I love my girlfriend but I dont feel I should marry her
August 22, 2022 8:03 AM   Subscribe

I (M29) have been with my girlfriend (F28) for a 10 months, with 5 of those living together. We have been a short time together, but we have had an amazing relationship for the past months. She is a wonderful girl who I really love, but I don't feel excited about getting married with her, which breaks my heart and makes me feel like shit. I think I should break with her ASAP so I don't waste her time :(

I met her online and we hit it off at our first date, which was one of the most fun dates I have ever had. At that time none of us wanted something serious, so we just went in a couple of dates and moved on, however we stayed as friends and we really enjoyed being together, so eventually we ended up being friends with benefits, and then we decided to get into a relationship.

Things were going great, so because both of our leases where expiring at the same time, we decided to move together and since then, it has just been a great relationship. She is loving, caring, kind and intelligent. I am not stuck so much in the honeymoon phase that I can't see her personality flaws, but I actually like them. We have a lot of fun together, our sex live is great and I can talk to her about anything... except this. (which I know I should not be holding from her).

She started talking about marriage, having kids and having our own home. Which its something I do want. I think she would be a great mother and I even started thinking she may be the one.

However a couple of weeks ago her brother got married, and I realized that it could be me with her... and I realized that the thought of marrying her didn't excited me or felt like a "hell yeah" which made me feel like shit.

Since then I just can't stop thinking about it, I don't sleep well and I can't focus on other things. I don't really understand why I have that feeling, she is my best friend, a wonderful woman with an amazing heart, our relationship is great and she would be a great mom.

If I try to find out the things that I don't like about the relationship, they external (but important) or are pretty shallow:

- Her family are good people in general, but they don't take care of their health or their finances. I don't think they would be the best role models for my kids and I am aware that they are going to be a burden with the time. It is something I won't enjoy, but I would be willing to deal with for her.

- She is not exactly "my type". I am attracted to her sexually, but she doesn't look like what my "ideal woman". I hate this felling, as its something that it won't matter in 40 years from now.

The past weeks I have been trying to make up my mind and get rid of the hesitation. I feel I am leaving a great thing, just because my heart aches for something else. At the same time, I realize that I can't change my feelings, its just forcing things. There are no good outcomes and I am going to hate myself for whatever decision I make. I am unsure if giving it more time will change things and I would not forgive me for letting her stay too long and waste her time.

I do think that the right choose is to breakup with her and don't waste her time so she can find another man. I deeply care about her like I had never done with a girlfriend, so I really want to see her raise a family and have a happy life, and that she deserves to be with a man who feels "hell yeah" about marrying her.

However at the same time, the thought of breaking up with her just breaks my heart. Knowing I won't share many moments with her brings tears to my eyes. I feel I am losing my best friend and breaking the heart a sweet girl. It just feels like I am abandoning her.
posted by WhiteSatin to Human Relations (29 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I think this is anxiety about commitment. Therapy is a great idea. I'd be cautious about saying to your partner Marriage to you doesn't excite me because it's hurtful, but I'm not ready for marriage just yet is truthful.

really, therapy.
posted by theora55 at 8:10 AM on August 22, 2022 [41 favorites]

Her family are good people in general, but they don't take care of their health or their finances.
Does HER approach to her own health and her finances feel like a good one to you? Does she specifically diverge from her family there or is she just sort of OK with going along with your way of handling on those things? Those are important values to agree on.
posted by needs more cowbell at 8:24 AM on August 22, 2022 [7 favorites]

You talk a lot about your girlfriend and her positive attributes here, so I feel like I know how you're evaluating her, and what you value and look for in a partner.

You say very little about marriage here beyond an expectation for excitement. I don't know what yardstick you're using where she falls short. Many people in their 20s don't have a well-developed sense of what they're looking for in a marriage, or why they would marry someone, or what they expect that to look and feel like. Sometimes that comes out as a mismatch between fairy tale and reality. Could that be going on for you?

On the other hand, I want to commend your sense of deep caring that would urge you to do the right thing by her. And when you say you'd grieve losing her, I think that's something to pay attention to.
posted by Dashy at 8:35 AM on August 22, 2022 [4 favorites]

she deserves to be with a man who feels "hell yeah" about marrying her

Have you ever been "hell yeah" about life changing decisions in the past, and what did that feel like? I think the popular framing of "if it's not hell yeah, then it's no" can be helpful for many people, but it minimizes the normal feelings of anxiety that anyone would have. I tend toward anxiety and have never been "hell yeah" about anything in my life, but I've been happily married for 4 years.

