I’m in Love But Feel Like I’m Too Young to Get Married

I am 25 and my amazing girlfriend is 30. We have been together for 10 months now. But before we started dating we were just friends – strictly friends for about 6 or 7 months, there was no attraction at all, until I made a move on her. We met at a mutual friend’s birthday party and I had gone on a few dates with her best friend. Long story short, her best friend was not for me. We found out that we were living just a few blocks away from each other and began to hangout on regular basis. It was like I was hanging out with one of my boys, we would talk about our dates, sex, Ex’s, etc. As I got to know her more and more, I fell for the person inside. I made a move on her and it took her a week to agree that she wanted to give this a try and we did.

She is the BEST I’ve had in regards to everything I want in a woman. Everyone in my family loves her and vice versa. The puzzle fits perfectly. The problem is not her, it’s me. She’s 30 years old and if she’s in a serious relationship she wants to get married and she has all the right to. She doesn’t want to waste her time and I totally understand that. I spoke to her and told her how I felt and we are currently taking a break because I need to figure out what I want to do. I am truly divided down the middle. On one side I feel that I’m 25 and too young to get married and have my whole life ahead of me to live and explore. On the other hand, I have the best of the best and I know I would have an amazing life with her and I don’t know if I would find someone as good or better. This is my dilemma. I don’t want to get married to get divorced. What should I do?

Thanks for your help!
David

Thank you, David. I appreciate your question and am extremely sympathetic to you. This is the side of the dilemma that women need to hear more often – a good guy, who fell for his girlfriend for the right reasons, wrestling with his conscience, with no obvious path ahead.

The hardest part about this is that you’re attempting – at age 25 – to project how you’re going to feel in a few years. And, if life experience teaches us anything, it’s that this is next to impossible to do. In other words, you don’t want to waste your girlfriend’s precious time, but you don’t want to throw away your future marriage out of fear. I feel you, bro.

You don’t want to waste your girlfriend’s precious time, but you don’t want to throw away your future marriage out of fear.

I remember being 32, having a 38-year-old girlfriend, and being wracked by anxiety because even though I was madly in love, I wasn’t emotionally ready to be a husband and father yet. It’s not that I had more oats to sow. It’s that I was just starting my new career and hadn’t really gotten my feet under me yet. I wasn’t ready to buy a house or support children; I was barely supporting myself. My girlfriend didn’t understand and dumped me. It was for the best.

Some 25-year-olds ARE ready for marriage, but it doesn’t matter what everyone else does. It only matters how YOU feel. I think the best thing you can do is to have an open conversation with your girlfriend – and tell her everything you just told me. You love her, you love her family, you don’t think you can do better, and you want to continue to explore the relationship. Then see if you can come to some sort of compromise.

Hopefully, she will see the value of letting you come to your own conclusions instead of pressuring you to make a decision (which never ends well). Which is to say, that you can ask her for three more years to grow up, get on your feet career-wise, get to know each other better, move in together, and try the concept of marriage on for size before proposing. She should have every confidence that this gives her the best chance of marrying the man she loves instead of imposing arbitrary ultimatums on you. In return, you promise to let her know if, at any point, you can’t see getting married to her, so she can move on to the guy who will. Insecure women may scoff at this, but this is exactly how to handle a good, sensitive, conscientious boyfriend who is committed to doing the right thing.

If your girlfriend wants a ring fast, she needs to dump you.

Her alternative, of course, is to demand that you know for certain, at age 25, that you want to get married in the next 18 months – and force you to propose before you’re ready.

In other words, if your girlfriend wants a ring fast, she needs to dump you.

But if she wants to marry YOU, this is the most effective way to ensure you’re equally bought in to the lifetime commitment she desires.

