Dear Wendy: “Why Won’t She Label Our Relationship?”
For four years I’ve been really good friends with an on and off girlfriend, during which time it’s been back and forth between sexual intimacy and more of a best-friend relationship. Whenever I bring up the idea of something more permanent, she gets evasive. In undergrad it was easy to skate around this; we both saw other people occasionally, and while we wouldn’t go into details we remained very close, often returning to each other for what was familiar and ‘safe.’ I am leaning towards wanting a permanent relationship with her. I already feel like we’re in a tacit monogamous relationship because neither of us has been out on a date with another person in at least a year, sometimes we spend weeks on end at each others places, other times when life catches up we may miss each other for a week or two, but we’ll still talk every day. The bottom line is that getting to the head of the conversation with her seems really hard. We communicate really well otherwise, but I think she purposefully evades the conversation because she doesn’t want to commit. At this point, what would the difference be by putting a label on it? — Confused in DC
Not going out with anyone else for over a year isn’t a good enough reason to commit. Just because neither one of you has been actively seeking the company of others (that you know of) doesn’t mean that you couldn’t or wouldn’t find someone else you like being with better. Obviously, the girl you have sex with on and off isn’t ready to rule out that possibility … and you shouldn’t be either. Don’t let the safety of something familiar keep you from finding a great match — one who might like to actually call herself your girlfriend eventually. Get out there are find some other women to go out with. Let your friend know you’re dating other people since you’re ready for something a bit more permanent and she’s unwilling to commit. If that doesn’t get her to take you and your relationship a little more seriously, you’ll know once and for all where you really stand with her.
I have been dating a guy for almost a year and a half now. When we first started dating we used to talk about marriage and having kids. Recently — about 5 or 6 months ago — he completely flipped opinions and is now saying he never wants to get married and doesn’t want children. I love him with all my heart and I knew he was the one I wanted to spend the rest of my life with shortly after we started dating. He has Type 1 diabetes and I know that one of his fears of getting married and having children is that he will die one day and leave me with small children or alone. I also know that he is fearful that he will pass on the diabetes to our child. I want to spend the rest of my life with him but if he doesn’t want to get married and have children, I feel like I shouldn’t have to give up my dreams of being a wife and mother one day. Please help! I just don’t know what to do. — Eager To Be A Wife
Well, talking marriage and babies when you’re first dating would be enough to freak out a lot of guys, diabetic or not, but since your boyfriend hung around and seemed to be on board, I have to ask: What happened in his life or your relationship six months ago to change his mind? I mean, he knew he was diabetic before he started dating you, right? The whole first year you were together and talking marriage and kids, he knew he was diabetic, so it doesn’t make sense he would suddenly do a 180 without some instigating factor. You don’t just go from totally wanting something one day to never wanting it the next, unless something happened to change your mind. So, either your boyfriend never really wanted to get married and have kids with you — and was just saying those things to keep you around — or he’s not being completely open with you.
You need to sit down and have a real heart-to-heart talk with your boyfriend. It’s important for you both to understand that plenty of diabetics — my own father included — live long lives and manage to raise perfectly happy and healthy families. It’s a chronic disease, sure, but one that can be managed. I suspect he knows that already if he’s been living with the disease for a while. So, if you love this man and you want to spend the rest of your life with him, talk to him. Find out why, when you were started talking marriage and kids, the idea of being a diabetic husband and father didn’t scare him, but suddenly a year into the relationship, he’s singing a different tune. It may be the pressure of fulfilling your dreams that scares him. It may be that he was never as into the idea as you thought. You’ll never know until you ask. And if it does turn out he really isn’t interested in marrying you, there’s no reason you have to give up your dreams of being a wife and mother one day. Trust me, he’s not the only potential mate for you out there.
*Do you have a relationship/dating question I can help with? Send me your letters at firstname.lastname@example.org.