Q: I have been with my boyfriend for 2 1/2 years. It appears he would like a family and marriage, but I am not sure it is with me. When he speaks of the future, he says "the woman I marry" or "my kids" but not "our children." He knows very well that I want a family and that my reproductive timing is coming to a close, now at 33. We are not engaged or living together.
Complicating things more, we have had career changes that have meant starting anew, maybe moving. I feel as if when he pictures a future, it is not with me. Do I risk what I want — a family, children — for a man who may or may not want that, who may move home and decide this is (I am) not what he wants? How does one know?
Anonymous and Lost
A: One doesn't. But, one does know when one is dating a straight-shooter. You aren't. At least, he hasn't been one yet, and instead has communicated in hints, carefully chosen nouns and broad pronouncements of helplessness in the face of "The Future." The other name for it: "preserving options."
You, meanwhile, compound that problem by immersing yourself in the role of hint-interpreter and status-quo-preserver, instead of looking squarely at him and saying, "About that woman you marry. We're on Year 3. Are you in, or not?"
When you're years deep into someone and not being treated to the directness you deserve, a "Now what?"-type query tends to be more rhetorical than anything else. Your direct query would serve mostly to provide you with confirmation and him with due notice that you're done parsing hints. If he refers again to an uncertain future, end his suspense by noting it won't include you.