So I agree that therapy could help you probe some of these anxieties to see how significant they are. Also, while I wouldn't necessarily disclose everything you are sharing in this post, it might help ease your anxiety to talk with your girlfriend more about how she is thinking about marriage and children, and what kinds of questions/issues she might want to address before making that commitment.
posted by AndrewInDC at 9:28 AM on August 22, 2022 [9 favorites]

Putting aside your gf for the moment, what are you looking for in a marriage and what is that you seek in a partner? Sounds to me like she is the one, but only you know. I think you need to answer for yourself why she is not the one. And, why you know that right now. Making your decision based on your potential future inlaws and how they may influence your potential kids, is, to me, not fair.

I am not a big "get therapy" guy. (Not opposed to it, it is just not my fallback position). Anyway, theora55 is giving very good advice. This seems to be about something other than your gf being the right one or not. This is one of those times I think talking to a therapist will really help you sort out your feelings.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 9:30 AM on August 22, 2022 [1 favorite]

So, I think actually that the “hell yeah” metric is actually a good metric for marriage specifically: because there are going to be a lot of problems in every marriage, and if you don’t start out with a “hell yeah” it’s going to be much, much harder to weather them. Divorce is hard and complicated; and in my experience, people who start out getting married who are “meh” about it at the start wind up being miserable ten years later.

Therapy is good, but if therapy doesn’t resolve this problem, I would tell her that you can’t see yourself marrying her and want to return to being friends to give her her best chance.
posted by corb at 9:34 AM on August 22, 2022 [4 favorites]

Best answer: Literally the only really bad thing you have to say about this relationship is "no hell yeah to marriage now." Otherwise you sound happy. My best guess here is that maybe the problem is the idea of committing to marriage instead of just being with her?

The closest thing I can think of this is a recent Carolyn Hax column (Washington Post link only) where someone is "happily married" in a "B" marriage with, of course, two small children. Her issues are described by her as:

"It’s a happy home; their dad is a wonderful man and father, he’s just not my wonderful man."
"The “why” mostly relates to the relationship conveyor belt of dating for X years, getting engaged, getting married … and my feeling throughout like “this isn’t the one, but it’s not not the one either.” I love him, he loves me, but we don’t have that little spark."
What I don’t think counseling can heal is that little voice in my head saying, “Not your person, not your person, not your person.”

Is this how you feel? She's great, but not my person? Or is it about marriage itself when you're in a pretty new relationship?
posted by jenfullmoon at 9:49 AM on August 22, 2022 [5 favorites]

I think you and her need to have some honest talk.

The reason is simple: you and her are NOT on the same page when it comes to stages of your relationship.

And I *do* have to point out: it takes TWO to be in a relationship, but just because you don't feel like getting married (now) doesn't mean you should break up with her. That would make this read like a bad romance novel.

On the other hand, what's your aversion to marriage? Or are you, pardon the cliche, a "why buy the cow when the milk's free" kinda person?
posted by kschang at 9:51 AM on August 22, 2022

My advice is simple: you need to be honest with your girlfriend about these issues and then let her decide if she wants to break up with you. Only break up with her if you think continuing the relationship would be a waste of your time. Don't break up with her because you think continuing the relationship would be a waste of her time. That's not your decision to make.
posted by Stuka at 9:56 AM on August 22, 2022 [3 favorites]

Best answer: First - theora55 is correct: this could be more about your feelings about marriage and little to do with your current partner.

Also, I have observed a definite pattern in “decision points” in the early stages of any relationship: they come up at 1month, 3months, 6 months, 1 year - and then if you decide to stay with a partner at that roughly one year mark, you’re usually golden until the three year mark. So, one the one hand, you are right on schedule.

There are some smart comments and questions above: do consider all of those.

And 11 months is WAY too early to know if marriage to someone is a good idea. Way too early.

I suppose one other thing to consider is — do you have a clear idea about the values, skills, and framework necessary for a healthy and happy marriage? Not having that could be feeding some of the anxiety. Take it slow. You have time.
posted by Silvery Fish at 10:00 AM on August 22, 2022 [8 favorites]

Response by poster: Thank for for the responses, I love the quality of replies from the MF, you guys are awesome

First of all, thanks theora55 on how to say the truth in a non-hurtful way. I will talk to her and explain her how I feel, she has a right to know and it is also her decision to make. My main fear is that she is 28, she has time but not that much if she wants to find a partner and have kids before 35ish. (Which is normally the age fertility starts to wade off). I feel the responsibility to not rob her or complicate her dream.

