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POLL RESULTS: Say "when"...: (22 comments)

POLL: Say "when"...

Friday, July 17, 2009 - 12:00 AM

A reader writes...Q: How much time must pass before it is permissible to demand that a man make a commitment? My boyfriend and I have been dating for three years. We spend nearly every night together, at my place or his. Our relationship is great (I think), but I am 30 and would like to have some sense of my future with this guy. He's had a few relationships before, and he said they ended when the women started to pressure him. Do I give him an ultimatum and risk losing him? I really don't want to get back into the dating game. Or should I give him more time?

POLL: After three years of intimate dating, this woman should...
 
7% (105) ... dump her non-committal boyfriend
 
42% (603) ... give him a deadline, and be prepared to walk
 
37% (538) ... give him enough space to let him see what life would be like without her
 
1% (17) ... start seeing other men on the sly (just in case)
 
9% (132) ... be patient -- these things always work out
 
2% (40) ... try harder to please him
1435 people have voted in this poll. (This poll is not active.)
VictorTyne
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Re: Say "when"... (Score: 1)
posted Friday, July 17, 2009 - 01:47 AM (#48535)

There needs to be a selection under the poll for "Grow up and learn that 'commitment' and 'ownership' are two different things."

If you're treating your boyfriend as "time invested" and want him to make some kind of binding commitment to you so that you can parade him around as "yours", then you've probably already lost him.

Commitment isn't something you agree upon or force upon someone else. It's something that naturally happens when each person decides that they want to be with each other for the rest of their lives.

If you really like this guy, and you want to have a future with him because of who he is and not just the fact that being in a relationship is a status symbol for you, then you should work on your own personality and maturity until he makes the decision that he wants to be with you for the rest of his life.


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DanialArin
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Re: Say "when"... (Score: 1)
posted Friday, July 17, 2009 - 02:10 AM (#48536)

There's no guarantees in a situation like this. It sounds like you want a future with this guy but aren't sure you're going to have one, like you're ready to give the "fish or cut bait" speech but are afraid of the answer. And asking this question can be one of the biggest risks you ever take with your heart and your future.

Choose your words carefully. Don't put the onus entirely on him. You're clearly reluctant to just press the issue because you know it makes him uncomfortable, let him see that as well.

Suggestions you can take or leave...
- "We've been together a while" (don't give the specific length of time; hard figures have hard edges, and you're looking for soft and comfortable);
- "I like what we have";
- "some things I'd like to do/have/experience in life";
- "I'd like to do/have/experience them with you";
- "don't want to hurt you, but I don't want to get hurt down the line either"
- "Do you see us together for the long term?";

You can ask a mutual friend to try to feel out his perspective on this. Preferably a guy; it'll be less threatening. And preferably someone who's known him since before you started dating; he'll be more honest with himself talking to them than he will with you or another girl. But it's got to be someone with tact. Presented right, he'll realize he needs to decide what he wants. Presented wrong, it'll set off the alarm bells that you need to have blanketed.


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CasualNotice
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Re: Say "when"... (Score: 1)
posted Friday, July 17, 2009 - 06:47 AM (#48538)

There needs to be a selection for "Butch up and make the commitment yourself." I'm sorry, but slouching around waiting for him to jump into the pool isn't going to do anyone any good.

I'd strongly advise you ask him to move in with you, citing the financial difficulties that you both face maintaining 1-1/2 households in these parlous times (and offer to move in with him--really, whoever has the better house/apartment). Once your sure you can stand each other in a day-to-day situation, you'll both feel more secure in making the commitment to marriage.

And, let's be honest, the kind of "pressure" that women often put on men to get married (or engaged, or whatever is their watershed for commitment) is usually some sort of silly passive-agressive hint/cry/fight combination that they seem to thin is subtle but really is just annoying.


