Is my boyfriend's answer a sign?
September 7, 2017 7:54 AM   Subscribe

I asked my bf where does he see his life at 35 (4 years from now) and he said a millionaire. I asked him, if that's it and he said yes. Is it a sign that I need to move on from him because he is wasting my time?

We've been together for 5 years, official for 4. Earlier this year I told him I feel like I'm wasting my precious years (I just turned 33 and he just turned 31) and he said he is committed to me. There has been no serious talk of marriage and he claims he is worried since I've been divorced before that the same might happen with us.

I don't even know if I necessarily want to marry him and I am not keen on kids (which I know he wants - although I told him I'd be open to one). Should I start exploring other options? I'm already planning a month and a half trip to travel solo because he will be returning to his country for christmas and I've already been there twice with him.

Please advise. I feel like if we are not headed towards the same goal and vision we are just basically using each other to help split bills, company, and occasional pleasure.
posted by soooo to Human Relations (39 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
If he says he's committed, but has not mentioned what that means and is making no plans at this stage except to mention his fear of divorce, then he's saying that to maintain the status quo. It reads like you know the answer to this question.

Where do you see your life in four years?
posted by theweasel at 7:58 AM on September 7, 2017 [21 favorites]

Yeah, this would not be a situation I would stay in. He absolutely is not engaging in good faith in your discussion, which should be a baseline requirement.

he claims he is worried since I've been divorced before that the same might happen with us.

Well, he's certainly no great philosophical mind, is he? All my pre-marriage relationships (I didn't get married until my early 30s) pretty much ended like this, when I realized the guy's just killing time and getting taken care of for free, and also that they may have been smart in some way but had zero emotional intelligence.

Move on. Being single is better than this, and being with someone who really wants to be WITH YOU is amazing. You can't get there until you leave where you are now.
posted by Lyn Never at 7:59 AM on September 7, 2017 [33 favorites]

This sounds like a very lukewarm relationship. If you want something more than that in future, I think it's probably best to end things now so you can find the right partner.
posted by hazyjane at 8:01 AM on September 7, 2017 [1 favorite]

I asked my bf where does he see his life at 35 (4 years from now) and he said a millionaire.

At 31 years of age is he remotely in a position where he could be a millionaire in 4 years?
Is he taking steps in his life in terms of income, investments, business enterprises where such a thing could be possible?
Did he back up this statement with any details of any kind?

Because honestly, hearing a 31 year old say his 5 year plan is to be a millionaire just like that without any kind of teeth to back it up is, well, it sounds really juvenile, and I'd dump his ass because I don't want to spend my time with someone that dumb and stupid. Regardless of his commitment to the relationship.
posted by phunniemee at 8:03 AM on September 7, 2017 [34 favorites]

To clarify: yes, he is very entrepreneurial and business minded (we both are). He is in the process of patenting an invention for a company that he would not let me in on (although I was the inspiration for the product) because he wanted to do something on his own, and he has an ecommerce company that does very well. We also have a company together that does very well.
posted by soooo at 8:06 AM on September 7, 2017

Have you asked him if he sees your relationship progressing in the next 5 years? It seems like he might have thought your question was just a silly/hypothetical one. If I were you, I'd have at least one conversation where you specify that you want to talk about the future of your relationship and talk about how you're worried he's not committed. If you come out of that with him still giving flippant answers that don't involve you, then yeah, DTMFA. But I'd give it another conversation before you give up on a 5 year relationship.

On preview, since it seems his answer was realistic and not silly: it is an orange flag that he thought about his next 5 years in terms of his business and not about his relationship, but not necessarily a dealbreaker - some people are like that and like to date other people like that. If you want a partner who will prioritize you over their career, though, that's another concern for your long-term status even if he does want to stay committed to you (his version of relationship commitment might always be 2nd to his entrepreneurship). But that's something you should also discuss!
posted by jouir at 8:10 AM on September 7, 2017 [4 favorites]

So - if your question was posed exactly as it seems here, it's quite possible he wasn't aware that you were asking a relationship question. It sounds a lot like the kind of question you might get in a job interview.

