My Long Distance Boyfriend Does Not Want To Think About Our Future, But He Insists He Is Committed To Me. How Can I Be Sure?
I’ve been dating a guy for two years now. We currently live on opposite coasts (I’m in graduate school, he’s a professor), but we manage to see each other relatively frequently. We’ve had
our share of problems, mainly due to past bad relationship experiences, but also because we have very different ways of relating. I’m very passionate, though I try not to let my emotions have too powerful an effect on my actions, something I learned, in part, from him. He is dispassionate and sometimes almost cold. He’s been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, which has obviously had a significant effect on how he interacts with people. He’s very controlled, all the time, and when he does get deeply depressed, he hides it from pretty much everyone (though not me).
The problem is we do not see eye to eye on what being a good partner means. He’s not big on saying “I love you” or buying gifts outside of holidays. He thinks such things are unnecessary, and that a desire for them suggests neediness and insecurity. Providing reassurance is something he dislikes intensely. He says he shows me he loves me by being faithful and dependable and that’s what’s important. I agree about the importance of those things, but I think the other stuff is important, too. I do send him little gifts and cards. I do express my love for him (though not as much as I used to as it’s kind of awkward). Now, that stuff is annoying and perhaps indicative of a lack of commitment on his part.
He says he shows me he loves me by being faithful and dependable and that’s what’s important.
When I’ve pressed him on the commitment issue, he says he is committed to me, fully and completely. But he doesn’t think about us having a future together because he never thinks about the future. I know he’s not lying, he truly doesn’t think about the future outside of unavoidable logistical matters. His job is very stressful and he’s a very intense individual, with the added handicap of trying to keep his highs and lows under control. Thinking about the future really is terrifying for him at this stage in his career (pre-tenure).
Anyway, I am troubled by this whole situation. I know he loves me, though I’m frustrated that he has so much trouble telling me. More importantly, given the long distance nature of our relationship, I find it hard not to sometimes long for a future time when we’ll actually be living in the same place. It bothers me that he doesn’t want to think about that. I agree that thinking too much about the future of a relationship can lead to serious problems, but can you really be committed to a relationship if you’re not at least a little future-oriented? He believes that if you act like a rational, careful adult in a relationship, the future will take care of itself.
So I’m conflicted. I love him and I want to be with him. He’s brilliant and funny and completely dependable in most ways. When we’re physically together he’s very affectionate and sweet. And we have a wonderful sex life. But he doesn’t want to think of the future, not even to plan to be together someday. He’s also anti-marriage and children but I don’t care too much about that, except in that it also suggests that he fears commitment.
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