Can A Girlfriend Be Too Good To Her Boyfriend?

good girlfriend

I’ve been reading your blog religiously for the past two years and following your advice. Because of you, I have learned to let go of unhealthy relationships and to be more assertive regarding my needs/wants. You really do an invaluable service. Thank you SO much! My question is: Is it possible to be “too good” to your boyfriend?

I’m 30 years old and fell in love with a 26 year-old man. Although his age first gave me pause, he is by far the kindest, cutest, most intelligent and trustworthy person I’ve ever met and dated. I honestly feel like I’ve hit the jackpot with this man. I know – it’s cliché but that’s how I feel. We both fell quickly and madly in love with each other and became boyfriend/girlfriend soon after. We have been living together for the past 5 months and will celebrate our 1 year anniversary next month. We’ve had our conflicts, like any other couple, but I’ve never been happier. It feels right and I hope it progresses into something more.

I don’t know if I will sound petty, but I miss all the thoughtful things that couples do for each other when they begin dating. He used to buy me flowers, send me poetry texts, cook me dinner, and surprise me with drinks outdoors. Now, I feel that he doesn’t make much of an effort in these little things anymore. I, however, continue to write him love letters (even if he doesn’t return the favor), cook him nice brunches/dinners, and think about ways to surprise him. My mother and friends say I am being “too good” to this man and that I should hold back a little, or even play hard-to-get. They worry that I am spoiling him and that if I slack a little in the future, he will leave me for another woman. I have dismissed these comments in front of my family and friends, but what they have said remains in the back of my mind.

I feel that when a couple is living together and serious with each other, games of holding back, playing hard-to-get, or mirroring should be over. We should be inspired to be our best with the other person because we love them, right? But is there any truth to what my friends and family are saying? I would love to know what you think.


Thanks for the kind words, Liz. Appreciate your healthy approach to relationships and agree that the answer to successful relationships is not to play hard-to-get. That’s what happens when you get advice from people who don’t understand relationships. Two wrongs don’t make a right and I can’t think of a single instance where I reacted more positively when my wife acted in a negative way towards me.

Over time, we let down our best faces and reveal our truest selves.

So while your instincts about relationships in general may be right, I think we can call into question your instincts about this man, in particular. Before we get into that, let’s take a 40,000 foot overview of healthy relationship pacing.

I’m not going to comb through my archives looking for the studies that validate my perspective, but here is what I learned about the act of building long-lasting relationships

The initial pacing should be moderate and organic.

This does not mean that there aren’t examples of two strangers sleeping together on Date 1, declaring their love on Date 3, moving in together after 1 month, getting married after 6 months and living happily ever after. It just means that there are many, many, MANY more examples of two strangers sleeping together on Date 1 and never talking again.

In my experience, there are two semi-healthy paces for the beginning of a relationship.

    a. The excitement of instant chemistry, where two people can become instant boyfriend/girlfriend in a date or two. Now, just because two people fall in deep like right away doesn’t remotely mean that they’re compatible for the rest of their lives. But it does mean that they’re at least initially on the same page with attraction and the willingness to commit and that’s a good place to start, presuming you’re not too blinded by chemistry. Which, of course, you are.

    b. The slower, more cautious, approach to becoming a couple, where you’re a little older, a little more mature, the chemistry is a 7, and you’re trying to assess whether you should focus your energies on just one person. Generally, this approach will involve casual dating and foreplay for 4-8 weeks before both parties have enough clarity to dive into a relationship. Because they’re a little more clear-minded and cautious, my contention is that these couples are starting off on sounder footing than the intoxicated couples who “just knew” on Date 1.

Now that you’re boyfriend/girlfriend, things change. You talk every day on the phone. You see if you’re sexually compatible. You leave your weekends open for each other. You meet friends and family. You become more real, more vulnerable, more flawed, more yourself. You make plans months in advance. You talk about a future. You work on your communication. You see what happens when that initial spark of chemistry wears off and whether you’re left with a healthy friendship and good sex life, or a mere shell of your first month together.