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Jino_SilverflamE
Jino_SilverflamE

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Re: Say "when"... (Score: 1)
posted Friday, July 17, 2009 - 07:07 AM (#48539)

I believe the guy should be left to make his life-changing decisions for himself.
He has already stated pressuring him is not a good idea, and I can not only understand that, but also relate to it.
Think of it this way - you've been together for three years, which can be considered a decent, but neither a long, nor short period of time. Some times guys need even more time than that, sometimes - much less.
Also, think of his possible fears - you say you spend nearly every NIGHT together. But you don't live together, so you can't be sure it will work out, are you?
I, personally, believe it's wrong to pressure anyone for commitment, and think that, from what you've said, it's still too early for it as well.
Try making your relationship more "serious" bit by bit. I've had personal experiences with years-long relationships gone wrong, and I'm still glad I never proposed back then. Some day, I will, and that day is inevitable. But some guys, like me, just need more time to feel secure and certain of the choice ahead of them.
Be patient. Enjoy your relationship. And if it keeps on working ok, he will come to the idea of commitment on his own.
It is my opinion, that ultimatums and pressure spell almost certain end to a relationship.


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Caffeine
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Re: Say "when"... (Score: 1)
posted Friday, July 17, 2009 - 07:59 AM (#48540)

At least you should talk with him about the commitment issue. Usually even if men are not as comfortable about commitments (at least not the ones I know, or the one who happens to be the other half of "my" relationship), at least they should understand the topic. Try to find out what each one of you expects from the future, what you want to (or can) have together and how you want to live in 10 or 15 years. Best case - he proposes to you within three days. Worst case - he runs for the hills. Probably his reaction will be somewhere inbetween, and you can start working from that point.

(NO, don't pressure him. Find out if you want to be with him more than you want a commitment, and make your decision.)


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TheOriginalJes
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Re: Say "when"... (Score: 1)
posted Friday, July 17, 2009 - 08:53 AM (#48541)

After 3 years of the status quo, I'm not sure that you won't be dragging this guy down every major life-decision that you'll need to make together. I know, because I can be pretty resistant to change, myself.

I think you should definitely talk about the things you want from your future, whether it's together or not. If he's on-board with it, you'll know. If he isn't, it may be best to start spending more nights apart.

Either way, it's best to avoid approaching this with the expectation of a confrontation. Sometimes just the mood can change the meaning of everything you wish to communicate. Staying positive and living for the moment is at the core of what I'm suggesting.

Just start making plans and setting dates.

Maybe look for a new place that the two of you can move into, so that neither of you feels that it's mine/his/her place, and the other is just a long-term guest.

Open a joint bank account, if you haven't already. (Did you know, that if you file your income taxes jointly, and claim married status; you have to go through a legal divorce to claim single in the future? I'm not saying trap him that way. But joining assets definitely makes a statement to one-another.)

Or, maybe you should be the one to propose. If he's a good guy, and you don't mind being the one to take the reigns in the relationship, just do it. Show him that you're willing to put yourself out there. If he's an "in the moment" kinda guy, he may love that.


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nemodos
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Re: Say "when"... (Score: 1)
posted Friday, July 17, 2009 - 08:59 AM (#48542)
In Response to VictorTyne (#48535):

The idea of recognizing the difference between commitment and ownership is key here. You also mentioned that you want to feel some sense of your future with this man. Is knowing he's committed to you via a ritualized practice the same as seeing his commitment through the last three years? I imagine if he weren't committed to you right now, you wouldn't still be spending every night together after three years. Having to put a ring on a finger or sign a certificate doesn't change the actual commitment; it just changes how it is viewed, both by insiders and outsiders of the relationship. Until he views it as something he wants, it'll be a reminder of him selling himself.


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Me gustas cuando callas porque estás como ausente... --Pablo Neruda
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Lachesis
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Re: Say "when"... (Score: 1)
posted Friday, July 17, 2009 - 09:38 AM (#48547)

what it sounds like it boils down to is, he's perfectly happy with the status quo, and you're not.

and since he's already dangled the implied threat "if i'm pressured, i'll split", i'd say the answer is obviously not to pressure him if you're hoping he'll stay.

that does not mean he gets to have his cake and eat it too, necessarily.

so DON'T pressure him about "committing" to the relationship. but sit him down and say you have some concerns that you'd like to talk about. things like:

if someone gets a better job offer in a different place, will the other party come along or stay behind?

if someone has sudden health problems (hey, accidents can happen!), will the other party be in any position to do more than just occasional hospital visits? will they be able to cover things like bills that need paying? rent/mortgages/utilities don't go on hold while you're incapacitated, you know)

there's any number of other important issues that ought to be ironed out, and none of them require mentioning the "M" word. but i'm pretty sure you'll get a good idea of which way the wind blows from how these discussions shake out.