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Comments:

  1. 1
    Skaramouche

     
    You’re a bit stuck, mate. I can totally understand your dilemma.  There’s no magic “marriage ready age” but for me, 25 definitely wasn’t it.  I was still having fun.  By 27 or 28, I was ready but at 25, I would have felt a bit trapped too.  On the other hand, I can also imagine your girlfriend’s ticking clock and her desire to not waste any time.  The most important thing in your message though was the fact that you’ve been together for 10 months.  The equation changes a bit since you were already friends before getting together but honestly most people, 25 or otherwise, cannot definitely say after 10 months that they’re certain they want to be married.  Even though the age difference itself is of little consequence for compatibility, it is very relevant when it comes to timelines.  For this reason only, I think the younger female and older male combination works much better than the opposite which is risk for both parties.  Your girlfriend agreed to date a man 5 years her junior.  She must already have made her peace with this inherent risk and if your relationship is as amazing for her as it is for you, I think she will give you the 2 or 3 years after a calm and reasonable conversation.  Good luck, dude!

  2. 2
    Christine

    This is a tough one but I think Evan gave a reasonable solution here.  She may be older than him, but in the grand scheme of things, 30 is still pretty young!  If things don’t work out after 2 or 3 years, she’d still only be in her early 30s when she’s back out on the dating market and should still be able to find plenty of other options for marriage.  If she’s as reasonable as he makes her sound, I actually don’t think she needs a ring right this minute. I actually have far more sympathy for the 38 year old Evan dated, in terms of “wasted” time.  I do sympathize with why he wasn’t ready to get married back then (and agree with him that it’s a good thing he didn’t).  However, I also can’t blame her for not wanting to give him 2 to 3 years of her life, then risk getting back into the dating scene in her 40s with a dwindling pool, if it didn’t work out.  I’m not sure it’s quite the same situation when the 30 year old has more leeway and more time to give.

  3. 3
    kittycornered81

    The perfect solution for this situation is to have a relationship that isn’t exclusive. Then your girlfriend isn’t locked down (and neither are you), and if you meet other people who are a better fit in the meanwhile, then you have your answer. You could even agree to sexual exclusivity if it works for you.

    That way the pressure is off for both of you. Honestly, waiting three years in a monogamous pseudo-marriage (with all the risks and few of the benefits of marriage) isn’t fair to her. One year, maybe, but it’s ridiculous for her to shut down her options for that long on the chance that you MIGHT be ready by X date.

     

  4. 4
    Robin

    I disagree with some of the feedback. When is the right age? What makes you think things will be different in 3 years? If it is working for both of you as you say then age is just a number. Set a long term engagement so she knows you are serious  and that gives you both more time to be sure this is the right decision. Stop what iffing and live for now. I got married  at 24 and my husband  was 26. We were married for 18 years until he passed.  Live life with no regrets and live in the present.

  5. 5
    Fiona

     

    I got married at 25. Most people ask why we got married so young. But, before that, when I told them we had been together for seven years, they would ask “when are you getting married already?” There’s no pleasing other people, so you should do whatever makes you happy.

    I agree with Evan’s general idea, but I don’t see any reason to set an arbitrary three year deadline. That is going to be too long for a women who knows she wants to get married. After ten months, you probably don’t know if you want to get married to her, but you should know if you are serious about the relationship, and you should know if you want to get married (and have kids or not have kids) some day. If your answer is I’m not sure, then you aren’t serious. Tell her this. It’s okay that you aren’t serious– you have no obligation to be serious–but she deserves to know where you stand.

  6. 6
    Holly

    I must’ve been born in the wrong era. Either that or my views have changed since I turned 30 a few years ago. Either way, I think it’s not a terrible idea for people to get married before they have everything “figured out”. What’s wrong with growing together as a married couple? I’m sure compromises would need to be made regardless of whether or not two people are established financially. Basically, what it comes down to is, this guy is saying “You’re great and you’re exactly what I’m looking for in a life partner, but I’m not ready to be tied down yet because I’m still too selfish, and I want to have fun without any real responsibilities. So can we just ACT like we’re married for a few years (even though we both know we’re really not), and I can make my decision in my own sweet time while the last best years of your life dwindle away?”

    Wow. That’s an awesome offer, how could she pass that up?

    1. 6.1
      kittycornered81

      I completely agree with you, Holly! This arrangement doesn’t benefit her at all, except to give her a false sense that he is “committed” to– what exactly? Dating her for years while contemplating (essentially at his leisure) whether or not he actually wants to be with her forever? Sounds amazingly disempowering.

