I Don’t Want Anything Serious. Or Do I?

I Don’t Want Anything Serious. Or Do I?

Evan, I’m in an interesting situation. I have deep feelings for someone in my “dating circle’, have become the closest person to him, and yet I know I am not ready for anything serious, in fact I freak out at the thought of anything heavy. He isn’t ready either, so we’re in the same boat.

I am 30, and he is 40. We just like to watch movies, cuddle, hold hands, kiss, talk…we don’t have to have full intercourse all the time, which I find soothing. He usually gives without expecting anything in return. It’s a very sweet and fun situation, and I want it.

But I am a bit confused, since I’ve never been averse to a serious relationship. He has female friends he hangs out with and flirts with, (which I don’t mind) but he doesn’t have sex with anyone but me. Same with me. I “circular date”, but he’s my only sexually intimate partner. He tells me he highly values what we have. I really do too.

So, my question is: Is it okay to want this, since we don’t want anything heavy right now?

 Any feedback would be much appreciated. Rori Raye recommended you to me and I am very curious as to what you have to say. She told me she’s worried I might be lying to myself about what I want and she’s not sure how he may feel for me. So she directed me to your blog. If a great instructor like her recommends you, you must have some good advice! :)

–Mandy

Mandy,

That’s a kind recommendation and I’m feeling the pressure to live up to the hype. Unfortunately, it will be hard to give a solid answer since you didn’t exactly ask a question.

Is it okay for you to want a casual, open, sexual relationship?

Yes.

Absolutely.

No question about it.

The two questions that immediately pop to mind are these:

1.  Why WOULDN’T be okay for you to want a booty call?

For the life of me, I don’t understand. If you’re not ready for anything serious, you enjoy this man’s company, and nobody’s getting hurt, then, by all means, enjoy his companionship for as long as you’d like.

If no one’s getting hurt, two consenting adults can do whatever they want.

There are millions of people who are in these type of “relationships” and I would hope that most of them are choosing this voluntarily, instead of silently suffering, hoping that it will turn into true love.

Which brings me to question #2, originally posed by Rori:

2. Are you sure you don’t want something serious?

If you are sure – if you’re just out of a divorce, if you’re going through therapy, if you feel the need to sow your wild oats, whatever – then this sounds like the perfect temporary arrangement. He sounds fun, respectful, and at peace with the status quo you’ve established.

Again, if no one’s getting hurt, two consenting adults can do whatever they want.

But that only provokes me to ask you why you’d even be asking me this if you were entirely satisfied with the relationship.

Anytime a woman contacts me for dating coaching and says, “My boyfriend–,” I cut her off and remind her that I don’t coach women with boyfriends. Why? Because if you’re in a happy, healthy relationship, you wouldn’t be spending good money on a dating coach. And if you’re NOT in a happy, healthy relationship, why are you even staying with him? Find a new boyfriend instead of complaining that the current one doesn’t call, communicate or commit.

I sort of feel the same about your question, Mandy. From a moral and societal perspective, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with having an open and mutually beneficial sexual relationship.

The only thing that could possibly be wrong is the thing that I can’t possibly answer: how YOU feel about it?

Because if you’re setting yourself up for heartbreak and can’t handle the long-term ramifications of having a near-boyfriend who won’t commit, maybe it’s time to get out before you get hurt.

For further info on this subject – and a ton of great comments – please check out “Can You Have Meaningless Sex While You’re Looking For a Long-Term Relationship?”

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Comments:

  1. 31
    Selena

    Tonya,

    I don’t know what happened there either, but I can’t help wondering if he was on his “best behavior” those first two months, then reverted to his true personality. Ugh. Better to find that out at 2 mos., rather than 6. Or longer.  Good for you for moving on.

  2. 32
    Kurt

    Mia (#15), men actually do mind if they are “used” by women.  Of course, men might not mind being “used” for sex.  However, I men often complain about women using them for other things, such as leading them on and taking advantage of them by getting them men to pay for dates/entertainment even though the women have no romantic/sexual interest in those men.

