My Boyfriend of 7 Years Doesn’t Want to Move In or Get Married. What Should I Do?

My Boyfriend of 7 Years Doesn’t Want to Move In or Get Married. What Should I Do?

I am 40 and my boyfriend is 36. I have been previously married and have three kids 17, 15, and 10. He has none. We have been together for 7 years now. I have wanted to move in and get married since year two. He always says he “isn’t ready.”  

A year ago he started living with me, kind of. He keeps all of his clothes at my house sleeps there every night and spends his down time there even when I am not home. I recently said I want him to fully move in because I think it would be financially better. He still keeps his apartment with his things in it. He calls it his “studio” (he is an artist) and he, after a huge disagreement, finally agreed it was the right thing to do.  

Well, the day before the big move he backed out. He said he wasn’t ready and that he didn’t want to promise me anything in the future for fear of hurting me. He wants to keep it the way it is. I am so confused. We are really happy as long as we don’t talk about this kind of commitment. I believe he is in love with me but what do I do? Wait? I am confused what is going to change in his mind. He keeps saying he will lose himself and everything he loves to do if he moves in and gets married. He just sounds like a child to me. I appreciate your advice. Thank you. 



This is going to be really hard for you to accept, Cahnie, but there’s no other way to say it:

Your boyfriend doesn’t want to marry you.

He’s never going to want to marry you.

If he actually DID marry you, it would be largely against his will and he’d end up resenting you for it.

And if you twisted his arm to get married and he resented you for it, it would probably not be a very happy marriage.

If he actually DID marry you, it would be largely against his will and he’d end up resenting you for it.

I know you just wrote me a three-paragraph email and I’m telling you to completely erase the past seven years, but, well, what were you expecting?

In fact, I’m going to guess that what I’ve just written only goes to confirm what you already know deep in your heart.

“I have wanted to move in and get married since year two.” 

“He always says he isn’t ready.”

“The day before the big move, he backed out.” 

“He didn’t want to promise me anything in the future for fear of hurting me.” 

“He keeps saying he will lose himself and everything he loves to do if he moves in and gets married.”

Honestly, sweetheart, the writing is on the wall in ten-foot fluorescent orange letters. GET OUT!

The fact is that he doesn’t want to move in with you or marry you – if he did, he’d have done it years ago. He has a relationship completely on his terms, and you didn’t have the guts to walk away in Year 3.

Now’s your chance.

Honestly, sweetheart, the writing is on the wall in ten-foot fluorescent orange letters. GET OUT!

Unless you want to write me this same exact email in one year, which is exactly what I predict if you don’t break up with him NOW.

P.S. If you NEVER want to get married and are content with this arrangement, you can keep seeing him, but you know what? He’s STILL going to break up with you eventually, so you might as well begin the healing process now.


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  1. 271

    Most divorced women who are now single parents have chosen to stop being victims of abuse and start to become survivors. They are amazing women.

  2. 272

    @ Joe 269
    I always wonder about that statistic of women initiating divorce more often . . .
    My wasband started a relationship with another women (some people – me included – call this cheating), moved out of the house (in this order), didn’t want to go to counseling, wasn’t being honest, or in any way giving any indication of working things out. I filed for divorce.  Statistically – I initiated the divorce.  But he was long gone from the marriage.   BTW – this is also what he told the kids, I am the  one who divorced him.   
    Which is why I wonder.

    1. 272.1

      @Kristyn @ 272
         Thanks for bringing this up.  I hate the way this stat is trotted out as if it proves anything meaningful.  The person who LEGALLY initiates the divorce is not particularly the person who initiated the breakdown of the marriage.  As far as I’m concerned someone who cheats is the one initiating a divorce, but the cheated upon person just might beat them to a lawyers office and start the legal proceedings.
      Without knowing the history of the marital breakdown,  statistics about who initiates the legal proceedings of a divorce are meaningless.

  3. 273

    I’m almost on the same situation as you are..except his never moved in with me or even mentioned it. I’m the one that does an eventually it never ends well. But I’ve stocked around for 7 years..I’m 30 with no kids. reading this is exactly what I needed to know….I’ve got to start the healing process now….

  4. 274

    To play Devils advocate I am the one in this mans position. There can be a lot of info left out here so before one assumes he just plain is selfish what are the facts? Why does he have reservations? In my case I have been in a relationship for 4 years with a man who just got custody of his young kids and the ex is nasty to deal with. On top of that he has his family using him financially and staying at his home constantly. The drama and stress levels are very high. He is miserable and wants me to take on the burden but I dont want to be responsible for grown adults who make bad choices. I want to deal with our family and have a sane household not a halfway house. Perhaps there are things in the relationship that make him feel he will lose his sense of self. If those can be corrected perhaps then he would be willing to move in.

  5. 275

    “Your boyfriend doesn’t want to marry you.” True.Right now, anyway while he is trying to successfully work as an “artist” and you have 3 teenagers living in the house. Trust me, he NEEDS his “studio space”. 
    “He’s never going to want to marry you.”  This is not true. Don’t let someone who doesn’t know you know or your boyfriend predict YOUR future.
    “If he actually DID marry you, it would be largely against his will and he’d end up resenting you for it. ” Yes and no. Right now, Yes. Perhaps, when he feels more secure about HIMSELF and his work he will decide to spend the rest of his life with the one person who stuck by him.
    “And if you twisted his arm to get married and he resented you for it, it would probably not be a very happy marriage.” Absolutely
    He most likely needs to feel more secure about wheres he headed career-wise before committing to you AND your kids for the rest of his life.

  6. 276

    Brutal, straight for the jugular vein but necessary to wake someone out of a 7 year coma. Wow now that’s what you call tough love but definitely be very grateful for Evan’s advice as it will save you a much more brutal pain than his advice years down the future! 

