Dear Dr. NerdLove:
My boyfriend and I have been together for over six years. We’ve lived together for most of that time with my three children from a prior marriage. Our goal had always been marriage, as we had discussed it many times early on in our relationship, however over the years, it seems his fears grow and/or change.
He hates talking about feelings (his or mine) so we don’t get far in understanding his fears or addressing my insecurities. He has stated that he has trust issues from prior relationships, fears of divorce since he’s seen it all around him, that since I have been married before he doesn’t know if he can trust my stated feelings because I’ve felt that way previously. Plus, it just makes him uncomfortable to think about marriage and he doesn’t know why.
Now, other than his trust issues from a prior relationship, these reasons have just been added over time. Each year it’s something different on top of the prior trust issue. I find his reasons to be cop outs, honestly, but I’m trying to give him the time he needs to work his crap out. In the interim, as time passes, I can’t help but feel incredibly insecure that we have been together for 6+ years and he’s still not ready to fully commit to me. I have been clear on our goal from the beginning and haven’t veered off course. I want to be with this man and I want to spend the rest of my life with him.
I let him know consistently how I feel, and I reassure him in every possible way when he exhibits any insecurities about my feelings or my past. I ask if there is anything he wants or needs from me or the relationship and he states he has no issues and is happy with our life and wants to keep growing and moving forward. That all sounds great, but we aren’t moving in any direction. Our relationship is no closer to marriage then it was in year two. He states there isn’t anything I need to do or can do to help with his lingering trust issues, that it has nothing to do with me, but he also isn’t facing them on his own either.
I’ve considered that he just doesn’t want to marry me. He swears that’s not the case – that it’s not me, it’s just marriage. That’s hard to believe, because he was one that asked if I was jaded about marriage on our first date, because that’s something he wanted for his life. He gets angry when I call him out and say things like, “Just be honest and say you don’t want marriage so at least I can make the decision on my own whether or not that is okay with me.” He says he does want to marry me, he’s just not ready yet. I don’t want to pressure him into marriage, because I’m already insecure enough and don’t want to feel like he married me out of obligation. I want him to actually want to marry me.
I don’t know how to stay true to my feelings and on the path to the goal, while battling the insecurities that come along with this and not really knowing if my partner in this actually has the same goal. His messages are mixed and unfair. I don’t know the proper way to handle it. Any advice?
Always The Bridesmaid