  3. 33
    Ruby

    As one who has never liked FWB or very casual dating, I wonder if those who do it deliberately pick someone that they would not want an LTR with? In other words, even if you are rebounding from something more serious, would you just let a really great person go, or are you, on some level, choosing someone with issues that would prohibit a serious relationship anyway? Doesn’t it ever get in the way of finding a real partner because it’s easy and safe?
     
    @Kurt #30 <<I have no doubt that she will contact Evan in 5 years when she hits 35 and is wondering why she still isn’t married and will probably blame her unmarried status on the men she has dated in the past. >>
     
    That is a pretty gloomy scenario you have predicted for Mandy. There is nothing wrong with playing the field, for either sex. Who knows how things will go for her in the next 5 years? She could be ready for a serious relationship in in the next few months, and find one easily. Nothing is set in stone.

  4. 34
    Julia

    @kurt if a woman isn’t ready to jump back into a relationship then what’s wrong with her being casual? Men do this all the time, no one says they are wasting their time.

    If she wrote to Evan asking how to turn this guy into a husband that would be a problem. 

  5. 35
    Kathleen

    Tonya
    There are people who avoid closeness without being consciously aware of it .  They may break up when they get too close. Ive had a number contact me on line and if you are aware of attachment styles you may be more likely to identify a guy ( or woman) who may be like this 
    One guy who contacted me, never been married at 45, didn’t want anything serious, couldn’t describe being really upset when he broke up with anyone, and wasn’t involved with anyone for more than maybe 2 years. There was a consistent pattern of not really being that attached with anyone and if you ask enough questions it may become obvious. Some others it may be more subtle but if you look up attachment styles it increases your awareness so you don’t waste your time   

  6. 36
    Heather

    @ Tonya,

    Yes I have had men do that to me too, and in the last year of learning and developing my boundaries, I was so much better able to see that for what it was, and that often it wasn’t about ME but about THEIR issues, and it was time to pull the plug and roll.  A few would try to creep back into my life and I would either just ignore their texts/emails or just email/text back, not interested, best of luck to you, please do not contact me again.

    @ Kurt,

    So let me see if I get this right. It’s OK for you guys to play the field, do whatever, and have us girls wait on you.  But it’s NOT OK for us to date other men if we don’t have a commitment.  Is that what I’m hearing? Because that is exactly how your post comes across.  I don’t do double standards.  If you men can do as you wish, then we women sure as hell can and will do the same.  If that is a problem for you, then I’d suggest making sure that you “lock down” a girl instead of farting around.  Just sayin.

  7. 37
    Joe

    Heather, I’m unable to find where Kurt says it’s OK for men to play the field.

  8. 38
    Selena

    @ Ruby #33

    You pose some good questions. When I was in casual mode I don’t know if I subconciously chose someone I knew I wouldn’t want for a partner – all I knew is I didn’t want someone who would want so much of my time and attention. There was one guy I thought after 2 mos. I might be falling for. Ironically, the day after I thought that we were talking on the phone and he broke it off saying “The boyfriend/girlfriend scares me.” I was surprised because we weren’t acting like bf/gf -lol!(Maybe he was picking up on my feelings before I did?) I was disappointed, but I got over it in 4 days, so apparently I hadn’t really fallen for him after all.

    My lite relationships we all brief: either he or I broke it off within 3 mos.  I don’t have any experience with long-term casual relationships. Thinking about it, I don’t find the idea of one very appealing.

  9. 39
    Kathleen

    Kurt # 32 sounds bitter.

    The guys who Ive heard say women have used them/ taken advantage of them for dates or entertainment often don’t see the cues that the woman is open but decides they aren’t a match. The men Ive known who talk this way are often choosing the “hottest ” women who have the most choices. Also its not often you hear a guy complain that women are taking advantage of him  

    If you want a guarantee you get your moneys worth from a date then get a prostitute  

  10. 40
    Kurt

    Heather, I did not write anything about men playing the field.  Women often claim that men just want to play the field, but in my own personal experience the exact opposite is true – it is the women, not the men, who actually play the field and don’t want to commit to a relationship.  This is particularly true of women when they are young and get the most attention from men. 
     