This process takes place over 2 YEARS, at which point you move in together, see what it’s like to be married for about six months, then get engaged.

If everything is still strong, you have a chance at a successful marriage.

The problem is that this is NOT how most people approach relationships.

Most people fall “in love” (another term for chemistry) and either get married or move in together too quickly because it feels good. Then they are shocked, SHOCKED I tell you, that things aren’t the same as they were during the first few months. This is predictable. Over time, we let down our best faces and reveal our truest selves. Which is why I’m a firm believer that nobody should get married before 2 to 2  ½ years together unless the bride is 39 and wants to have kids. In ALL other circumstances, it’s better to wait and see what your relationship is made of BEFORE locking it in.

Yes, I’ve hijacked your question, Liz, as I am wont to do, because it is an opportunity to make a greater point about the nature of relationships. You “fell quickly and madly in love with each other” BEFORE you were even boyfriend/girlfriend. You moved in after only 7 months together. (For a slightly different perspective, I told my wife I loved her at 6 months and moved in together at 20 months). And now, you’re discovering, after one year with your 26-year-old puppy dog of a boyfriend, that he doesn’t have the wisdom, maturity, character or wherewithal to continue to treat you the way he did during those exciting first few months.

Yep. That’s love for you.

It’s about how he treats you over 40 years, not about how much he loved you in the first three months.

So, please, tune out your mom and your friends who tell you to treat your guy worse to get him to treat you better. If anything, have an adult conversation with your boyfriend to let him know how you feel. You love him. You appreciate him. You do your best to care for him. But you’re starting to feel resentment that you continue to do the little things and he seems to have tapered off. Listen to his response. Does he acknowledge your truth? Does he defend himself? Does he shut down? Does he try to make things better?

Because, at the end of the day, all you can do is lead by example, show a man how to please you, and give him positive reinforcement when he does so. And if he fails to please — even when it’s in his best interest — the only thing you can do is to let him go and start all over.

The good news is that the next time you meet a guy, you will probably move a little bit slower, watch him reveal his character over time and not mistake chemistry for compatibility. It’s about how he treats you over 40 years, not about how much he loved you in the first three months.

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  1. 1

    Totally agree Evan! The thing I find amusing is that the writer was unsure about the age difference. He’s 26 and she’s 30 that’s only 4 years! Really 4 years is the same generation. Who the hell cares. Evan, you comment on his age and possible lack of maturity. I’d say there are many men who are 30 that can easily fit the same bill. She’s not dating some one old enough to be her son, she’s dating within her peer group. If he’s ‘immature’ compared to her, I’d say it’s due to his personality not the age difference.

    1. 1.1

      Agree with you. I dated a guy who was 26 who had all the maturity necessary to conduct a successful relationship. And on the other hand, I dated a 35 year old guy who almost completely lacked any relationship communication skills. I am 32. So age is just a guideline, not necessarily a tell-all.

  2. 2

    My boyfriend is my boyfriend because I took your advice in WHD and let things happen organically. After the first 4 dates we knew we liked each other and I told him I wanted to take everything easy until we both knew if this was something we wanted and if we wanted to take things further in the future . He was more than happy to go along with this and I think he felt more secure in knowing that I wasn’t going to be rushed into anything I wasn’t ready for and neither was he.
    I didn’t have to do anything, I let him set the pace, I appreciated his efforts and let him know what a great job he was doing. If he had to change or cancel a date because of work or other issues, I let it go. He calls or texts me every day, he makes plans in advance, he’s integrating me into his family and friends, he’s kind and considerate and does little things to make me feel special.
    And the best thing of all, he tells me that he is happy with me, he feels good and he finds me so easy to get along with … And this is all down to you Evan, you’ve helped turn me into a good girlfriend who appreciates a man for who he is. He sent me a text last night after he got home telling me what a lovely day out he had yesterday with a great girl, he took me fishing (even though I don’t get this thing with men and fish) and the best is yet to come. Isn’t that something!

