!

You're 21 years old. If you could get an elite matchmaker to find someone perfect that quickly and easily (especially if, to you, perfection has nothing to do with physical attraction or love, but instead stuff that's easy to find like matching blood types and compatible MTBIs), then I'm sure she could find another one for you if you asked her to do it again, whether that's in six months, or a year, or a couple years.

I think I can safely say you will probably not be happy being married to someone if the idea of doing anything more than hand-holding with them makes you sick.

Break up your engagement, go for B and see what happens.
posted by cairdeas at 12:28 AM on October 5, 2013 [18 favorites]

It sounds like you really, really want to be in a serious relationship BUT about a hundred older and wiser Mefis are going to come in this thread and tell you to take a big step back and not rush anything. Those people are right. You are young, you're sexually inexperienced and you're engaged to a man that barely know and are not attracted to. There is like a 0.005% chance of that being into a happy marriage, maybe less.

You're using B as an excuse to break it off with P and it's making you nuts. Just admit to yourself that you want out of the situation and take the necessary steps. It'll such but you can do this.
posted by fshgrl at 12:34 AM on October 5, 2013 [31 favorites]

You never actually dated this "one who got away" that you're pining for?

You don't even live on the same coast as your fiance?

You're 21 years old, an undergrad, the best you can say about your fiance is that you have matching blood types, and the "one who got away" is someone who graded your college essays?

SCREW ALL THESE DUDES AND GO HAVE A LIFE. Seriously. You're too young to be going through the motions like this. There are going to be a million guys for you to fool around and have fun with, until you find someone you actually like, for real. Not because they have a good resume or because they said something nice to you once.

There is one reason I'm not suggesting you "go be with B". Three years is a long time, and from the sound of it nothing even vaguely romantic happened between the two of you. You have a lot of fantasies invested in the kind of person you imagine B to be, most of which revolve around yourself. You may not have the choice to be with B, and frankly I don't think it's healthy or smart for you to try to. Go find someone you love for himself, not for how he makes you feel or what kinds of notions are fun to project on a fantasy version of him.
posted by Sara C. at 12:41 AM on October 5, 2013 [121 favorites]

When I saw that you're 21 I thought, "you're too young to be married," and after reading your question I feel that way even more strongly. You need to end this engagement and stop worrying about finding a husband and go out and live your life for a few years.
posted by something something at 12:46 AM on October 5, 2013 [20 favorites]

Good grief. You're TWENTY-ONE. Your choices are not 'guy I've know for 4 months' or 'guy I've never had in-person conversation with'. That's ridiculous.

Do not marry your fiancé. Break up with him. Ask the other guy out and get to know him. Regroup in a few months.
posted by Salamander at 12:47 AM on October 5, 2013 [12 favorites]

I don't understand why you're looking so strongly to get married at 21? Of course you can't fall in love with your fiance--someone else picked him for you! It's unsurprising that there's no actual chemistry there. I don't think you're doomed to pine after B for the rest of your life. I think the issue is that you haven't actually gotten out there and tried to date people--people who might break your heart, people who might not end up marrying you, but also people who you have actual (not via the internet, but real-life) desire for and with whom you will learn what you want and don't want in a long-term partner.
I'm a tiny bit older than you and marriage hasn't even crossed my mind, much less the idea of hiring a matchmaker! There's nothing wrong with wanting to get married, but I don't think you really have any idea what you want in a relationship, beyond just that it should involve a ring and a ceremony and some words about commitment. Break off this engagement to a guy you can't even imagine being sexually intimate with, then go out, have fun, get your own badass independent life and stop worrying about ending up a spinster at the advanced age of 21.
posted by Papagayo at 12:59 AM on October 5, 2013 [5 favorites]

You don't have a good thing. You are leading your fiancé on by agreeing to marry him. You have a lot of growing up to do before you should even consider getting engaged to anybody, much less married to them for real. Go do some growing and see what you discover about yourself, but do right by your current partner first and let him go.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 12:59 AM on October 5, 2013 [5 favorites]

1) You can't be married to someone you don't even like kissing. Have you even kissed this person? Sexual incompatibility has ruined more than one relationship.

2) I strongly advise you - or anyone against marrying someone that you not only haven't lived with but haven't even lived in the same city as great googly moogly. That's just insanity. There's plenty of people I get along swimmingly with for a weekend.

3) I strongly recommend not marrying at 21. So much can change between 20 and 30 in terms of beliefs, worldviews, feeling and priorities. You barely know yourself at that age, getting to now someone else is a big ask.

OP are you extremely religious, or from a different culture or something? Why are you so desperate to get married when you are so incredibly young compared to the median marrying age? It's clear you definitely don't want to marry this guy (though, I do agree with him, bloody hell yes you should live in the same frickin' city before you get married).

Whether you had an attraction with this other dude or not, I think you're also magnifying it because you so desperately don't want to get married. So don't get married.

Also, you got engaged to a guy you met, from a different city four flipping months ago!! Come on, people don't get engaged after living together for four months. How many hours have you cumulatively spent with this man? Is it even triple figures?

Also, there are lots of nice people that like each other and don't get married. You do need to like and respect someone to have a successful marriage, but you also need a lot more than that. Don't get married, think about why you want to get married so bad, and for goodness' sake ask out this guy you are hot for. Good luck.
posted by smoke at 1:01 AM on October 5, 2013 [11 favorites]

and the "one who got away" is someone who graded your college essays?

Actually... the same thing is true for me too.

I was a junior in college and I had a teaching assistant that I went bananas for. He was a working class kid who had made it to the Ivy League by being fucking brilliant. He was a tattooed punk rocker who was silly, and funny, and very caring, and very kind, and very humble. And incredibly smart too, did I mention that?

He was also shorter than me, far older than me, and not what everyone would call "conventionally attractive." I was so crazy about him that I could not look him in the eye or talk to him and in fact sometimes I couldn't even walk properly around him.

I knew that I had to strike up some kind of rapport with him while I was taking his class so it could segue into being friends afterwards. But I was just too terrified to do it. There were two separate times when I made it all the way to his office door, during his office hours, and then ran away.

So what happened?

I never said anything, and then the next year he met someone, and then the year after that, he got married.

That was all almost 10 years ago, and I've had a few major long term relationships since then, and dated plenty of other people too, and during the times when I am single, I still sometimes think... "what if?" I mean I don't sit there like pining away. I just still something think, what if.

So... I don't think it's necessarily a bad thing for Lotusmish to go after this B.
posted by cairdeas at 1:01 AM on October 5, 2013 [2 favorites]

Additionally, reflect on this comment from your last question, which was barely a week ago. I don't know if it's true or not, but it represent a significant shift in your thought patterns:

I love him, he loves me, and he wants to spend his life with me... This is literally the happiest I've ever, ever, ever been in my entire life!
posted by smoke at 1:07 AM on October 5, 2013 [5 favorites]

Cairdeas, thanks for your comment. Emotional attraction is more important to me than physical attraction, since I've always felt that I could grow to like someone who may not do it for me immediately. The external measures of compatibility--birth order, MBTI, etc--are just my neurotic way of ensuring scientific, objective compatibility.

Sara, a few romantic things beyond flirting did happen and I don't have fantasies invested in the person I imagine B to be. I know B, B knows me, and we both really understand each other. Days after we had to part, we both started seeing other people--I don't know why he did, but I know that I did because I needed to get over him pronto. You're right in that I may not have a chance with him anymore because I keep running away every time he tries to make something happen, but you're wrong in that there's nothing there. I know he feels similarly. He wouldn't keep flying around to see me/be near me if he felt nothing--there is just no way to explain the NYE coincidence, no way to explain our running into each other at a Romney event, no way to explain him staring at me in awe at my 20th birthday party, no way to explain him traipsing across my campus looking for me and then being awkward when he sees me. I agree that it's possible that he's met a really popular and glamorous girl now and forgotten all about me, but please don't insult me by saying that I'm just projecting emotions on to him. We spoke literally every day for eight months and I know that he cared for me at one point, maybe not as much as me, but whatever. If he doesn't feel the same way the next time we run into each other, he found someone else, and he doesn't miss me, fine. If B and I never see each other again, I know I could get on and marry someone else even if it'd hurt like mad. I miss him now, but I'm sure I could get over missing him if it turned into forever even if it hurts. And, like Cairdeas said, I could just ask my matchmaker to find me someone else and/or go out on a date with the guy from my chem lab who keeps bugging me. I just don't see any point in devaluing myself with empty "fooling around" and "hooking up" when I only have ever had eyes for him. Whether I end up with B or not, I'm remaining an abstinent virgin--I don't believe in "fooling around" or hooking up. I don't want to date other guys until I at least give B a chance without self-sabotaging and literally running away from him like a socially awkward penguin every time he's near me.

Everyone else, thank you for responding. I'm going to go to bed and think about this with fresh eyes come morning.
posted by lotusmish at 1:18 AM on October 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

I got the impression that you'd never had a conversation with B in person.

But if he's flying around the country to see you and you've had all these romantic encounters, sure, ask him out. That's just... very much not what you actually said in your question that you asked.
posted by Sara C. at 1:29 AM on October 5, 2013 [14 favorites]

1) We haven't had an in-person conversation. He's come up to me several times--maybe 20-30--but I always blush, lose my entire train of thought, get visibly nervous, and the whole thing is ruined. The one time I felt brave enough to talk to him, on NYE minutes before the ball was about to drop, I couldn't get in the bar to be near him because I was underage and didn't have a fake ID.
2) We haven't had any romantic encounters, but we exchanged a lot of feelings that were well beyond just flirting or just editing.
3) I don't believe in asking people out; I think the guy should always make the first move. I just meant that if/when he comes to see me again, I'm not going to be awkward and nervous and ruin everything. It's so weird how I'm approachable with guys I don't like but with my dreamguy, I botch everything up. (And if he doesn't come and the ship has already sailed, well, that's fine too.)
posted by lotusmish at 1:35 AM on October 5, 2013

The fourth paragraph screams 'DO NOT GET MARRIED'. Don't get married to P, regardless of your feelings for other people.

The B situation sounds a little bizarre tbh. No in-person convos but he's following you around the country? It also sounds like youre putting him on a pedestal... He's just a regular person, and has weaknesses and bad habits and is not perfect (height and age not included). Try to keep it real, as it were, and not get wrapped up in your projected fantasies.
posted by Fig at 1:56 AM on October 5, 2013 [2 favorites]

It's like you want to live back in time - are you ready to stay at home and wear a crisp white apron and present meals and children to the man who awkwardly gropes you in the dark once a week? And write in your diary less each year about how you dream of a gentleman on a dark horse who presents you with red roses.

Seriously - please get some experience in the real world. Stop with the childish giggling, blushing, getting tongue tied etc. You are not a schoolgirl from the last century. You get to make decisions. Whats the worst that could happen? An embarrassing moment? In 100 years you will be dust, start living and work towards things you want. You will fail many times, everyone does, you pick yourself up and carry on. It really is worth it - stop blinking with wide eyes at the world and participate in life.
posted by meepmeow at 1:58 AM on October 5, 2013 [64 favorites]

Take a big step back and don't rush anything.

posted by mannequito at 1:58 AM on October 5, 2013

Best answer: I told P about B and about my unrequited crushes in high school, fantasy crushes in novels, romantic comedies, and my pen pals, and he seems to think that they were childish things I engaged in to prevent myself from experiencing true love. He continually reminds me that if B wanted to be with me, he'd have made it happen by now, that if I was truly meant to be the wife of Cary Grant, I wouldn't have been born in the 21st century. I know that he's right

Couple of things here: 1) you really cannot trust your fiancé's advice on this--I wouldn't blame most guys for giving it a shot, but it's as biased and self-interested as anything ever; 2) him calling you childish and overtly trying to manipulate your feelings and cement your commitment, that sets off alarms for me: he'd have to be a pretty wise character to completely understand and give you the time you need to work out your feelings, but the fact remains he should and you should be wary of his ability to talk you out of listening to your own conscience, because that could be way more practiced than you realize.