    I also know a lot of men who would like to be in a relationship but who struggle because it is difficult to find a woman who takes dating seriously instead of just playing the field – women like this often seem to keep the men in the dark and don’t see anything wrong with accepting dates and letting the man pay.  
     
    I know numerous women, particularly white collar women, who played this game when they were young and then only got serious about finding a husband when they were in their late 30s only to discover that the type of men they thought they could get to commit at that age didn’t want them.

  11. 41
    Mia

    Kurt, here’s the difference between men and women playing the field: when I was 19, I shattered my first boyfriends heart by breaking up after a year of dating. I wanted to hook up with hot frat boys and didn’t want a long distance ltr with him. But that wanting to be single phase ended after a year and a half or so. Men, by comparison, often want to play the field for a goddamn decade. 

    These guys getting “used” are also often the same guys who would pass up a girl like me for being attracted and interested in them. They love games, chases and challenges.  They never consider that if a girl is waiting so long to kiss – I usually wait til 2nd-3rd date – she is using them. Besides, the only intentional users are usually  the blatantly high maintenance party girl types. 

  12. 42
    Tom

    Heather
    “It’s OK for you guys to play the field, do whatever…we women sure as hell can and will do the same”

    You’d be surprised how many people are not OK with guys playing the field. Women (particularly on this blog) often call these men players, users, commitment phobes, creeps, disgusting etc., whereas often these men are just regular nice guys who aren’t sure what they want in life. I’m constantly amazed at how many people still judge others for what they do sexually. Of course it’s okay if Mandy does or doesn’t want casual.

    Kurt
    “I know numerous women, particularly white collar women, who played this game when they were young and then only got serious about finding a husband when they were in their late 30’s”

    It’s think it’s perfectly reasonable for women to play the field and enjoy themselves when they are young. White collar women often spend years in college, getting on their feet financially and just figuring out what they want in life. Where I disagree with you is the age in which they get serious about dating. I find women change their attitude to dating at 28 / 29; it’s almost like a light switch the change is so sudden. I’m that age and whereas for me dating is still just fun, my contemporaries generally look for more. Therefore I’ve started to date slightly younger women (mid-20’s) as they don’t tend to be as serious.

    As many of the posters here have said, it’s often about timing. People mature at different rates so they have different envisioned timelines of when they will settle down. I let a fantastic woman go recently simply because I feel I’ve a few more years left to play the game.
     

  13. 43
    Hope

    I think a lot of great points have been made so far, both in favor of and against the type of situation the OP is in.
    As others have mentioned, none of us can say it’s “wrong” to want to play the field, or take some time for meaningless fun between serious relationships. Most of us also agree that it rarely lasts for long. And it sounds like the OP has an emotional investment in this guy, despite not wanting a “serious relationship,” which is what really sends things into the danger/confusion zone, in my opinion.
    When I first moved to NYC 6 years ago, after breaking off two serious relationships in a row, I dove right in to the “casual” thing. I think I wanted to try something exciting and different after spending age 18-27 in long-term relationships. But I was still a romantic, emotional woman at heart, and I would inevitably grow attached to the attractive, interesting, yet textbook-unavailable men I got involved with. Even as recently as last year, I was doing this sort of thing in between first dates with more “serious” men. I don’t completely regret my experiences…they have definitely made my life more colorful, and taught me a lot about the male mind (before discovering Evan Marc Katz!), to say nothing of a certain other part of the male!…but overall and in retrospect, I think they were a big, emotionally screwed-up (for me) waste of time. In each case, the guy involved was not a jerk or an asshole. None of them made any promise of commitment. My mistake was being so enticed by their particular spark, that I accepted them on their terms, and then hoped to change the relationship to suit my terms. Which of course never ever happened.
    I am in a happy relationship now, but I wish I had opened an account on Match.com and gone back to dating the “serious” way as soon as my first “casual” relationship got the better of me.
    If the OP is comfortable and not confused right now, she should absolutely enjoy her relationship. If she’s starting to feel conflicted, I suggest she turn her current relationship into a platonic, less emotionally-close one, and continue to meet new men until there’s someone she does feel serious about. Whether she wants marriage and kids someday or not, there’s no point in giving so much of yourself and your time to someone with whom there is no “future.”