If marriage is something you want, then skip the part where you're asking obtuse questions and ask him directly if he intends on marrying you, and if so, when. Direct communication on issues is a lot better than reading into things.
posted by notorious medium at 8:16 AM on September 7, 2017 [67 favorites]

I'm basically your partner in this question. Literally my partner asked me where I saw myself and I said the exact thing. It wasn't until after I'd answered that I realized they meant in regards to the relationship. Of course I see myself with them - married, kids, house, whatever - but it didn't occur to me to say that.

Just ask him specifically where he sees your relationship going. Better yet, ask yourself where you see it going.
posted by coldbabyshrimp at 8:19 AM on September 7, 2017 [37 favorites]

He is in the process of patenting an invention for a company that he would not let me in on (although I was the inspiration for the product)

If the earlier information didn't make this guy seems sketchy and uncommitted, this is icing on the cake. You're not a partner, you're a transitory muse.
posted by Kurichina at 8:19 AM on September 7, 2017 [59 favorites]

I don't even know if I necessarily want to marry him

Usually these questions are like "I want to get married but the other person doesn't!" If you aren't sure yourself, I certainly can't hold it against him that he's not sure either. If you don't feel any particular urgency for kids and he's not pushing on that count, and you don't really feel like you want more out of this... do you want more out of somebody else? Then go get more out of somebody else. You totally have permission, if you're unhappy, to ditch this. But... you say you're not headed to the same goal. What goal ARE you headed to? What do you feel like you should be doing if this is "wasting" time? It seems like you need to define better what you want than just "you aren't sure that what you want is this", and that will make it clear if you need to go or not.
posted by Sequence at 8:21 AM on September 7, 2017 [10 favorites]

He sounds like a bunghole who is either stealing from you or else definitely sure that if he strikes it rich he's going to take the money and run. Fuck him.
posted by stoneandstar at 8:22 AM on September 7, 2017 [8 favorites]

since I've been divorced before that the same might happen with us

As far as I'm concerned, this is the sketchy-as-fuck part. (Followed by the invention that was your idea but is allegedly going to make him a millionaire.) Divorce isn't catching; it sounds like he's preemptively blaming you for relationship troubles down the line.
posted by tapir-whorf at 8:24 AM on September 7, 2017 [25 favorites]

Neither of you seem terribly committed to this relationship as you've described it.

My sense is that you're looking for some sort of "sign" to pull the plug and walk away. Is his answer here the sign you were looking for? Maybe.

But sometimes there is no clear sign. There's no great blow up, no immediate DTMFA situation that clarifies things instantly. You may just have to make the decision that this relationship is not making you happy, even though nothing is objectively terrible. Sometimes wanting to leave is enough - you have the internet's permission to go.
posted by pantarei70 at 8:29 AM on September 7, 2017 [4 favorites]

This question is kinda vague and hard to answer, which I think is why you're getting everything from "I can't really blame him" to "fuck this guy" for answers. I think Sequence has a good point that you don't really say what it is that you want, and without that it's kinda hard to know whether this guy is going to be able to give it to you. Knowing that would really help. Also it's kinda hard to get a solid picture of what your relationship looks like based on the little bits and pieces that you've given us here; some more context would really help as well.

However, I feel like maybe there's an underlying, unwritten question implicit in your Ask, and that the question is, "Is it OK for me to break up with my boyfriend?" If that is the case, then the answer is: yes, of course. Nobody ever needs a reason to break up with their partner besides wanting to do it. If you don't want to be in a relationship with this guy, that is all the reason you need. You don't have to justify it or have a rationale that clears some bar or checks off some checklist. You should only be with somebody if you want to be with them, period.