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NunyaBidness
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Re: Say "when"... (Score: 1)
posted Friday, July 17, 2009 - 10:11 AM (#48548)

Lachesis speaks sooth.

The "Don't pressure me" line is a man's passive-aggressive way of getting what he wants. He's basically saying, "You get my terms, or I walk. Maybe. If I feel like it." That's hardly equitable.

So, ask about those possible futures--injury, travel, jobs--and if he's not interested in considering them or just shrugs them off, he's not going to commit.

And spending each night at the same person's apartment does not constitute a "relationship" of itself. The fact that marriage would signify a difference in your and the public's mind is because it IS different. My wife and I were a couple long before we were married.

As it is, he has no rights, and no responsibilities. He can not show up tomorrow. He can move away. He can't really help if you're injured since he's not next of kin. He has a long-term, nearby boinkbuddy with no strings attached.


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Nylter
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Re: Say "when"... (Score: 1)
posted Friday, July 17, 2009 - 11:37 AM (#48552)

The old saw applies, I think. "Why buy the cow if the milk's for free?" He doesn't need to give a commitment above and beyond what you've got now because quite frankly, the status quo is good enough for him. He's got no strings tying him down, and yes, I agree about the passive/aggressive don't pressure me BS. I wouldn't say he's a committment-phobe. He's made a committment to be there and be good to you. He just doesn't want to do more. He wants to be able to walk when he wants without things getting "messy". As if emotional divorces aren't just as messy as legal ones. *snort*

You, however, want more, for whatever reason. Is it fair to you to feel dangled? Nope. But if there's a mismatch in life goals, then don't stay. Give a deadline, but don't be mean or malicious or demanding on it. Just say, look, I want something more formal. While what we have now is awesome, I want something more traditional, the whole white picket fence and such. Or whatever your reasons are. If he chooses to not make the next step, move on with an understanding that not for me is an acceptable reason for ending a relationship.

I'm going to point out that there's a whole host of reasons to legalize a relationship that have nothing to do with love and everything to do with rights. Health insurance, legal hospital visiting rights, inheritance rights, beneficiaries on insurance, and a whole bunch of other useful rights are being left on the table by not having a formal arrangement. Things to consider.


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Justaman
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Re: Say "when"... (Score: 1)
posted Friday, July 17, 2009 - 12:27 PM (#48555)
In Response to Nylter (#48552):

Tough situation. I am a guy and have a lot of female friends, and what I tell them when they ask me about ultimatums is what are you planning to do if he calls your bluff? That’s when things can REALLY get bad. He knows he can call your bluff and you resent him because he knows it. Ask yourself the tougher question and truly imagine it in your mind and heart; If you gave him an ultimatum and he said no, what would YOU do? As long as the answer is that you would stay with him, I would not bring it up. If the answer ever becomes, “It would break my heart, but I would have to move on to see if there is someone out there for me who will want a commitment”, then it's ultimatum time. But it won’t be easy, in my experience, even successful ultimatums, can take months or years to get a guy to realize (if he ever does) that he wants to be with you forever. You have to be ready to forget him and move on with your life IF you give the ultimatum, which I am not recommending unless you are truly ready to move on and begin dating again. Because, what is the use of leaving him if you don’t get back out there and look for Mr. Right?


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TheOriginalJes
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Re: Say "when"... (Score: 1)
posted Friday, July 17, 2009 - 12:39 PM (#48556)
In Response to Nylter (#48552):

-"I'm going to point out that there's a whole host of reasons to legalize a relationship that have nothing to do with love and everything to do with rights. Health insurance, legal hospital visiting rights, inheritance rights, beneficiaries on insurance, and a whole bunch of other useful rights are being left on the table by not having a formal arrangement. Things to consider."-

My wife and I aren't "legally" married. And that's the way we prefer it, for now.

