Q: I have been dating this guy for a year and a half and I have lived with him for almost a year. He tells me that if he didn't see a future with me then he wouldn't be living with me. He is in his 30s and I'm in my mid-20s. I'm ready to settle down and start a family. One minute he will say that us getting married is a possibility and he is ready to have kids, then the next he just isn't ready. I feel as if I am being toyed with sometimes. Most of the time we get along really well, and if we have any disagreements they are over really quickly. I am just worried that he will NEVER be ready, and that he is too comfortable with the way things are (he even makes comments that he already feels married). I love him very much, and he treats me really well. I can't picture my life without him, but how long should you stick around in a relationship before something happens?
Dr. Susan: Well, sure, he's happier than you are at the moment: he has what he wants and you don't. Sounds like you're much readier to CHANGE your relationship than he is, by adding a baby to it. And believe me, that will change your dynamic much more than you can imagine. You're only in your mid-20s, so your biological clock has a few more years before you need to begin panicking.
I wonder if he'd be more willing to commit to getting married if he didn't hear you saying that the minute you get married, a baby is next on the agenda. It makes practical sense that you're not willing to "waste" a lot of your most fertile years while he makes up his mind whether you're the permanent partner he's seeking, but I can also see that he isn't ready to have a baby after only being alone with you for a year or so.
Consider a compromise and an ultimatum, in that order. One more year of living together and then he either chooses to commit for keeps, or you leave and find someone who wants a kid as much as you do. But don't keep harping on it meanwhile. After all, is he just a conduit to having a baby or do you really love him madly for himself? If I were him, that's what I would be wondering.
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Susan K. Perry, Ph.D.
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D., is a social psychologist, relationship expert, and bestselling and award-winning author. Her books include Loving in Flow: How the Happiest Couples Get and Stay That Way, and Kylie's Heel, a novel for adults.
Pamela G. Chollet, Ph.D.
Dr. Pamela Chollet has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and Master degrees in educational psychology and fine arts. Her passion has been helping people face and get through those times when they feel trapped and unable to move forward.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, stress management expert, and author. If you're feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, or struggling to make changes in your life, Anna can help.