The problem is that I've been trying to convince myself to fall in love with P and it's just not working ... the idea of engaging in anything other than hand-holding with P makes me sick

Those are both--independently--incredibly 100% triple-A good reasons to call things off. Maybe all you need is time away from this relationship, whether it's to resolve your feelings toward the other guy or to explore other possibilities or to figure out that you actually do love this guy. But holy crap.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 1:59 AM on October 5, 2013 [4 favorites]

Girl, are you for real? Weren't you just asking whether you should try to find someone older to marry, like, two weeks ago? You need to run away from all of this. You are 21 years old, and you sound a lot younger in your question (well, you sound like a novel written about a 21 year old by a 17 year old). Focus on figuring out who you are, not who you should be tied to for the rest of your life. It is awesome that you are trying to identify what you want, but this whole P and B thing is a waste of energy you should be spending on figuring your shit out. Drop P because it sounds like you don't really like him; go on a date with B or something if you want, but spent at least 6 months completely by yourself and if you start dating B after those 6 months don't get engaged for at least a year. And don't get engaged to someone who doesn't live in the same town as you, as a general rule. Sometimes it works out, but very often it's an extremely bad sign when engagement is so important to people that they'll skip over an essential part of getting to know one another by living in the same place.
posted by c'mon sea legs at 2:17 AM on October 5, 2013 [44 favorites]

3) I don't believe in asking people out; I think the guy should always make the first move.

This rule is just some summed-up cultural baggage and slut-shaming. I think you should drop this rule until you have more experience in the world.

My wife, who's a bit shy and introverted, is the one who asked me out. I didn't really notice her as a prospective partner before she did so.

I'm an abstinent virgin and I'd always assumed I'd comfortable giving myself to my husband when married ... .I just don't see any point in devaluing myself with empty "fooling around" and "hooking up"

It can be hugely ethical and moral to engage in casual sex if you do it right.

Separately, it can be quite ethical and moral to have sex in a short term or long term relationship before the generic big fancy wedding.

I personally think it's deeply inappropriate to get engaged before you have sex with your partner. You could be fundamentally incompatible, and that's something you don't want to find out on your wedding night. Coercing yourself or your partner into a 'no sex before marriage' pact is not very wise, or compassionate.

I think you might have more successful dating experiences if you consider having sex with some of the cute guys on the second or tenth date or something. And stop telling your dates "I don't believe in sex before marriage".

This is an attitude that has cut down your dating potential and dating candidate pool, and may suck you into a failing marriage.

Talk to an older wiser friend about this whole sex before marriage business. Seriously.

Regarding "devaluing" - we share different values - I don't feel a woman has less intrinsic value or is less of a person once the hygienic seal on her virginity has been breached. Perpetuate this women-hating nonsense isn't ethical, isn't compassionate, and, the more you do it, stains your inner character.

Thinking about virginity may be a good way to rationalize not having sex with someone you're uncomfortable with, but I think you need to reexamine your beliefs here and start acting in a compassionate way towards others and yourself.

I made sure we hit all the RESPECT compatibility matrix points that were important to me,

Yeah. Huh. I'm not going to bother googling this. It's a pretty good idea to spend a couple months or more sharing an apartment before getting engaged.

Oh yeah, and sex. It's good to have good sex a few times before getting engaged.

I worry that if I break things off with P, I may never find any guy who will love me as much and never truly be emotionally intimate.

You're 21. There's a lot of decent guys out there. Once you stop acting the role of some regency romance heroine you'll have more luck.

You haven't been physically intimate with P, so you don't know if he's generally a considerate and fun lover, and also, it doesn't sound like the chemistry is there.

Whether I end up with B or not, I'm remaining an abstinent virgin--I don't believe in "fooling around" or hooking up.

If I was B, and a woman I liked told me some variation on "I think I'm incredibly in love with you, probably. I know I'm really physically attracted to you. .... Umm .... will you marry me? Then, once we're married, we can have sex together for the first time?" then I (as B) would run very fast and very far.

Do I break up a good thing because of a stupid fantasy that is never going to go anywhere, or do I grow up and accept that "the one" is a choice you make? Should I break off my engagement and tell P that I'm just not ready?


Go find B and shag his brains out. Or maybe call P and say "I think we need to share an apartment together for a few months, and have good sex together a few times, before we actually get engaged."
posted by sebastienbailard at 2:58 AM on October 5, 2013 [10 favorites]

Best answer: To me you sound extremely emotionally immature, and I say this with no intention to insult. I hope you can read all these answers again with a clear head and see that there's no need to get defensive, no one is trying to hurt you, we're trying to help. A lot of us have been through failed and succesful relationships and know what both look like. It seems like at the moment you seem very anxious to get married, you hired a matchmaker to get you someone to marry, and yet you don't seem interested in what should come first: a succesful relationship.

Although I felt you, in your follow-up, get defensive with Sara C, I agree that from an outside perspective you are projecting your own feelings onto B. Sure, you have a bunch of little details that let you know he was maybe interested in you, and yet, a bunch of little details does not a relationship make. Long stares and going out of your way for someone are usually at the very start of something. Feeling connected because he helped with all your essays is just that, being connected because you shared a bunch of personal stuff. People have similar sorts of feelings for their therapists all the time. Sharing vulnerable thoughts and feelings makes us feel very connected to whoever's on the listening end. But, the fact that you could be very open on paper, but would "giggle and flush" when it came to actually having a conversation is not a good sign. B is not "the one who got away", you are the one who's been shying away.

On the other hand, unless you are from a culture where arranged marriage is a thing, getting married after a short relationship to a man who you don't even want to kiss, just because a matchmaker told you he's good for you is a BAD idea. I was also an abstinent virgin before I got married but that does NOT mean you don't want to have sex with your boyfriend. Quite the contrary. Half the time I wanted to jump his bones. In a good relationship, being abstinent before marriage should not be as easy as "I can't even imagine kissing him, much less fooling around". I can be all supportive of having pure thoughts if that's what you believe in, but you should really really complety love and desire a person before marrying them. At the moment, it seems like you only want to marry P because you hired a matchmaker to find you someone to marry and she did and now you're stuck with P. But you're not, you don't have to be stuck with P. Either break up or give the relationship waaay more time, but don't get married right now.

People here are telling you that you're too young to get married because you're 21. My sister was married at 21 and she's ok. Right now you seem to be too young to marry, and it's not from your age, it's because you don't seem to have lived enough yet to see that you can't marry a man you have little experience being with, while you daydream about a man you only had a circumstantial relationship with. Please don't make a mistake that will ruin your life just because you're in a rush to get married, there is no rush. There is no rush. There is no rush.
posted by CrazyLemonade at 3:07 AM on October 5, 2013 [41 favorites]

Best answer: Also, there's some people here telling you to go have sex with B or P. As if having sex with either of them is the answer to your troubles. There's a LOT of issues going on here before sex even comes into the picture, so don't let these answers scare you away from the whole thread. There's a lot of good advice here. Telling you to go have sex before actually getting married to your fiancé is probably good advice even, but in another context completely and probably not for you, not right now. Like I said, everyone's trying to help and everyone helps coming from their own perspective and experiences. Good luck.
posted by CrazyLemonade at 3:23 AM on October 5, 2013 [8 favorites]

Whatever you do with B, absolutely do not get married to P. You don't love this person.
posted by empath at 3:25 AM on October 5, 2013 [5 favorites]

Best answer: Hitting some different points: he's a 32 year old financier - you're a 21 year old college student he found via a matchmaker. And he pressured you a bit about getting engaged.

While there are many 21/32 marriages that have worked out, this guy creeps me out.

A 21 year old woman who has only ever done high school and college needs more life-experience before marrying a 32 year old man she hasn't even shared an apartment with. The fact that he doesn't realize this or that he realizes this and doesn't care is deeply troubling. He should realize that you need a couple life-experience years before marriage and find a way to be with you while making space for you to grow in.

Instead it sort of sounds like he woke up some morning and said "I have lots of money, and I need a pretty young wife, ideally a virgin. I'll go and use my money to obtain one."


Talk to an older wiser mentor somewhere at school. Someone like a staff therapist would be ideal - they're also really good at giving advice with thorny problems and life issues and, while you're not troubled with some psychological matter, you've got a thorny problem and you need someone wise and uninvolved to sort you out about this stuff.
posted by sebastienbailard at 3:26 AM on October 5, 2013 [21 favorites]

Blood types, birth orders, and MBTI scores have zero to do with compatibility or attraction. You didn't hire an "elite matchmaker," you hired a charlatan.

Do put more thought into hiring the divorce lawyer, and you might make out alright. You could be divorced with alimony at 25 and go find B.
posted by spitbull at 3:28 AM on October 5, 2013 [19 favorites]

Also, there's some people here telling you to go have sex with B or P. As if having sex with either of them is the answer to your troubles. There's a LOT of issues going on here before sex even comes into the picture, so don't let these answers scare you away from the whole thread. There's a lot of good advice here. Telling you to go have sex before actually getting married to your fiancé is probably good advice even, but in another context completely and probably not for you, not right now.

I completely agree and I wrote one of the sex-positive notes she's referring to.
posted by sebastienbailard at 3:44 AM on October 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: If you're going to get married to someone and be with them for the whole rest of your life, you need to be equal partners. You need to be on the same footing.

Now, I think it's quite possible to have an equal partnership with someone way older - the age difference between me and my partner is larger than yours. But the way you describe your relationship doesn't make it sound like a relationship of equals, to me.

He continually reminds me that if B wanted to be with me, he'd have made it happen by now

This guy has decided how the world is. He is telling you his perspective, as if it's the whole truth and that's the end of it. He is acting like a teacher, or a parent. He's relying, perhaps subconsciously, on your youth and your inexperience and your difficulty in standing up for yourself. His framing of the situation makes it sound as if you have only two options: agree with him, or have some kind of pouty argument. His taking of a parent/teacher role on the subject is forcing you into a dependent/childlike role. You've been so recently surrounded by teachers/parents/authority figures, that the child/pupil/dependent role is probably dangerously easy for you to take on.

If this guy was an equal partner to you, he would have acted like you were both adults. He would have said, look, I see that this guy is important to you; that makes me sad, but it's reality, so what do you want to do? Do you want to take some time to think through this before we go any further with this relationship?

If you were an equal partner, you would have been able to say: This is what I need. I'm sorry it's hard on you, but I'm going to (whatever).

If you were equal partners, you would love him as much as he loves you.

I don't believe in asking people out

What if your most ideal partner in the whole entire world doesn't ask you out, because he thinks you are so wonderful that you couldn't possibly like him, and so you miss out?

socially awkward penguin

Socially awkward penguin should be very careful when marrying sea lion.
posted by emilyw at 4:26 AM on October 5, 2013 [7 favorites]

Best answer: Break off your engagement – this much seems a no-brainer.

As for B, the situation here reads quite confusing: you've known each other in a client-editor/tutor capacity for eight month, you indirectly talked a lot about your dreams and aspirations with him by way of him editing your writing, then you ran into him a few times in places where you think he would not have been had he not tried to engineer a chance meeting with you... But you never actually had real, unambiguously person-to-person interaction and communication outside of a professional environment or by sheer happenstance. Instead, there are, in your eyes, quite a few clues, such as blushing, popping up in unexpected places, being tongue-tied, whatnot, indicating that he, too, takes a deeper interest in you.

Personally, I agree with the general thrust of answers so far: there's nothing in your post that makes me think he thinks of you in that way or that he carries the strong deep feelings which can only be resolved in marriage. At the same time, I do agree with you that sometimes non-verbal and indirect interaction is loaded with much more meaning than might be apparent to a casual eye, and more than can be easily put into words for someone else to understand. So it might be the case that you and B are one of the (relatively rare) cases where there is much more than meets the eye on both sides. Still, if this is the case, why has nothing come of this as yet – after all it's been three years! I have some thoughts on this:

1. You are both painfully shy and flustered into dysfunctionality when in each other's presence. This sounds romantic and cute in theory, and like a happy-ending is unavoidable after some Hollywood-style misadventures, but in practice, as you can see, it is actually unhelpful, hampers whatever romantic yearnings towards each other you might have, and may well end in two unhappy people (at least two – if this is your scenario, both of you are gonna fuck up a number of other people along the way). It's also the least hopeful for you – you make it clear you have no intention to take the initiative, and if he is similarly passive, nothing will ever happen, and you'll also never get a resolution.

2. He actually does not like you that way. He went to the various places you met completely by chance (or it might even be a case that YOU subconsciously engineered some of these encounters, happens way more than one would think). When he sees you, of course he will come up to you, maybe even go out of his way to do so – after all you were/ are an acquaintance, a former client, and one with whom he had a good relationship. He might be awkward because at some point he realised you have feelings for him which are deeper than friendship, and, whilst he likes you a lot, he doesn't feel the same, and doesn't quite know how to react what with feeling you are a bit of a kindred spirit, but at the same time wish for more than he can give.