  14. 44
    Kurt

    Mia, you are definitely correct that if there hasn’t been a kiss by the second date or the third, the woman is using the man if she keeps agreeing to go out on dates with him.  Then again, the man is very foolish or at least very inexperienced with respect to dating if he keeps asking out a girl that many times if he hasn’t even kissed her.

  15. 45
    Jules

    Ruby,

    ” I wonder if those who do it deliberately pick someone that they would not want an LTR with? ”

    I didn’t deliberately seek a FWB situation.  In fact, after about 2 dates with this person I told him I didn’t think we were compatible long-term and was not interested in continuing to see him.  He agreed about the long-term thing, but then said he would not be opposed to continuing on a casual basis.  And I was on board with that since we had such great chemistry (and I personally find that very elusive), so our FWB relationship started (after setting some ground rules).  I didn’t choose someone with issues, but some deal-breakers came up after a couple of dates.  But the chemistry and companionship were there, and since both of us were on the same page in terms of not wanting anything more from each other, it worked for us.

    “Doesn’t it ever get in the way of finding a real partner because it’s easy and safe?”

    For me–absolutely not.  In fact just the opposite.  For one thing, since I was getting my sexual needs met, I was much less needy and much less quick to jump into bed when someone with real potential came along.  In other words, I was not meeting people with six months of celibacy driving me crazy :).

    Also, since the FWB relationship was lacking in some regards in emotional intimacy (intentionally, because I did NOT want to get attached to this man) it made me crave a “real” relationship all that much more.

  16. 46
    Heather

    @ Kurt:

    Your post made it sound exactly like what I got out of it, that you seem to have a lot of issues with women dating multiple men. So many guys do it, and think nothing of it, particularly when there’s no commitment. So if you guys can do it, we women can do it too, and we shouldn’t be judged for it. Your posts seem very bitter towards women and actually, almost word for word, you sound like an ex-boyfriend of mine who was very bitter because he never could make a relationship stick for more than a year or so, mainly because he had no confidence, blamed everyone else, particularly women, for his problems, and the list goes on. But his complaints sound verbatim like yours.

    I’ve never said, and nor will I ever say, that I have issues with guys playing the field IF there is no commitment. What they do is up to them. BUT. If there IS a commitment and they do that, then you’d better believe that I will call a guy out for it.

    Like I said. I don’t do double standards. And if a guy wants to judge me for dating several men when there’s no commitment involved, then he’s not a guy I want, as a friend or as a potential partner. Like EMK said in a recent blog post: “What do you do with a judgmental guy? Hint: it sounds like ‘lump him.’ “

  17. 47
    AndThatsWhyYoureSingle

    I think Mandy is accepting of this situation because she believes this guy when he says he’s not sleeping with any of these other female friends that he flirts with. If he were, I think she’d be less accepting of what this guy offers.
    Whether she wants to admit this or not, she believes that – despite the lack of expressed commitment from him – this is a relationship with potential.
    Let’s apply some critical thinking and common sense to this situation: why would a man tell a woman that he was not sleeping with anyone else? Men only do this for two reasons: because they want to be exclusive or because they believe it is what the woman wants to hear because she asked him and he wants to avoid conflict. Since exclusivity isn’t an option here, his confession likely falls under Option 2.
    It’s perfectly fine for Mandy to participate in this relationship. But she should accept the reality that this guy is likely sleeping with others, or at least he will.  That’s one of the main reasons why men don’t commit – they don’t want monogamy.

  18. 48
    Gina

    In my opinion there is nothing wrong with wanting to just have a casual relationship with someone as long as it’s mutual.  I think what the OP is asking is “Is it okay to be casual with him because I don’t see myself in a serious, committed relationship with him – and the answer is Yes” I think she may think that she is being non-commitment oriented in general when the truth is she is not wanting a commitment with this man because the feelings aren’t strong enough for a full-blown relationship.
    It depends on everyone’s personality.  The way I see it is I would rather be completely single then be with someone I felt obligated to having a commitment with.  Yet, I can’t completely shut the doors and say that in my future I may run across someone that we decide we are more casual and nothing more, which most likely would happen in exploring if a relationship was a good fit or not.  As long as two people are on the same page, it’s okay.

