Will Another 6 Months Make My Boyfriend Want Marriage and Kids?

Will Another 6 Months Make My Boyfriend Want Marriage and Kids

Hi Evan,

I am currently in a 2.5 year relationship, (I’m 30 and he’s 38). We have lived together over 1.5 years, and have an amazing dog together whom we both cherish. We get along pretty well and I can honestly say we have a complementary and solid relationship. However, at times when we do argue, it’s over the issue of marriage and kids. I’ve read most of your blogs surrounding this issue, but none seem to address what to do when your boyfriend “doesn’t know if he ever wants marriage or kids.”

We have been attending couple’s therapy for the last six months and he still ‘doesn’t know.’ He has said comments such as: “I want a companion but I don’t want the responsibilities of companionship,” or “I want to be me and I don’t want to put in extra effort or work. I work 100 hours a week” or “Relationships should just flow and be easy. There shouldn’t be compromises or sacrifices.”

This scared me and I realized hey, this guy probably wants a “forever girlfriend.” My dilemma is I love this man very much and want to spend my life with him, however due to feeling insecure about the direction of our relationship, I am contemplating whether to stay and “give him more time to decide” or walk away (in hopes that he’ll miss me if I’m not here). I know you’ve mentioned in another blog “At the 3-year mark, there’s literally no new info that your boyfriend is trying to gather…” and I agree. Should I give this man another 6 months to decide, or just walk away and find someone who knows what he wants?

Thanks for your help

Sorry to hear your story, Nancy. But this doesn’t look good.

Two questions:

    1. Did your boyfriend EVER talk about wanting to be married with children?
    2. At what point in the relationship did you learn that your boyfriend didn’t want to get married and have children?

Unless he blatantly lied to you and walked back his words, I’m guessing the answers are:

    1. No.
    2. From the very beginning

Which means, unfortunately, that you put yourself in this position. You ignored the bright red flags that he waved in your face and insisted on dating him — and thereby put yourself in the position of the “forever girlfriend.”

I know many stories just like yours, including some close friends and family members who stayed with women for 5-9 years without ever getting engaged. I’ve privately told those men to break up with their girlfriends. Their responses? “Why should I? I LIKE being in this relationship. If SHE doesn’t want to be in this relationship, she should dump ME!”

Instead of trying to force this guy to do something he clearly doesn’t want to do — six months of therapy against his will? Blech! — how about you take back your power and tell him the truth?

I think it lacks integrity, to tell the truth, but I’ve always said that you’re not responsible for someone else’s behavior, only your own.

So instead of trying to force this guy to do something he clearly doesn’t want to do — six months of therapy against his will? Blech! — how about you take back your power and tell him the truth?

You love him. You wish he wanted the same thing out of life that you did. But you’re not going to force a man to marry you at gunpoint. You want a man who WANTS to be a husband and father. And since it’s pretty clear at this point, that this is not his desire, you’re going to move along. No hard feelings. Best of luck.

If he reconsiders, congratulations, you may have a husband. If he lets you go without a fight, it’s for the best.

Finally, for readers who may feel uneasy with my 3 year time frame before engagement, Nancy’s situation is different for one very important reason: she has a guy who has stated he DOESN’T want to get married. If she were with a guy who DID want to get married but wanted to be sure about HER, I’d tell her to give him six more months to come to a conclusion before leaving.

Your thoughts, below, are appreciated.

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  1. 1
    In Not Of

    No. I hate to say it, but right now he may not want that with you, but you break up, he meets someone new, and gets married and starts a family inside of 5 years. That is not a criticism of YOU, that’s just the way life generally works.

    1. 1.1

      How come single women who want children don’t just go with IVF or just get pregnant by their boyfriends.   I know that many woman want marriage, a husband, and a white picket fence; but that Traditional Dream is dying since more men are delaying marriage or choosing not to get married at all.   Single Motherhood seems to be the more realistic option, especially for a woman 35 and older.   Women can financially support themselves with jobs and have kids as well.   It would be difficult but if no Man wants to marry you or wants children, the only option left is to become a single mother.   It seems most women are afraid of being independent or financially scared.   From the sounds of the OP, it seems like her boyfriend is wealthy and works a lot of hours, so maybe that is why she wants to stick with him, because he can afford children.   But I think her best option is just to leave him and find a guy who might be poor, but at least wants kids.   Getting pregnant is not rocket science, and there are men out there willing to father children.

      1. 1.1.1

        they’re just choosing the wrong men.   if there was a movement amongst women where they wouldn’t tolerate being in any kind of a relationship than what they want and deserve, that tradition wouldn’t be dying, these men might actually need to have some accountability and be ‘men’ and step up.

        Theres quite a lot you’re forgetting that two people actually still crave:   wait for it…

        Love, fun, trust, partnership, friendship, family, memories… And having amazing experiences together.

        I know.   Seems to be such a rare concept nowadays… Very unfortunate.   And no one wants to be a single parent.   It takes a village.   We’re lacking strong men to be leaders in the relationship; and women are losing their way and having to grow a set because the men arnt growing theirs.

  2. 2

    A lot of guys lie and say that “maybe” or “I don’t know if” they want children or to get married when in reality they don’t want either, but they know that by being honest 99% of women will not even give them a chance.

    The vast majority of women you meet online or in dating either already have children or some day want children, which makes it hard for guys who don’t want children to date and be honest.

    1. 2.1

      Agreed.   Or, as in my case, the man may be more confused than necessarily intentionally deceptive/malicious (often it’s a combination of both).   I was with a man who seemed to come to the realization that kids were not for him, but not before leading me on for about three  years.

      I did hold out too long, not pressing him more until it was really too late and I had wasted a few years.   That was caused by a few things, low self esteem; the trauma of going through the recession/financial uncertainty during the relationship (clinging to the relationship); I gave him “extra time” on the relationship timeline, to allow him to recover after losing his mother and subsequent grief and depression during the first couple years of the relationship.