3. He does like you the way you like him, feels a deep connection with you, but knows there is an insurmountable obstacle between the two of you, at least at this time. Some ideas as to what this might be: a. the type of relationship you two had/have. He was your editor, and, by the sounds of it, your tutor as well. For many decent people, this kind of relationship (which is quite similar to that between teacher and student) precludes romantic intimacy, since they feel they might abuse the trust you have placed in them, that they might be taking advantage of your vulnerability, even that the attraction itself springs from the kind of asymmetrical relationship you have (which has a very potent romantic charge for many people – just look at how many people crush, even emotionally crush, on teachers, therapists, mentors, and, conversely, on students, and clients). He may have a crush on you, but feels that it would be unethical to pursue it because of the above. This, too, might feel like rom-com stuff, but if he is a realistic and decent guy he will not overcome this, unless he feels like you two are full equals. Which brings me to b. he knows you to be vulnerable (after all, you shared a lot of stuff with him that is all about how you are vulnerable) and still developing emotionally (I hope that you don't take this the wrong way, but this question, for example, is devoid of the kind of realism I would expect in someone who is emotionally fully adult, and not because you are clearly a passionate person with certain principles). Whilst he likes you, he knows that a partnership requires more than romance and soulmateism, and that equality between the two partners is indispensable in the long run for a successful relationship. At this time, he doesn't feel that you two could have that kind of relationship. c. He feels you have him on a pedestal, and knows that this is one of the most pernicious premises for a relationship. A lot of point b applies to this as well. d. He likes you all right, but senses that you are very all or nothing about relationships, that you are impatient and would want to leap right into the thick of things. He would like to take it slowly and maybe just get to know you better, but, given your intensity, feels that this might be hurtful for you and way too difficult for him to navigate. Again, this is not entirely unconnected to point b. And so on – there are many, many reasons why someone might have a deep connection with someone else, feel attracted to them, crush on them, but on balance decide that it is best not to pursue anything.

4. Another option is that he does like you, that he maybe would have liked to get to know you on a more personal level after your professional relationship ended, but that he felt regularly rebuffed by you. Again, this seems like it has the stuff for a happy ending, but a lot of the thoughts from point 1 above apply – maybe even stronger, cause in this scenario he will find it very hard to trust that you are not playing games with him, and you will quite possibly have to woo him into trusting your feelings. How is that gonna happen if you are never the one to go after the guy?

My advice, given all the circumstances in your post:

I think you need break off + cut contact with P, and then figure out how you stand with B – let that situation play itself out to the full. You need to explore this, I think, whether to get a happy ending with B, or else to be honestly disappointed by what happens there (whether that is him not being into you, or you having a relationship which doesn't work out etc), because otherwise you will carry this mirage with you and not give yourself the chance to have a good relationship with someone else.

It's probably unrealistic to expect you to fully take charge of the situation with B (not blaming here – I am very much like you in this respect), but nonetheless you CAN do so in a more indirect fashion. Remember, this is a person who is an acquaintance and someone who helped you a lot at some point – so there is no embarrassment in being friendly, seeking him out and getting re-acquainted as two independent people, as long as it is done respectfully. I'd look him up, maybe even invite him out, or to activities (I don't think that counts as you making the first move, as long as you are clear in your head that you are trying to know this person better and in a more rounded fashion, rather than chasing a potential husband), and then, if he accepts and maybe begins to feel safe asking you out too, you can let him know, discreetly, by flirting and whatnot, that you like him more, etc you get the drift.

However, I do believe that your chance of succeeding with this man, even if he has similar feelings for you, hinges on whether you come across as an adult. This means that you don't put him on a pedestal, but are interested in and curious about him as a human being with wonderful sides but also with flaws, that you do not think you will legitimately die if the relationship were to end, but rather, that you are entirely capable to manage your emotional world without the unbearable pressure this kind of threat would exert on a partner, that you are able to balance your emotional, passionate side with wisdom and reason, that you live in reality and not in some rom-com narrative, and, very importantly (if B is decent), that you are self-aware, compassionate and empathetic enough not to go around potentially devastating others by getting engaged to them, or by knowingly using them for rebound drama.

I wish you luck exploring all this, but would like to add a warning here (please don't take it as an insult): you seem to be very passionate, principled, and at the same time see romantic relationships according to set patterns (I think a few people remarked on this, it is also what I mean when I say “rom-com”). There is a danger in this, and one I mention as someone who was once a victim of this kind of idealised thinking about relationships: you can ignore reality, things that happen, in favour of wishful thinking and over-deference to the romanticized narrative. I had my own B, and my story ended happily, or so it seemed: we got married. But my B slowly but surely became abusive, and it took me ages to wake up to the problems in our marriage, because, even though I felt them daily, and deeply, my clinging to our fairytale beginnings (also full of missed chances, passionate love, misadventures and the final happy end) blinded me to what I was actually going through on a daily basis. Passion and abandon work best when they are balanced by a healthy dose of reality... which involves letting go of our story-telling and plotting tendencies (I'm not kidding when I say that I stayed in more than one crappy relationship, to my detriment, because leaving would have made a piss-poor story).
posted by miorita at 4:32 AM on October 5, 2013 [19 favorites]

Best answer: the pragmatist in me ruminates over the fact that B and I have never had an in-person conversation

This is the right part of yourself to listen to. NOT that you should be in a relationship with P at all, but you are over-glorifying your non-existent relationship with B.

You say you're still in college, which means you're still very young. I think the best thing to do would be to move on from both of these men.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 4:48 AM on October 5, 2013 [3 favorites]

As a happily married person who has been with her husband longer than you've been alive, I have to say your situation sounds sort of like this to me: "I've never been hiking before, or even taken a long walk, but I've decided to endurance hike the Pacific Crest Trail, and need footwear capable of covering around 40 miles a day for weeks and weeks, so in preparation, I've ordered a pair of hiking boots from eBay. I'm not really sure what size they are or what they're made from, but I don't totally hate the color, and from the photo it looks like they might fit okay. Or well enough. I don't want to spoil the fun by trying them on before the hike. Good idea?"

No. Learn to take a walk around the block (not a euphemism for sex) before deciding to embark on a hike of thousands of unknown, difficult, demanding, possibly dangerous miles in a pair of mail-order shoes. You haven't been able to bring yourself to speak to the guy you think you might be actually interested in, or simply contact him to say "hey, the next time you're in town, I'd love to see you for a cup of coffee if you aren't too busy" (or similar), but are seriously considering legally tying yourself (for maybe 50-60 years or so? depending on how you feel about divorce?) to someone you hardly know and aren't attracted to? Just because he happens to be willing, and somebody else you don't know thought you might make a cute couple? Do you feel like this is even the tiniest bit logical? No.

Marriage is the long haul. Marriage is living with all the sights and sounds and smells of someone, every day, even when they are sick, or grouchy, or stubborn, or petulant, or worse. It's waking up to the same face every day and lying down with the same body every night. It's always having to negotiate every. single. decision. It's hearing the same jokes and stories again and again. It's hearing them poop and puke and chew and slurp and gargle and clear the phlegm from their throat and blow their nose and crack their knuckles and scratch their ass. It's smelling their feet and morning breath. It's seeing them pick their nose, or their pimples, and cut their toenails. Do you understand? Do you know what makes that okay? Being truly in love with that burping, farting, slurping, snotty, smelly person* makes it okay. Because that's not what you see when you look at them, you see a person you love who loves you, through all the indignities and pain of being human rather than an ideal concept. Being in love with love, or the idea of love/marriage does not lift you on perfumed wings over the long haul. Only love joined with decency, honesty, kindness, respect and patience can do that thing, and there's no shortcut for that. You have to take the small steps before you take the big steps, and the shoes have to fit.

* we are all that person.
posted by taz at 5:13 AM on October 5, 2013 [206 favorites]

Best answer: I'm no expert (despite being nearly twice your age, so, you know - no fool) but -

Re B - surely the Right Man For You is one whose company makes you feel so happy and relaxed that you're able to be totally yourself, not someone you have on such a high and distant pedestal that he makes you too anxious to even speak?

Re P - perhaps you should just read the advice you gave to someone else on AskMe four months ago (switching genders as appropriate)?
Frankly, you shouldn't be marrying her if you're having doubts during the honeymoon phase and if you two haven't spent a lot of time together in person. Long distance can be fun and exciting due to the roller coaster ride of emotions that you often feel but from personal experience and scientific literature, I can assure you that it's an unstable foundation to built a lasting commitment, much less a lifelong commitment like marriage. I think you should slow down a bit and assess things a bit more clearly....

...I'm sensing that you just haven't had enough life experience to develop insight into what you want, need, and desire. You'll just know when you've met the one and this girl, sad as I am to say it, doesn't sound like she's it for you. Go out there and try on other girls for size. You'll soon find, like countless men before you, that good relationships are extremely hard to find and that the grass is usually never greener on the other side. Yet you'll persist and make a million more mistakes until you'll be ready for the long haul, which is perfectly OK.
posted by penguin pie at 5:45 AM on October 5, 2013 [9 favorites]

I make a living, a very good one, in essence as an oddsmaker and arbitrageur. There is much excellent advice above. I can tell you that if you get married now, with your mindset, the odds of your marriage lasting a significant amount of time is negligible. Why go through that? I do not mean to insult you, but you are obviously not ready for marriage yet, so why push it? Even the questions you ask indicate you do not have the psychological evolution to be in a constructive marriage. Go out and live for a while, rethink it in 5 years or so. Or, get married and you can come back here in 4 years and ask us for divorce advice (actually, 2.6 years). Either way, I wish you a great and happy life.
posted by jcworth at 5:47 AM on October 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I don't believe in asking people out; I think the guy should always make the first move.

Unlike pretty much everyone else I think this is fine, but then you do not get to pine after the guy who doesn't ask you out. If you decide that you have a deal-breaker, namely that a guy who is afraid of you or not into you enough to make the first move is not the type of guy you want to be with, then you should be relieved that this guy has revealed himself to be incompatible with you by his own actions. It was a nice fantasy, but if you need the type of personality who's going to make something happen, and he doesn't have it, oh well. Good thing you found out!

About an hour ago, he called me saying that he thinks it'd be best for our relationship if he moved temporarily to my college town so the distance wouldn't be a major issue for us as we navigate our first few months of engagement-dom.

It sounds like P is taking this engagement/marriage seriously, because he's an adult. And you are not, because although you're technically an adult, your maturity level is, as someone brilliantly said above, more like an adult in a novel written by a teen. This is just an assumption, but I'm thinking P is older, successful, stable, and the only thing he's missing is a wife who he can mold to fit into his already established lifestyle. So he finds a matchmaker, gives her a list that has the blood types and all that (which I assume, MBTI aside, are traditional things?) in addition to something like "young, college educated, and hot." Or maybe he'd be fine with a match his own age, who was not a model. In any case, he wants to make sure, now, that this is really going to work.

And I think you need to at least try to be as mature as the situation you've gotten yourself into, and make sure for yourself whether this is really going to work. I think you should have him come stay near you for maybe a month, and spend a lot of time together doing boring things like shopping for groceries, and see if you can envision yourself married to him for decades. I think you should not sleep with him, or B, or anyone yet, you do not sound mature enough to take that step. (Which is fine!) I doubt you will fall passionately in love with P over that time (btw if you want to marry for love why are you having your marriage essentially arranged on paper?) but you will be better able to asses your compatibility with him. And, very importantly if you do end up breaking the engagement, you'll also learn a lot about what real life qualities (not just age, job, etc) you are looking for.
posted by DestinationUnknown at 5:50 AM on October 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: The problem is that I've been trying to convince myself to fall in love with P and it's just not working.

Okay, I am just nthing this: do not marry him.

P was there for me when I tore my ACL, he was at the finish line of my first Ironman, he was on the phone with me when I found out I qualified for the national team, and he's always been there

For....four months? He's been there for four months. That's like someone saying they did a 5k and they think they'd like to qualify for Boston four months later. Or someone deciding their ACL rehab is over and done with in four months. I have had more dedicated, friendly, hand-on relationships with physical therapy regimes than you have had with P as described.

Look, I know it's rough, especially in college. I know it's tempting to fall into the trap that unless you fall in love with Prince Charming soon, which should be easy, because the princess always falls in love with Prince Charming as that's the whole point, you will never be loved or love. But it's not true. I think you should break it off with P. I think you should talk to B, on a normal level, maybe with coffee or by going for a run or something that friends might do. I think, more importantly, you should put your heart into your training, into your studies, into any of the other things that you love doing. You're going to be fine. You're going to be an elite athlete with a college degree: let me assure you, if your "matchmaker" found you someone willing to propose within four months, I'm pretty sure the real world will contain someone you love who will love you right back.