I do not think its unfunded anxiety as I don't tend to be a very anxious person, from my perspective I think a healthy dose of anxiety here is due as I consider marriage the most important decision in your life as you can't easily change that (once you have kids) and you are choosing your life partner. I am not afraid of it and its something I am actually looking for but with the right person.

@needs more cowbell: Her approach to health and finances was not great either when we met but she has been changing her habits. Sometimes is hard for her and she slips into bad habits but for the most part, she is changing so that is something I really admire and appreciate.

Regarding my expectations of marriage: I am looking for a good girl who I can trust with my life and build a happy home and family while going through all the tragedies of life and who I can still have fun with when I am old and grey. I am very fond of this article: https://waitbutwhy.com/2014/02/pick-life-partner-part-2.html.

I think part of my fears is that I am still in my 20s, so I lack wisdom to make such an important decision. As I have grown older and learned more about what I want in a relationship, my relationships have improved. I know I would have a happy life with this girl, but I am not sure she is the girl of my dreams (and I am hers). Without more life experience its hard for me to know if I have unrealistic expectations and I am expecting the Disney dream when she is already here or if without that courage to go and get exactly what you want we would end up in a happy marriage but missing out from being with our dream partners.
posted by WhiteSatin at 10:39 AM on August 22, 2022

No one has the life experience necessary to be married before they’re married. You get that life experience by doing it, there’s no other way. It’s the same with kids - I lack the life experience to be a parent because I’m not one. But if I were to have children, I would gain that life experience by experiencing it. To me, this does sound very much like something you could gain helpful advice and perspective from a counselor about. Because there’s some clarity in what you think is going on that might be actually muddying the waters, like the idea that you could be experienced enough to make the choice. If you are waiting for that, you will never get married.
posted by Bottlecap at 11:58 AM on August 22, 2022 [2 favorites]

With respect, and not trying to sidetrack, but you need to check your assumptions around the impact of age on fertility for women vs. men. As in, you might not be wasting her time if she wants to have kids (she'll be fine), but you might be wasting your time if you want to have kids. So maybe stop worrying about her, be honest and let her make her decisions. But also maybe think about what you want because your biological clock IS ticking.
posted by Toddles at 12:01 PM on August 22, 2022 [13 favorites]

Your "heart aches for something else"? You should break up, in a kind way.
posted by hermanubis at 12:17 PM on August 22, 2022 [3 favorites]

@WhiteSatin — if on reflection, you DO feel the need to separate: the kindest way I was ever broken up with was by a man who told me, “I have realized I am not ready for the responsibilities of a committed relationship.”

It was true and honest, and it was carefully worded to be protective of me, and to leave no wiggle room for arguing that maybe it be ‘changed.’

I wish you heart-felt luck in your decision.
posted by Silvery Fish at 12:27 PM on August 22, 2022 [6 favorites]

First of all, thank you for taking marriage and kids seriously, and for admitting to yourself that they are important to you. Lots of men (and honestly women) I've known have trouble articulating that for themselves.

I think you are in such an early place in this relationship to be seriously discussing marriage. You just moved in together, practically immediately upon starting to date! Pump the brakes, together. Sit down and say, I am really not ready to talk marriage while we're still figuring out how to split household chores and expenses.

I waited 6 or 7 years to move in with my longtime partner, we did not need to combine households immediately and I think it served us both well. We are married now, as a result of years of saying "yes" to each other and to our relationship, in the face of such life changes as grad school (both of us), long distance (twice), a cross-country move, and changes in employment and income. We even had a kid together. Give each other a chance to say yes a whole bunch before getting married, is my advice.
posted by Lawn Beaver at 12:34 PM on August 22, 2022 [4 favorites]

I agree with those who have said that this is really early in your relationship to be thinking about marriage, but consider this: some people find a wonderful friend but there's no attraction. Others find someone they feel passionate about sexually, but don't have much else in common. You "have a lot of fun together, [y]our sex life is great and [you] can talk to her about anything...." Give it some time, if she's prepared to. It doesn't get any better than this!
posted by kate4914 at 1:01 PM on August 22, 2022 [2 favorites]

You're 29. She is 28. She is not a girl, she is a woman.
posted by zadcat at 1:39 PM on August 22, 2022 [31 favorites]

Your wording is very problematic for me.
You say she is a "sweet girl".
You say you want a "good girl".

Putting aside she is an adult, not a child, these phrases are pretty meaningless and bland.

You would not be "abandoning" her, you would be breaking up.