      The  upshot is that I am nearing 40, but at least I have become ambivalent about having children.    The red flags in the letter writer’s situation are even more clearcut.   She is young and has ample time.   She can get back out there and meet an appropriate guy.

      1. 2.1.1


        I relate to what you wrote.    I have done the same.    I am now nearing   42.   So much wasted time on guys who really didn’t give a damn about me;   they were out for themselves.

        I wish I came across Evan decades ago.   He is a blessing.


  3. 3

    Get out now and so you can find a guy that does want marriage and family.

    So what if he decided to marry you simply because he didn’t want to lose you? Five, ten years down the road, after years of resentment have built up, he decides he no longer wants to be married, then you are in a much more difficult and painful place.

    As Evan put it, “take back your power!” 🙂

  4. 4

    Trust this man if he says he doesn’t want to get married or have children. In my experience, waiting won’t change his  mind. After dating  a man for over 10 years, I finally figured out he didn’t want to get married or have children. We talked often of”when we get married” or “when we decided to have kids” but when I finally asked about the reality of either of these happening, he confirmed my fears.

    Unfortunately, I left when I was approaching the age at  which children were no longer an option. If you want children, don’t wait.  I’m now with a wonderful, thoughtful, and generous man who didn’t hesitate to tell me that he believes in marriage after just dating for 3 months. It’s possible to be happy  and it’s well worth the  initial heartbreak to achieve it.

    1. 4.1

      I agree 110%.   My ex-husband and I dated for 8 years before we got married and I divorced him  5 years  later with this  being one of  the reasons  for the split and I too was winding down in my child bearing years.   He back paddled on his  decision  for  kids a few years into the marriage that caused not only heartbreak but resentment.   After a few months of counseling and  a few years to come to terms with being a childless divorcee, I was able to forgive him so that I could happily move forward with  my life.       A woman  has a right to  want marriage and children,  though  not everyone  will   have that desire no matter how well the relationship is going.   But after a few short  years of dating and they have clearly vocalized their decision not wanting  to marry or have children than she has to do what’s in her best interest and move on. This will reduce the anger and bitterness for waiting for nothing later on tremendously.

    2. 4.2

      I have to agree with these posts.   I actually once left someone after just six weeks of dating, after finding out that he never wanted marriage.   I’m glad that I did because then I met my boyfriend, who has told me pretty much from the start that he wants marriage, and would want that with me if things keep going as well as they have.   Furthermore, he initiated those discussions all on his own, without me needing to hint around or prompt him (and this after a few months of dating, not years).

      Not that I’m necessarily guaranteed to marry my boyfriend (after all, in the grand scheme of things we haven’t dated that long and we’re still getting to know each other).   But, I have a much higher chance at marriage with him than I did with the prior guy, who never wanted marriage period.   I don’t think sticking things out with the first guy would have changed his mind–and instead, I would have missed out on a much better opportunity.   Better to take a 50/50 chance with a man who does want marriage, than the 0 chance with a man who doesn’t.

  5. 5

    “I want a companion but I don’t want the responsibilities of companionship,” or “I want to be me and I don’t want to put in extra effort or work. I work 100 hours a week” or “Relationships should just flow and be easy. There shouldn’t be compromises or sacrifices.”

    I would be very concerned about a partner who made these statements.   Sounds like he has a very unrealistic view of relationships over the long haul. I also hope that he is exaggerating about working 100 hours a week, but in any case, if you did have kids, it sounds like all the work would fall on you. He doesn’t have much time to be a dad. It’s surprising that you moved in together without discussing these issues first.

  6. 6

    Agree with Ruby and other comments above. I think you know in your heart of hearts what the answer is but you are burying your head in the sand.   If someone tells you he doesn’t want kids or to get married that’s a pretty bold statement that no amount of badgering or therapy is going to change. Could he move on and then suddenly get married and want kids later on with someone else? Sure but that just means you were not the right person to enact that change in him.   My husband dated his ex for over eight years and told her repeatedly he did not want to get married but she hung onto him until he finally managed to break free of her by moving to a different continent! When he met me his views on marriage and kids completely changed but he did that on his own. You can’t make somebody change these very personal views.

    1. 6.1

      Hung on to him??? Why didn’t he break up with her?

      1. 6.1.1

        Exactly what I was thinking, Hildegerd!   “…finally managed to break free…”    She had him in a prison?   A dungeon?   Handcuffed to the bed?

        1. Russell

          Please remember that the next time a female singer releases another one of those “Independence Day” songs.   From Faith Hill – Independence Day, to Gloria Gainor – I will Survive, to Katy Perry – Roar, to…sheesh I could go on like this all night.   This train of thought has been a staple of songs sung by women for decades.   The basic idea is the same as that above.   They were trapped in a horrible relationship, but then one day became strong enough to walk away.

          Realistically men are more likely to be trapped in a bad relationship, though not like the man in Marie’s post.   No, these men are simply faced with two bad choices.   Stay in a sucky relationship, or get raped in a divorce court, and have their children removed from their lives, except on occasional weekends and a few weeks over the summer.


          Only people who would be made homeless by leaving a relationship, are truly trapped in that relationship.   That would be women who have no education and no job, and nobody to turn to, and very low income working men who have too many kid, in which case so much child support would be taken that he couldn’t even afford 300 square foot efficiency apartment in the worst parts of town.

      2. 6.1.2

        Oh he did.   Every time he tried to break up with her she threatened to kill herself.   He tried to stay with her and get her psychological help.   She never really seriously went to her sessions though.   He finally just broke up with her for real because this was just emotional blackmail.