Don't get married to anyone without loving them first.

Just don't.
posted by jetlagaddict at 5:55 AM on October 5, 2013 [5 favorites]

Please read what you've written. You're contemplating marriage to someone you aren't attracted to and aren't in love with. The other guy, who you want to be your "first and last," is someone who you "think likes you back". Forgive me, but these are childish ideas about what relationships are like.

You want to believe that, with no relationship experience beyond a few dates, and no sexual experience either, you're going to select the perfect life partner right off the bat, and that'll be the end of it. I understand why that would be a nice thing to believe, but it's not going to happen that way, and trying to make it happen that way is a recipe for disaster.

You can't learn to play the piano without putting your hands on some pianos. You're not going to play the 1812 Overture perfectly the first time you sit down on a piano bench; it would be silly to think that you might. You cannot do it without practicing for years, and making a lot of mistakes. And being married is NOT less complicated than playing the piano.

There are seven billion humans on the planet. There isn't one special one who's been touched with a magic wand to make him perfect for you. Discard that idea. There are thousands of people, THOUSANDS, with whom you could have lasting, loving relationships. But you have to get to know who some of them are, and what they want. You have to get to know who you, yourself, are, and what you want. There is no way to do that without getting messy. You have got to roll up your sleeves, and wade in.
posted by Sing Or Swim at 5:57 AM on October 5, 2013 [9 favorites]

I'll just add one thing. You are really culturally different from the median person on AskMe (Romney event, goal of young marriage, abstinence, no asking men out, etc.) So you may feel that much of the advice here doesn't apply to you.

So let me say this. It's fine that you're abstinent. It's fine that you have a matchmaker. It's fine that you don't ask men out. It's fine that you dig Mitt Romney.

But it's not fine to marry a man who you find sexually repellent and who you don't love. You say he wants to marry you. Would he want to marry you if you printed out this question and handed it to him? By marrying him you're not just making a mistake, which would be forgivable -- you're doing something really, really cruel to him. Don't do that.
posted by escabeche at 6:08 AM on October 5, 2013 [48 favorites]

Best answer: The external measures of compatibility--birth order, MBTI, etc--are just my neurotic way of ensuring scientific, objective compatibility.

And how did that work out for you? The several times you have been in B's presence, you have been unable to talk to him like a normal person, and the person you're engaged to is somebody you find yourself physically recoiling from.

Not to put too much of a point on it, but everything about you indicates you are putting up various barriers to any kind of emotional intimacy but cloaking it all in a veneer of romance and belief in the importance of compatibility. Your words -- that you want to be with B, that you seek a long term compatible marriage -- are in conflict with your actions: you actively avoid talking with B, you found a matchmaker who set you up with a fiancé you hardly know and don't want to physically be with, you seem to have little to no social interaction with men outside of first dates which would allow you to socialize with them and
figure out whom you're compatible with.

You are actively setting yourself up to be in a position where you never get to know men very well. You might want to think about why that is.
posted by deanc at 6:21 AM on October 5, 2013 [4 favorites]

Do what makes you happy. You're with your fiancee, not because you love him or he makes you happy, but because...why? I mean, he's your fall back. He's second place. That's not fair to him or you and you know it. Break it off with him. Do not let him move to be with you.

But B isn't perfection. He's perfect in your mind because he hasn't been spoiled in your brain by minor things like being in a relationship with you. Regret is the heaviest feeling in the world. It's fine if you don't want to ask him out, but that comes with a whole bunch of regret and what-coulda-beens that you will live with for the rest of your life, especially if you marry a man you do not love.

Look, you gotta go after the things you want, no one will give them to you. If you don't make your interest clear to people, then you are condemning yourself to a life where you don't get what you want, you get what you're offered.

You deserve better.

You're putting a lot of pressure into marriage right now and worrying a lot about it to the point that you're engaged to someone just because. That's not a great reason. You have a choice and it's not between B and P. It's between P or not P. B is a red herring.
posted by inturnaround at 6:28 AM on October 5, 2013 [4 favorites]

Best answer: I was really confused about some parts of your post:

1. Everything in the relationship was easy, I made sure we hit all the RESPECT compatibility matrix points that were important to me, we have matching blood types and birth orders, our MBTIs are compatible, and he's the most dedicated, wonderful guy anyone could ask for. He's just so perfect on paper!

What is with this matrix thing? And birth orders? Are you seriously implying that you went out to select your "ideal mate" based on your birth order and a matrix that a dating agency gave you?

2. So you haven't actually spoken, in person, to the person who you think is the love of your life, who you are wanting to trade in your fiance for? He lives somewhere far away and has "dropped by" your campus (this would entail an expensive plane ticket, right?), and then when he actually sees you or you see him, you avoid him and he doesn't find it worth the cost of his travel to just come over, grab you by the hand and say, "HELLO." (?) You saw him on New Year's Eve but he couldn't manage to step out of the bar which you were unable to get admittance to to speak with the woman with whom he has this deep and special bond?

3. Finally, you said that you may have agreed to marry B because he was around and agreed to give you an icepack when your leg hurt. I apologize that this went over my head, but were you saying this in like a metaphorical way or did you literally agree to marry someone for this reason? (I have never heard that particular expression before and just wanted to get straight on that point.)
posted by mermily at 6:37 AM on October 5, 2013 [7 favorites]

OMG I just realized you were the "ideal age gap in relationship" asker. Ok, that totally puts all the weird compatibility matrix talk in perspective. Baby, you have got to let go of all of that. Really and truly, that is not the way to pick your husband.
posted by mermily at 6:42 AM on October 5, 2013 [14 favorites]

In September, you were asking about the right age difference between men and women for marriage, and not a month later, you're worried about the fact that you're engaged to someone you don't think you can love.

I'd say not only should you break off this engagement, you should also cool things off in terms of trying to get yourself married. You're 21 years old...go enjoy life and stop trying to shoehorn marriage into your plans right now.
posted by xingcat at 6:43 AM on October 5, 2013 [3 favorites]

Break it off with P, not because of B but because of how you feel about P, which is not very strongly.
posted by Ironmouth at 6:59 AM on October 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: You want to believe B likes you. From your hopeful descriptions, it sounds like he does, but not enough. If he liked you enough and was truly interested in you (assuming you both have similar values re courtship), he'd take the lead and initiate something, and ask you out properly instead of hanging around sometimes and semi leading you on.

So if you truly want to be with B, you could try to pursue him or nudge things along, but it seems he's only semi-interested. (He doesn't seem incapable of initiating relationships; you mentioned he's been together with a girlfriend/ex-girlfriend.). It doesn't seem compatible with the value system you seem to have. I know you keep hoping on him, but I think you should let this go.
posted by aielen at 7:07 AM on October 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Are you from a traditional culture, which could help put all of this into perspective?

I'm about as non-traditional as they come, but I didn't date much and have only slept with my husband. All of that is fine. But you shouldn't marry people you don't love, and your "relationship" with B is nothing more than a fantasy. I know that 8 months feels like forever when you're 18--and 4 months can feel like very serious business when you're 21--but neither of these guys sound like people you know well enough to give (to use the parlance of more conservative culture) the gift of your virginity to. If you want to find a mate via a matchmaker, that's fine, but the person this matchmaker found you is a dud. You want to be swept off your feet by someone who you love, not slowly manipulated by someone who makes you feel bad about your romantic dreams.

Trust me, as someone still madly in love with a man she met at 18, romance is possible. I had crushes before him, some quite intense, but when the real thing happens, it won't be hard; all the pieces will click into place. And you'll know. I think you know that this isn't the guy for you.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:13 AM on October 5, 2013 [3 favorites]

1. Everything in the relationship was easy, I made sure we hit all the RESPECT compatibility matrix points that were important to me, we have matching blood types and birth orders, our MBTIs are compatible, and he's the most dedicated, wonderful guy anyone could ask for. He's just so perfect on paper!

I googled the RESPECT thing. The C stands for chemistry and the T for togetherness. You do not have those two things with your finance according to your own words. So if that is important to you, its a fail. You don't like the guy you are engaged to and that is a very real problem. You owe it to him to be honest about where you are at with your feelings and end things before he moves across the country for you. You have a responsibility to be fair to someone you are in a relationship with.

As for B, its a fantasy. You are projecting a fantasy onto a guy. That's not to say that he might not like you, be into you, find you attractive or anything, but the idea that this guy you've never spoken to in person is the guy you're going to marry and you will die without him is a romantic fantasy akin to something in Twilight. You owe it to yourself to break free of this way of thinking because nothing will ever live up to a fantasy and you deserve more than disappointment.

Maybe B flew back to your campus to see a a professor or interview for a job. Maybe he stayed in the bar because he was flirting with someone. Maybe he was looking at you on your birthday because you're friends and it was your birthday. Maybe he was at a Romney event because he supported Mitt. There are many reasons he could be in places that have absolutely nothing to do with you. You don't know and when you assign motives to him, its based on your bias and your fantasy of who he is.

If you want to try with B, then you're going to have to make some sort of move because so far you don't talk to him. Invite him to a group thing, go get coffee to catch up as friends or meet up at a gallery or museum you're both interested in. You have to stop living in a fantasy where he'll show up and declare his love for you and put some effort into it if a relationship with him will actually work. Also, learn to talk to him. Or move on. Worry about school, running, cool hobbies, politics and somewhere you'll bump into a guy you're attracted to, can talk to and can share your thoughts and feelings and you won't need this much worry and drama.
posted by GilvearSt at 7:15 AM on October 5, 2013 [4 favorites]

Best answer: "Sometimes I feel like it's just better for me to marry someone who loves me more than I think I could ever really love him..."

I did this at age 24. I was divorced within 3.5 years.

I haven't read all the comments, so forgive me if this is a repeat of what someone has already said. It sounds like you're trying to rationalize going ahead with marrying P. I also did that. DON'T DO THAT. You'll hurt so many more people than just P (his family, your family, friends, etc. etc. etc.)

Break it off with P. It's obvious you're not happy with him, and to drag him and family and friends through the whole thing because it's the "safe" thing for you to do is cowardly. Be brave, stand up for yourself, and go have an adventure.

Please note that your adventure may or may not involve B. I'll leave that to you to decide. But first, you've got to deal with your engagement. Go do that, go be brave, go be happy, go have your heart broken. Don't play it safe.

(And for the record, my husband and love of my life just brought me a cup of coffee and gave me a kiss. It can work out in the end if you take the time to really decide on what you want.)
posted by absquatulate at 7:40 AM on October 5, 2013 [3 favorites]

Best answer: As others have said above, I mean absolutely no offense by saying it, but you sound very unprepared to be married. You also sound like you really need some time to grow as a person.

Let me tell you why people need to test their compatibility and be together for a while before deciding to stick together for the long haul.

My partner and I have a very happy union. We work well together, we support each other, and 95% of the time, we really enjoy being around each other.

But here are the kinds of frustrations we have to work with (and any couple has to work with):
  • Dealing with each others' obnoxious habits. We all have them. I drive my partner nuts because I sometimes stay up too late at night, and then I'm awake at the crack of dawn... and crabbier all day because I lost sleep. My partner drives me nuts sometimes by her habit of being very talkative, even when I am very clearly trying to get some rest... just leave me alone for a bit and let me take a nap! We both work on breaking our bad habits, but even when two people are wonderfully matched for each other, they're still going to have to tolerate things that the other person does.
  • Dealing with different likes and dislikes. My partner loves cats and it makes her very happy to have pets. I can't stand cats sometimes, but it's important to her, so I work to be accepting and tolerant. Some people love going out to get Chinese food, while their partners hate it. Some people enjoy going out for a drink, and others don't. People have to learn how to accommodate each other in their different hobbies and interests.
  • Dealing with times when your partner is gross, unsightly, not very pleasant. In Disney movies, partners don't fart, stink up the bathroom, get sick and puke, eat something bad and get the runs, look like hell after a really long day of work or taking care of a child... but in real life, that happens. Regularly. Even when people work hard to look good for each other, stay cleaned up, and avoid turning each other off.
  • Dealing with external pressures. A lost job. A problem with the apartment or house you are living in. Stressful times at work thanks to a bad boss or coworkers. A car accident. A family issue. Expect a major external pressure every year... or even multiple pressures going on at once. Partners have to figure out how to problem solve, relieve stress, and work to get something handled without turning on each other.
  • Dealing with the bedroom. Even when two people are extremely compatible, there will still be some days where you have bad sex (or sex that just isn't that exciting). Or no sex at all, because one person is too exhausted or is completely out of the mood when the other one is... et cetera. This happens to every couple... to some more than others, but it happens to everyone.
Are you ready to deal with all of these frustrations? If you are truly as you describe yourself in this question, then the answer seems obvious... absolutely not. You can't be prepared to deal with these things unless you know someone well, you are secure in yourself, you are an adult who is ready to face the ups and downs in life, and you realize that life is not a Disney movie. I get it... we are all young at some point, and almost all of us have Disney expectations for our romantic life when we are in high school or even in our college years. But we go through the school of hard knocks, get some experience, have good and bad relationships, learn to stand on our own two feet, learn some lessons, and realize how things really work. Then we're ready for the long haul.