  3. 3

    Hmmm.. Great post. I feel the underlying issue is her resentment in being a fantastic partner…that she expects reciprocity. I don’t know if said beau is giving in other ways but he is not meeting her wants/needs. Is she being too good of a girlfriend? Yes, she is, if she resents it.

    1. 3.1

      I totally agree, Sally. I’ve observed that men do not show their  love for their women the same way that women show their love for their  men. If you want further reading on this, Steve Harvey makes the point very succinctly in the book Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man. If she’s doing these things for him because it’s what she wants him to do for her – and to me, that’s what it sounds like – then it’s no wonder she’s disappointed. Guys tend to do things for their women that are, on the surface, not the least bit romantic, like changing the oil in her car. Or fixing a stopped-up toilet, or setting up a new computer program on her laptop that she needs for work. It’s not always going to be candlelight and flowers (even though these things should still be done occasionally). Perhaps she simply isn’t seeing all the little things he’s doing for her.

      1. 3.1.1

        Jenn, thank you for reminding me to see the full realm of what he does for me.

  4. 4

    Sallythatgirl, I’d take what you say a step further and remind her that she is not wrong in wanting her needs met, just wrong in thinking she can change him into doing so. If she wants to be courted she’d be better suited to someone who’s mature enough to understand that the dating doesn’t stop just because the relationship has occurred. The BF in question doesn’t feel like he needs to continue courting her. I’m willing to bet Evan still courts his wife. But if you’re going into a relationship expecting reciprocity, then there will probably be a great deal of confusion and hurt to follow. When we truly love someone, it’s not to have them return the favor, even though we are happy if he or she does; our love for that person gives us the heart to serve him or her whether it’s returned or not.

  5. 5
    Amy dk

    I was 30 and had a 26 year old boyfriend. He did the same thing. He just wasnt ready to settle down. Its not the age difference but the actual ages. I thimm k he doesn’t want to be there.

  6. 6

    Evan, you are dead on moving slower helps and, Then that’s when you really see the relationship comes full circle. God I’m so glad my twenty’s is o..ver.. Just saying

  7. 7

    I could be wrong, but unless a man is really conservative and will follow a straight and narrow path (i.e. corporate lawyer), he should NOT marry in his 20s. The OP’s boyfriend is 26. She is 30. Big difference when it comes to settling down. If i were her, I’d re-assess and find someone who is ready for the sort of relationship she is seeking. A 36-year old for instance. The OP sounds a bit overbearing as though she is overworking herself to make up for the fact that her BF is not all into it.

  8. 8
    Mary H.

    Evan, do you advocate living together before marriage? Truth be told, I am somewhat old-fashioned, and I don’t really want to do that. I can understand and appreciate why other people want to do it, but I feel personally like living together takes some of the *meaning* and *significance* out of marriage — it’s not pledging to start a life with someone, it’s signing a piece of paper, throwing a party, and going home. Plus, in the several thousands of years of human existence, people have been getting married without living together first, and it has often turned out okay.

    1. 8.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      I do advocate living together before marriage. You can talk all you want about the “meaning” of marriage, but I think it’s prudent to know what you’re getting into before you get into it. And if you decide after three months living with your boyfriend that you would be unhappily married, isn’t that a blessing to figure that out BEFORE you buy rings, throw a wedding, and get married, only to suffer through a predictable divorce that could have been avoided? You may take your chances with the dive in first, ask questions later model, but as a dating coach, I don’t advocate it.

      Note: I moved in with my wife AFTER we got married. I was completely freaked out, but we were so busy planning the wedding (she was 39) that we didn’t have time to move in together first…

      1. 8.1.1

        Freaked out by what?

        1. Evan Marc Katz

          Freaked out that I had committed without seeing if living together actually suited us. The wedding day is about planning a big party for everyone you love. Living together is what it’s actually like being married. I skipped that step – and wouldn’t recommend it to others.

      2. 8.1.2
        Mary H.