        1. Hildegerd

          And this is information that should have been in your first comment. 😉

  7. 7

    I don’t think you’ll find anyone who is going to say, if this guy explicitly told you no to those things, that he is going to change his mind in 6 months. As Ruby honed in on, a 100hr/week is a problem. A week only has a 168hrs. If your guy can run on 6hrs of sleep, that leaves 26 hours left over for his family each week. So a little over 15% of your guy’s time can be dedicated to a family. Have you ever asked him why he feels the need to work a 100hrs/week? The conversation surrounding that question should provide you with a better understanding of his thought process. Your guy might love you to death, but he has some goal that he is trying to accomplish before going down the aisle. Whether it’s keeping a company a float, building a company, paying off debit, or maintaining a certain lifestyle, you need to have the conversation with him.

    It’s a fantasy, but I highly suspect that quite a few of us would like to believe that we have found the one that would stay with us even if we found ourself penniless. I don’t know the dynamics of your relationship, but if he feels obligated to provide a certain lifestyle, that could be weighing on his conscience. Only you know what type of woman you truly are. If you have it with in you to be with this guy penniless, or a lot less than he is bringing to the table now, make sure he clearly knows that.

  8. 8

    Have u women stop to think for one second why these men dont want kids…since women do not seem to have empathy towards any of the plights of men…because that would be going against their agenda. ..but anyway, these men dont want kids because women do not not provide any of the sense a security they want from men…and I am not talking about money…they do not feel that this woman will always be there…so if they dont feel like u are going to be there for them after you get “your” baby, they figure what is the point of putting myself in a potentially stressful and emotional roller coaster when she decides the relationship is over and they are stuck with a child support bill…SO if women want marriage and kids figure out what it is gonna take to Give him a sense of security

    1. 8.1

      if a man doesn’t feel that security after 6 months to a year.. He needs to be responsible too, and cut it off to not waste anymore of anyone’s time.

  9. 9

    So — I’m 34, my boyfriend of two years is 29, and I’ve just broken up with him over this very issue. He’s extremely dear to me, I love him very, very much, but he was ambivalent about children, even more ambivalent about marriage, and sadly, he also didn’t know what he wanted from his life enough to 100% commit to me.

    It was SO HARD to leave him, and I’m still in grief about it — he was/is my best friend, my favourite person, and the man I wanted to get old with. But after two years we kept hitting this same wall. I waited and waited and waited, hoping that he’d figure out he was ready to commit to  building a life with me, or at least come to some kind of conclusion about whether he wanted kids in the future. He tried — he really tried, but he just couldn’t. I know that part  of him  hoped we’d maybe drift into it at some point much further down the line, but this was a vague, loose idea for him. In contrast, I think being a woman and having a smaller window of time in which to have children really focuses the mind. I felt (and still feel) I had no choice.

    Splitting up with him has been almost unbearable, but I’m bearing it. He does understand —  I’m 34 and want children and so if he can’t make up his mind after two years of me waiting for him, I have to move forward alone.

    The OP is 30 so she has a good few years more than me! That might give her more leeway, for sure. Nevertheless, the one thing I wanted to say is that despite how much I miss him and how hard it is, I haven’t for a second regretted my choice. Even when I’m crying over him and miss him like crazy (which happens every single day), I know I made the right decision. I want a family and his uncertainty was *seriously* holding me back, so I know I was right to move on.

    I’m not suggesting it has to be the way forwards, I’m just saying that there’s a time limit for how long you can wait for a man to figure out what he wants. It’s dictated by our biological clocks, and so your mileage may vary (eg. I’m fine to have kids in my late thirties, and have done a fertility test, and am so far crossing my fingers it’ll be okay; but you may want to crack on with it sooner — and at 30, you have that option). Think very, very seriously about what you want. If you want a family more than you want to be with the man you love, you may have to make an impossibly hard decision. I’ve done it and I don’t regret it, at all. I’m hoping for the best. And best of luck to you, too.

  10. 10

    This is part of the reason why you don’t live with someone out of wedlock. You’d think people would wise up by now.

    1. 10.1

      Holly #10, I agree. Why move in with a man who hasn’t asked you to marry him? That means he has no incentive at all to get married. He gets all of the benefits of marriage without making a legal commitment. If I were the guy, I wouldn’t have any sense of urgency about getting married.

      1. 10.1.1

        “If I were the guy, I wouldn’t have any urgency about getting married.” I’ll bet that the guy never wanted marriage even before moving in with her. You’re confusing the cause of his desire not to get married. If moving in with a woman causes a man to become complacent, what about all of those marriages that followed a period of cohabitation?

        1. Christine

          From what I’ve personally seen, cohabitation neither facilitates nor precludes a proposal.   I know some people who get married after living together (my own sister is one of them–my boyfriend’s sister is another).   I’ve never seen a serious and marriage-minded man back out of proposing because his girlfriend moved in.

          On the other hand, I have also seen the other extreme.   I know several guys who broke up with their girlfriends after 5-6 years dating them (and never lived with them).   I haven’t actually seen cohabitation deter a marriage-minded man from proposing–and I haven’t seen not moving in motivating a noncommittal man to propose.   I think it’s all about how marriage-minded the man is, regardless of the living situation.

    2. 10.2

      Holly, correct me if I’m wrong, but are you essentially stating that moving in with her boyfriend is the cause of why he doesn’t want to marry her? I beg to differ–if a man wants to marry you, he won’t change his mind just because you moved in (unless he discovered a relationship dealbreaker). Do you really think that a man’s desire to marry a woman becomes hampered once he shacks up with said woman, simply because she moved in?

      1. 10.2.1

        For many men, yes, that is true.   It boils down to why buy the cow when the milk is free.   If he just shacks up, he an easily bail when it gets bad.   This is likely the best way to do things for these guys.   They are likely going to want to bail out later anyway.   Better to do it as bf/gf instead of after a marriage.

        1. Noemi

            “why buy the cow when the milk is free.”