Again, no offense meant whatsoever. Just trying to tell you what I think you need to hear, even if it isn't pleasant... because I'd like to hear from you in the future here on MeFi and hear you are doing well!
posted by Old Man McKay at 7:46 AM on October 5, 2013 [11 favorites]

Best answer: The thing with B sounds like a crush to me. Just a simple crush. I don't see anything in your description of events with him that sounds like anything more than a hopeful young person embroidering a crush into a fairy tale romance.

The same thing used to happen to me in college, mostly with guys in classes I did group work with. I'd analyze every glance, every offer for a ride after a long study session, and pine. I see questions here on AskMe from people doing the same thing almost weekly.

But, in my experience, the difference between having a crush on someone and reading too much into their actions, and finding someone who is also attracted to to you is always quite clear. In some little time, cards get laid on the table somehow and then an actual relationship progresses from there.

There's nothing wrong with having a crush on Essay Guy, but there's no evidence to suggest he's pursuing you and certainly none to suggest he'll be your "first and last."

Instead of directing so much energy into pining for unreciprocated affection, try directing that energy into your life, your school work, your hobbies, your friends, your family. Be the most amazing complete you that you can be.
posted by Squeak Attack at 7:46 AM on October 5, 2013 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Ok.

In your post, you talk about the transition from being an ugly duckling in high school to model-with-contracts. Now, I've never been a model, but I do know what the late transition-into-pretty is like. It is HARD. It is maybe the most disorienting thing that will ever happen to you in your life. Because it's not that *you* change, not really. The entire world changes overnight. All the little interactions with people that make up the texture of your day shift. It's not just about guys who are overtly hitting on you. It's everything from interactions with professors to the cashier who gives you your change to the way homeless guys shout at you on the street. Some of it is upsetting, but a whole lot of it feels like power, and it's dizzying to have suddenly been handed that power for what seems like no reason at all.

One way of thinking about being a newly pretty young woman is that it's like waking up one day and discovering your bank account has been filled with an obscene amount of a rapidly devaluing currency, like Zimbabwean shillings or Weimar Republic Deutschmarks or something. Today, you can buy whatever you want, but you know damned well that it's going to be worth less tomorrow, and even less the day after that. You're functionally very rich, but there's no real value behind all that wealth.

In a way, it's not surprising that you want to trade your youth and beauty in for something more substantial, and your read of the situation - that you're at the peak of your value, so you want to trade in your beauty *now* for things of real worth, like familial and financial security - strikes me as heartbreakingly astute. Reading your questions, it's obvious you take no real pleasure in your attractiveness; it's wholly instrumental for you. That, I imagine, is part of why you're eager to get married so early. You don't enjoy the little exchanges that come with dating, probably because you recognize how shallow and pointless they are. You want to make one big trade on the market; you want to get in and get out. I bet it feels like you're putting something over on P, a little bit: you know your beauty is going to fade, but his money and his commitment are lasting.

That, I think, is why B holds such an appeal for you. He's a symbol of a life before your looks came into play and gave you such unfair bargaining power in all of these interpersonal exchanges. Whatever you offered in exchange for his attraction to you (your ambitions, your thoughts, your sense of humor) was real. You don't hate or disdain him for being tricked by the lie of your prettiness, the way you kind of hate P. That's also, probably, why it's scarier to talk to B: because it's your actual self being assessed and valued, instead of the generic mask of Pretty Girl.

This is the deal: you're right in your read of the market. As a pretty 21 year old virgin, you are worth more to a certain type of 32 year old financier than you will ever be worth again. If that's the trade you want to make, you should make it now. More importantly, your looks are going to be a part of every trade you ever make: even if you went for B instead of P, you'd never know for sure if it was your looks that sealed the deal. That is the way of the world.

But there are other possible exchanges. The 100,000,000 deutschmarks of prettiness that just showed up in your account might seem like they make the $10 of your intelligence seem worth less than nothing, but that $10 has value, too. And unlike the deutschmarks, you can add to them, and it will be worth more tomorrow than they're worth today.

Here's a thought experiment for you: if, tomorrow, you shaved your head and got a grotesque piercing and wore baggy t-shirts and combat boots (in other words, if you preemptively emptied your bank account of all that pretty) what would the world look like? How would you feel? Would you be sad that your bargain with P was off the table? Would you feel terrified and powerless because the one thing that gave you power in the world was gone? Or would you feel a little bit free - to talk to B, to stop rushing to trade in your youth for security, to figure out what else you have to offer?

My advice is this: A 22 year old virgin is worth functionally as much as a 21 year old virgin, and 32 year old youth-obsessed financiers are a dime a dozen. If any of this rings any kind of bell, break off your engagement with P. Put the modeling on hold. Think about what you really want and what you're worth. You are not locked in to the youth and beauty market. You don't have to make that kind of trade. You are free to do so, if you want to, of course. But from everything you've written, I'm guessing that you don't.
posted by pretentious illiterate at 7:58 AM on October 5, 2013 [63 favorites]

1) I read a lot of relationship self-help books because I'm writing my senior thesis on predictors of martial instability. I'm sort of obsessed with divorce prevention.
2) God, you just said what I really needed to hear.
- So you haven't actually spoken, in person, to the person who you think is the love of your life, who you are wanting to trade in your fiancé for? --> No
- He lives somewhere far away and has "dropped by" your campus (this would entail an expensive plane ticket, right?), and then when he actually sees you or you see him, you avoid him and he doesn't find it worth the cost of his travel to just come over, grab you by the hand and say, "HELLO." (?) --> No
- You saw him on New Year's Eve but he couldn't manage to step out of the bar which you were unable to get admittance to to speak with the woman with whom he has this deep and special bond?--> No. Ouch, I never thought of it that way. Maybe he was there and then at the gala I went to after seeing him for some other reason, like free food or something.

- You're all right in that B doesn't appear to have serious feelings for me. I really need someone who is dominant and able and willing to make the first move. I do know from our prior conversations that he had a history of womanizing popular girls on his campus when he was my age, so it stands to reason that he has zero approach anxiety with different girls. Even if I'm a bit mousy, he'd have come after me if I was what he really wanted.
- You're also right that I said yes to P for stupid reasons.
posted by lotusmish at 8:22 AM on October 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

When you write about marriage you seem like you're writing about finding a roommate not finding someone you can commit to being with, loving, and supporting for better or for worse. Marriage is not about the plans you make or the dreams you have but about the things you didn't plan on and the nightmares that lurk around all of us. Marriage is about getting cancer but having someone who has committed to sticking it out with you, all in - whatever that ends up meaning, it is about making a human being with someone from scratch and being responsible for loving them unconditionally - whomever they turn out to be, its about committing to being there when your spouse can no longer wipe their own ass and loving them no less while you do it.

P doesn't sound like you mean this to him, and B doesn't sound like you know anywhere near enough about him to even be thinking on this level, but you know what? THAT IS TOTALLY OK. You don't need to be thinking on this level and B sounds like someone who would be great to date.
posted by Blasdelb at 8:26 AM on October 5, 2013

Mod note: lotusmish - please keep updates to answering requests for more information and don't threadsit. Thanks.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:26 AM on October 5, 2013

Best answer: On lack of preview, wow is P deciding to fly across the country to try and 'convince' you into a relationship with him dramatically not ok. If he can't respect your agency enough to respect your cold feet he has zero business weaseling his way into anything.
posted by Blasdelb at 8:30 AM on October 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

Even if I'm a bit mousy, he'd have come after me if I was what he really wanted.

B did come after you, several times ("20-30"), and you rejected him by being silent and blushing and being unable to carry on a conversation like a normal person.

You're the female version of that guy who gets described as "intense" and wonders why he can't find a date. Your issue, like his, is that you don't realize that members of the opposite sex are normal human beings with desires, motivations, and inner lives, not mysterious beings whom you attempt to decode while they play the role as supporting characters in the dramatic novel that makes up your life.

And you're kind of acting the same way, annoyed that men aren't using the specific code phrases and acting out the specific behaviors that unlock your "love" door. Actually, except for P, who did and has all the right things, and now you're wondering why you're not in love with him.
posted by deanc at 8:40 AM on October 5, 2013 [9 favorites]

1) I read a lot of relationship self-help books because I'm writing my senior thesis on predictors of martial instability. I'm sort of obsessed with divorce prevention.

No decent psych will say that "Ah, you and your fiancé are destined to divorce because you and he are from incompatible birth orders," or make any guarantees about your happiness based on observed trends across large groups of people.

Your desperate desire to be married is interfering with your ability to think rationally. Your youth and inexperience aren't helping. And your brain? Your brain is physically not done forming yet - there are neural connections that aren't completed until about age 25, so no matter how mature you are in some respects, you're still in (late) adolescence.

Do yourself a favor and take your time. You have nothing to lose by waiting until you are someone who can bring a person (you!) who knows how to be a whole person by herself to a relationship, and a great deal to lose by committing yourself before you even become yourself.
posted by rtha at 8:44 AM on October 5, 2013 [2 favorites]

Do not marry someone before you are out of college (at least).
Do not marry someone you haven't known for at least a year.
Do not marry someone because a clock is ticking.

Seriously. Are you seeing any counselor on campus? If you aren't, could you please, please, please look into seeing one? That's relatively easy to get hooked up with in college, and you clearly need more help sorting things out that the Internet can do for you. Also, I am scared for you if you are hellbent on hopping into one relationship or another ASAP.

With regards to B: He may like you, but not enough to be the dominant male of your dreams. Either you accept that he's not going to make the first move and you move on (which it sounds like you're leaning towards), or you ask him out online in any way you can get up the nerve to do, because you won't find out otherwise. I can't tell if he likes you overmuch or not or just assumes you're too awkward or uninterested or immature to date (if I were him, I might back off from a woman who literally can't speak to me in public and think she's not emotionally ready to date anyone), but if you can't stand not knowing, you will have to ask.

Also: it is 2013 and yeah, you do sound like someone from a previous generation who needs to get married off before she expires and has to save your virginity for that. This isn't how most of the western world works now. And it is a super bad idea to save your virginity for marriage. Maybe save it for engagement, but not marriage. One of the main points of marriage is to HAVE SEX WITH SOMEONE. If you have no idea what that's like before you marry him, you will be unpleasantly surprised. A lot of people say they want to save their virginity for marriage as an excuse to not have sex with someone and then after they're married, it's like surprise, too bad! You're trapped now! Happened to a relative of mine, even. I don't necessarily think that's something you are deliberately trying to pull on P, but it would suck ass for your husband if you realize afterwards you can't stand to have sex with him.

I think you sound like you really want to be trapped into marriage and married off right this second for some reason. I'm guessing parental pressure/culture/Republican parents/Indian parents, something like that. But if you hop into that now, you will desperately want a divorce by age 22 or 23 at the outside. You aren't ready, you don't like this guy, and marriage is freaking hard even when you love the person (or so others tell me). Plus if he's 32 and pursuing a virgin who doesn't even live where he does, there's something very weird about him, and it makes me wonder if he's going to be pushy towards you when the chips come down because you are young, innocent, and easily steamrolled over. Dominant Males are not always nice to deal with (but you already saw what I said in the last post about watching out for that).

If you don't like kissing P now, how are you going to stand it when he is touching your naked body all over and PUTTING HIMSELF INSIDE YOUR BODY, squirting his sperm all over your insides, possibly making you pregnant (at which point you are trapped with dealing with him forever)? You would need to have the emotional detachment of a professional sex worker to be able to handle that without being traumatized/screaming and running away, and dear lord, you don't have that. I'm squicked out just thinking about it myself. If you don't want to have sex with a guy, you can't marry him. It's not doing either of you any favors to do so.
posted by jenfullmoon at 9:12 AM on October 5, 2013 [8 favorites]

Sweetie, I mean this as fervently as any advice I've ever given on the Internet. You are not ready to be married. It's okay. Few 21 year olds are. Please break off the engagement.