  19. 49
    Karmic Equation

    This LW (Letter Writer) made me look up a post in another blog that is very thought provoking.
     
    http://wwnh.wordpress.com/2011/11/03/1435-fidelity-without-his-devotion-unlikely-%E2%80%94-part-ii/
     
    I have to admit that “Option A” is one have subscribed to and lived by since I started dating. And Option A works for me still, because I’m not looking for marriage. However, I absolutely agree that “Option B” is definitely more woman-friendly, particularly if you are looking for marriage.
     
    It actually sounds as if LW is trying to live her life via Option B, so I applaud her doing so. I think all of us should consider how NOT being committed to one man until marriage is beneficial to women. I agree with this concept whole-heartedly.
     
    For those women who here who do abstain from sex “until a relationship” you’re kind of half-way there. The problem is that if you really want marriage, per this blogger, you should abstain until you get a proposal. Not sure that is viable, but perhaps if you can keep your man happy simply by “rounding the bases” until a proposal is elicited, that might be the way to effect this according to plan B.

  20. 50
    Karmic Equation

    AMENDMENT #49
     
    I reversed Option A and B…Sorry!
     
    Option A is better for women. Option B is friendly to men.
     
    Evan, if you can edit for me that would be better!
     
    Sorry!

  21. 51
    Fusee

    @Karmic Equation #49/50:
     
    Option C: Stop playing silly mind-game rooted in a desire for unhealthy power dynamics between gender.
     
    After a few dates simply ask what their intentions are, clarify with gentleness, humor, but firmness what you would like to build for a relationship, and from there proceed with respect and care. With sex or no sex, whatever floats your boat. But if you want an emotionally and physically monogamous marriage, you are going to need to build its foundations in an emotionally and physically monogamous courtship.

  22. 52
    Karmic Equation

    @Fusee 51
     
    Well said, Fusee. Unfortunately, that isn’t the reality of how most people start their relationships. Maybe not even how some build it. I got married without doing it that way, as I imagine most people have.
     
    Your way is very outcome oriented, almost business-like.
     
    I don’t want my relationships to feel like a business transaction. Romance is more important to me than marriage, having been there/done that.
     
    You’ve stated that is your goal and I’m sure you will reach it come hell or high water, but at what cost, I wonder?
     

  23. 53
    Fusee

    @Karmic Equation #52:
     
    Yes, for me marriage is the desired outcome of the dating and courtship phases. If at any point in these phases I realize that the guy is not interested in building a life-long marriage, or that we are not compatible, or that he does not have the quality of character required, I’ll happily opt out. But marriage is not really an “outcome”, this is the real start of the relationship: a life-long adventure where two people are going to practice the art of being together despite all kinds of unexpected challenges. 
     
    The Option A that you seem interested in worked great until the 60s, when marriage was the social norm and the only way for respectable men and women to have sex and to be considered adults. At that time a woman could “talk” to several men until one would propose. Proposing was the equivalent of today’s “dating exclusively”, while marriage was the equivalent of today’s “moving in together”. There were a lot more marriages since it was the only way to sex and cohabitation. But a lot of these marriages were not that happy. Or faithful.
     
    Option A (aka “back to the old ages”) might be appealing, but trying to follow rules from the past in the current dating culture is not going to be effective, and very simply because men do not need/want marriage any more. They can get all the sex they want (and other benefits) without having to be commit to the provider, and society does not look down on them if they do not have a wife. Quite the opposite!
     
    These days, if a woman wants to be married, she is going to have to be very clear about her goals, especially if she wants to avoid being side-tracked to the “playing house category” or any other dead-end LTR where she will indeed be stuck in a commitment but without receiving the long-term security she desires. She is also going to have to be such an amazing woman that this man who does not need marriage anymore is going to be willing to go for it nevertheless.
     