  7. 277

    Well I’m thinking he must love her at some level to stick around so long. I knew a guy that was in his forties and going with a woman Same age for about 5 or more years. They were together every night and cooked their meals together. She was allways cleaning and doing stuff for him but she said she wouldn’t live with him unless married. I realized one day that she was allready giving all the perks of cohabitation and was deluded that she was not. One night when he was drinking he told me with a stricken face that he was afraid to marry. Hed allways acted like he couldnt stand kids but now he said his girlfriend couldnt have any as hadnt had a period for two years and he wanted a child. Then he mentioned that and shes has cancer in the pasr which i knew allready but hes throwing that out there. Anyway bottom line is the situation is the same at present and its been 7 years and nothings changed. There are reasons why men drag their feet and it isn’t pretty sometimes. Basically it sounded lije the guy im talking about didnt like some things about his girlfriend and so wouldnt go the extra step of marrying his girlfriend and i felt rreal sorry for her as shes waiting and waiting and doesnt know why its not happening. He doesn’t want to let her go because it suits him on some level. In my mind shes so good to him and after all these years i feel he owes it to her. Its hard to say what each situation consists of but it was the only time i as a woman was privy to a mans reasoning of not marrying someone he had been with a long time. I sat there kind of speechless as it had poured out of him in a drunken state but was probably honest. You know he wouldnt be telling her any of that. Now looking back i wish id have lectured him on doing right by her. I was too caught up in my own dramas at the time. I now think that men have reasons for not takint the plunge with a long time partner. Theres something on the list of desirables thats lacking or insufficient. 

  8. 278

    I think if the guy doesn’t discuss future plans he’s probably not going to marry her. 7 years is a very long time. Some men I think feel they have si much tine on their side they can be selfish about the time they’re wasting for the woman. Anyway from that discussion I had with the guy who hadn’t married his long time girlfriend I wondered if even though he’s staying there must be a part of his brain that’s holding out for a better deal or fantasy of a partner that will give ‘ve them everything they want. But as the years pile on it a less plausible as looks and sexual stamina fades and health erodes. Im thinking that both sides of the equation get stuck in limbo. Its very hard to find a decent boyfriend these days who will stay around so I totally understand the woman staying in it. In the situation I was talking about I think that woman had more power than she realized and should have closed the deal years ago by holding back and discussing a plan for the future by stating emphatically want she wanted. Instead she played the good sport and let it drift too long. The younger the woman is the better position to bargain and trust me men know this. Totally sucks but its the way it is.

  9. 279

    Just wow….wow. This thread has blown me away as I am living almost the exact same thing…only difference was- my 7 yr. relationship was long-distance! What blew the whole thing up were the issues of  lack of communication and intimacy in very important matters. When it hit the fan, and I asked him to finally be able to address these issues with me together so that they could be resolved (especially in our situation of an LDR), he bowed out and sent me all my stuff back like four days later. Haven’t talked to him in a month, but what I do know is, Evan is right. After year one, I should’ve walked and took it for what it was, but I was newly divorced, hurting and a bit tired, having three children in an every-other-week custody situation. His charm and laughter, attractiveness brought me back to life, so to speak. But it should’ve ended there. I just didn’t have the courage. Seven (!! Yes, seven!!) years later, with much commitment on both ends, we are done as a couple. But, I can see now, as one always does, the ‘red flags’ which were lined all along the way. I wish him well, in any case.

  10. 280

    Commitment has a different definition to everyone and I think labelling this guy as not being committed just because he chooses not to get married or keep his flat is not fair. Having an agenda is the best way to never find true love, to never be satisfied and to never grow up. Agenda based relationships are relationships filled with issues that will never be overcome. If you go into a relationship with an agenda, you’re likely to miss the true person you’re with, you’re likely to miss the warning signs, you’re likely to be miserable because you’re not seeing the truth, you’re not enjoying the journey,  you’re simply waiting for the outcome. Having an agenda turns every date into an interview and every relationship into a project. In most cases some people think that what they view as a catastrophe in their own world and lives should be the same in another person’s. We all have different values and interests and if marriage is not this guy’s cup of tea, it doesn’t mean he is not committed to being with his girlfriend. I was raised to be self sufficient,  I have my own place and yes I have a girlfriend who has her own place, but that don’t mean I’m any less committed to her. We don’t intend to marry and we function well like that. Sometimes it’s all about having your own space and being independent. Having my own place and not wanting marriage is a choice and whoever I decide to date has to know this from the get go. Maybe marriage is an unnecessary validation to this boyfriend and that don’t mean he doesn’t love the OP. My advice to the OP is to learn to let go if she realises that she wants something different. It’s always best to show your cards when you start to get to know someone,  those who like what you like will stick around too. 7 years is just a time stamp on this relationship, unless if you view it as a time frame for a long awaited agenda. The last time i checked the definition of commitment I swear i didn’t have marriage,  cohabitation or giving up your own place under it.

  11. 281

    why cant 2 people just be in a relationship together? it would be great if they were both in the same boat but marriage isn’t really beneficial for men these days, it gets you nothing but a nasty binding agreement that will end up costing you alimony and loss of assets. People do change and if in 10 years you’re no longer happy then divorce, it ends up being messy as hell. Honestly this guy is in the best situation because he owes her nothing after 7 years, if being with him isn’t enough then she should move on. Its not just her time thats being wasted but his as well which many of you are glossing over in favor of the woman’s point of view.

  12. 282

    Every man on the planet weather he admits it or nor knows that until he offers a woman life long commitment then he can’t have her all to himself.
    They just try it on ano herself d want a woman all to themselves without making that commitment.
    So any woman who gives him that is a fool.
    Of course he won’t commit if he already has you without having to.

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