Go find B. reexamine your reasons waiting until marriage. If those are really your values than fine. If they're your parents values, than let it go. Don't let anybody devalue you or use you, but it's okay to have sex in a committed relationship just make sure you use protection.
posted by bananafish at 9:14 AM on October 5, 2013 [2 favorites]

"B and I have never had an in-person conversation,"
Until this happens, B is a Disney/anime/Harry Potter character about whom you can dream.
Being set up by a matchmaker might not be the norm in the US today, but it's less fantasy-making than planning your future with your on-line tutor who has not shown any indication of any romantic interest in you.
I think you should drop the time-table and P, and spend more time doing things with real live people, and see what happens.
posted by Ideefixe at 9:23 AM on October 5, 2013 [3 favorites]

Don't "go find B." If he had wanted to go on a date with you, he would have asked you on a date.

Finish college. Get a job. Think about what you want in your life.

What kind of cockamamie program are you in where you're simultaneously writing a thesis on "marital instability" and yet talking about nonsense like "blood type compatibility" and a "growing body of scientific research" that suggests partnerships between men and women decades their junior are somehow superior? Have you read actual scientific research on marriage and partnership by people like the Gottmans and Pepper Schwartz?
posted by Sidhedevil at 9:27 AM on October 5, 2013 [23 favorites]

And two of the happiest marriages I know of were arranged marriages. The difference is that the two couples in question were people who knew who they were and knew what they wanted from their lives and from marriage. They and their families talked closely with the matchmakers about their personalities, habits, values, and goals.

I can't imagine you having success with an arranged marriage at the moment because you don't know yourself and you don't know what you want out of marriage. Sexual compatibility is an extremely important factor in marital success, as you must know if you've read serious marriage research. Sure, in a matchmaking rather than dating situation, that generally needs to be established via mutual experiences and thoughts of attraction rather than sexual encounters, but your current match is already clearly inappropriate because you're grossed out by the thought of sex with this guy.
posted by Sidhedevil at 9:36 AM on October 5, 2013

Should I break off my engagement and tell P that I'm just not ready?

Yep! Approximately 100% of MeFi commenters here have your back on this.

By the way: when you break up with P (for very valid reasons including "I'm not sure what I want from life right now" and "P, you're a great person, I just don't feel about you the same way you feel about me, and I don't think that will change"), it's possible that he will react with great sadness or anger. He may try to talk you out of it by reminding you of all the good and kind things he's done for you (which, let's be clear, may have been good and kind... but no one is owed your love). He may call you crazy. Know that you are not crazy, and reassure yourself that you are capable of making rational decisions that are true to how you feel.

You may feel sad or upset after breaking up with P, and that's okay. Change can be upsetting. Be kind to yourself as you get to know yourself a bit more. Take it slow. Maybe you can talk about it over some wine or tea or cookies with your closest female friends, or some other people who know you well.
posted by nicodine at 9:56 AM on October 5, 2013 [2 favorites]

Best answer: When I hit age 21, I was engaged to the perfect guy on paper—my friends called him Superman, because he was taller, smarter, more handsome, and more talented verbally, musically, and mathematically than just about anyone else. Our relationship was also long-distance, and he was also in a bit of a rush to get married. He also had great earning potential—he now works for a tech company you've heard of, traveling the world for his work. He also had these "scientific" ideas about the importance of getting married and starting a family by a certain "optimal" age, remaining abstinent until marriage—oh, and "saving" me by getting me to become a Christian. Basically, he wanted me to be me, but also check off a few boxes while I was at it.

It felt like magic when we met, but as our relationship went on, I grew restless. He and I really did get each other on a deep level, but he also began to seem very judgmental of my friends and, well, me. (I wonder: How does P get along with your friends, or has he even met them? Could you ever see him hanging out with them or, like, coming over for game night?) I also felt like I had unfinished business with some other guys and needed to explore those potential relationships, now that I was out of my own ugly-duckling stage.

Ultimately, a few months after turning 21, I broke off our engagement—and it was the best possible thing I could have done.

Like you, I romanticized the hell out of everything. Everything was part of some grand Richard Bach–style narrative, everything was "meant to be" or "not meant to be," and I justified that with some pseudoscientific mumbo jumbo, too. (Guess what: It's not hard to find someone who shares your damn blood type or MBTI type or place in the birth order!) Now, it's not a bad thing to have imaginative, romantic feelings about the person you're with and look for things that confirm those feelings—in fact, part of why my now-husband and I clicked is that he made me believe in the supernatural again. The shared creation of a positive narrative, as the Gottmans will tell you, is actually an important predictor of marital success. But it doesn't sound like you have that with P. What do you guys even talk about—what binds you together beyond shared striving? If you suffer a setback (beyond an ACL tear), will he still be there for you? Less seriously, do you share in-jokes and laughter?

I don't know what the future holds for you, but I agree that you should break off your engagement to P.
posted by limeonaire at 10:06 AM on October 5, 2013 [4 favorites]

Best answer: I said this in your last post but it's all the more pressing to say now: I got married around your age. I wasn't ready and had misgivings, and while it went well for a while, it was not right and ultimately didn't work. You are much less ready than I was, and have much more misgivings, and this is a much worse idea still.
posted by ead at 10:09 AM on October 5, 2013

Best answer: Yeah, I came in to mention that I'm not sure if you're from a culture that values arranged marriages. I have several friends who are from a culture that values arranged marriages, and who are in arranged marriages, and another friend who is from a similar culture, but who chose her spouse herself, outside of a familial arrangement. In all cases, although the women had a checklist, and basically ran the first encounter as a job interview, they ended up in happy marriages. How?

1) They didn't say yes to the first man presented to them. One of them ended up with her husband because she had previously rejected 11 possible suitors, and her now-husband had rejected 17 women presented to him as possibilities, and both of their families were so fed up that it was figured that maybe two picky people would hit it off BECAUSE of their pickyness.
2) The women had a firm grasp of who they were, and what they wanted. And when I say that, I don't mean birth orders and blood types. I mean, one of them had a habit of saying in college, "I don't need Prince Charming, I'll ride in on a horse and save my own damn self!" And she's still that strong and independent. She knew she needed to be with a man who would respect that, not try to break her of it.
3) They were all educated, out of college, and had their own careers already started. You may or may not want to work once you're married, and that's ok either way. My point is that they *can* make their way in the world if they need to. Husbands don't just leave due to divorce. They can also fall over dead sometimes too, and you need to be able to support yourself if that happens.
4) They still had a strong sexual attraction to the men they chose. They were at least curious about what it would be like to be in bed with the guy, and looking forward to that time.

If you're a white, Western European Protestant descendant in the US, your desires are outside of the cultural norm. And that's ok! But it means that you may need to look outside your culture - not as a tourist or a romanticist, but on a very practical academic level - to see how women solve the situation you've set up for yourself.
posted by RogueTech at 10:09 AM on October 5, 2013 [8 favorites]

Just to clarify, I'm Indian, P is half-Indian and half-British, and B is Jewish-American.
posted by lotusmish at 10:11 AM on October 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I have skimmed through many of the responses at this late date in the thread, so I hope I will not be repetitive. First, I want to say that I think you and I may be of a very similar mind regarding these issues. I favor abstinence until marriage, prefer marriage at a young age, and have no problem at all with arranged marriages such as the process you have gone through.

B is an easy matter to address. As some have noted, B is an online crush that you have built up into a fantasy character in your head. It is an internal fascination. You are in love with your own thoughts.

P is a bit more complicated. More generally, I am concerned with "trying to convince myself to fall in love with P and it's just not working". If you think that being "in love" is a necessary element for a marriage, you are mistaken. I think no small amount of marriages divorce for no other reason than someone lost that "in love" feeling. Then they go on to the next one until being "in love" fades, and so the cycle goes on. Assuming you and I are of the same mind regarding such things, the purpose of marriage is not to have a gushy "in love" feeling but to make you each holy through mutual self-sacrifice.

That said, you don't necessarily have to push through your misgivings and marry P. But, I don't think we (or maybe even you) have enough information to make that call. For example, I don't know where "I just don't know if it's such a good idea to marry the first guy who expresses a serious, prolonged interest in me." comes from. Why couldn't it be a good idea? It might be a good one or it might not. It depends on P as a person, not when he happened to meet you. An anecdote for what it's worth - my parents met in 9th grade and recently celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary. My mother gave birth to me when she was your age.

The one thing that really gave me pause was "the idea of engaging in anything other than hand-holding with P makes me sick". While I agree with your premarital abstinence and am the last person to go on about "sexual compatibility", your spouse shouldn't make you sick. But then in the next sentence, "I want my first and last to be B, not P." Does that mean doing anything with anyone other than B makes you sick? If your crush on B is what makes relations with P a problem, that is not a problem with P. P's not being B does not make P defective.

To be clear, I am not saying to stay with P, but I don't think you have an automatic dealer breaker. I think it would be prudent to put the engagement on hold until you answer these issues. Then, you can make your decision.

Good luck.
posted by Tanizaki at 10:14 AM on October 5, 2013 [4 favorites]

I'm writing my senior thesis on predictors of martial instability. I'm sort of obsessed with divorce prevention.

If you've been doing your homework, you'll already know that sexual incompatibility is a (perhaps even the) major predictor there.

You might want to re-examine the whole Virginity Is Precious thing; reflect on its origins in the notion of women as property, if that helps. Also on the fact that it's a view dating from well before the age of cheap, reliable contraception.

Sex can be cheap and nasty and meaningless, or a transcendentally beautiful expression of deep emotional connection, or anywhere in between. But it's so not supposed to be about Her giving herself to Him like some kind of trophy or trinket, and being a virgin does not make sex better, and not being a virgin doesn't make a person "damaged goods".
posted by flabdablet at 10:19 AM on October 5, 2013 [3 favorites]

Best answer: ye gods! it may be the subject of your senior thesis, but i know more about predictors of marital stability than you do, because i'm a 58 y.o. retired lawyer with several hundred divorces under my belt, and i had a stock question i occasionally posed to my old clients who needed to hear it:

"do you aspire to be the quarterback of your own life, or just the football?"

right now, you're just the football, and P is treating you like one. that wasn't an elite matchmaker you hired, it was a commodity broker, and P went into the market for a very special ornamental commodity, engaged one, and now he's flying out to live in your city because he wants to assure continued possession of the ball until he can reach the matrimonial endzone. this is hella creepy, ask yourself why a 32 y.o. financier couldn't find a suitable woman in the conventional, spontaneous fashion. then ask him about his dating/relationship history, he should be as upfront as you were, and it will be the tale of a loser.

so, how do you become a quarterback? there's a guy in your chem lab who's "bugging" you, why not go out on a practice date with him? you would be under no obligation to have sex or so much as kiss him, but you could at least sit down and talk with him, and you would learn as much about yourself and whatever it is you want as you would learn about him. keep it low key, casual, slow-paced. you need a lot of practice before you reach the matrimonial endzone, and you want to be the one calling that play, right?

life isn't a jane austen novel. mr. darcy isn't real.
posted by bruce at 10:21 AM on October 5, 2013 [30 favorites]

Here's another thing: You should know that regardless of who you ultimately marry, you may still have dreams and thoughts and curiosity about the ones who got away, years later. My married coworkers have confirmed it—I'm not the only one who has weird dreams about exes (or crushes like B), even though I'm strictly monogamous and have never cheated on my husband. (I walk the line, dammit!) They've kind of just become fixtures of my imagination, part of my internal narrative.

And that's why I didn't really address the B thing—when I was about to break off my engagement, I had someone like B who I focused on, an old friend who I decided I wanted to hook up with, rather than stay with my fiancé. But it soon became clear, once I'd broken off my engagement, that he was just a foil, someone who definitely didn't feel that strongly for me and who quickly and awkwardly disappeared from my life shortly thereafter. He unfortunately didn't have all the qualities I projected onto him in the midst of my breakup. I have no way of knowing whether B will be that person for you, though.

Another thought: Knowing that Indian culture may be a factor here does put things in perspective a little, especially since P is mixed, because I remember how difficult it was for a (white) friend of mine who converted to Islam to find a wife who shared his new religion and culture, and how difficult it was for his now-wife, who I believe is Indian, to do the same. I wouldn't judge P quite as harshly for trying to hold onto you and "seal the deal," knowing that about his background. But...Tanizaki has some good advice. You probably at very least need to take a break to get some perspective on the matter.
posted by limeonaire at 10:38 AM on October 5, 2013

Just to clarify, I'm Indian, P is half-Indian and half-British, and B is Jewish-American.