    So yes, because I prefer being single than in an ongoing/undefined LTR, I decided to date purposefully. My approach is therefore much more deliberate than what most women are doing these days (hoping for an offer of exclusivity, agreeing to a cohabitation, waiting for a proposal, etc). Not only to make sure I’m dating someone with the same long-term goals from the getgo, but to make sure I’m with someone of great character. Someone who can tackle these big scary questions heads-on instead of hesitating for years while I invest in him my most precious years.
     
    I’m against withdrawing commitment during dating/courtship because it does not make sense to me to prepare a monogamous relationship by not being monogamous. Also I doubt that it will make decent men run to the jewelry store by fear of “losing a deal” (a “deal” consisting of a woman claiming love but “talking” to other men). I’m also in favor of exploring physical intimacy as part of the courtship as long as both (committed) partners agree that they are evaluating each other and their relationship for marriage. I refuse to sign a lease/move in before marriage or at least before the engagement + a wedding date since I’m not going to play house while he makes up his mind. And I limit the dating/courtship phase to around 12-18 months, depending of course of the circumstances. Flexibility is needed but the intention is necessary to allow progress towards opting for or against marriage. That’s how I avoid being side-tracked into the “dead-end LTR track” where the man is encouraged to postpone considering a real commitment. If at any time in the courtship he realizes that he does not want a marriage and/or that he does not desire to unite in marriage with me, he has plently of time to decide to opt out, but not too much time to do so. He’s got to start thinking about it as we are starting dating.
     
    Is it common to do this? Definitely not, and so what? It is a middle way between the good old ages and the current irresponsible dating culture, and I found it working very well for me. I’ve avoided men who had not figured themsleves out, men of less than outstanding character, men who want to have their cake and eat it too, etc. And I’m now investing my precious energy and love in a wonderful man. I’m sure he is happy that I kept myself available for him instead of playing house with someone else who would be stringing me along. But my man deserves my commitment and devotion until we make the most important decision of our lives, regardless of what that decision is.
     
    Seriously, to each their own! You are obviously more experienced than me since you were married. Also, if romance is what you are after, then “Option D: going with the flow” might actually work best for you.

  24. 54
    David T

    @Fusee 51 Well put indeed. I really like your communication style and relationship philosophy that you describe in many of your posts.
    @Karmic52 
    Unfortunately, that isn’t the reality of how most people start their relationships. Maybe not even how some build it. I got married without doing it that way, as I imagine most people have.

    True, and your marriage relationship ultimately failed, and mine did too. Don’t recall if Fusee has been married yet.  Might be a coincidence, maybe not.
     
    I don’t want my relationships to feel like a business transaction. Romance is more important to me than marriage, having been there/done that.
    If you want an LTR (meaning lasting more than six months or maybe a year or so), part of that is looking at things like similar life goals and compatible communication styles and that is very much an exercise of the brain, and not the heart. Romance can still be there too, but on its own will only carry you so far. The chemical high or romance will evaporate completely in time if the other elements are not in place. If you are content with turning over partners every once in a while, that is fine, but make that decision consciously, and let your partners know that is where you are coming from.

     


     

  25. 55
    Fusee

    @David T #53: I also tend to agree very much with your comments.
     
    “Don’t recall if Fusee has been married yet”
     
    No, at 33 I’ve never been married. Hoping to have ONE marriage. I was in a seven-year relationship in my teens to mid-twenties, in two other LTRs-ish, and since my late twenties/early thrities I’ve been following a progressively more mindful and purposeful dating strategy. In the seven-year relationship, I was the one “stringing the man along” as I was trying to figure myself out, and it sadly took a LONG time. I regret that my lack of mindfulness broke his heart when I ended the relationship but he thankfully rather quickly met another woman who was more compatible to his personality. I really know both sides of the coin…
     
    I think it’s easier to cultivate – and later rekindle – romance in a solid friendship-based and value-based marriage where both partners start with a strong physical attraction of each other and a commitment to lighting the fires once in a while. But I do not have much experience in this area. Any long time married folks here who can talk about romance over the years?

  26. 56
    Karmic Equation

    @David T

    My marriage ended because the romance left it and neither my spouse nor I made any efforts to nurture it when it was waning, probably simply due to lack of knowledge. My marriage lasted 9 years (entire relationship was 11 years). So we were well beyond the chemical highs when we divorced. We never cheated on each other either.