        Hmm, I see your point. What do you think of the claim that living together first provides a disincentive for the man to propose marriage, because he sees it as a *substitute for* rather than a *path toward* marriage? In essence, that he doesn’t need to go through the fuss of proposing because he gets all of the benefits of a wife without actually having to make her his wife?

        1. Evan Marc Katz

          If he doesn’t propose to you in due time (after dating for a total of 2-3 years and living together for 1, for example), then you break up with him. Problem solved.

        2. Jenn

          Sorry Evan, I completely disagree. I think living together before marriage is a huge mistake (not to mention it’s against my faith). I think that when you go into living with someone as a “trial marriage”, you automatically have it in the back of your mind that you’re not fully committed to the relationship. Figuring out whether or not you can tolerate the other person leaving toothpaste stains in the sink won’t change that. Besides, there is a ton of research out there which has shown that people who cohabitate before marrying have a much higher chance of divorcing than those who don’t.

        3. Evan Marc Katz

          You can disagree and make decisions based on faith, but you’re relying on old research that has been repeated ad nauseum. In fact, as times change and living together becomes the norm, it is not a predictor of divorce as it was in the past. Practically speaking, it makes all the sense in the world to try out being married before getting married instead of getting married and hoping you got it right.

          (New link:

        4. Jenn

          I still disagree. I think it’s important to learn as much as you can about a prospective marriage partner and it’s true that once you’re married you have to get used to being with them in a whole new way. But many more times than not, the people who choose to cohabitate aren’t serious about getting married, are less committed to the relationship, and since cohabitation doesn’t require a huge investment of money or time should the relationship fall apart, it’s an easy out. My own brother has moved back in with us after six years with his girlfriend. There never was any prospect of marriage in his mind, even though she assumed it would happen eventually (which is why she held on so long  – a common problem with women who cohabitate!). And the research I’ve been looking at over the past few years is all recent. All the studies I’ve looked at (too many to list) have been done within the last ten years, so I’m not looking at stuff from 18 years ago.

        5. Temple Ave

          I agree with Jenn here. You can simulate the lifestyle of marriage but you can never simulate the commitment part of it. With one foot out the door, you cannot be as committed to working things out.
          Even the most compatible couple will have to face some problems down the road. It’s often not the problem itself but the lack of commitment to solve the problem from one or both of the parties that break things off.

      3. 8.1.3

        If I understand this correctly, she was 39 and wanted to get married right away because she wanted to start a family? Did she make it clear to you that was her end goal?

    2. 8.2
      Karmic Equation

      I had a friend who dated her bf for over 5 years before they got married…and never lived together. After about 6 months of living together, after they were married, they decided to call it quits. And were divorced 6 months after that.
      I think they could have avoided that divorce by having lived together first…They would have figured out quite quickly they weren’t compatible, living-together-wise.
      My last bf wanted to move in with me. I knew two things 1) I didn’t want to marry him, even though I cared for him and 2) if we lived together someone would end up dead. lol

      1. 8.2.1

        Actually, they could have avoided it by not dating for five freaking years. LOL I’d never stick with someone for that long without marrying them unless the relationship started at 16. Obviously there was something else that was going on in their relationship that they weren’t acknowledging; the fact that they didn’t live together before marriage was not the reason they got divorced.

        1. Suzette


  9. 9

    I pretty much agree with all the posters. The boyfriend is looking to be a boyfriend…I think Liz looking for this to move toward marriage. Many people do fall in love with the romance of living together until reality sets in. You are living with someone….this is your life and not a glamorized tv show or movie.

    Also, it’s possible that is is how this guy really is ALL THE TIME. Seven months dating time is not a whole lot of “time” to know someone. When you live with someone, they don’t have their “date behavior on”. It’s them in the raw. Sometimes, raw is awesome and sometimes is not. And, he’s 26. Some guys are ready to setting down and others are not.

    I don’t know if I would live with someone. I have thought about it. Part of me feels if I do, he will never marry me because he is getting the perks without the commitment though the other part of me feels that if he loves you and wants to be with you he will marry you either way. Just wondering of it is better to be engaged before you move in to ensure that you are moving toward real commitment? I would not want one of those lifetime engagements or to waste personal time on someone who is undeserving.