After 10-1/2 years, I have to say that, from the things you've mentioned, marriage only has an impact on health insurance, as long as your other paperwork is in order. It's strange, but our health insurance costs would more than double if we married and consolidated our policies.

Life insurance beneficiaries are named on the policy by the insured. Updated wills detail inheritance issues. Hospitals don't really police visitors. I haven't really encountered any other situation where our word wasn't good enough.


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Azerik
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Re: Say "when"... (Score: 1)
posted Friday, July 17, 2009 - 03:57 PM (#48559)

If you want marriage and kids and the whole proverbial enchilada, then ask him to marry you.

There is a lingering fantasy that there has to be violins, candlelight, and the guy on bended knee, but there is nothing that says you can't propose to him. He's never going to propose to you so if you want to take the relationship that direction then you are going to need to do it.

Guys are fundamentally lazy and don't want to change a good thing for fear of losing it. We are generally afraid of "marriage" because of all the stereotypical baggage that is associated with it. We dread the coming of the bridal magazines, we don't really care what kind of flowers are at the center of the table at the reception, we'd probably prefer burgers and dogs from the BBQ than cold poached salmon and crust-less finger sandwiches.

If this guy bails at the first sign of real commitment, then you are probably better off without him. If he has issues in this department it will likely lead to all sorts of relationship trouble in years to come. Right now if he bails then there is little harm done, ten years from now there may be kids involved.

So, I'm in the "fish or cut bait" camp. Don't make it hostile, but lay out for him that you want more than what you have. You want to build a life *together* rather than the hybrid separate ones you have now. After 3+ years he will be ready for marriage if he is ever going to be, more time won't help.

Whatever you do, don't force him. If he seems reluctant still (not nervous, because no matter how ready you are you will still get nervous, this is a big life change even if it is only the difference of a piece of paper) then prep the withdrawal because if you force him then all he's going to do is sabotage things. The damage is bad enough in a situation like that if it's just the two of you, but you don't want that sabotage to occur after a kid or three.

Ultimately marriage (or permanent commitment) is a destruction of your personality. The two individuals that you both were are subsumed into the couple that you become. That is scary for anyone. You are still you, but you the individual is subordinate to you the wife or you the husband. The two of you really become new people (which is why after marriage many people lose touch with single friends, they really are different people).


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Neebat
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Re: Say "when"... (Score: 1)
posted Friday, July 17, 2009 - 07:27 PM (#48563)

I voted "Dump her non-committal boyfriend", but that's a last resort.

I'd actually recommend couple's therapy...

You need a "commitment" so you can plan your future. Does that mean you need to know he's going to be with you forever? Well, good luck. It doesn't happen that way even in marriage.

He fears "commitment". Maybe he thinks it means he'll never get time to himself? Who knows?

A "commitment" means something different to you than it does to him, and you need an interpreter.


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zmortis
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Re: Say "when"... (Score: 1)
posted Friday, July 17, 2009 - 08:37 PM (#48564)

This has a lot to do with both your and his expectations in your relationship. Personally I recommend a two year rule of thumb when it comes to continuing relaitonships. If after your first two years of being exclusive with someone you don't see yourself spending the rest of your life with them, then it is time to consider a parting of the ways. Otherwise you are just burning down the clock on spending your life with someone else.

This does not require the formality of marriage or a legal agreement for the couple, but it does require a commitment to not just hang around until someone better comes along for one of you. My surface feeling is this is just what this guy has done to other girlfriends before you, and will do to you eventually. When he gets bored of you, he will move on feeling that he doesn't owe you anything since there was never a commitment except on your part.

Frankly if you envision a need for a wedding date or other sign of commitment in order to feel happy in your life I think it is time for the talk. Tell him you are not getting any younger, and that you want to find the person who will commit to spending their golden years with you. If he doesn't want to be that person then tell him that is fine and thanks for the fun times, but it's time for you to move on to someone better.

I'm not saying a marriage is any guarantee of a lasting commitment, things do happen to people as they live their lives together. However, him saying he will never commit to you is a clear sign that he's only interested in the good times, and not the bad ones. That's his choice, but it will be him spending his golden years without a family or a spouse to share them with him.

I hope this helps.