If you're unsure, maybe think about it during that month-and-a-half solo vacation you have coming up. That sounds like an absolutely perfect time for you to spend some time with yourself and really figure out how you want to live your life. Are you happier alone than with this guy? Do you not particularly like being alone but also wish that the person you had to go back to was different in some important way? Do you yearn for a life and/or lifestyle that you can't realistically envision within the context of your current relationship? Those would be strong indicators that you should break up and maybe look for someone who's a better fit for you.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 8:37 AM on September 7, 2017 [5 favorites]

What? No. If you asked him "where do you see our relationship in four years?" and he balks it gives excuses, THEN that's an issue. But it doesn't sound like you asked him directly, you're just guessing.

I feel like if we are not headed towards the same goal and vision we are just basically using each other to help split bills, company, and occasional pleasure.

Have you asked him directly or started planning with him at all? What are YOUR plans in four years? Have you told him " hey, these are my goals and vision and I want to do this, this, and this with you."? Stop guessing and start asking/planning.

Personally, if someone asked me where do I see myself in x number of years, I would probably say something thats was a high-reaching goal of mine, semi hoping that it would actually happen, knowing full well stuff happens and sometimes it takes a bit longer.
posted by littlesq at 8:44 AM on September 7, 2017 [4 favorites]

I don't think you should look for signs; I think you should figure out what YOU want first (frankly you sound unenthused and full of doubts yourself) and then ask him directly what he wants.

His answer to the question you asked doesn't mean much. But it's telling that you're willing to see it as a sign. Could that be a sign that you don't see long term potential yourself?
posted by kapers at 8:54 AM on September 7, 2017 [7 favorites]

So here is a confession-- I may have been that guy to a woman in the past, although we only dated for a few weeks. One time she asked me what I now realize was a "serious relationship question", just like the OP did, only I did not recognize it as such at the time. She was really asking about us, but when she said "If you could have anything at all in the world, what would it be?" Without hesitation I answered "A fully funded space program!"

20 years later, I still remember the look on her face. BUT, I am very happily married to another woman with whom I have much better communication and have learned to read her signs. Hopefully I don't make as many of those mistakes now.

As for your question, after reading it I was sure you should break up. Then the comments and OP response had me doubting just a little bit, but by the end of the comments I was back to thinking this guy is wasting your time.
posted by seasparrow at 9:00 AM on September 7, 2017 [19 favorites]

The first thing I see here is a communication issue. You're asking potential deal-breaker relationship questions, and your boyfriend doesn't understand that's what's happening in the moment. Leaving seems pretty drastic based on a couple of conversations that were never engaged in seriously. Additionally, you have serious concerns that it sounds like you've said to us, but not him.

I think talking to him more seriously and directly about your five year plan, getting a better answer out of him and explaining to him how critical this is to you ought to be an absolute prerequisite before leaving. Unlike the conclusions jumped to above, it seems likely that this person is avoiding the conversation or hasn't thought through what his plan is, rather than being a dolt who isn't capable of a plan.

This is not to mention the financial entanglements of being co-owners of one or more companies. It sounds like you may already be entangled more than most married people are. If you aren't happy, you should absolutely leave. But please sit down and have a serious conversation, where everyone is aware of the stakes, before just walking out based on what looks from the outside like miscommunication.
posted by cnc at 9:06 AM on September 7, 2017 [5 favorites]

Wait, you are wondering if his lack of overt commitment is a problem when you state that you are not sure YOU would marry him? There appears to be a material lack of DIRECT communication in this relationship. Figure out what your desired outcome is from this relationship and discuss it with him.
posted by AugustWest at 9:23 AM on September 7, 2017 [4 favorites]

If you want to talk to him about how you both feel about the future of your relationship, marriage, and kids, then you should say to him, "I would like to have a discussion about how we both feel about the future of this relationship, possibilities of marriage, and where we stand on kids."

Asking "where do you see you life in 4 years?" seems like a very oblique way to go about it.
posted by Squeak Attack at 9:46 AM on September 7, 2017 [9 favorites]

I came in all ready to say that you shouldn't play games; that you should talk to him directly about the relationship and not hope that he'll magically guess what it is that you want.