  10. 10
    soul sister

    startthrower68 #4

    I am going to disagree with you that we do things for our partner because we love them, without expectations of reciprocity. I have always done nice things for my partners, but there were definite “strings attached” (i.e. if I helped him work on a project for several hours, when I asked to do something I want to do, perhaps go out dancing, if his answer was always no, I stopped helping him and told him why. My time is valuable too). I know this is theoretically not the loving way to behave, but my experience over years is that men can be naturally much better takers than givers.

    So I met a man on line and we had very high chemistry. Yes Evan, the blinding kind, so you know where this story is going…sort of. We did take our time, even though it was intense, because while he was unbelievably attentive most of the time, and I was on cloud nine, there were times he almost completely ignored me. I didn’t want to do the “strings attached”, and I had read Evan for years, so I just kept being positive and doing for him. I would try really hard to not have expectations back, but being human, I would start getting resentful. So then we would talk, after he got very defensive he would agree and get much better and be like he was, and then the cycle would start all over again. But it was weird, because I knew this guy wasn’t a jerk. His relationship cadence was just off, I don’t know how to explain it.

    So after 2 years of being the great girlfriend, learning to give without expectations, and having my needs widely met for periods of time and then barely met for others, I finally figured out what was “off”…the man has undiagnosed Asperger’s Syndrome. I did a lot of research, and yes, I could have a successful relationship with this man if I loved him enough to….give out of complete love and have zero expectations of my needs being met on a consistent basis, because it just will never happen. So I guess there are some women out there who could give, give, give out of love, but damn, no matter how much I love this guy, I cannot figure out how to be that woman. Because no matter how much we love each other, and we do a lot, I do have expectations for my needs to be met for my happiness, not just his.

    The only person/people women should give to out of pure love with no expectations back is their children. Being a partner with an adult means reciprocity should be part of the package for a healthy relationship. I know my situation is complicated by a disorder, but had I followed my previous standard of expecting my actions to be reciprocated, I might have left a year ago…because yes, I left. And by then it broke my heart. So I will move more cautiously in the future but I will also pay attention to if the man naturally makes an effort to return my efforts, or if it is all about him, whether it is out of selfishness or a disorder, it doesn’t matter.

    1. 10.1

      So then we don’t really disagree.   It’s on us to get our needs met and if the guy can’t do that then you are free to leave.   

  11. 11

    Soul [email protected],

    I know exactly what you are talking about. I, too, thought I met a wonderful man online who swept me off my feet, only to find out later on that he, too, has a personality disorder.. narcissism. Asperger’s and narcissism are sort of similar, except aspergers is more on the benevolent side, not malignant. Narcissists plan their manipulation and have a pattern of abuse(idealizing someone and than devaluing them) that cannot be broken. They do this over and over again throughout their entire life and for the most part psychotherapy is not effective at all, because they think the problem does not lie within themselves. I went into my relationship quite innocently, but later figured it out. This has taken me quite a long time to get over, and I’m not over it yet.

    Unfortunately I have read that men with personality disorders(especially narcissists) are all over the internet dating sites because of their excessive need for attention and they can hide behind the internet. And yes he was a taker, not a giver. He made wonderful promises about giving, but they just didn’t come true.

    1. 11.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      You can’t entirely avoid these guys, but you can generally suss them out and get rid of them in 6 weeks instead of waiting 6 months or 2 years…

      1. 11.1.1
        soul sister

        Hi Evan, I think that would be an interesting blog for the future!  Some personality disorders are pretty easy to see, others are a lot harder to identify…how can you tell the difference between some quirks or a disorder?  Totally wrong guy to practice my new “be a positive and accepting” girlfriend!

  12. 12

    These comments have taken an interesting twist; this whole array of comments started off by running the relationship through its normal cycle of interest/passion/ compatibility to now looking for mental illness that cause a sense of loss. This loss or dissatisfaction from someone lacking the right DNA or brain chemistry is then the source of the relationship degrading or just falling apart. It seems many here are looking for the perfect combination heart mind and body that can be realized on the big screen. I not talking about settling but choosing your partner and battles wisely.