      Instead, she should keep her options open, and put him exactly where he rates her– as an option to be considered (one among many), only to be upgraded when he actually does try to put a ring on it.

    2. 6.2
      HollyTx

      Exactly. I can’t imagine a single woman on here in her mid-30s not wanting to reach out to her younger self we see in this situation and tell that poor girl to move on honey, don’t waste your best years attempting to raise a man who will leave the nest once he grows up.

  7. 7
    Evan Marc Katz

    Open relationships? Give him an ultimatum? Get married first and ask questions later?

    They have a great relationship. He’s a sensitive guy. He loves her. He does want to get married. At 25, feels too young right now to commit for a lifetime. All the pressure in the world is not going to help him make his decision. Only time will. If she wants him, she can give time. If she can’t give him time, she can dump him, only to spend three years looking to get back to this exact same place.

    Seems pretty obvious that she’s not wasting time in this young man; she’s investing it. The ladies who think that a man should propose whenever you feel he should propose lack a measure of understanding for the idea that a man’s needs are half of the equation in a relationship.

    1. 7.1
      Holly

      What you said is all true, but I have to point out that I recall you did say in an old post that it is foolish to continue to invest in a relationship that’s going nowhere fast. Suppose she agrees to give him this time that he claims to need so badly (while also doing everything for him that a wife would normally do without getting a real commitment in return). What happens when she’s no closer to getting married in a few years than than she is now? This guy has been in an exclusive relationship with her for almost a year. Before that they knew each other as friends for six months. I’d say that’s a pretty good amount of time to figure out whether or not you’re a good fit for each other. So what’s stopping him? He wants to eat his cake and have it too, that’s what.

      I’m not married myself but I know plenty of people who are. From what I know of it, a good marriage requires selflessness and sacrifice, two things this guy clearly isn’t ready for. All of his comments are centered on him: what he wants, how she’s everything he requires in a mate, how he wants to live his life, blah blah blah.

      Please. The kind of love a marriage requires is selfless, sacrificial and seeks the best for the other person. If he wants to be a good husband (whenever that time comes), the time to start demonstrating that is now, not after vows are exchanged.

      If he really loves her the right way, and he can’t fathom getting married anytime soon, then he should do what’s best for her now and just let her go. Telling her to hold off on her dream of marriage and children so he can have a few more years to get in his jollies and make something of himself isn’t fair to her at all.

    2. 7.2
      HollyTx

      If he were 30 and open to marriage I would agree, what’s the rush? He is 5 years younger though, he is questioning being ready to settle down at all – not just whether this is the right woman per se. That’s a different issue than two adults looking to settle down and trying to decide if this person is the right one or not.

    3. 7.3
      Indrinita

      I think in the end it’s good that they are on a “break” (which to me just means they broke up basically). I say this because as a woman who not only didn’t get married until her late 30s (and is currently very happily married!), but also as someone who never thought she’d get married at all – I’ve discovered that things change very fast and unpredictably in life, and often when you’re completely not expecting it. Investing three more years into a “not sure about the intentions in the future” kind of relationship is like being stuck in neutral for those three years when you’d like to perhaps make plans for your life – whatever those plans might be. Sure they may be great together, but each person can have a good relationship with more than one person, i.e. there is no such thing as “we only have 1 soulmate, and we must find him/her”. Obviously they’re really not in the same stage of life, and for me that clearly means they’re not “meant” for each other. When you find the right person, you don’t dilly-dally. If you’re dilly-dallying, they’re not the right person, no matter how wonderful they are. This woman deserves to find a man who wants to be with her long term and knows it, and this boy deserves some time to grow up before finding his mate if he wants it. No one loses. The person I married in the end is someone with whom we both knew pretty soon after we started dating that we’d likely spend our lives together in the long term. It was pretty clear, plus we were both in a place in our lives where we knew that we wanted to get married at some point if we were in a long-term relationship. Before my husband, I actually never thought I’d get married and was completely expecting to be single forever. But things changed very fast and in a direction I wasn’t expecting at all. The same thing is very likely to happen to a woman in her 30s, as much as for a woman in her 20s, but the woman in her 30s is more likely to know what she wants and she should simply not second-guess it. Good for them for breaking things off, it’s the best for both.

