Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Eternal Girlfriend Syndrome

"I'm a 28 year old woman, in a commited relationship with a guy for 1 year now. My boyfriend wants to move in with me. I'm excited and want that, but I am afraid that I will become like those couples that don't ever marry. What should I do?

You're right to be concerned.

I've known several couples like the kind you mentioned that move in together and never marry. I call it the Eternal Girlfriend Syndrome. Kay, you're boyfriend could have any one of a gazillion reasons to want to move in with you. They are all valid but they aren't all in line with your goals. I'm assuming from your concern that you want to get married. He could want to move in as a step toward marriage, to try out how the two of you do sharing household chores and finances, working as a team, living and melding day to day. Maybe he's ready to take the next step and for him this is it.

Or..... he could want to move in with marriage as the last thing on his mind. Maybe you have a nicer place than he does, maybe he sees the financial benefit. Maybe he really likes you and the relationship and in his mind this is all positive but he just doesnt want to get married. Maybe he thinks this is as far as it goes.

The important thing here is communication. Before he moves in you have to have a heart to heart. The fact that you wrote concerned you'd not marry tells me you haven't talked this through with the boyfriend yet. Or, if you have, it did not go the way you had hoped.

If you are marriage minded and the boyfriend isn't then moving in together is not something I'd recommend. I'm not saying he has to pick a date and a china pattern. I'm saying if he is saying things like, "I don't know if I ever want to get married," then this is a mistake. He should at least be open.

I hate that expression: why buy the cow when the milk is free. But the theory is valid and doesn't apply just to sex. If you decide that he isn't taking this step as a move toward marriage, and marriage is really what you want, by moving in together you're indirectly telling him you're fine with his plan. Why would he re-think it if he's gotten everything he wanted?

Once you're living together he is in a position of comfort and you are in a position of being the Eternal Girlfriend, never the wife. You need to talk to him and tell him what you want, ask him what he wants, and maybe even set up a time table. I did. When my husband moved in with me 11 years ago I told him I wanted the ring on my finger within a year. He was good with that.

Kay, you can't make someone marry you that doesn't want to. Asking him his feelings isn't going to sway or change his mind about things. So don't be afraid to bring this up. Listen to what he actualy says, not what you want to hear, and don't move in together if you have different desires for the future.

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