He also decided this week that, rather than put our savings toward buying our first house, he wants us to buy a boat and sail around the world. Although I think that is a wonderful dream, I think it’s a little crazy and a big risk, seeing as neither of us has any reliable sailing experience whatsoever so that, if we are to do that, we are going to need a lot of preparation and savings in case of “rainy days.” He’s been joking, too, about not bringing me with him and just living on the boat for two years.
At the same time, he also said we could go get married in another country. And he tells me he wants us to have kids. He also bought himself a nice sports car recently, even though he already owned a vintage one, rather than getting something safer and more family friendly.
This looks like a midlife crisis to me even though he’s not even 30 yet. I don’t know if this means he doesn’t love me anymore or what. When I asked, he told me not to joke about that, but then refused to say “I love you” when we went to bed. I love him so very much (he’s my first love), but lately I haven’t been certain he feels the same way. I feel taken for granted and unimportant in his life plans. I know he’s going through a rough patch and that I should support him, but, I don’t know, there’s something about this that makes me feel uncomfortable. Am I reading things into this that I shouldn’t? What should I do? — Can’t Even Sail
So, the boyfriend whom you moved in with almost immediately after you started dating him:
– wants to move 200 miles away to a town where there are no career options for you, and he thinks, even though the long distance might break you up, it’s “worth the risk”;
– wants to sail around the world for two years and doesn’t care if you come or not;
– talks about wanting kids but isn’t putting any money aside to afford them in the near future, while instead making big purchases that are impractical for a future family;
– refuses to tell you he loves you, even after you express insecurity about his feelings for you;
– doesn’t believe you have a chance of having a career you’ll like anyway, so thinks it doesn’t matter if you live somewhere with good job options or not.
Gee, I can’t imagine why you’re feeling like maybe he’s not as into you as you’d like him to be. You know the signs you think you might be reading too much into? You’re not. Your boyfriend’s telling you pretty loudly and clearly that he’s ready to move on (without you); he just doesn’t have the balls to come right out and tell you, either because he doesn’t want to hurt you or because he wants to keep open a window to a potential future with you should he decide that’s what he wants after all.
Quit giving your boyfriend all the power to make the decisions in this relationship. Tell him that, if he isn’t willing or interested in planning a future with you in it, you will plan your future without him. And then do that! And let him know that, when he leaves, whether it’s to take a job 200 miles away where there are no career options for you or to sail the world for two years, he is shutting the window of opportunity with you for the foreseeable future and you can’t guarantee it will ever again be open to him.
Just be aware that, when you tell him this, his reply may very well be, “Ok.” And that’s because you’ll be doing him the favor of saying what he can’t bring himself to admit and/or say: your relationship has reached an endpoint (at least for now) and he wants to go off and explore different paths before he potentially settles on one that leads him to a wife and kids and a stable career. Honestly, a little exploration on both your ends doesn’t sound like a bad thing. If your paths bring you back together, then you’ll feel much more confident that’s where you belong. And if they don’t, then you’ll both only end up somewhere better.
If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at firstname.lastname@example.org.