    We had a good companionship and friendship. But I realized that was not enough. We were roommates who shared a bank account at the end. It didn’t feel like how a wife should feel about her husband. People remain in marriages on less than this. But I wanted more.

    I’m still on very good terms with my ex-husband, so the friendship endures to this day.

    Romance is important because I learned that is something I’m not happy without. After doing a lot of reading, I realized I wasn’t doing my part to encourage his romance. So now I’m much better prepared to nurture romance in my relationships going forward, since I now have an understanding of what I need to do keep it flowing.

    Since I don’t need a man to provide for me nor do I want children, marriage is not a requirement. All I ever wanted from a relationship is a man that I can spend time enjoying life with. I no longer need a label for my relationships, whereas when I was 25, I was definitely in love with the idea of “getting married.” Except for the wedding day, being married and being in an LTR feels no different to me.

  27. 57
    SS

    Fusee, I feel like you are my twin.  :)
     
    I was just talking to another female friend of mine (mid-30s, successful, smart, etc.) and learned that she also took the very deliberate, goal-oriented, almost businesslike approach to finding a partner after her relationships that came from just “going with the flow” failed. She’s now been married seven years, has a baby and another on the way. She said she’s never been happier and is madly in love with her husband.
    And as I mentioned before, after spending my 20s just letting things happen (and nothing happened… went a whole decade without having an LTR of any sort), I also decided to approach dating in a more business-like fashion, and soon met the man I married (I was two days from turning 33 when we married).
    As you said, I think this is almost the approach women who want marriage have to take now because we live in a society in which marriage is not the automatic goal of a dating relationship. As silly as it sounds, I had to learn this the hard way, as I always thought that if boy met girl and boy liked girl, they would become boyfriend and girlfriend, and then after a year or two get engaged and then get married. I was not prepared for the “I want to date, but not settle down yet even though I’m in my 30s” mindset, or the “divorced man just out of a marriage and just looking to date around” mentality, among others. I’m not saying these types of guys are wrong in wanting to do this, but such situations make it harder for a woman who is looking to marry and perhaps have children.
    You can easily get derailed by those who don’t have the same goal and who are more than willing to enjoy the benefits of a relationship or friendship with a woman without having any plans to marry her.
    It’s interesting to me that there seems to be such an aversion to approaching marriage with a focused mindset. I think there’s way too much emphasis on “feelings” and so-called “organic” development of relationships, but I haven’t really seen those types of situations necessarily resulting in better end results for women (and men) than having a goal about what you want from a dating/courtship experience and sticking to that.
    But I can only speak for myself and my friend — although we both haven’t been married that long — and say that we were MUCH happier with how our relational lives turned out once we took that so-called outcome-based approach to relationships and went after exactly what we wanted in a partner (and quickly dismissed those who didn’t fit).

  28. 58
    Karmic Equation

    Hi SS,

    Not sure if you were thinking of me when you wrote “aversion to marriage” – for me, not aversion, per se, but rather not giving marriage extra value than an LTR, since I don’t want children nor for economic benefits (not saying *you* need them for this, btw). Plus I think I want to change partners after X years, so unless I want to be like the Gabor sisters, with multiple marriages and divorces behind me, staying unmarried is best for me and my peace of mind.

    That said, I’m pretty sure that had I not already been married once, I would want to be married too. So I’m gaining new appreciation for what you and Fusee are doing in a business-like way. It sounds like that must be the way it’s done nowadays if you really desire marriage as your goal.

    However, since I have the benefit of having been married and am financially- and emotionally-free from “needing” a man, I can choose to be with men that appease my need for romance. I’m not flitting from man to man, and I do stay with my men beyond the chemical highs (which only last about 2 yrs) — so I’m not in it for just the romance, but the entire experience of being in a fulfilling relationship. I guess I just don’t believe in (nor want to have) a relationship that lasts “forever.” And when the experience is no longer as positive as I want it to be or if I no longer feel like working on the relationship, I need to be able to feel that I can leave it whenever I want to (whether or not I actually do it).