It's not clear why you don't want to try to grow into a more committed and deeper relationship with this person. No idea about her family, but it sounds like they are poor, or fat, or both, or otherwise unappetizing to you. Using them as part of your resistance seems like a reach.

Since she's not your "ideal woman", I agree you should break up with her. I think you need to live a little more and maybe understand why this concept is so incredibly flawed.

Good luck to you both.
posted by rhonzo at 1:43 PM on August 22, 2022 [25 favorites]

Best answer: Your update was helpful in clarifying that it's not the idea of marriage itself which makes you anxious. Rather, marriage seems to stand for an anxiety that is actually about growing up; specifically, the aspect of growing up that has to do with the foreclosure of future possibilities. At some point in our lives, it dawns on us that one kind of consequence from our choices is: based on what we do, some things will be taken off the table for us, for good. Were you to marry her, you may well foreclose meeting and marrying someone else who would be *the* dream partner; were you to break up with her, you may well foreclose a wonderful marriage and future family life, even as imagined from your perspective now. The mention of kids, understandably, intensifies the weightiness of it all. So it's impossible to know in advance, and that is pretty anxiety-provoking.

Well, the bad news is: welcome to the only game in town. This is just how it goes - as the outcomes of our past choices accumulate, our future possibilities cannot be but directed, and narrowed, accordingly. There is no way to think our way out of this. You say you lack wisdom, and that may be true, but only in the sense that it's because you have not yet lived through the kinds of experiences that would form the basis for such wisdom. No one only thinks their way into wisdom.

But there's good news too: it's not only possible to live a meaningful life under these conditions, but people do it all the time - and they do it despite having made the "wrong" choice about any number of things, not just re: marriage partners. Being able to live in this way means to relinquish the wish to claim so much responsibility over the outcomes of the future; the only thing to claim responsibility for is owning the choices that we make, under whatever conditions it is that we make them - and that includes under conditions of imperfect knowledge and insufficient wisdom. All actionable wisdom is earned under such conditions.

This answer may not be that helpful in informing you which choice to make, and I hope it isn't; it's a big choice, as you already know, and I can't possibly be all that helpful as an internet stranger about the content of your choice. What I hope is that you can view the position you're currently in--the fact that you have this choice to make--a little differently. That you can be a little freer and more courageous in making your own a choice that is asking of you to take a leap into faith. Good luck.
posted by obliterati at 2:48 PM on August 22, 2022 [14 favorites]

Maybe it's just me but 10 months does NOT seem like enough time to even begin to plumb the depths of whether this person is YOUR person. Mr. Darling and I dated for almost two years before he popped the question and even then I did not feel fireworks! destiny! you are absolutely my one! But, I DID know that I had a magnificent time with him (still do) and I wanted to go on that adventure with him.

20 years and 2 kids later and he is still my absolute favorite person in the world. I'm glad we took that time to get to know each other during a time that involved a great deal of changes for both of us. If you had asked me at the 10 month mark if we were going to get married, I would have genuinely not known.

What is interesting, however, is that my parents knew immediately within 5 minutes of meeting him that we were going to get married. They kept this from me (rightly so) until we actually got engaged and explained that I acted so much differently with Mr. Darling than I had with any of my previous significant others and we were peas in a pod. I'm so thankful that they let me come to that conclusion on my own but it also really helped me to understand that I had found my person and other people saw that too.

I suspect some of your anxiety comes from feeling rushed into this decision. I do not think you have had nearly enough time to even get to know this person let alone reach an answer.
posted by tafetta, darling! at 3:54 PM on August 22, 2022 [7 favorites]

I've been married for 46 years to Mr. Peach. My immediate reaction to the idea of marrying him was dread, and so was my long term reaction, up to and including and following the wedding, and off and on from time to time during the ensuing 46 years. Marriage is different things to different people at different times, including things like a buddy system, a business partnership, a structure for raising children, and a safety net. Also a live-in housekeeper, someone to help you get through graduate school, a co-adventurer, and a multitude of other things.

I married him not because of being in love (I was in love before with other people) but because he didn't try to make me into someone other than the person I am, and therefore I could imagine spending a long time with him.

