Trust maturity, compatibility on your decision over relationship
Q: My boyfriend and I have been together for five years now, and we are in our mid-20s. We both agree we are very happy together right now, as well as in the foreseeable future. He does not, however, really believe in projecting deep into the future and basing major decisions on how we might feel — for instance, "We might still want to be together in 45 years, so let's get married now."
I, however, do think it is feasible — to a certain extent. You figure out how you feel now, look at problems, project reasonably, then take a leap of faith. I want the leap of faith in order to feel secure in our future together; he doesn't think it is important.
Really, I want to know that if we have kids together, I will not be a single mom like my mom; if I/our life is too boring, he will not leave me for more excitement while I raise the children (I want adventure, too); that he will be there with me through thick and really, really thin.
I guess I just accept that he is saying he cannot give those assurances. I would enjoy my (great) life so much more if I were not worried about this, while I suspect he would enjoy his (great) life more if he felt he weren't tied down. How can I resolve this?
A: Plenty of those mutual leaps of faith produce single parents. The assurance you seek from a lifetime commitment is flimsier than you imply.
It's not just about words, or even about legal status, though both have their place. It's about character, too, and values, and a sense of responsibility; it's about self-knowledge, and the ability both to articulate and act on that; it's about striking a balance between selflessness and selfishness that's both palatable and sustainable for you both. It's about realism.
Character means you regard each other's needs as equal to your own, and won't knowingly benefit from relationship terms that come at the other's expense. It also means you're honest brokers with each other — on everything from feelings to dirty dishes.
Values determine your course through life. You have your priorities, he has his; either you're heading in the same direction, or bound to diverge at some point.
A sense of responsibility means neither of you enters a significant joint undertaking (marriage, children, whatever) without agreeing on Plan A for seeing it through, fully intending to stick to Plan A, and being game for Plan B if the unintended occurs.
Self-knowledge means you won't lie to yourself about X because you're afraid the truth will cost you Y. Acting on it means you don't promise anything that requires denial or sublimation of self. Articulating it means you're able to say what is valuable to you, and why.
Balance means you receive what you need without begging, and you give ungrudgingly — both because you like someone, and because what fulfills that person is something you have in abundance.
Realism speaks for itself, but only if you're ready to hear what it says.
So. He won't commit; you'd rather not leave. Resolve that by seeing who he is, who you are, and whether they add up to maturity and compatibility — two things you can trust.