          Last night on our way to dinner, I asked my boyfriend what he thought about this phrase. He   cheekily responded with “well, what if I want a steak?” before listing the unfavorable qualities of men who endorse this mindset. I had to chuckle 😊

        2. Russell

          Why buy the cow if the steaks are free?   Same mindset, and you should know that while I am aware of it, I do not subscribe to it.   I won’t live with a woman I am not at least considering for marriage.   I would actually prefer that we at least know w want to get married, and maybe even be engaged before we move in together.   I think it’s a healthier mindset for cohabitation than just sliding in, or having a “Well, let’s give it a test run.   I want to see if I can deal with your crap first.”   Personally, I think if you are paying attention, you have a pretty good idea before moving in together.   Secondly, people who go into it with that mindset, know it’s a test, a trial period, so they go out of their way to be on their best behavior, more so than they will as a married couple.   One psychiatrist specifically mentioned that as the reason co-habitation doesn’t work as a trial period.   I think this may be mitigated by very long cohabitation, but then you run the risk that a guy may bolt the minute it becomes “Marry or move out.”   He may have been perfectly fine to cohabitate for several more years, before moving on, so do you really want to co-habitate for 3 years?


          I personally think a good marriage has nothing to do with cohabitation and everything to do with how forgiving the two people are.   One of my mentors (Squadron XO) told me about his agreement with his wife that one person puts up the Christmas tree the day after Thanksgiving, and the other one takes it down New Years day.   Long story short, he put it up, and it was her turn to take it down.   3 weeks into January, it was still up.   he had asked about it a few times and she said she would get to it.   he said he could have made an issue of it, but decided that the reality of the situation was that it was important to him, but not important to her, so he just took it down.   Furthermore, he said that he could use that as a tool to bash over her head in future squabbles, but he chose not to, because nobody twisted his arm to take it down.   But, more importantly, that type of score keeping is damaging to a relationship, and yet most people, especially women, in my experience, can’t help themselves, and do that relentlessly.


          This is what the psychiatrist was talking about.   You have to let the small stuff slide, and often people do in cohabitation, but once married, they have the attitude that they no longer have to do that.   While it was cute that he leaves his socks on the floor by the hamper during cohabitation, it is no longer cute a year into the marriage.   I know many guys who will say that their wife used to be fun, easy going, laid back, and his idiosyncrasies used to be cute to her, but now she bites his head off for every last little thing.

      2. 10.2.2

        Noemi, what I meant is that if a guy is, at best, on the fence about getting married, he has less reason to make a decision if he is getting the perks of being married without the legal obligations. I have seen too many posts (not here, but elsewhere) from women in the awkward situation of having to break up with guys they have been living with for years, because the guy STILL didn’t want to get married, and now they had kids and they were all dependent on the man. I moved in with my husband three months before our wedding, but only because my lease was up. It was a question of independence for me, I guess. I have no idea if there is any connection between prior cohabitation and the success of any later marriage.






      3. 10.2.3

        Perhaps  OP thought by moving in it would make him want to marry her.   It doesn’t say whether  marriage was even discussed before  they moved in together but they were already together for a year and at 30 and 38 that is old enough to know.    If marriage is the path you are both on, in most cases it doesn’t matter if you cohabitate or not.   If however she moved in thinking it would change his mind… that is when it might have made more sense to state that she is looking for marriage within the next few years etc.    This would have confirmed if he was marriage minded so as not to waste any more of her time.

      4. 10.2.4

        I’m not Holly, but I have an answer. And it is YES, in a lot of cases. When a man lives with a woman, he gets into his comfort zone and doesn’t want to change anything. Even if prior of moving in together he was not opposed to the idea of getting married “some day”, he will be not eager to make if official after. People get used to easy things in life. Why do anything beyond the comfort?

        1. D_M


          That might be the case in some instances, but I don’t think that the cow metaphor is the underlined reason why guys don’t marry after cohabition. Cohabition is the preason. We are all looking for someone to accept us with the lives we lead. Whether it is our video game habit, not getting along with our mothers, or a host of other disagreements. Most guys are trying to sort out which conflicts we can accept and which ones are deal breakers. Nothing outside of living together, prepares you for living together.

        2. Russell

          “Nothing outside of living together, prepares you for living together.”


          Actually, that’s not true in many cases, especially if it is marriage that you are preparing for.   The reason is that one or both parties may have an understanding that they aren’t married, so the other person can just leave the next day.   Marriage if anything, gives a minimum of a false sense of security that allows a person to relax and truly be themselves.   For this reason, cohabitating does not decrease the chance of divorce.   In fact it can increase the risk in cases like that.   Especially when the cohabitation is lengthy.   I read an article by a psychiatrist who stated that when people bite their tongue that long, the develop resentment that builds up, and once married, the pressure starts to get released.


          The only valid argument for cohabitation is that it is convenient for people who are not ready for marriage.

        3. L

          Interested to hear where you get this view… Most people cohabitate before marriage these days and a lot of those people marry.   I can’t think of a couple I know that got married in the past few years that did not live together beforehand.   Sure SOME men will delay but chances are, those men would have avoided marriage anyway.

          The implication that a woman is a “cow” selling her body is also very offensive and antiquated.   Marriage isn’t like buying livestock.

        4. Russell

          You are free to be offended it you want to.   But it’s wasted and I really am not fazed by your being offended, because nobody is implying a woman is a cow.   That is your complete lack of understanding of that saying.   It’s a very old saying, and is not just applied to this situation.   The only thing being implied is that people aren’t going to pay for something they are already getting for free.   People aren’t going to sacrifice for something they can get without sacrifice.   People aren’t going to obligate themselves to get something that they can get without obligation.   In other words, many men won’t marry when they can get all the free sex they want.   There used to be a time when men weren’t nearly as successful getting sex without being married.   This forced them to be more serious about finding somebody they actually wanted to live with for the rest of their lives.   It isn’t that they were coerced into marriage with a particular woman.   It is that sex came with marriage, and rarely came without it.   So since men want sex, they had to find somebody they loved, somebody they wanted to marry, somebody they wanted to spend the rest of their life with.   Would anyone pay for cars if it were an option to pay?   No.   Would people be more likely to drive a car for a short while and then just get a new car to drive, and then continue to rinse and repeat that?   Of course.


