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Mensch Answers:

Dear bb,

Problems That Hide Beneath The Surface

Your description of your current relationship is full of seemingly conflicting characterizations, as well as an unfortunately all-too-familiar situation I've read about and observed in my own life: people staying in unsatisfying relationships believing things will get better or the partner will change with time.

The problems you are facing now cannot be pinned squarely on either partner's shoulders, and they are hiding just beneath the surface of what you wrote.

Let's explore a bit:

You May Be Pressuring Your Partners

You imply that you have been looking for a lifelong commitment since before you were 20.

Nuances? If she gives away the milk and the the cow, why would any guy want to marry her?

Whether or not you were actually ready for such a commitment at that age, the nuances of your behavior in the context of a relationship transmit certain signals to your partner, and if a person (man or woman) feels pressured or stifled, he/she may very well withdraw or flee. Possibly part of the reason you have received no proposals so far.

Try to seem ready, but not too eager. Challenging, but feasible.

Mixed Signals

More specifically, regarding your current boyfriend: It appears to me that you have settled into something of a pattern that is not entirely healthy for either of you, and that both of you are misinterpreting some signals the other sends out.

He May Not have The Financial Resources To Get Married

On the one hand, your boyfriend claims poverty as an excuse for not buying a ring to denote a commitment to an eventual wedding. You say the ring doesn't matter, but consider what is left unsaid here. Possibly, his lack of readiness for this major commitment, but more practically, the lack of resources to maintain a married household.

Marriage often implies starting a family, which carries many added financial expenses, not to mention the social, psychological, and personal changes and compromises required of each of you.

Another Bad Pattern: Lack Of Communication

Your other major point is the apparent inequality in basic responsibilities in a relationship (the cooking, cleaning, etc.). Again, you describe a pretty unhealthy pattern here that has at its base some lack of communication (there's my mantra again). He should certainly be more considerate and helpful and understanding of your desires, not to mention basic chores, but you need to talk about it more often than just every summer.

He's Distracting You From His Failings

In adjacent sentences, you call your boyfriend "lazy" and "sweet and genuine." It sounds to me like he's genuinely lazy with an occasional halfhearted, artificially sweetened effort aimed at getting you to forget his failings.

"This" IS Now

You say you don't know if you can live the rest of your life like this. "THIS" is what it is. "This" is who he is. You've had four and a half years to test the waters, and it seems like they're too cold. Being concerned for another's feelings is all well and good, but you have to look out for yourself and your own needs as a top priority.

Find Another

My bottom line? Cut your losses and hit the ground running, smarter and more seasoned than you were five years ago, and find a more compatible partner with whom you can grow old.

-- Mensch


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