Ah, ok, so yes culture may matter very much here. In which case, Tanizaki's advice might resonate with you more. Still, I think the chorus of "P is not right for you" is still probably true. The arranged marriages I mentioned above are Indian, with the self-arranged marriage being that of a Egyptian-American Muslim.

That said, it also makes more sense as to why you're visiting a matchmaker at 21, and how you could be engaged to someone not in the same city as you. I have witnessed this several times, and have seen (what appear to be) decent marriages come of it.

That said, if you do post another question, you may want to mention, if it feels appropriate, your cultural background and if arranged marriages are a norm for your peer group. Many of the responses you are seeing here are from a Western European or Western European descendant point of view, and you may get answers that are more appropriate to where you are coming from if you include your background in your question.

Fundamentally, as you've found, a partner can be good on paper but not good in real life. The good news is, there are probably a lot of men out there who can fulfill the very practical check boxes you have, while still also fulfilling the other emotional needs you have.

I'm in the process of attempting to break things off with P.

I liked this. However, I would suggest that the next time you're ready to enter a contract, that you be ready to enter a contract. One thing I have noticed (as a US based white Westerner European Catholic descendant) is that the arranged marriages are viewed in a much more practical, business-like way. On a personal note, I sometimes wonder if the standard model of my culture could use a bit more of an infusion of this - I think I would have thought about things a bit more differently if I also considered myself to be going into business with Mr. Tech. I mean, in a lot of ways, it is similar - we share money, and property, and negotiate contracts on one another's behalf. We just have the added emotional component as well.

Anyways, what I was going to say is this: be sure you're mature enough to enter into a sixty year contract the next time you decide to get engaged. This means, among other things, thoughtful, contemplative decision making. Right now, it feels to me as though you are still standing wide-eyed in the market, looking at All! The! Possibilities! You need to be more in a place of viewing all of your options - all of your well-researched and *known* options, and saying to yourself from a place of centered stability, "Yes, yes this one will do nicely."
posted by RogueTech at 10:38 AM on October 5, 2013 [2 favorites]

You know what, though?

Yeah, in Indian culture, arranged marriages are a thing, and getting engaged to someone you've only met a few times who lives across the country (or even in another country) is a thing, and getting married young is maybe sort of a thing in certain communities, etc etc etc.

That still doesn't mean marrying P is a good life choice.

Just because a person intends to go into an arranged marriage doesn't mean that the person necessarily has to choose, like, the worst possible arranged marriage that sounds like something from a Deepa Mehta movie. You can definitely still choose to marry someone you're attracted to, who you have things in common with, who is an equal to you, and who is a good fit for you outside of gimmicky crap like blood type. You can even have all that and also have the traditional "arranged marriage" goals like a good provider your parents approve of who is from the right part of India and the right religion and all.

If you're still interested in an arranged marriage, go back to the matchmaker and meet a zillion more men, until you find someone you can actually see yourself with in real life rather than a character from a novel that was short-listed for the Booker Prize. And, in general, stop seeing yourself as a character in one of those novels, too. And, hey, maybe go date a non-Indian for shits and giggles, too, just to see if that does anything for you.
posted by Sara C. at 11:09 AM on October 5, 2013 [10 favorites]

Best answer: So I am an Indian, who grew up in India, and I can tell you that arranged marriages are not all they're cracked up to be. I think that there is a tendency to romanticize them especially by Indians who didn't grow up in India -- I can see how it would seem a refreshing antidote to the craziness of college life here. But I've seen too many situations where the woman has no idea what she's getting into, only to run screaming away from the marriage a few years down the line. What has changed in my opinion is that Indian women of this generation are less willing to put up with the behavior that in previous generations was considered normal. This is a good thing, even if it leads to increased divorce rates.

I'm not saying they can't work -- but they require a hard-headed look at the odds of a particular marriage working out, not by a third-party matchmaker, who doesn't ultimately care about you, but by family and friends of the interested parties as well as the parties themselves. A 11 year age gap, especially when the woman is just 21, would be considered inappropriate by pretty much all Indians I know, whether they are the sort to consider arranged marriage or not. At that age, you really don't have the life experience to know exactly what you want. I certainly did not, but since I didn't feel any pressure to get married right away, I didn't make any life-ruining decisions. Take your time! You're young, you're beautiful, you're educated! Don't make a bad bargain now just because you're scared.
posted by peacheater at 11:30 AM on October 5, 2013 [11 favorites]

Best answer: What does your family think of this match with P? Do you feel like your family members know your personality well? What do your friends think about your match with P? Do you feel like your friends know your personality well?

Again, in the arranged marriages I know that work so well, the marriages were created in a context of loving families and friends who wanted what was best for all the parties involved. Thinking of the couple I know best, all of J's longtime friends (including those of us who would never consider arranged marriages for ourselves because that wasn't in our own cultural background) were excited for him to find someone who shared his intellectual curiosity, his dry sense of humor, his good nature, and his love of travel and adventure, as well as the cultural and religious values that are deeply important to him.

What do the people who know you well want in a potential spouse for you? Not weird arbitrary pseudo-scientific nonsense like blood type or some "magic number" of age difference supported by bad research (you actually never cited the "growing body of research" that claimed husbands should be way older than wives, you know). What qualities do people who know and love you think would make you happy in a spouse?
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:02 PM on October 5, 2013 [3 favorites]

"Fed up with my lack of serious prospects, around four months ago, I procured an elite matchmaker to find me a husband."

Lotusmish, around four months ago you posted a question to Ask that got deleted. I think you should reread that question and do some serious reflection about the state of mind you were in at that point, and also about your current thought processes.

This thread is full of good advice, I hope you find some of it helpful. Best of luck.
posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 12:08 PM on October 5, 2013 [2 favorites]

So, last night I noticed your reply to this question indicating you and your fiancé's ethnicities. I went looking for that, because you mentioned birth order and blood type and whatnot, so I actually guessed your ethnicity in advance. But when I answered, I decided to kind of leave that alone, because in principle it doesn't matter--your parents didn't arrange this marriage and aren't pushing you into it, so this is (theoretically) you making your own decision.

And I've certainly known a good number of couples with arranged marriages that fit the culturally-sensitive narrative wherein marriages based on practical criteria and/or religious aims worked out regardless of the couple's initial affection for each other. That happens, and you're not wrong to take that as a cue for being able to make things work if you choose based on practical criteria. But I've also known two Indian couples well enough to understand their marriages based on practical criteria had remained unaffectionate as hell. It's wrong to assume that's the norm, but that happens too.

The work of sustaining a long-term relationship--the compromises, the careful and considerate attending to the other's needs, etc.--that frequently leads to the long-term feelings of warmth and comfort in another person can be done in both marriages that begin with infatuation and those that don't. You'll have the opportunity to do that work either way.

Speaking as someone who has achieved a long-term happy marriage, I have to say it is awesome to have started out on the basis of pure infatuation. It's a time that glows in your memories. For that first six months to two years, you etch in hundreds of amazing experiences of each other that you return to over and over and over. If things do get hard later on, it's like a honeycomb of memories you can go back to for sweet reminders of why you're with this person and how amazing they've always been and why this is the thing you don't want to screw up.

Yes, while you're infatuated, you should also be establishing habits that matter in the long run: being affectionate and respectful; expressing admiration and praise (almost exclusively--criticism is poisonous); being honest; having good conversations; learning what you can both do together for fun; sharing the chores and/or financial burdens in some mutually agreeable way; understanding each other's familial obligations; and last but by no means least learning what makes each other satisfied in bed.

But if you have to do all that either way, why not have both? Why not fall in love, purely and simply, and also be careful to ensure both you and your partner are doing what it takes for something to take hold for good? If you feel the need to be practical, go be practical about your major or the skills you take the time to acquire; read a postcard's worth of advice on personal finance; keep a budget; pay off your debts quickly. You live in a society where that's enough to address economic issues. For your marriage, start by being happy and just keep making that happen.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 12:32 PM on October 5, 2013 [10 favorites]

Break up with P, break up with P, break up with P. Now. Completely.

I read a lot of relationship self-help books because I'm writing my senior thesis on predictors of martial instability. I'm sort of obsessed with divorce prevention.
So, you know that at least in the US, getting married before age 25 or so is a big predictor of later divorce. Wait. Grow up more. It is not a race.
posted by anotherthink at 12:44 PM on October 5, 2013 [5 favorites]

Best answer: Considering your posting history, but also going on just this question and your activity in the thread alone, I don't think your problem is with B or P or any other letters at all. There's got to be an underlying reason why you're so driven towards an unrealistic and idealized future, why you need it to happen now now now, why you give the impression of being culturally displaced not just from white americans but your own culture as well, in different ways. I think you need to work on experiencing life more, and pinpointing whatever that problem (or problems) is. Therapy is a stock AskMe answer but in your case I think you're desperate for someone to talk to, someone who isn't your mother or someone else who has a vested interest in making you behave in any particular way (apart from healthily.) More than anything, it sounds like you need friends your own age who live nearby. Learn from them and with them and see just how much it isn't race.
posted by Mizu at 1:01 PM on October 5, 2013 [10 favorites]

I hate to dig for context in posts in other threads, but in this case it's hard to tell what's going on without a decent amount of cross referencing. Am I correct in thinking that you're been engaged for less than half a week, have not told your family, just broke your leg, and find yourself to be generally reclusive and socially isolated? Honestly, if this is the case, a long distance engagement with someone someone a decade older than you that suddenly wants to move to your town sounds like a recipe for an absolute clusterfuck of a [hopefully brief] engagement/marriage filled with controlling and manipulative behavior. You deserve better; please give some thought to sorting this all out with a good therapist.
posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 1:29 PM on October 5, 2013 [5 favorites]

So I'm going to chime in one more time. In your posting history it looks like you have a background of really bad family abuse. It is likely that this has enormous bearing on the prism through which you are perceiving your entire romantic experience and your self worth. A lot of the judgment that you've shared are making people do a double take, because a lot of this is not normal.

You talk about this avid research you are doing about healthy relationships and the statistics that you have come up with. You might be feeling like something is wrong with you and you need to search out the answer to fulfillment and satisfying relationships through self help books, etc. If you have a history of abuse, then all of that is not shut off for you, but it might require avenues more like therapy and less like the self help and psychology degrees and intensive plastic surgery you have alluded to here and in the previous posts.

Sorry, I hope that's not too straight up. I guess I feel for you so I wanted to say that too.
posted by mermily at 1:56 PM on October 5, 2013 [5 favorites]

i think you need therapy. not a husband. you are trying to use marriage to solve some other problem in your life. go figure out what that problem is and get some help for it. any marriage you get into anytime soon will inevitably lead to divorce because you are in no way ready for marriage.
posted by wildflower at 2:08 PM on October 5, 2013 [4 favorites]

Best answer: It is totally possible to have a relationship work because you decided on a practical rather than a romantic basis to commit to that relationship for practical rather than romantic reasons. And sometimes it works. For practical rather than romantic people. You are, on top of everything else, not that person, at least not at this stage in your life. Let it flow, don't force it.
posted by Sequence at 2:44 PM on October 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

Please don't do this. You are 21, and you don't even like this guy. It can sometimes be an OK idea to get married at 21, but only if YOU personally (not your fiance!!!) have your act together, and if you've been with the person for a while - like, a few years, not a few weeks or months, AND - most importantly - if you are really certain you want to be with this person. None of those things are true. You are so, so, so young. You are still in college! I totally believe that "the one" is a choice you make, but it needs to be an informed choice, and this...is not it. Walk away. Find someone you actually want to be with - maybe it's B, maybe not, but it clearly isn't P.
posted by goodbyewaffles at 2:45 PM on October 5, 2013

Also, in a way, I am very excited for you, because oh my god are you going to be in for a treat when you really properly fall for someone.
posted by Sequence at 2:46 PM on October 5, 2013 [2 favorites]

Simply put: you are too young and immature to get married.

That sounds harsh, but I don't mean it that way. Seriously, there is nothing wrong with you that a few years of dating and living as a human being won't fix.

You're going to fall in love with multiple amazing men. You're going to get your heart broken. It'll hurt like hell. It'll be the best thing that could ever happen to you. You'll fall in love again and you'll finally know it is right when you don't have any qualms (and realize the idea of asking MeFi who to marry is hilarious and adorably naive). You have so many exciting things to still experience - don't get married just so you can get divorced and jump straight into jaded-late-30s-dating. Do the fun twenties stuff! Live! It'll be great, I promise.
posted by leitmotif at 3:04 PM on October 5, 2013 [2 favorites]

On the one hand, marrying at age 21 can work: my parents were 21, my grandparents ranged from age 19-21; an uncle married the lady he still refers to as his bride when he was 18 and she was 17: they celebrate their 65th anniversary next month. All of 'em did the till-death-do-us-part thing, all were/are solid partnerships. I mention all this only as a data point: early marriage can work, but I'd also like to point out that all of these people *knew each other well* beforehand.