          As for the my view, it isn’t my view.   When a man and woman get married, the spirit of the vows they are make is one of assuming responsibility to “love and to cherish” in a sacrificial manner.   The spirit of cohabitation is just the opposite. The main  reason people choose to live together is to see how good someone is at taking care of them before they will commit. This is why the divorce rate is so high if they marry. From day one — concern about self was at the core of  the relationship.



        5. Russell

          Your surrender is accepted.   😉 😛

      5. 10.2.5

        “I personally think a good marriage has nothing to do with cohabitation and everything to do with how forgiving the two people are.”

        And one of the best ways to determine this is by cohabiting.

        “Personally, I think if you are paying attention, you have a pretty good idea before moving in together.”  

        You can get a pretty good idea of an individual’s personality and idiosyncrasies without living under the same roof, but trust me, anyone who is living with a significant other will tell you that spending time with him/her under the same roof provides so much knowledge about a person.

        ”  Secondly, people who go into it with that mindset, know it’s a test, a trial period, so they go out of their way to be on their best behavior, more so than they will as a married couple.”

        People will be on their best relationship in the beginning of any relationship. Trust me, when you live under the same roof as your significant other, it would take significant effort to hide your real self. It’s actually easier for a person to be on his/her best behavior when in a non-cohabiting relationship than the other way around.

        I live with my boyfriend–I must say, I am SO happy I made the decision to move in. Living with a significant other puts so many things to the test, many of which you cannot get when you don’t live with one another. How do you handle finances together…wouldn’t you want to discern this before getting married? Who pays for what, how bills are split, what your partner thinks about division of household duties…etc. An individual can say “I’m good with money, I believe in splitting household duties” but you never know until you are placed in that situation.


        1. Russell

          “And one of the best ways to determine this is by cohabiting.”

          Not true.   Cohabiting is not the only way, nor is it the best way.   Many people cohabit and yet they still get divorced, other people do not cohabit and do not get divorced, so obviously it has nothing to do with cohabiting.   It has to do with the forgiveness I mentioned, but that is just the start.   Do you have discussions about what you expect?   Some people go to premarital counseling to get these things out into the open.   Counselors know what questions need to be asked, and what needs to be agreed upon.   I guarantee you that if you took 100 couples that cohabit, but don’t go to premarital counseling, and 100 couples that do just the opposite, the latter group will have a better success rate.


          “Trust me, when you live under the same roof as your significant other, it would take significant effort to hide your real self.”

          And yet many people do just that.   This has been studied and that is one of the reason that was given as why cohabiting did not work.   You still understand that it is a trial period.   You understand that the other person can literally pack their stuff up and be gone as soon as they can get it packed and loaded in the car.   Some can be gone faster than that if they are willing to come back for their stuff.   It is simply not the same as marriage, and in fact can be misleading as to what your marriage will be like.   You have no idea how kids, post honeymoon years, etc., will affect the other person’s behavior.


          “Living with a significant other puts so many things to the test, many of which you cannot get when you don’t live with one another. How do you handle finances together…wouldn’t you want to discern this before getting married? Who pays for what, how bills are split, what your partner thinks about division of household duties…etc. An individual can say “I’m good with money, I believe in splitting household duties” but you never know until you are placed in that situation.”


          Premarital counseling can work most of that out.   Plus, just because somebody does 50% of the chores when cohabiting does not mean they will do it when they are married.   Things change over time. Maybe at that time, he was a college student, and had more time to do it.   Now he is working in a field where he has less time, and he feels he should no longer have to do it.


          One example given was that a guy may come in from work and pile his clothes on the bathroom floor, take his shower, then leave them there and put clean clothes on.   Later his girl just throws them in the hamper for him.   She doesn’t like doing it, but she doesn’t want to raise too big of a stink.   A year into the marriage she isn’t amused anymore.   She is no longer patient and forgiving.   Now it is something to raise hell about.


          The simple fact is that cohabiting does NOT simulate being married, and in fact can be a shocker for those who think it does, and then see things change as time passes after the marriage.

        2. Noemi

          Russell, we’ll agree to disagree 🙂

        3. Russell

          Your surrender is accepted.   😉 😛

    3. 10.3

      i agree people don’t get it. Also women having casual sex is another reason guys don’t want to marry. You can’t make a man change his mind.

  11. 11

    They say sometimes you meet the right person at the wrong time.   This is not one of those situations.   This guy is the wrong person for you at any time.   He may have great qualities, and you say you love him very much, and I don’t doubt that, but your love is blinding you to the harsh reality.   At 38, this guy isn’t confused, he is comfortable with his life as it is even though he may complain about it.   If he was truly that unhappy, he would make a change.   This is a total lose-lose for you.   If you wait another 6 months, you lose another 6 months of your life – probably for nothing.   If by some miracle your boyfriend agrees to marry you, under pressure, he is going to carry resentments into the marriage. Then you’re facing a bad marriage and possible divorce in the years to come – with or without a child.   You must think long-term – and with your head, not your heart.

  12. 12

    I am a firm believer in taking advantage of opportunities that are presented to me because the rewards have been far greater than I could have ever imagined.   When someone shows you who they are the first time, BELIEVE THEM. Time is NOT on the OP’s side. The opportunity to move forward and find someone who is on the same page is now.   It will hurt like hell to end this relationship, but in time her heart will heal.   Why prolong the inevitable??

  13. 13

    He won’t change and marry and have kids with her, perhaps another woman, but not her. Nancy should break up with him and find another man.

  14. 14

    I’d say, leave him.   If you want marriage/kids/poney/etc., and he doesn’t see the point, if he DOES marry you, he’ll hold it against you that you whined him into it.   If he doesn’t, then you won’t be happy.