    For example, losing a job, losing a parent, god help you losing a child will impact you and will cause ripples in the relationship. Even good things like a promotion, moving to a bigger house, more money, more responsibility as a new parent will cause a redirection of interests, passion and of course, time.

    All these good and bad life events (and there are plenty others) will affect the way you love and even receive love from your spouse, mate, live-in etc. Good communication, patience, compassion, forgiveness, looking towards the long term and yes, even faith in the other person, will create an emotional cushion. This cushion can become a place of rest, recovery, sorrow, and just living a little longer without judgement. Yes many illnesses can be treated but never cured (mental and medical both).

    But this willingness to cut losses because your needs are not met can become a very slippery slope. I am not advocating acceptance at any cost, but acceptance with compassion, humor and forgiveness may create the loving environment that so many want in their lives. However, if we are not satisfied in timing,quality and quantity, we push on and desperately complain that the good ones are taken.

  13. 13
    Dina Strange

    Most of guys who wanted me proposed in 6 months….and that was without me living with them. And i am talking about 4 or 5 different guys who did it. So all that checking each other for years is nonsense. If a guy wants you to be his wife he usually knows it very fast.

    1. 13.1

      That’s the truth. Us guys know pretty much right when we see a woman whether or not we’re wiling to marry her.

  14. 14
    Karl R

    Liz said: (original letter)
    “I don’t know if I will sound petty, but I miss all the thoughtful things that couples do for each other when they begin dating. He used to buy me flowers, send me poetry texts, cook me dinner, and surprise me with drinks outdoors. Now, I feel that he doesn’t make much of an effort in these little things anymore.”
    It sounds like Liz has an unreasonable expectation of what married life is like. For those of us without children, most of married life is like living with a friend/roommate. For the people with children, most of married life is consumed by being a parent.
    There is some romance in a good marriage, but it’s not going to be the same as when you first start dating.
    Liz said:  (original letter)
    “I, however, continue to write him love letters (even if he doesn’t return the favor), cook him nice brunches/dinners, and think about ways to surprise him.”
    Do you enjoy cooking for him, writing love letters and surprising him?
    If you enjoy doing those things, continue to do them for the enjoyment you get out of them … and stop expecting quid pro quo.
    My wife enjoys cooking. Therefore, she cooks for me. I don’t mind doing the dishes (she hates doing them), so I consider it to be a fair division of chores for me to do that.
    But if my wife didn’t like cooking, we would eat a lot more take-out, frozen and canned meals. I’d still be married to her. She cooks because she wants to. Period.
    Either do those romantic things because you enjoy doing them, or stop doing them because you don’t. Either is reasonable. But it’s foolish to expect either choice to change the way he treats you.
    Dina Strange said: (#13)
    “So all that checking each other for years is nonsense. If a guy wants you to be his wife he usually knows it very fast.”
    Divorce courts are full of couples who wanted to be husband and wife.
    I’ve wanted lots of things that weren’t necessarily a good idea. Did I want to marry my wife at the six month mark? Yep. Will I still want to be married to her 10 or 20 years down the road?
    I can guarantee that I didn’t know the answer to that   question at the six month mark.
    Most of married life is being friends/roommates. After the infatuation wears off, will you be able to share the same bathroom, bedroom, kitchen and TV without getting angry at each other?
    Unless you’re rich enough to maintain two separate residences, you need to be able to live together when you’re married. (I know of a married couple who rents two adjacent apartments because they can’t stand living together, and that’s the only way they can stay married to each other.) In the long run, the ability to get along with each other, day in, day out, without fighting, is far more precious than any love letter, cold beverage, brunch or dinner.
    I lived with my wife so I knew that I would get what I needed most.