There isn't a perfect person out there for you and marriage doesn't mean you grow up, I guess is what I'm saying.
posted by Peach at 5:12 PM on August 22, 2022 [6 favorites]

It's not necessarily a referendum on your relationship if you're not 100% sure on marriage ten months in - that's a short time! I think the important "hell yeah" related question for where you are right now is: do you feel "hell yeah" about being with and living with your girlfriend? If so, then worrying about a future marriage isn't important right now in my opinion.
posted by augustimagination at 7:31 PM on August 22, 2022 [2 favorites]

Regardless of what happens, I think it’s important to ask yourself what’s behind the idea that you’re sexually attracted to someone, and find them funny and sweet and lovely to live with, but question whether you’d want a long term relationship because they’re not “ideal”. Questioning what our ideals are and why they matter to us is important work that a lot of people do in their twenties and thirties. Good luck.
posted by rrrrrrrrrt at 11:54 PM on August 22, 2022 [7 favorites]

There are a surprising number of men who resist getting married because of a fear of commitment and some vague idea that some other more perfect partner is out there somewhere. So they leave or sabotage a good relationship with someone they really do love. Then, many years down the road when they decide they need to settle down, they do just that - they settle for whoever they are dating at the time. Ask some older men if their wife is the love of their life, or if there is the 'one who got away' because they got too skittish about committing. I bet you'll learn some interesting things.

I'm not saying this woman is definitely who you should marry, but don't make the same mistake lots of men have. Ideal partners aren't 'out there', they are co-created within a relationship.

And also 10 months is way to soon to know anyone well enough to make an informed decision about marriage anyway. Give yourself some time and don't ruin it by trying to anticipate and control all the outcomes.
posted by ananci at 7:34 AM on August 23, 2022 [2 favorites]

Best answer: She is not exactly "my type". I am attracted to her sexually, but she doesn't look like what my "ideal woman".

This is worth interrogating, with therapy or with super emotionally mature straight men. Part of moving into adulthood is letting go of ideas of anything about life being ideal. Even a great job can suck a lot. We fight or have disagreements with our best buddies. Our awesome apartment sometimes has an appliance break. We get mosquito bites or get lost hiking on our dream vacation. Life isn't the perfect fantasy we perhaps cultivated when we were young, and the notion of an ideal partner can be the kind of thing that can hold us back from realizing what's in front of us.

It's okay that you're not ready to get married, or decide to get married. You all have moved FAST. Living together after five months is fast; making this kind of decision in less than a year isn't a good approach anyway. Some therapists I really respect say you need to give a relationship a solid year before making any decisions like this.

It seems like going to that wedding messed with your head a bit. I think it would be great to talk to your partner about your fears, but please be very careful not to talk to her about how she's not your type or ideal physical woman. This is NOT something she needs to know or hear, and it will not lead to deeper understanding or respect. It is likely to be deeply hurtful to her and resonate with her for a long time (guess how I know!). But I do think it would be good to talk to some men you know, especially those who are a bit older and married and seem to be doing well, about this.

We don't partner with ideals, but real people.

Based on what you're saying, a script that might work is something along the lines of, "I love you so much, and things are going so well. I am very attracted to you. Going to that wedding really messed with my head and made me scared about making a huge commitment right now. Can we talk about this and what kind of timeline you have in mind?"
posted by bluedaisy at 1:24 PM on August 23, 2022 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: @obliterati That was thought provoking and something I really needed to read. Thank you internet stranger.


I am truly thankful with all of your advice, there is a lot of wisdom in this thread.

So I sat down and had a talk with my gf. I let her know how I felt by telling her I loved her and I was very happy in the relationship, but that indeed the wedding had messed me up, and I felt pressured about making a very important decision. She was understanding and very calmly told me I didn't had to make a decision right now and that we are just 10 months in (Just as pretty much everyone on this thread pointed out) that she is happy with our relationship and that we can start having these conversations later down the road.
posted by WhiteSatin at 4:38 PM on August 23, 2022 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Still, im going to sit down and really think about what do I expect/want from marriage/family and try to make it as realistic as possible. I do have to do some inner searching about what is what I value the most and as @bluedaisy commented letting go of ideas of anything about life being ideal.
posted by WhiteSatin at 4:42 PM on August 23, 2022 [2 favorites]

Just to give you some anecdata, I've been with my partner for 10 years and we're not married and are unlikely to get married unless we have to for legal or financial reasons. That's a decision we've made together for various reasons and it doesn't mean our relationship is any less worthy, intimate or satisfying than anyone else's.

If you had asked me at the beginning if I wanted to get married someday I would probably have said it would be nice. Over time my mind has changed. As long as you're both on the same page, that's what matters. Being married isn't the be all and end all of relationships between people, so I think it's also worth examining whether the concept of marriage is really necessary for you two to be happy.
posted by fight or flight at 9:25 AM on August 24, 2022 [1 favorite]

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