    A happy woman makes for a happy couple.   He can’t be bothered? Neither should you.


  15. 15

    Ladies need to ask themselves a question.   Would 6 more months make a gold-digger stop being a gold digger and instead want to be a sweet, faithful, doting, non-materialistic wife?   Not likely.


    The issue is that people are different and they want different things.   Getting your heart set on somebody and then wanting them to then become who you want them to be, is a failing strategy.   A playa isn’t really interested in playing house.   Even if he is, he just wants that as a safe home base from which he can then venture out and find new conquests.


    We often hear older men say that he knew the moment he laid on his wife, that she was the one.   That’s true in a sense, but what this really means is that he saw her, and thought she was the most beautiful woman, and he wanted her.   Did he know it would work out?   No.   Did he know that he wouldn’t find some deal breakers after dating her for a month?   No.


    What it really means is that he was marriage minded, and looking for “the one,” and when he saw this woman, he liked what he saw, and so he WANTED her to be the one.   When she turns out to have been the one, he sees it just the way he states it.   He knew he wanted her to be the one, the one that worked out and made him want her for life.   She turned out to be that, so in his mind, he knew she was the one when he first laid eyes on her.   For other men, it may be after he saw her, and then after he spent a little time with her, and he loved her personality also.


    The point here is that these men were looking to find ONE woman and marry her, and they knew they wanted that when they first laid eyes on their soon to be wife.   They didn’t KNOW she was the one…they WANTED her to turn out to be the one.


    Again, emphasis on these men WANTING one woman to marry, and having their eyes and ears open…looking for her among the crowd.   A man who has to be convinced over a long period of time, isn’t likely to be a man who really wants to be married.   He sees it as being tied down.   He might do this one day, because he does love the girl and doesn’t want to lose her, but in the end, he may become bitter, especially when being married gives her the security to be her real self, which is less sweet, doting, nurturing, patient and forgiving, now that she feels she doesn’t have to be that way just to keep him.


    If you want to get married, find a man who is looking for a wife.   You know, those guys you pass by because he seemed desperate in comparison to the aloof, cool acting guys you normally go after.   The ones you see as confident, with swagger.   You know…the players that you think aren’t really players, but are.

  16. 16

    “Relationships should just flow and be easy. There shouldn’t be compromises or sacrifices.”

    That is the kind of statement that would make me NOT want to marry this person. This is someone who is only around for the good times, in other words. Also, OP, the only POINT in dating someone significantly older (8 years is significant if you’re 30), is that he is supposed to want to settle down.If you’re dating an older guy who does not want to put a ring on it, in other words, you are wasting your time. An older guy who does not want to settle down is using you for sex. The ONLY thing a man can *really* give a woman is commitment. If he is not really willing to go there long-term he is not interested in giving you what YOU want. He’s not interested in marriage or kids – with you.

    You might as well stay with a guy your age who is also immature.   If you want marriage and kids, dump this guy.   IMO a man who does not pop the question after 1.5 to 2 years s a time-waster.   After 2 years he is consciously preventing you from finding someone who will be around long-term and become the father of your children.

    1. 16.1

      The statement fatger of “your children” brings us back to my point ..u akl just want your baby…after that, he becomes expendable

    2. 16.2

      Good relationships should be easy!

      1. 16.2.1

        @Joe you forgot the part about compromises and sacrifices. If a man says “There shouldn’t be compromises or sacrifices.” that means he it’s always about him. That means he is going to bail once the kid comes along and he is unhappy that he won’t be able to sleep as much or go out as much or whatever. He is not ready for marriage.

        The OP is sussing out if this man is marriage material. This comment tells me he is not. Because a. he has told her he is not interested and b. he does not have a realistic idea of what long-term commitment and (eventually) family is about.

        Guess what? Most women want to form families and have children.   Men should get the hint and get out of the way if they aren’t into that instead of wasting some woman’s time. Women should not me shamed for wanting marriage and children. It takes a ton of searching and *really* hearing a man out when he says he doesn’t want that. Time to move on, essentially.

  17. 17

    I think Nancy’s (the letter writer) question is quite important for all women in their 30s globally who actually want to be married and have children. There is nothing wrong with a woman’s desire for these things and so women need to be brave and ensure that they prioritize their needs, as ultimately they are the only ones who can and will do so.
    Although I’m a big believer in personal responsibility, like Evan I feel uncomfortable when I witness guys behave like this for years. In the back of our heads, most guys seem to think we can have a kid whenever we want so we just don’t feel that urgency.
    One red flag and Nancy needs to be outta there asap. And there are just so many red flags in her question that it’s just one big red tarpaulin:
    –                   he’s 38 and not married
    –                   He says he doesn’t know if he ever wants marriage or kids
    –                   He doesn’t want the responsibilities of companionship.
    –                   He doesn’t want to put in extra effort or work.
    –                   He thinks relationships should just flow and be easy.
    –                   There shouldn’t be compromise or sacrifices!? What!
    6 more months? Christ, she should have dumped him within 6 weeks!
    Quite frankly women need to filter ruthlessly when dating to ensure that they secure what they want for their future, as many men seem to have no qualms about spending years in ambivalent relationships thus potentially costing these women their prime years and even motherhood.
    Now, the flip-side is coming across as a crazy type rigorously interviewing and analyzing guys to suss out their intentions, thus scaring off all guys, including genuinely interested  ones  who would actually like to meet someone and start a family. And unfortunately this is a tricky balance to get right which involves skilful dating, an astute understanding of how intra-sexual gender dynamics work, high emotional intelligence and the ability to subtlety infer someone’s intentions, motivations and desires through observation and dexterous conversation.
    And that’s where Evan comes in 🙂

    1. 17.1

      A+ reply above !! (Tom10)

      To the OP, what evidence do you have that waiting another 6 months will change his mind? Make decisions based on the evidence you have at hand TODAY.