    1. 14.1

      Karl R,
      “Do you enjoy cooking for him, writing love letters and surprising him?
      If you enjoy doing those things, continue to do them for the enjoyment you get out of them … and stop expecting quid pro quo.
      My wife enjoys cooking. Therefore, she cooks for me.”
      I’m so glad you said that.   Because I agree.   The things you do of this nature in a relationship should be done because you enjoy doing them, or don’t mind doing them.   But you shouldn’t have expectations attached to them.   This is a sure-fire way to feel resentment or disappointment.   If you have expectations other than enjoying the act itself, rather don’t do it.
      I love that your wife cooks for you because she enjoys it.   I love to cook, I find it very stress-relieving, therapeutic and satisfying, so my boyfriend gets the benefit of this.   I’m not giving to get, or being “too good to him” – I enjoy it for my own sake.   He pays for the groceries, which is quite enough 🙂

  15. 15

    What about for second marriages, with kids involved?   I was always pro-living together also but… the second go around I’m not so sure that I would uproot my kids without a ring first!   Would love to hear your thoughts and see more articles written for those of us who are dating later in life with children. Thanks Evan- love your blog!

    1. 15.1

      Yes AH….this is my lot in life! Trying to deal with my partner and his three very difficult teenage children (one is 20 but still wants to live at home) and a bitter ex wife!! Life has been so challenging being with him. We have a 4 and a half years together with an attempt to live together (with all three kids) which caused us to break up…

      Ive tried staying  away, but I know I love him an =d have been trying really hard to accept what I cant change (his kids and bitter ex)….its still not easy and I still don’t know for sure if it will ever be our time although we are  hoping to marry and move in again together next year (with only the youngest son who will be nearly 16 by then). We will see. Im not banking on it as who knows what can happen in the meantime.   

  16. 16

    @AH If it were me, I would wait for the ring whether I had kids or not. For me, until he wants to spend his life with me by telling the world through an engagement, I would stay where I am. After having to move out once, that was painful enough. And with kids, you don’t want them to have to readjust either.

    1. 16.1

      On the whole co-habitation before marriage thing:  
      This has been my experience – 1st Hubby- Co-habitated for 2 years, married one year, separated one year, then divorced.   He called me up FIVE YEARS after our divorce and we started dating again, I stopped dating him when I started dating my 2nd Hubby.
      2nd Hubby – 3 days of “co-habitation”   (he had to move out of his place about 3 days before the wedding)     23 years of marriage.     About half of those were good years.
      So I really think to co-habitate or not to co-habitate prior to marriage comes down to individual preferences and comfort levels.   I don’t think the presence or absense of pre-marital co-habitation can predict the longevity or the happiness of a marriage.   I had a better (but not great) outcome with zero co-habitation, than with.
      If I ever get in a relationship again (and it’s looking doubtful at this point), I might try “co-habitaion lite”.   I own my own home, and do have a room mate who rents TWO rooms, so she pays a substantial portion of my mortgage.   So if I met someone really amazing and he asked me to move in with him,   I would, but I would keep my house, let my room mate continue on, and I could afford to pay my share of the mortgage and maintenance for my home AND make whatever financial contributions we decide on to live in his place.   So technically, we would NOT be co-habitating,   if I am keeping my home,   and can move back in at any time, but I think it would be a close enough imitation of true co-habitation to ascertain if we’d be compatible sharing space or not.

  17. 17

    Just to put a refreshing perspective out there, my grandfather proposed to my grandmother after the first date.   He told me that he had never been in love before and didn’t want to lose her.   They didn’t get married right away though, they were engaged for a couple of years.   They had a wonderful marriage.

      1. 17.1.1

        I don’t know, my dad’s parents were married within two months after they met, and they were together their whole lives, so it can happen that way sometimes. I know that’s not how it is for the majority though. I think we just like these “we just knew it from the start” stories because we’re obsessed with the Hollywood endings. 🙂

        1. Henriette

          Evan isn’t saying it never, ever happens this way.   But he is stating that people who marry within two months (or four months, or at the age of 22 years-old) are much more likely to end up divorced than a pair of 32 year-olds who’ve been dating for 2 years before becoming engaged.

