I was engaged before and when we met I was in no rush to be engaged again. After two years, I felt ready and started patiently waiting for him to pop the question. That was 3 1/2 years ago. Although I have made it pretty clear I want to get married (no tantrums, but in the last year I have brought it up on more than one occasion, talked about started a family) nothing has happened.
Yesterday was my 31st birthday. I try not to set expectations but every holiday, birthday, and Valentine’s Day that passes I dream that this will be the day he asks me to marry him. This year for my birthday I asked few days beforehand that we go to a particular restaurant to celebrate, but when I got home from work, he told me we were not going out for dinner – his brother was coming over to work on their race car. Although I appreciated the flowers he sent me at work, I was extremely hurt that on my birthday he chose to spend the evening in the garage. He didn’t even call me to let me know so that I could have arranged to spend my birthday evening with friends (whom I had turned down all week because I told them he was taking me out for dinner).
I know I probably sound like a spoiled brat, but I 100% support his hobby of racing. I’m there at the track every weekend he goes, cooking meals for the crew, video taping and supporting. I am understanding when he can’t make it to weddings (even ones that I am a bridesmaid in) or family events (like my father’s 60th birthday) when he has an event planned at the race track – I even spent an entire winter cooking meals and hanging out with his brother (who slept on our couch) without complaining while they rebuilt the race car. I know it’s important to him so I make it important to me. I just hoped for my birthday, that his interests could be put on hold for a night. I feel like I am constantly putting 100% of myself into our relationship and am left feeling a little under-appreciated and unfulfilled.
I don’t want to make him out to sound like a terrible guy because he is far from that. He’s funny and loving and my best friend, but sometimes i feel like i’m putting all of my heart and soul into something that isn’t.. I don’t know… what I’m looking for? I was 25 when we started dating and now I’m 31. I feel like I have so little time left to fulfill my dreams of having a family and I’m afraid — petrified, actually — of wasting it. Am I fighting a losing battle or should I just be happy with the way things are and the part of him I that I have? I see friends who have been in a relationship a lot less time than us getting married and starting families and I wonder if maybe I’m just not the girl people want to marry? Maybe sI’m still being punished for the abortion I had at 19 and I won’t ever live happily ever after? I don’t want to give him an ultimatum – that’s unacceptable and out of the question for me, so should I move on from this relationship? — Unfulfilled at 31
Yes. Yes, you should move on from this relationship because any man who would blow you off repeatedly on special occasions — your birthday, your father’s 60th birthday, a wedding you’re in — to work on his race car that he works on all the time is not only not marriage material, he’s not even boyfriend material. He sure as shit isn’t father material. Could you imagine having a family with this man?! “Sorry, honey, I know you’re in labor but I can’t take you to the hospital because I have to work on my race car!” Or “Sorry, I’m going to have to miss Junior’s big game because it’s the same day as my big race.” Please. If a man doesn’t treat you well before you get married, he’s not going to treat you well after you get married — not that he’s ever given any real indication that he wants to marry you anyhow. And if he doesn’t treat YOU well, and he’s not going to treat your kids well either.
Being a parent is hard work. It’s much, much harder than being someone’s boyfriend or girlfriend. If your boyfriend can’t even get his shit together and pull himself away from his hobbies long enough to to take you out for a birthday dinner, then girl, he’s going to make a lousy dad. Period.
Regardless of what sort of father he would be, he sucks as your boyfriend. And no, you are not being punished for having an abortion. The universe certainly isn’t punishing you because the universe isn’t forcing you to stay in a shitty relationship with a shitty partner. You’re doing that to yourself. So if you’re staying with him because you truly don’t think you deserve any better, get yourself to therapy and fix that kind of thinking. YOU DESERVE BETTER.
You deserve better. But as long as you stay in an unfulfilling relationship with a thoughtless man who can’t focus on you for one freakin’ evening, you won’t have any better. So get out. Give yourself one of the best belated birthday gifts you could — the opportunity for a better future. Give yourself the chance at the life you want, whether that’s happily single or with a man who loves you and appreciates you the way you want to be loved and appreciated. At 31, you still have plenty of time to have that family you so desperately want. But it won’t happen with the man you’re currently with. MOA. Move on, get therapy, and make yourself available for the life you dream of.
And if you won’t do that, then at the very least, ask him to start paying you for all the help you give him with his business and the cooking you do for him and his brother while they play with their cars, because it sounds like what you are is his employee, not a girlfriend, and if you’re not going to get a birthday dinner out of the deal, you may as well start collecting a paycheck.
If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at firstname.lastname@example.org.