One of our dear readers, Carla, wrote to me about her fears that her boyfriend may never be ready to commit to her. I hear this from so many of you that I wanted to highlight it this week in a post. After reading, please offer any additional advice you may have in the comments.
I hope you can help me. I am a 25-year-old woman and I am currently in a relationship with a 23-year old man for the past 10 months. Prior to this, I had been in a relationship for 6 years with a man who I believed was the One until the passion slowly fizzled out between us. For 6 years, I was always certain that this guy loved me and wanted to marry me some day- he told me this. We always talked about our future together and made lots of plans together and we never really had any issues. Distance eventually got the better of us and the passion and romance died, so after months of trying to make things better between us, I broke up with him and a few months later found my current boyfriend.
My current boyfriend has never had a long term relationship- 10 months with me is the longest he has been with a girl. We are both very compatible- have lots of the same interests, like doing the same things, we are both very attracted to one another and both very communicative and honest. After 5 months of being together, I told him that I love him and he told me that he loves me also. I was thrilled as you can imagine. We both live about half an hour away from each other so we get to see each other at the weekends. We have both talked about our interest in going abroad to work/travel, but never mentioned about the possibility of going away together. We are both in the position to do this, so about 2 months ago I suggested to him that maybe if we did decide to go travelling in the future that we could go together. He dropped the "bomb" and told me that he's not sure if he's ready to take that step with me yet. He said that he has always wanted to go abroad with his friends or even on his own and it's something he intends to do to get out of his system. He said that he doesn't feel that he's "emotionally mature enough" to make that commitment to me just yet but some day he thinks he will be.
Honestly, I cried for days after this conversation, so much so that I became very bitter towards him but I also started to analyze every bit of effort that I've been making to make our relationship work. I realized that I was the one who was making all the plans for us to go places and surprising him with little things to show him I love him- yet I found that I wasn't really getting those things in return. Sure, he asks to meet up with me every week, but not once yet has he talked about going away for a few days or a week during the summer on holidays (when he knows that as a teacher I get 9 weeks off this summer so I would be flexible to go anywhere he wanted whenever he is able to).
I realize that it's mainly me operating this almost one-way system. I feel like the way I love him is different to the way he loves me. I feel like I depend on him a lot more than he depends on me. Don't get me wrong, I love doing things for myself and spending time by myself or with family and friends, but I feel like if we were to spend a whole 2 weeks apart that it wouldn't bother him as much as it would bother me. I would want to see him and I would miss him dearly during those 2 weeks but he wouldn't really react like that. For the past 10 months he has made me very happy but ever since he has told me that he cannot commit as much as I want him to commit, I just feel more and more like I'm on a completely different wave length to him.
We have had many arguments recently over this issue, where I have actually told him that I feel we both love each other in very different ways. I said: "I love you so much that I would do anything for you..I would go to the ends of the Earth for you. But you love me because you love hanging around with me and being with me and you love how we like the same things". I got no response to this. I'm starting to turn into a person that I don't want to be. I feel like I'm nagging him to spend more time with me almost, or trying to convince him to want to commit to me. He says that he sees me in his future but that right now he cannot give me what I want, the commitment that I want from him. We have had many conversations about this, and even though I wake up every day trying to start afresh and say "just enjoy the present with him and wait until he's ready", I get this fear that makes me nervous in my stomach that he may never be ready to commit to me. I show so much love for him, I try so hard to make him happy. I don't try to contact him too much by text or phone or I don't try to hog all his free time. He enjoys being with his friends and I admire that I never complain about the amount of time he spends with them.
I have really enjoyed our relationship right up until our conversation about commitment. It was a shock to me, I'm not sure why, but it feels like almost since then, I've become harder to deal with as a person and I cry a lot more than I ever used to. I want things to work between us because I always believed that what we had was great but I find recently that there are times when I find myself mulling over the fact that during my last relationship of 6 years, my ex never had commitment issues and we were always on the same page in terms of what we wanted and our feelings for one another. I would just like advice on this because I feel I'm at my wits end now and it's beginning to get me down a lot. I would really appreciate any advice you have to offer. Thank you.
It sounds like you've figured out something that so few of us figure out on our own. That this relationship is about you making it easy for him to be with you, without him having to do very much at all in return. Oh how so many of us have fallen into this trap! So it looks like a wonderful amazing relationship, and yet, in reality, when we can look at it honestly like you have and see just how one-sided it is with you doing most of the initiating and him mostly just responding to you, it really isn't all that incredible after all! So of course this is such a disappointment to recognize this reality, when without this awareness, everything seemed easier, more natural, lighter, and more amazing.
But that wasn't reality. That was the picture that you were seeing through a lens that wasn't seeing the full picture. And whether because he truly isn't emotionally mature enough - which may well be the case since he is still so young at 23 - or something else entirely, it really doesn't matter. It just matters that this is where he's at and now you know and can decide what you want to do with this information before you give him any more of your beautiful self or waste any more of your time and energy on someone who may only break your heart down the road.
I hope you can see the strength you show in being able to see this for yourself, Carla; for that is no small thing. It takes courage to dig deep and honestly see what's going on. From here, it really is up to you where you want this to go. He's made it clear he sees doing things with his friends a priority and doesn't picture the two of you the same way you do. I'm not surprised if you love each other in different ways as well, and yet this isn't about any of these particulars as much as it is about you and what you want to do with all this. You deserve to be with someone who wants the same thing you do and is on the same page as you, but on the other hand, only you know what being with him is worth to you.
So this becomes about you, deciding for yourself what you want from him and a relationship with him if this is all he can give you right now. It is never your role to make anyone else happy, Carla, and I have a feeling that you haven't been given very much at all from him. So maybe it's time for you to look deeper there, and see what you are really getting out of this relationship. Why you're with him in the first place, what it is that you're really attracted to, and why you're willing to be with someone who gives you so little in return, when you're honest with yourself. The reasons we have for being with someone can provide so many clues to what's really going on, what you're really looking for and what areas you need to look deeper at within yourself.
It sounds like you're trying hard to get things back the way they were before you had this conversation about commitment with him, but I would question whether or not there was anything of substance really there for you to even to try to get back. Sometimes, it becomes about accepting what is, instead of what we so want it to be, and know that it could be if only he were different. But that's the point. You can't change him, he is who he is, and he's showing you that now. This is the reality right now. You, on the other hand, deserve someone who meets you where you are, who shares in that natural give and take that comes so easily when it's truly meant to be, and is just as concerned about making sure you're happy, as you are about him. It always takes two to make a relationship work, and when it's meant to be, it is. Simply because both people are on the same page, want the same thing, and are willing to do whatever it takes to make that happen.
You, my beautiful friend, deserve nothing less than that, as well.
What do you think? Do you have any words of advice or encouragement for Carla? Please share them with her in the comments!