        2. TransientDude

          I really enjoyed watching you stand your ground on non cohabitation. It’s against the bible plus research even proves it’s a relationship and marriage killer.

      2. 17.1.2

        Or maybe it was just easier in the old days when expectations were clearer and people tended to meet others who had similar upbringings.   As I mentioned in another comment somewhere, people used to get hitched pretty quickly.

  18. 18

    Just the answer to the question I was looking for. I’ve been royally screwed over by my first husband who I starred dating at 16 and was with for 15 years. Having never done the dating thing it’s been difficult. 2.5 years later and I’ve met a wonderful man who is amazing in every way. Having no experience about being in relationships other than my failed marriage your advice has been invaluable And this particular blog post answers my questions about what should happen and when.  

  19. 19

    Just to clear something up with regards to cohabitation and research: Research does not show that cohabitation leads to divorce. The findings are actually quite interesting. It has been found that when two people live together with the intention of getting married in the long term, they end up staying together and having more satisfactory relationships than people who start living together with no intention of marriage. These people tend to break up and not get married. So I think in this line of findings the important thing is the way you come to making that decision to live together or not. I know a lot of couples who start living together either because it is convenient or because they enjoy each others company, without thinking about whether or not they are committed to each other and think about the relationship for long-term. I think this is because when you decide you want to be with someone ‘forever’, you make a greater effort. It seems as simple as that. On the other hand, living with someone just for the sake of it ends up giving both sides more responsibility, serious conversations about important things like chores and finances etc., and ends up being less fun and romantic and it is easier to throw in the towel.
    I moved in with my boyfriend after 7 months, and it didn’t happen after a serious conversation, we kind of found ourselves living together. I see now that it really isn’t the fun and games I thought it was going to be. Most of our conversations have turned into what’s for dinner? or can you fix the light? and who will let the cleaner in in the morning. I think it takes a lot more effort to keep up the chemistry although it does bring you closer on the friendship level as you end up sharing your lives- with the good days and the bad.
    On a second note, research also shows that people tend to have the most satisfaction in a relationship when they date people either a) most like themselves (personality wise) or b) the person that most fits in with their ideal partner.   However, it is important to note that research is just research. It is merely a generalization about the whole population from a small sample of people. Relationships are just like fingerprints- they are all different. And while we can make generalizations and give advice and what not, I believe that at the end of the day how much you want to make something work, how hard you are willing to try to make it work, how good you are at keeping positive and forgiving as well as how articulate you are multiplied for each side will form the basis of how strong that relationship will end up becoming.

  20. 20


    As Liz has mentioned, your blog has changed my view of dating drastically for the better. So, thank you, thank you, thank you. I think is is important that behaviour that causes resentment on any level is voiced. A sincere partner will want to make a difference. This is also a reflection of larger challenges in the future. Some people have neglected certain parts and think that all is ok. It might not be done with the overt intention to upset someone but it does. It is when this silent resentment builds up that relationships are destroyed.

    As for play hard to get bit, I have some questions about it.  

    Isn’t it true that men like the thrill of the chase, the elusiveness of whether she likes me or not? I also think there are men who will take things for granted if a woman do too much too soon or continue to offer her affection even if he did something wrong. It is almost that they lose respect for me when this happens.  

    I  find this give one inch, request for a metre mentality very troubling and hurtful. I don’t want to have to guard against such a person but feel secure in a relationship that he values my efforts as much as I value his. Is it a matter of I just met the wrong people, people who do not understand mutuality and value grace/forgiveness?

    I do think people should take responsibility for any wrongdoing, it isn’t a shame or blame scenario but resentment/displeasure should be addressed amicably.  

    You wrote about mirroring in previous posts so how does not contributing to the negative-negative scenario work hand in hand with mirroring?  

    Please do enlighten me. As you can tell, I am a little confused.   

    1. 20.1

      Christina said: “I  find this give one inch, request for a metre mentality very troubling and hurtful.

      Well there’s your problem, “inch” is imperial while “meter” is metric.   😉

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