Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Trust doubts when deciding if he's husband material
Anonymous: I've been with my boyfriend for two years, and a few months ago I was ready for us to be engaged, but now I'm not sure.
That's almost a nonissue, though, because while he has said he intends to marry me, he also says he's not ready, thinks it's too soon, doesn't like the idea of growing up, thinks married people are boring, and — at age 29 — claims he's too young to get married.
He runs pretty hot and cold in general. Some days he's affectionate and supportive; some days he barely speaks to me — and we live together. He has a lot of great long-term qualities, like being financially responsible, successful professionally, and also a fun companion when we're out and about. But, Lord, the mood swings at home!
How do I sift through all of this?
Carolyn: You've already figured it out. When your desire to marry someone declines the more you get to know him, the only way the truth could make itself more obvious is if it headlined the Super Bowl halftime show.
Money is nice. People who generate killer cocktail-party banter are nice.
People who are unable and/or unwilling to contribute to a stable, warm and welcoming environment at home are hell on the people who live with them.
You already know this. You also probably can deduce that about 90 percent of your time together will be spent in the mundane circumstances of home life, and 10 percent of it "out and about," and that's assuming you're out a lot.
Of course, he may have an unforeseen emotional growth spurt and realize his pronouncements on maturity and marriage are self-important drivel, and that being hot-and-cold with someone who loves you isn't interesting, it's infantile and self-indulgent.
But if you don't see consistent displays of such maturity, by tomorrow, I strongly advise against even hoping it will happen. People come as-is, all sales final. Trust your doubts and save your heart for someone who has the "great long-term quality" of knowing how to treat others with respect.
Sometimes, differences are too much for couple to overcome
D.C.: I'm 32, was married for six months before my husband said he just didn't think we should be together, and now we're working on papers. He's got a lot of issues, so I try to remember that it's not me, it's him. But I'm a friendly, fun person. What I can't get over is why he wasn't able to have fun WITH ME. What can I do to shake it?
Carolyn: You are your idea of fun. That's great for you (self-acceptance is nothing to sneeze at), but others will have other ideas of fun. Even people who love you: Often, time just exposes fundamental differences that exciting new love can cover but comfy old love can't. It's sad, but there doesn't necessarily need to be significance beyond that; two perfectly good but very different people made a go of it, and it didn't stick.
It's certainly worth reflecting to see whether you missed any signs this was coming — but once you've done that reckoning, it's okay, and normal, just to be sad for a while as you adapt to life without him.