On the other hand, there's you: trying to decide between a guy you've never had ANY relationship with whatsoever (fantasies don't count!) and a guy you don't really know whose mere TOUCH squicks you out.....

You --- not all 21-year-olds, you specifically --- are way WAY to young to be marrying anybody at all: not B, not P. The kindest thing you can do for anyone (including yourself) is to call this whole thing off. And for cryin' out loud, you're only 21: skip the matchmakers, finish your schooling, grow up some more..... along the way, you'll meet TONS of wonderful people; this is NOT your only chance to marry or else be forever alone.
posted by easily confused at 3:46 PM on October 5, 2013

You've gotten so many responses that I almost didn't comment, but I did want to address the way you talk about B, because it reminds me so much of how I thought about crushes I had in my early twenties. And in retrospect, yes, it was all wishful thinking, but the reason I was engaged in that wishful thinking was that I wasn't ready for a real relationship. I didn't want to admit that to myself because there's a societal narrative out there that says you should be ready for a serious relationship in your early twenties (not marriage in my case, because I come from a less traditional background, but something serious nonetheless). But hey, we all have our own timelines. Personally, I think part of me knew that I had a lot of stuff I needed to do and ways I needed to grow before I could really commit to someone else. So in that way, I don't think it was the worst thing in the world.

And it might be the case for you that you just aren't ready. There's no one timeline and no rush.

But also, like you, I was strongly attached to "getting it right." I have always been a perfectionist, and I also wanted to avoid being hurt or wasting my time on someone who would disappoint me. And it was safer to convince myself that whatever guy I was crushing on was that perfect person for me than to actually risk something less than perfect, and/or risk getting hurt.

And I do regret that I didn't take more chances when I was your age. I doubt I would have ended up with any of those guys, but I would have had some more good times, and learned more about relationships and love.

On that note, be very careful with the "guys should make the first move" stuff. It's totally fine to have that as your philosophy, especially if you're looking for someone traditional, BUT it can also be a way to protect yourself from vulnerability and rejection. The thing is, for that approach to work, you do often have to put yourself out there at least a little bit. Traditional flirting is a dance, a back and forth - yes, the man does the asking out, but when it's done right, by the time he asks her out, he's reasonably sure she's interested, because she's dropped enough hints and touched his arm and played with her hair. It's like those Bollywood musicals from the 60s and 70s - the guy doesn't just go barreling in and swoop the woman up: she gives him a coy glance, she smiles and looks away, etc etc.

Good luck. And don't marry P.
posted by the essence of class and fanciness at 8:40 PM on October 5, 2013 [5 favorites]

If what you say is true, and I'm not saying it is, you're being manipulated by P. End it, focus on finishing your degree, and go out and live some sort of independent individual life, focused on your own professional goals and needs, before dating anybody else. You're not ready for any kind of relationship.
posted by Miko at 9:44 PM on October 5, 2013 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Hey there, you may remember me from your previous question. I met my husband when he was 20, and knew pretty quickly that he was a man I could spend the rest of my life with. We've been together for 18 years next month.

You know what would have been a complete and unmitigated disaster? MARRYING him at 20. I married him at 28, after seven and a half years of dating, five years of joint home ownership, and two years of counseling. And that's someone whom I loved, whom I had intense chemistry with, whom I had extraordinary sexual compatibility with. If this guy -- if EITHER of these guys is the right guy, he will still be the right guy in a year, in three years, in five years. He will certainly be the right guy in six months while you try to get your head straightened out. Do not marry someone you aren't attracted to and don't love, I can't emphasize this enough. Even if by "love" you mean "have similar values to and feel a great spark."
posted by KathrynT at 11:57 PM on October 5, 2013 [8 favorites]

Thank you, everyone. I now see that part of the reason I'm unhappy when single and unhappy when in a perfectly fine, non-abusive, committed relationship is because my emotionally abusive mother has effectively usurped any and all degrees of agency that I have. Given that she has bankrolled my education and covers all of my living expenses, I'm subject to her financial, emotional, and physical will and it's made it hard for me to branch out of the little bubble she likes to keep me locked under. My primary motivation for getting married ASAP wasn't because "biology is destiny" or because I genuinely believe in super-early marriage, but because I wanted to effectively replace my mother as my "life partner" with someone else. I wanted a new family to be responsible to.

Unfortunately, given that my mother is supporting my college education and my upcoming medical school education and that I'm uninterested in taking on student loans to finance things on my own, I'm stuck in this predicament of her controlling my life for another 4-5 years. That's OK, though, because I just landed my first real job, I'm going to medical school as far away from my mother as possible and not letting her make any more school-related decisions for me, and I'm going to try to exert some independence over my life. Maybe after my first or second year of medical school, I'll have saved up enough money to cut my mother off, break free from her iron fist, and then be in a position to get married. Right now, though, every single one of you who told me to get some sense of self as an independent, thinking woman fully capable of supporting herself was spot-on. Marriage isn't the answer to helicopter mother issues.

P and I had a conversation about this, and though I've called off the engagement, we're going to remain friends. No word on his moving plans.

I'm very likely never going to see B again, so he was really just a red herring. Thanks for helping me come to my senses.

I feel much better about the entire situation now.
posted by lotusmish at 4:24 AM on October 6, 2013 [39 favorites]

lotusmish, you are inspirational. It sounds like you are really taking hold of the tiller of the Good Ship Lotusmish, and although the weather may be variable, and the seas sometimes frightening, and the horizon not always visible, I have faith that you will be hanging on in there and piloting yourself and your eventual career to somewhere satisfying and fullfilling.

I wish you good luck and fair winds.
posted by emilyw at 6:22 AM on October 6, 2013 [7 favorites]

Lotusmish, I have a friend who married someone to escape her controlling father and ended up leaving her new husband the day after their wedding. I think she had figured out why she was doing what she was doing but didn't know how to put the breaks on, so to speak. Congratulations for doing what you did.
posted by Trivia Newton John at 6:41 AM on October 6, 2013 [2 favorites]

Hooray, lotusmish. You know, Elizabeth Taylor married really young to escape her controlling mother, because she literally couldn't imagine being an independent adult. History shows how well that worked out for her; I'm glad you're making better choices.
posted by Sidhedevil at 3:14 PM on October 6, 2013 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Awesome - congrats!
I agree with your assessment of the situation.

Just a little note though, and I want it to be clear that I'm not saying you should pursue B, but keep it in mind for later -
Even if B does like you, it sounds like if I were them, I would stop trying to talk to you. Even if you want an assertive guy who will make the first move, a respectful, nice, assertive guy will stop making moves if you have rejected them several times. And not talking to them when they talk to you, counts.
And that is exactly as it should be - only a complete creep would keep pursuing you if you are avoiding them, and otherwise indicating that you are not interested.
So, if this has happened accidentally, because you are shy, you need to reach out so they know that you are still interested, and that they should 'resume pursuit'. You need to clear up the misunderstanding, even if that means approaching them first.

Otherwise, the only guys you'll end up with, will be on the creepy, non-respectful, abusive end of the scale!
posted by Elysum at 3:55 PM on October 6, 2013 [2 favorites]

Best answer: At the risk of repeating much of what has already been said here...

You don't know B aside from him editing your papers. He did a good job and you've take your appreciation of that and turned it into some way over the top infatuation. You've never met the guy, face to face, yet he can do no wrong and practically walks on water. This sounds like a HS or Jr. HS crush to me. Either ask him out, or let him go and move on.

As for P. You have no business being engaged to someone who, by your own admission, Makes You Sick, if he does more than holds your hand. Being close physically is a huge part of a relationship, much less a marriage - and I don't mean just sexually. I mean from navigating morning routines in the bathroom each morning while you prepare for your days, to fixing meals in the kitchen, to simple couch time, or going places together, or to, heaven forbid having children. How do you expect for any of that to go well if you can't stand being near the man??

So, once again, End The Engagement. And either ask B out, or don't, but throw the pedestal away until you know he's worthy of it.
posted by SoftSummerBreeze at 4:16 PM on October 6, 2013

Ahhh... should have read completely to the end before posting. I'm glad you've found your own two feet on which to stand. Keep moving forward and don't look back.
posted by SoftSummerBreeze at 4:19 PM on October 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I wanted to effectively replace my mother as my "life partner" with someone else. I wanted a new family to be responsible to.

It sounds like you've come to some conclusions about why you felt in such a rush to marry, congratulations!

I'm an abstinent virgin and I'd always assumed I'd comfortable giving myself to my husband when married ... .I just don't see any point in devaluing myself with empty "fooling around" and "hooking up"

If you are later tempted to marry to escape your current situation, think about what value you are putting on yourself, your marriage, and your marriage partner by having an empty marriage -- because that would make giving yourself to your husband an emotionally empty act. Research on divorce rates doesn't generally get into whether people are happy being married, and if you are more afraid of divorce than an empty marriage you'll be in a tough spot.

I want to say some things about getting more control over your life in medical school.

I'm uninterested in taking on student loans to finance things on my own, I'm stuck in this predicament of her controlling my life for another 4-5 years. That's OK, though, because I just landed my first real job, I'm going to medical school as far away from my mother as possible and not letting her make any more school-related decisions for me, and I'm going to try to exert some independence over my life. Maybe after my first or second year of medical school, I'll have saved up enough money...

If you are working as an MD in the US it's going to be fairly easy to find a job right after your medical residency, in most cases. Many residency programs pay a small salary as well.

A friend of mine finished their residency 2 years ago and has already paid off all of their student loans, they spent less on luxuries than many people do right after medical school but were still able to take a number of vacations and trips while paying off the loans.

It is very difficult to work while in med school, and some schools don't allow it except on breaks.

Please talk to the financial aid offices at the schools you apply to, and just find out what you would be eligible for. You might be able to get a grant, which would not need to be repaid.

Even if you don't think you want loans now, find out how apply -- it might be a good idea to get approved for a loan as well, the loans are often apportioned far in advance of the school term, and if you are not ready your mother can still control your future even while you are far away!

How? You are counting on her to pay for your schooling. If she was to become unhappy with your decisions, or feel that you should live closer to her, she could refuse to pay the medical school bill. You would be forced to drop out of school. Without the capability to pay for your schooling, your mother still has ultimate control over you.

Do some research on how student loans work (they are different than other loans, and often have very low interest rates, and sometimes the interest does not start until after you have graduated or even after). Find out about any special programs for medical students you might be eligible for, some areas will forgive part of your loans if you practice medicine in an area that is short of doctors. Learn about the typical salary and benefits for the job you want, and figure out what portion of your income would be the minimum payment. Try figuring out some different scenarios, you'd be able to make more than the minimum payment, do some spreadsheets and see how long it would take to pay off the loans if you paid more toward them each month. You might need to read a little about how compound interest works to do the calculations.

Figure out a basic budget for what it would cost to live in a small apartment or in student housing. If you have no idea what your living costs are now, maybe you can tell your mother that you want to learn from her so you'll be ready when you are someday married and worry you won't have time once you are busy with med school. Figure out what the costs will be for tuition, fees, books, equipment, etc. and when they are due, and get some examples of how much residency pays at different programs.

Don't worry about waiting until you have a few wrinkles and a few more years to get married. Anyone worth marrying will still be interested. You want someone who values you for more than your looks, and as you get out there and live life away from your mother's control you'll become more capable, interesting, and fascinating and find an equal partner who is looking for a lifetime commitment and values you for so much more than how you look. It will get easier later on to find a life partner who values your personality more than your youthful good looks. In the meantime, experience life -- and go on a few dates, but experience things that don't have anything to do with dating too.

Having some time where you don't live with either your mother or a spouse will make you a better doctor, for most specialties you will have some patients who live by themselves, and it will help you to know more about their circumstances.
posted by yohko at 1:59 PM on October 8, 2013 [2 favorites]

Ah yeah—I completely get where you were coming from with this, alas. That was probably also part of why I got engaged so soon—I was in a very similar situation, with my father supporting me financially through college, while still controlling my social life with an iron fist when I was back at home on breaks. I took summer classes every year of college to avoid going home for longer than a few weeks at a time. But yeah, breaking off that engagement was still one of the best things I did. Good for you for realizing all of this!
posted by limeonaire at 9:03 PM on October 8, 2013

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