    2. 17.2

      You’re preaching to the choir.   I really did dump someone like this boyfriend after 6 weeks!   I know that tricky balance you’re talking about.   Actually I have found that a lot of times, as Evan says, men reveal themselves in their actions.   So I often didn’t have to “interview” or “interrogate” men to suss out their intentions.   All I usually had to do was observe them closely and really listen (not just hear what I wanted to hear, but absorb what I was actually hearing).   For instance, that guy I ditched after 6 weeks explicitly told me once that he didn’t see himself getting married.   So I didn’t see any point of continuing.   I don’t demand everyone want marriage as I do.   However, I also didn’t see the point of continuing to date someone who isn’t on the same page.   On the other hand, my boyfriend talked to me about wanting marriage right from the start.

      Despite all the flaws it may have (and it has many), online dating is at least good for doing that sort of “screening” for you.   Some dating sites have categories where users tell other users what they’re looking for (casual, relationship, marriage, etc.) Even without that, you can usually figure that out by the guy’s profile (the marriage-minded guys usually said that, my boyfriend being one of them).   The vast majority of the time, men have been honest with me about that.

    3. 17.3

      “Quite frankly women need to filter ruthlessly when dating to ensure that they secure what they want for their future, as many men seem to have no qualms about spending years in ambivalent relationships thus potentially costing these women their prime years and even motherhood.”

      Good luck with that. LOL Seriously you can’t change a man’s biology. These women have no problems having casual sex until their 30’s and then they expect a man to marry them? If you are not married by 27 to 28 you’re too late. Men want fertile women. Women’s peak for quality eggs is from 16 to 22 years old. By the age of 30 her quality of eggs is down more than 50%. If you doubt this ask any fertility expert and see what they say.

      1. 17.3.1

        I used to work at a fertility clinic.   Your 16-22 years old figure is BS.

        There are a problems associated (physical) with very young pregnancy (the teen years) as well.

        I got married (2nd time) at age 32, and had a perfectly healthy baby boy 2 1/2 weeks before my 35th birthday.   I got pregnant (planned) the first time we stopped using birth control.   No problems nursing either.   Easy pregnancy.   All those horror stories that were being passed around at the time about the dangers of giving birth over the age of 30 turned out to be bunk.   Many of my friends had babies in their 30’s (some started in their 20’s and continued into their 30’s, some were first timers in their 30’s)   I even have a few friends who had healthy babies unaided by fertility clinics in their early 40’s.

        I think late 20’s to early 30’s is a good time to marry, early to mid 30’s good time to have babies.   Better to marry someone for love at age 20 or 30, then to enter into a loveless marriage to a 29 year old just because she is fertile.

        1. Russell


          If this guy is actually a guy, he is in the minority view.   I have never met one single older man who gives a hoot about fertility.   For one thing, most of us are educated to the fact that fertility issues are not really that big of a deal.   Many women in their 30s and 40s are popping out an awful loot of babies.   But even with that, I have never heard anyone say, “Yeah, I like that she is younger because she is fertile.”   Likewise, I have never heard one say, “I won’t date her because she is at an age where she will have fertility issues.”   Not one single time.   Are there a couple of nuts out there?   Sure.   Just as there are some female nuts who think that   man’s fertility is an issue.   The odds for most people in their 40s on down is that they are still likely to end up pregnant if they have unprotected sex on a regular basis.


          Sometimes I get the feeling that people making an issue of a woman’s fertility is that it is a woman posting as a man to make older men seem creepy over this issue.   But I would also guess that all of three men post that stuff on these boards, using multiple user names.   I’ve just never met a single man who thinks this is an issue, so I don’t believe most men think it is an issue.

        2. SparklingEmerald

          Hi Rusty

          Yes, sometimes I think it is the same 3 guys posting here and on other boards parroting the same ol’, same ol. Complaining that all women had “casual sex” in their 20’s and are now looking for a chump to marry.   The “Alpha fux, beta bux” meme has been going around awhile, and they litter message boards everywhere scolding women for not getting married in their 20’s to a “nice guy” like them.   Just a recycled version of the so called “nice guys” that all the girls reject for the “bad boys”.   They really aren’t all that nice.   As for the women who NEVER date decent men and only go for bad boys, I think that to, is another invention of internet sock puppets.   Sure, I have friends who languish in unrequited love (who I would like to strangle sometimes), but the guys aren’t really “bad boys”.   Most of women friends married decent men for LOVE, not for their “beta bux”.   Also, the mythical 50 point check list that women have, don’t know any woman who actually who have those 50 point check lists.   I think that too is another invention of love lorn men who don’t do well with women claiming that they are being passed over because they are under 6 feet tall,   make less than 100K, and don’t look like George Clooney.   I have been accused of holding out for a 6 foot tall “rock star”, when I have never even remotely said anything like that, so I guess that accusation was thrown at me based soley on my gender.   I am with a good man now, under 6 foot tall,   didn’t finish high school (left high school for an apprenticeship program), retired on a modest salary.   Oh, and he doesn’t look like George Clooney, but he looks pretty hot TO ME !

        3. Russell

          Sparkling Emerald is a good name because you are a Gem.   😉


          I like reading your posts, but as with everyone, we won’t always agree.   I do agree with a lot of what you say here, and I am glad you found a great guy, and he obviously got a great woman in the deal.


          The “Alpha fux, beta bux” meme IS true…it just isn’t true in every case.   I think for anyone who was routinely rejected, improves themselves, and then sees the same people coming at them, will feel a certain disgust.   I’ve know women who drastically improved their looks with diet, exercise and some targeted cosmetic surgery, and even they tell stories of being disgusted by the 180 degree turn around some people do.   The feel like the other person doesn’t care about who they are as a person, just what they look like.   I think this is hard to get past when it was somebody who actually did treat you like you were invisible, or worse, and now wants you now that the tables have turned.


