My boyfriend and I have been together for almost two years. We recently ran into a major issue: his fear of commitment, and my wanting one. Recently, he decided that he wanted a break. At first he said that he didn’t think that we should date anymore but he wanted to remain best friends, then after a week and half, he called me telling me that he is scared of losing me, and feared that if he didn’t get back together with me that he would. I told him that was not the case, that I would always be a part of his life because I love and respect as a person and would love to have him there as my friend. It wasn’t too long after that, about a week, that we were together again, and everything felt wonderful. Soon after, about 3 days later, he and I had a discussion that made me upset, and with that he had said that he felt like were going in circles, and so decided that we needed a break again. I had agreed, and told him that we had rushed into things, and that we needed time to figure ourselves out. My boyfriend’s confusion lies in the fact that he has admitted that he doesn’t know who he is. He says that he doesn’t want to hurt me, and the he wants to make sure that I’m the one for him. We are “exclusive”, meaning that he and I are not sexually with anyone else. For right now he says that we are together but at the same time there is no “commitment”, meaning that there is no guarantee of wedding bells. He says that he wants to make sure that I’m the one for him, and so he wants to take things slowly. He also says that he doesn’t want to string me along and mess with my head – he is just taking his time to make sure that he wants to put that ring on my finger. I am being as supportive as I can be, and trying to understand what he wants and what he is doing. I can’t really explain the depth of my relationship in words. It surpasses anything that I have ever known or felt with anyone else. We have been so deeply in love and just as we are about to make that full commitment, he distanced himself fearing that he could be making a mistake. He wants to make things work, which is why he has not completely left me. My question then is, how do you reassure someone, or help someone see that commitment is not as scary as it seems? What is it that I can do to help him see that committing to me means a lifetime of love and support? I don’t know what else to do.
Hello! Let’s begin by me asking you a question: what’s so important about being married? It appears that you have everything you really want in a partner. You have an amazingly deep emotional relationship, you have love, you have a best friend, you have someone that is always there beside you and that has committed in every other way – other than marriage. What are you really missing? I tell women this all the time: if you’re goal is to be married, don’t wait for your boyfriend – I’ll bet you could find someone this next weekend that would marry you! Just go out and ask a bunch of guys – one of them will say “yes”. However, if your goal is to have a great relationship, don’t focus on the “format” – focus on the quality! Believe me, marriage rarely makes a relationship better – and in fact, it often hurts it. It’s far better to have a terrific, fulfilling relationship, than a bad marriage. Now, let’s take a look at how marriage is different for men and women. This should help you to understand why your boyfriend is reluctant to be married. To women, marriage means security, family, future, enhanced social standing, and many other things. Little girls are sold on the image of the huge “white wedding” where she is the star and focus of the entire show. She gets gifts, has parties, gets all of her friends and loved ones together to celebrate her special day. Sounds pretty good! To men, marriage means responsibility, a loss of freedom, a “working future”, (one where he has to remain employed to support the family), a loss of choice, (he now has someone else he has to consult to make decisions), and many other things that “take away from” a lifestyle rather than adding to it. The trade off is supposed to be a regular sexual partner, but frankly, sex is the most common aspect of a relationship to suffer in a marriage! When you look at things from this perspective, it doesn’t seem so wonderful does it? Can you understand now why your boyfriend is afraid of getting engaged? So, you have a couple of choices:
1) Go find someone that shares your goals and will marry you;
2) “Force” your boyfriend to marry you, or lose you forever;
3) Focus on the quality of the relationship you have now, and see if; as his love for you grows, he comes to the conclusion that he wants to be with you the rest of his life.
If you chose #3; I’d suggest that you make one other decision. Decide if you can live without being married. If you can’t, then decide how long you’re willing to wait without being married. You don’t have to share this with your boyfriend either! Let’s say you decide to see what happens in 5 years, and if by that time he still feels the same way, you want to move on and find someone that shares your goals. On the other hand, perhaps you’ll change your mind! One last thing: if you both agree that children are part of your future, I urge you to also agree that you’ll only bring children into a married relationship! Your kids deserve this, and having kids isn’t about you any more – it’s entirely about what’s best for them.