Reading the further description (including your update) changed my mind. It seems pretty clear that he's not serious about this relationship. Moreover, it doesn't seem like you are all that serious about this relationship. The difference in the desire for kids is a big difference. The weird secretiveness about his work is another huge red flag.

You never say you love him. I know that questions about solving a problem in a relationship can get skewed and not mention the good parts, but there would have to be some pretty serious positive things you omitted for me to continue in the relationship you've described.
posted by Betelgeuse at 10:15 AM on September 7, 2017

Asking "where do you see you life in 4 years?" seems like a very oblique way to go about it.

...For values of "oblique" approaching "passive aggressive."

If you want to know how you fit into world, ask directly. Otherwise it seems like you're the one quailing and looking for an excuse to bail out but not feel like the "bad" one in the break-up. I understand your in-thread comment about him makes his seem problematic in other ways -- but be clear about your own feelings and what you need to know from him.
posted by aught at 10:19 AM on September 7, 2017 [2 favorites]

Many young men aim to become millionaires, as if they could; as if that's a worthy goal.
His answer alone is enough to step back. It is a shitty goal.
You are a million bucks he has no business with. If he's so filled with hubris that he thinks he's going somewhere, let him go it alone. And untangle your business dealings with him.
posted by BostonTerrier at 10:22 AM on September 7, 2017 [1 favorite]

I think you have some legit issues here but his answer to the question you asked is a total red herring.

If you want to know "where do you see OUR RELATIONSHIP" in five years, ask that question. Maybe more specifically, ask "do you see us getting married, because I get the feeling from your patent strategy and from the weird things you've expressed about my marital history, that you are not really thinking about us as a long term package deal."
posted by fingersandtoes at 10:28 AM on September 7, 2017 [3 favorites]

I had to read your post twice to figure out the issue was that you meant the question to be about your relationship. If that's what you mean, ask about the relationship explicitly.
posted by waffleriot at 10:34 AM on September 7, 2017 [4 favorites]

People on Metafilter don't know the answer to this. Based on what you say, you think you should move on, it seems. But for some reason you're trying to get more certainty on this from us. I guess you could figure out what more you want to know -- what it would take to feel more certain -- and ask him. Or you could figure out what you want and then see if he's on board for that.
posted by salvia at 10:46 AM on September 7, 2017

As a side note I really hope you have some solid business agreements in place because if you decide to end this relationship I would hate to see you lose your share of any investment you've made into a joint endeavor.
posted by brookeb at 10:56 AM on September 7, 2017 [5 favorites]

Yes, it's a bad sign. A lot of people said you should have been more direct with your question, but I don't think they read carefully enough. You clearly expressed something (perhaps at a later time) because he answered you with "I am committed to you." So I think we can rule out the possibility that he has absolutely no idea that commitment or marriage is on your mind. He knows now.

I am curious about the "commitment" conversation and whether or not you brought up the M-word. It's honestly pretty difficult to have a conversation about that without just flat out proposing (There is a pretty thin line between "Do you want to get married? and "So are we on the same page about getting married eventually?") and I completely understand why you wouldn't want to be super duper blunt about it like everyone is advocating. Because on the scale of vague to blunt, you have oblique hints on one end, and marriage proposal on the other!

It seems that you have moved past "oblique hints" and have gotten somewhere in the middle of that spectrum without actually progressing to "straight up propose" and then book a venue for the wedding or go to the courthouse. MeFi is really big on communication (although as I said I don't actually think that's your problem here) so if you want to attempt to solve this via communication, I think you have to go further on the scale towards "outright propose."

If being traditional is important to you and you want to avoid being the one to propose there are ways of having that conversation which are deeply unromantic, but very blunt, and that scale goes from "oblique hints" to "ironclad ultimatum" on the other end. You try talking about it in a nice, happy, romantic way first, and then if that doesn't work, you go to "It is my #1 goal at this stage of my life to be married by age 37 (or whatever). If you do not propose within 3 months from this date at the end of the business day, I will leave you. Thank you and goodnight."