  8. 8
    kittycornered81

    Thing is, he says he’s “divided down the middle.” It’s not like he’s, say, in medical school and asking her to wait a few years till he’s done with residency because he KNOWS she’s the one and he’s trying to establish his career first, with a specific end date in sight. He’s not sure what the future  holds for them at all. It’s fine if he feels that way, but asking her to wait for years while he grows up is just ridiculous.

     

     

     

    1. 8.1
      Holly

      Exactly. This is why I don’t like to date younger guys, though plenty have shown interest. Most of them are too busy trying to “live life and explore” to even think about getting married. We grow up way too slowly in this culture today. It makes us much more prone to being incredibly selfish, in my opinion. When everything in society is telling you, “Hey, you’re young, just have fun and take your time finding yourself, don’t get tied down!”, it’s only too easy to develop the habit of putting your own wants and needs first.

  9. 9
    Selena

    David (The LW): “I don’t want to get married to get divorced.”

     

    This site gives a breakdown of divorce statistics for 1st., 2nd., 3rd. marriages  including by age for first marriages.

    http://www.divorcestatistics.info/divorce-statistics-and-divorce-rate-in-the-usa.html

     

    Divorce rates are higher for second marriages, and even higher for third marriages.

     

    Presumably, the majority of people who marry for the second or third time are beyond their 20’s.  Marrying in one’s 20’s doesn’t increase the chance of getting divorced.  Marrying when one doesn’t feel quite right about it?  I believe that’s what ups the stats regardless of age.

     

  10. 10
    L

    Ten months is pretty soon to decide to get married.  I don’t think many people will be ready to propose after 10 months of dating.  I feel like you should revist the issue in a year.  Keep dating her and, if in a year, you don’t see yourself getting married in the next 18 months THEN break up.  By then, you will be 27 and that’s plenty old enough to get married.  I know a lot of professional, urban dwelling males who got married at that age.

  11. 11
    Morris

    The guy is only 25 and they’ve only been dating 10 months for crying out loud. She’s 30 and clearly has more experience and is ready to settle down. This guy needs to move on and let her find a real relationship. And she should know better.

  12. 12
    Daisy

    Age is not an issue here. Some 25 year old guys I know are in happy marriages with kids and they wouldnt have it any other way. The issue here is life priorities. Clearly these two have different life priorities. The girl’s priority is to get married & settle down. The guy’s priority is to continue to explore what life has to offer. There needs to be a healthy sort of compromise here with regards to timing. I’d say both parties could agree to 1 year. In 1 year the guy should know whether he wants to marry her soon. At the same time it’s a reasonable waiting time on the girl’s side. Anything longer than 1 year would be too long for a woman who is ready to get married and settle down.

  13. 13
    Kate

    Yikes.  She should have known better than to date someone 5 years younger.  I think she should cut her losses now.

     

     

    1. 13.1
      pat

      No.  There’s nothing wrong w dating someone 5 years younger.  You just need to find someone on the same page as you.

      1. 13.1.1
        DeeGee

        pat said: “You just need to find someone on the same page as you.

        And that is the difficult part in relationships.
        I’m 53, live in a smaller city in Canada, dated a few dozen women in my years, was married for 10 years from 25-35, and have never found any on the “same page” yet.  And now at my age, I really doubt I ever will.

  14. 14
    Jan

    Is the reason he is to young or has doubts? I also worry about the idea he won’t find better.   Many people rush into marriage for the fear they won’t find better, now while this maybe true, it also may not be true.  If he feels rushed into it, and when times in the marriage get tough he may wonder did he make a wrong decision.  If a person is on the late 30’s I can understand the rush but they are both still young and waiting a bit longer is not going to hurt her chances.  Having been married for the wrong reasons and later a divorce based on the pressure to hurry and get married on the fear I won’t find anybody else and I married to young and the wrong person.  Waiting would have been a better choice.