    With this mindset, marriage feels like a trap, so it’s better for me not to be in one. I would probably work on it less than a relationship which I “choose” to stay in instead of being “obliged” to stay in, which marriage connotes to me.
     

  29. 59
    Fusee

    @SS #57: “Fusee, I feel like you are my twin.”
     
    Over the last months of reading your comments, I often felt the same way and I’d love to have a twin sister : ) It’s a great encouragement to read your story. I wish you and your husband a lot of happiness in your marriage!
     
    “It’s interesting to me that there seems to be such an aversion to approaching marriage with a focused mindset. I think there’s way too much emphasis on “feelings” and so-called “organic” development of relationships…”
     
    I agree! Each time I explain my approach I get a comment in return about how much pressure I put on the relationship, how desperate it sounds, how unromantic it is, etc. To each their own, really. It’s a matter of priority. Are you prioritizing instant gratification? Romance? Looking cool? Long-term happiness? Some of my female friends would not follow my approach in a million years, and that’s fine. I’m not trying to convert anyone. But I’d like to clarify that I’m not desperate for marriage. As of today I could have married four men (two were wonderful but I did not feel it, two did not qualify, one of them is still trying : ), and I’m currently investigating the fifth. He is rather glad I’m purposeful, because he’s always wanted to have a long-term partner but had no clue how to move past chemistry and how to build a serious relationship.
     
    If I had wanted a marriage, I would be married by now. I do not NEED a marriage and I have pretty much no desire for children. I am extremely happy single, and that’s why I’m fine with the idea of letting a good man pass. Indeed, what I do NOT want for my thirties is being stuck in a dead-end “organic” relationship. And I’m simply taking care of my happiness by avoiding ending up in a situtation that will make me unhappy. I’d rather let a few good men pass than wasting my precious thirties in dead-end relationships. Hence the shorter deadlines I allow for courtship. If it’s not going to be investigated within the first 18 months, it’s unlikely to be explored at the three-year mark, especially if the man is not purposeful. And few are. (Note: Evan and Karl R were extremely purposeful, but they are the exceptions to the rule, and that’s why their girlfriends did not have to say the “M” word).
     
    And no, the goal of marriage is not making me overlook the reality of courting my wonderful man or forget to get to know him and love him! This is the WHOLE point. Making sure I’d want to love him for life despite his flaws, and making sure he’d want to love me for life despite my flaws. And making sure he can make it even when life gets rough. It takes time to figure this out, but it does not take years. At 13 months, we’re *almost* there, just working on a few more doubts and growth points before saying yay or nay.
     
    Now, if I happen to remain a happy single well into my forties, my strategy might change. My forties will be less precious as I will be less flexible with location and other life questions, and well, I will be less attractive : ) Now is the time for me to be completely free OR to build a solid and happy marriage where my compromises and sacrifices will be part of a life-long journey. At this point I have way too much to offer to the right man, from my looks to my flexibility, from my ability to have children to the availability of my financial assets, etc. In my forties I will be settled somewhere for good, and not as open to move for him. I will have invested all my assets for an early retirement and will not be able to participate in a common financial goal. At that point I might probably be fine in a less defined LTR. NOT NOW!

  30. 60
    Fusee

    @Karmic Equation #58:
    “Plus I think I want to change partners after X years, so unless I want to be like the Gabor sisters, with multiple marriages and divorces behind me, staying unmarried is best for me and my peace of mind.”
    “With this mindset, marriage feels like a trap, so it’s better for me not to be in one. I would probably work on it less than a relationship which I “choose” to stay in instead of being “obliged” to stay in, which marriage connotes to me.”
     
    That’s why we agree on the question of how to build the relationship, and not on the focus on marriage. Unlike you I seek to commit to a life-long journey that will challenge me to push through my limits of love. Loving someone even when I disagree with him, loving someone even when I’m not turned on by him, loving someone even when old, disabled or sick. I’m aware of the challenge given all what I went through in my seven-year LTR. I’m now preparing myself rigorously for that challenge . And I’m rigorously assessing my boyfriend for that challenge as well.

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