I'm being somewhat sarcastic because MeFi is blaming you for not communicating clearly enough and shaming you a little for "looking for signs", when I think this is obviously a "damned if you do damned if you don't" communication situation. I also think it is extremely likely that he will lie, stall, waffle, or say something which he believes is the truth but actually is not because he does not know his own mind/heart, so you have that problem with attempting to solve this via communication, as well.

TL; DR - I will not shame you for looking for signs. Yes, this is a bad sign and you are absolutely right to take it that way. Whatever you do, look out for yourself first and don't waste your time.
posted by stockpuppet at 11:01 AM on September 7, 2017 [1 favorite]

Where do you see your life in four years?

This is really the question you need to answer. Once you know, bring that vision to him, and see if he's on board. That's assuming he is even in that vision, which he doesn't have to be.
posted by Miko at 11:05 AM on September 7, 2017 [3 favorites]

You say you want both of you to head towards the same goal and vision and in the same breath state that you have no idea what you even want! It's hard to vilify this guy for not being on the same page when you don't even have a book. You seem to be waiting for him, us, anyone out there to tell you what to do and want which is no way to decide your future.

I mean you can look for signs from him but that shouldn't determine whether you end up together, you wanting to be with him should at least be the starting point for you and you don't even seem to know that. So yeah, figure out what your own goals are, relationship and every other way and see if he even factors in. Then ask if he wants to be a part of it.

But you seem very wishy wishy in general (it wasn't even clear you were asking a relationship question!) and I can't really blame him for reflecting it back to you. I will say that being so 'meh' about this guy and your future together is a terrible foundation for a marriage. I don't necessarily think he is the only one wasting your precious time, you're steering that boat.
posted by Jubey at 11:41 AM on September 7, 2017 [1 favorite]

If he's got a financial goal, that's cool. It sounds like he doesn't have a relationship goal, and maybe that's because he doesn't think he needs one. Give him a reason to set one, or find someone who does if this guy won't.
posted by Sunburnt at 11:52 AM on September 7, 2017

His answer is not a sign of anything because you gave him no reason to think that he was talking about your relationship vs his career vs whatever. Most men have to be trained to answer that question with "in love with you and a millionaire."

But, I mean, the other details you give make it sound like you should just leave now because it's not going anywhere. When was the last time he told you he loved you?
posted by radicalawyer at 12:13 PM on September 7, 2017

He's using you to reach his goals! He's using your past as an excuse to keep the relationship functioning on his terms.

Drop kick this asshole out of your life because he doesn't see you as a person, only a means to his goals.
posted by jbenben at 1:08 PM on September 7, 2017 [2 favorites]

I don't see his answer as a sign of any thing. You asked a vague question with a specific answer in mind and you got the wrong specific answer.

If you want to know where you are in terms of his priorities, ask him.

Regarding the overall relationship, ask yourself whether you are really not sure or whether you don't want to be the first who is sure. I mean, if you don't want to be with him long term then break up with him-- five years is too long for a muddle along. I am afraid I can't read much from this question.
posted by frumiousb at 5:11 PM on September 7, 2017

He is in the process of patenting an invention for a company that he would not let me in on (although I was the inspiration for the product) because he wanted to do something on his own...

Beyond the possible miscommunication issue... this is worrisome. I understand you have things together as well, so why can't this be another "together" thing? The fact that he "won't let you in" on something is strange. You aren't married, so if he becomes a millionaire in 4 years based off this invention that you were part of, you won't see any of that money if he's the only one who is named on it.

Sure, figure out what you want before approaching him. But I don't feel like he sees you as a unit or team, marriage paperwork or not.
posted by Crystalinne at 7:13 PM on September 7, 2017 [1 favorite]

Drop kick this asshole out of your life because he doesn't see you as a person, only a means to his goals.