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Murgatroyd
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Re: Say "when"... (Score: 1)
posted Saturday, July 18, 2009 - 03:17 AM (#48571)

Our relationship is great (I think), but I am 30 and would like to have some sense of my future with this guy.

I can't help but notice that you didn't use the "L-word." Do you love him? Does he love you?

Do you tell him that you love him? If so, how does he react? And if not, what the hell are you doing boinking this guy for three years, other than giving each other cheap orgasms?


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Capesnbabes
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Re: Say "when"... (Score: 1)
posted Saturday, July 18, 2009 - 02:21 PM (#48579)

Although, at first, I was about to say I couldn't agree with the post that a three year relationship is neither a long or short relationship, I had to recall that my wife and I dated for almost a year and a half while I was in my last year of college and than we lived together for two years. But in my mind, we WERE in a long-term relationship and three years IS a long term relationship.

But anyway, my wife finally had to give me the "milk and cow" speech. It wasn't because I didn't love her. I knew I did. I just didn't see the need to go through all that WORK that you have to do for a wedding. As others have said, guys can tend to be REALLY lazy or in my case, just REALLY caught up in the routines of life. Many guys don't like to give up their "comfort zone". I was that way until my wife told me how she was feeling about our relationship. It's funny... sometimes, the more comfortable a guy is feeling about something, the more stressed out a woman feels about the same thing. A guy can be happy not having kids and a women will be worried she'll never have one. A guy can be completely satisfied at a dead-end job and a woman will worry is he has any job security or if he lacks motivation to "move up the corporate ladder". And the flip-side can occur too... a guy could hate his house for being too small while his wife loves the intimacy and coziness of it.

Anyway, getting back on track... it does sound like the guy has his "I'm gonna bolt" speech well in hand but I would say BOTH couples have to be ready to call each other's bluff - it's not a one way street. Is the guy REALLY ready to bolt if he's "pressured? Is the girl REALLY ready to move on if her guy doesn't want to commit?

Again, sometimes guys have to be prodded into doing something that they probably want to do but just lack motivation to do so. That was the situation with me and my wife. I just needed the proper kick in the butt to get motivated.

It's kind of like working at a job that pays "okay". You know you need to find a job that pays better (marriage) but you know how much work it's going to take (writing a resume, doing a daily job search, sending out resumes) so you make excuses why it's more feasible to stay at your current job (relationship status). But sometimes, you need a real kick in the butt (need a new car, get laid off, etc) before you can see all the benefits a new job can bring and that's it's really not a "scary" as you might imagine.


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EDJacker
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Re: Say "when"... (Score: 1)
posted Sunday, July 19, 2009 - 06:25 PM (#48596)

Laziness? Really, is that the issue at hand? "I would marry you, but that's a lot of invitations to fill out."

Here's the deal, men live the majority, if not entirety, of their lives with full reproductive capabilities. Without that ticking biological clock, they always look at marriage from the "til death do you part" perspective. You're looking at the next 10 years. He's looking at the next 50. You're asking him to wager on the two of you continuing to be compatible until one of you dies. With the penalty of your lives being turned upside down if it doesn't work out down the road.

Please, just ask him if he wants to get married. If he doesn't and that's not good enough for you, move on. Better to start fresh than to force the matter and create resentment.


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Jorn
Jorn

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Re: Say "when"... (Score: 1)
posted Monday, July 20, 2009 - 01:58 AM (#48603)

"He's had a few relationships before, and he said they ended when the women started to pressure him."

But at what stage in those prior relationships did that pressure appear? Marriage talk at 6 months into a relationship is very different from the same take after 3 years.

It seems to me that many men fear marriage because in means massive change - the fear is that the relationship will change after the official wedding. But the word marriage doesn't appear in the original question. Do you want to get married, or do you just want him to declare his commitment? Do you want to move in together? Do you want to have children? Do you want to get married before having kids?

And what are his answers to those questions? If your answers align, then it's just a matter of working out a timeframe, or at least sequence of events, that you'll both be happy with. If your answers don't match up, if you have different life goals that are taking you in different directions, then it might well be time to move on.