          More about me to highlight this.   When I was in high school, I was a jock, and in very very good shape.   Of course it was hard to stand out because a lot of guys are jocks in high school.   My problem was that I had zero confidence around women.   To me, the guys who the girls did see as confident, always seemed crass, vulgar, arrogant, etc…   I was none of those.   When I went in the Navy, I got that confidence.   I then got out of the Navy for a short while before going back in.   Many of the girls who had openly rejected me and chased after the jerks, now saw me differently.   I know there are many reasons for this, and not all of them saw me differently for the same reasons.   But I just wasn’t feeling it.   I gravitated towards women I never knew, and didn’t know me.   I was now 25, and there was no shortage of interested women.

          I did have one occasion of overhearing one of the girls I had known.   She now had to kids, and was a single mom.   She was still very good looking, but I heard her and another girl talking about me when they thought I was not around.   Long story short, they were discussing the fact that I had once asked this girl on a date with the obvious intention of starting a relationship.   I was quickly put in my place as I recall.   Well, the discussion was pretty detailed, though short.   The gist was that I had liked her, so they needed to get me and her together so I could take care of her and her kids, because she needed a man.


          The tables had now turned.   It is similar to Evan’s post about the single mom with 4 kids.   She had guys that would ask her out, but they were only interested in sex because she had two kids, and was only 24.   So it was basically that she just needed somebody stable now.   There is a sense of, “If I wasn’t good enough for you back then, I don’t want anything to do with you now.”   Fair or unfair, I think both men and women can feel this way when they find themselves in this position.

        4. Jack

          Men marry younger women in their 20’s because they are hotter and thinner.   Its not specifically about fertility, just the younger women looking better and looking more fertile.   There are just more hotter single women in their 20’s and a guy has more options to choose from.

  18. 18

    What does this guy offer you?   I can’t really tell from your letter Nancy.   As I read it, he is a slefish narcissist, not the type of guy you’d want to marry.

    First of all, he wants companionship, not commitment.   Translation: reliable sex.

    Second, he doesn’t think he should have to compromise in a relationship.   Translation: he’s in it for the fun and when the going gets tough he will get going.   Not exactly the kind of guy who will be there when you have a crying child.

    Third, he’s 38 and doesn’t want marriage or kids. Translation: he has no intention of getting married or having kids, certainly not with you.   At 38, a man knows what he wants.

    Bottom line: your boyfriend is using you and time is ticking away and the longer you spend with this guy, the less likely you’ll find a great guy who wants the same things you want.   This guy isn’t the one.   You want very different things in life and are not on the same path.   Put on your big girl pants and dump him.

    Your desire for marriage and kids and a man who wants to be with you through thick and thin is reasonable and there are men out there that want the same thing.   But the older you get, the harder they are to find.   So take advantage of being single and 30 (as opposed to single and 35) and find the right man for you.

  19. 19

    While I agree that the OP’s boyfriend clearly does not want what the OP wants (marriage and kids), and the OP is better off breaking up with him, let me play Devil’s Advocate for a moment.

    Here’s a slightly different slant on what the boyfriend  said (italics are  MY thought about what he  MIGHT be trying to say):

    – I want a companion (but not to be responsible for someone else’s happiness, aka I want someone who can be happy with herself, a creator of her own self worth and value independent of me).

    – I want to be me (and to be allowed to be myself in the relationship, as opposed to having someone constantly try to change me or tell me what I “should” want, instead of determining if she can accept what I  feel I  want).

    – I work 100 hours a week, I don’t want to put in extra effort or work (because 1) I have balanced my life poorly and don’t know how to change,  2) I’m less afraid of you leaving than changing my life, of facing my flaws and fears; 3) I see reason in changing but I’m too stubborn to give up having ‘my way’).

    -There shouldn’t be compromises or sacrifices (in ways that cause me or you to not be true to yourself, in ways that don’t provide equal value in satisfaction from that compromise).

    -Relationships should just flow and be easy (because 1) hard is hard, and no fun – I want easy; 2) because I want someone who accepts me unconditionally, and works with me to resolve conflict quickly as opposed to escalating, and perpetuating; 3) I want to be honored, respected and admired  for the person I am instead of condemned for what I am not.

    When I think about those ideas, I find myself agreeing with that.

    1. 19.1


      Thank you for having the ability to see things from another perspective.

  20. 20


    I’m trying to be open minded here, so please break down your statement below for me. How will the family unit function differently if two people are married vs not married?

    “The only valid argument for cohabitation is that it is convenient for people who are not ready for marriage.”

    1. 20.1

      You first must understand that it is two entirely different mindsets that drive marriage and drive cohabitation.

      First, marriage is more serious, and so you raise the bar in what you are looking for.   Especially if you are going to do so without cohabitation.   Cohabitation allows people the false notion that they can be less serious about it because you can exit the relationship easily.   So this is two entirely different mindsets.


      Also, marriage is about an agreement to love and cherish each other in a sacrificial manner.   When you marry, you can’t be that same party hound that runs around with his/her hair on fire.   You now have somebody that you are obligated to.   Anyone who does not enter a marriage with this mindset is likely to end up in divorce.


      When you marry without cohabitation as a preliminary, you normally do a lot of talking.   This is a serious leap from dating, to suddenly living together in what is expected to be a permanent relationship.   So people talk.   Many of these people will even go to premarital counseling.   But even if they don’t, there is generally much more discussion about future expectations, and plans.

      Those who cohabitate generally slide from one phase of their relationship to the next, with little to no discussions abut expectations, or future plans.   And little to no discussions about an actual commitment.   It just happens.   Evan has talked about this “sliding” thing.   You start spending the night at each others place on occasion, which then slowly becomes doing it a lot, and then a quick decision is made to move in together because well, it just makes sense to have more money since you two are already sleeping together almost every night, if not every night.   Normally, everything is just assumptions when it comes to what both people think about the relationship.

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