Mayyybe just ask him a direct question before leaping to this kind of conclusion just a thought.
posted by Sebmojo at 7:20 PM on September 7, 2017 [10 favorites]

I don't even know if I necessarily want to marry him and I am not keen on kids (which I know he wants - although I told him I'd be open to one)

then you are either wasting HIS time far more than he could ever be wasting yours, or else you were sincere and you are proposing to wreck your life, which you should think twice about doing even for a man you like. I advise against both.
posted by queenofbithynia at 10:45 PM on September 7, 2017 [4 favorites]

You know, without being DIRECTLY, SPECIFICALLY asked, I really think most people would have more to say than just "being a millionaire" when asked where they see their life four years from now. It's a terrible answer to that question, regardless of whether he thought it was strictly about his career or not ("millionaire" is not a career. The answer makes him sound 4 years old.)

Anyway, after that thoughtful response of his, you did ask if there was anything else. You did ask if being a millionaire was it and he said yes. It doesn't sound like he really even gave it much thought.

I really think most people, when asked exactly what you asked them, EVEN IF they too saw themselves as becoming millionaires, would still come up with something other than just "derrrr millionaire", would have a picture of other things in their head than just stacks of cash, dollar signs in their eyes and a swimming pool filled with gold. Those people might have a vague idea of their partner being there, or having a family, or whatever. To not mention this, when you did ask if there was anything he saw in his life other than millionaire times, seems to me deliberate. If it wasn't deliberate and it honestly didn't occur to him to think of you when picturing his life, I still don't see that as being much better. The most charitable reading of that is that he does not consider relationship goals the same as life goals, and relationship goals are not on par with a career/being rich. Either way he sounds self-absorbed and obsessed with making money and people like that are usually a waste of time, but you need to figure out what you want before knowing for sure.
posted by Polychrome at 1:50 AM on September 8, 2017 [2 favorites]

Well, you intended "where do you see yourself in four years?" as a test. One with a 'correct' answer. A test he didn't know he was taking, and a test he doesn't know he failed. When you ask an open ended question, and you are invested in the answer being what you want to hear, then the question isn't open ended after all. It's a trap. And I know you didn't intend it this way, and that for a lot of us, this kind of behavior is ingrained and normalized, but consider that it's actually pretty manipulative.

So, when you want to know something, you ask. Especially if it's someone you are in a relationship with. Ultimately, seeing himself as a millionare, doesn't mean he doesn't see himself married to you. The two aren't mutually exclusive. He could see himself as both; perhaps to him, being married to you in future went without saying. So no, it's not a sign of anything. A sign would be, when you ask him, 'do you want to marry me,' he says 'No,' or changes the subject or is evasive etc. That's how you know. You just ask.

But do YOU want to marry him? Where do you see yourself in four years? Could it be he's not 100% on board with marriage because he wants kids, and he's not sure you want the same thing, because he knows you're not that keen? You need to have these discussions, as hard as they may be. You also need to figure out these important things-- like how open are you to having kids, and when, etc. Because if you're truly not keen, and he is, then he's not just wasting your precious years, but you're kinda wasting his, too.

He also needs to get to the bottom of why he thinks that you being divorced is a bad sign. Maybe it's him being a jerk-- thinking you're 'damaged goods' or some bs, but maybe it's just his insecurity talking-- perhaps he's scared you'll leave him. Sometimes, people who have never been married have this image of marriage as this sacred thing that cannot be ever broken-- that it's a decision that people should only make once, and get right first try. This is pretty ridiculous, but it's a prevailing sentiment. You guys really need to talk about this.

I feel like maybe this isn't quite fitting together for you both, and you're staying because you're both good, decent people and there's no 'reason' to break up, as things are pleasant, etc. But if you can't have these hard discussions, and if you can't see a future, then no matter how pleasant, it may not be right for you. It's hard to say. But it's time to really have these hard talks, and if your communications styles aren't suited to it, consider getting a couples therapist.

Best of luck to you both.
posted by Dimes at 2:14 PM on September 8, 2017 [3 favorites]

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