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Sa souvraya niende missain ye; I am lost in my own mind.
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Jorn
Jorn

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Re: Say "when"... (Score: 1)
posted Monday, July 20, 2009 - 02:12 AM (#48604)

I'm not submitting an answer to the poll because I'm appalled by the options-
Dump him, give him an ultimatum, start distancing yourself, start cheating on him, do nothing, or focus on his desires.

Where's the option for Just smegging talk to him. Don't threaten, don't demand, don't yell, just have a conversation. Share your point of view, and get him to share his.


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Sa souvraya niende missain ye; I am lost in my own mind.
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mike123
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Re: Say "when"... (Score: 1)
posted Monday, August 03, 2009 - 07:38 PM (#48708)

Well, if you want it to go in the commitment stage...3 years is absoutely enough time to wait. You need to shock him ..and see how he responds. SOme guys get complacent and if they don;t need to commit they will not..up the ante and see how he really feels about you as a long term prospect. And if he turns out to take you for granted..just send your contact info and a photo my way.


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mike123
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Re: Say "when"... (Score: 1)
posted Monday, August 03, 2009 - 08:51 PM (#48710)

In all seriousness you need to either just sit down with him and discuss the issue lightly to see how he responds. If he just brushes it off then change your behavior...spend less time with him overall and watch his reactions.

Now, I have one for you.....I met a really great girl and we hit it off really well..plenty of conversation, chemistry, etc. after the first meeting we were both emailing to each other daily saying she wanted to see me again and going as far as suggesting times and dates..I usually had my own ideas and she liked them. On the third date we went to a nice Art event and had light drinks..she agreed to go to a lounge where we had an amazing conversation and she dropped a bomb on me...she was living with her boyfriend about 20 years her senior (she is 29) for 3 years..she said she does not see the relationship going anywhere. And he has not asked for marriage (already divorced). She said she is not looking for marriage either. I said that did not concern me that I just enjoyed spending time with her - sincere and true. She said that is a huge relief off her shoulders...then I said I can massage them and she accepted. We went back to my place and she was actually excited to be there..We stood in the moonlight and from behind I moved in slowly lightly touching her then she slowly turned around and kissed her, and moved inside to my bed where we had the most passionate make out session for nearly 40 minutes. As we were right on the cusp of having sex..we were so into each other. She said it was too late..that her boyfriend would be calling (it was almost 2AM). We were not drunk and sooo into one another. I kept going, kissing, caressing, dry humping, and she was too. Then she said again it was too late (time) and she should go. I again appeared not to listen and kept going..but never actually tried to take her panties off (that is all she had on at that point). The third time she mentioned it and I did not acknowledge it...but inside it bothered me. Finally a minute later I said okay, I better get you home. We both reluctantly got up, and joined for another kiss while standing. Her face was so flushed and literally mesmerized..in a dreamy state. She asked me don't you need to relieve yourself? I nearly took her back to the bed ....but my "strategic" thinking was that by choosing to stop now it would show a bit of respect and surely, since she was so into me nearly guaranteed a great time next time we met. On the way to her place her boyfriend actually did call her. She immediately wrote me an email the next day saying how amazing I made her feel and she does not want to stop..and she wants me to stay in her life.
The next time we met we were still very into each other but she said she felt guilty about what we were doing (we got hot and heavy again) and said she could not do it..could not deal with managing the emotional situation of doing what we are doing and her boyfriend. Can you imagine how frustrating that felt to me..after literally giving up sex the previous night? Over the next week she wrote me several emails saying how guilty she felt and that she could not take lying to her boyfriend about where she is going (when doing things with me). And that she wants me in her life but understands if I would not want to stick around it would be her loss. I have invited her to do things (all kinds of fun things - day and evening) she says she would be interested but it is hard to make up stories (her bf owns a business and he may be home a lot). After being a bit confused about the log jam that occurred I contacted her about 3 xs week either by email or phone but she said she needed space and she wants to "fit" me into her life but needs time. She agreed to go to a monthly Art event (this is an activity her bf does not mind) ..and was pro-active about wanting to go to happy hour with me but..after her uncomfort and guilt business I actually did not try anything..I did not even kiss her..but was otherwise affectionate...at the end of the evening she (for the first...

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