  15. 15
    Jan

    Sometimes we are in such a hurry to get married and have kids that it becomes more important than finding the right partner.   It’s a better investment to wait and be sure than rush for the sake of being in love with the idea of marriage and kids rather than finding the right partner.

  16. 16
    Katie

    Well well well…

    The OP says he can’t see himself with noone else… Yet he is not scared to lose her… If he doesnt offer marriage to her, means he thinks he will find someone better… She, knowing that he is ready to let her go… She realises, that he is not sure she’s the one.

  17. 17
    Ladipo

    There is no perfect age for marriage. There are also 30 something year old men who have doubts about marriage. The lady is not asking for something impossible. But is the guy ready to start a marital life? He needs to self examine himself properly and let the lady know what he thinks. Then she can decide to stay with him or move on.

  18. 18
    Raindancer

    When I was 30 the 25-year-old guys were no different than any 18-year-old looking to score.  This OP may be more mature and thoughtful than most, but I agree with other posters that it’s unlikely these two people will end up being married to each other.  While they clearly both enjoy the relationship, her needs at 30 (or 31 or 32) will become more urgent, meanwhile he’ll remain stuck between fear of loss and fear of commitment.  Marriage should not be based on fear.  Just my .02 cents.

  19. 19
    A.D.

    Here is my story. Me and my ex we were both in our 20s (I was 2 years older though).  We lived together and shared finances for almost 3 years. At 25 I was ready to get married. I loved him and wanted to take that last step. We talked about that and it turned out he had reservations similar to David’s: I was a good partner, he loved me, but he wasn’t “ready”. He was still in college (I already had my degree), working a part-time job etc. I wanted to have future with him and I stayed. A year later, after he graduated college and got a very good job right away, during our Christmas vacation, he ended our relationship the most humiliating way possible: he tried to chase my friend behind my back. She rejected him. He didn’t attempt to save our relationship (not like I would want him to). He said it straightforward that time: love was gone and he wanted to move on with his own life.

    Gladly, I was only 26. But I was feeling taken advantage of. After that, I decided to date older guys and never ever buy into “not right now” stuff anymore. If you love someone, you have no problem with doing it “now”.

  20. 20
    DeeGee

    I would like to know the result of this story.
    Any chance for a followup?
    If he followed Evan’s advice and had a talk with her, my gut feeling is that no matter what he says, if it isn’t what she wants to hear (marry me) she is going to dump him.

    I have never yet, in my entire 53 years, known any couple or met any couple where the relationship was based on his priorities or their priorities.  It’s always based on her priorities.  Any relationship I have ever seen, the woman holds all of the relationship power.

    I always hear of men having to walk on eggshells around women (myself included in every relationship I’ve had).  If he says anything she doesn’t want to hear, or if his opinion is not the one that she gave him, *boom* she’s out the door.

    1. 20.1
      Mrs Happy

      DeeGee @ 20:

      Interesting. I see the opposite sometimes – men having the relationship timeline power. Usually with decisions around not wanting to marry or reproduce just yet.

      I know 3 women who will never have children because the men they were/are with were not ready, and the women missed their fertility window. Those men now either already had some kids from a previous relationship and were ambivalent about more, or do not seem to want any kids (and if they change their mind, they might find a fertile younger woman to reproduce with).

      I don’t think power is simply in the hands of one or another gender. It’s a personality/self worth/other factors equation.

       

      And overall I agree with the wise Lori Gottlieb – the #1 thing on our list of “wants” should quite simply be, find a person wanting the same bigger picture structure as you. (Wanting marriage, wanting kids, wanting to date, wanting to live together…whatever that may be) And this goes for either gender.

       

      It’s funny how the OP’s story can be seen from either side. From his point of view the optimal position is for things to stay the same, probably for many years. From her point of view, I’d say if she wants to bear children,  she should leave the relationship now. She can’t afford 5-10 years for him to mature into wanting marriage and kids, she’ll risk having no children at all.

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