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“He Doesn’t See a Future with Me”

New readers, welcome to Dear Wendy, a relationship advice blog. If you don’t find the info you need in this column, please visit the Dear Wendy archives or the forums (you can even start your own thread), or submit a question for advice.

My boyfriend and I have been together for about a year and a half. We have had a healthy relationship and have not had any significant problems. Recently, we’ve been talking about moving in together. Wanting to make sure we were ready for this step, I asked him if we could talk about the future and make sure that we both wanted the same thing. In the past he has said that he sees a future with me, but as we talked about it this time he told me that he can’t see himself ever getting married to me or having a life with me.

After finding this out, I told him I needed some time to figure out if I wanted to be in a relationship with someone who doesn’t see himself with me in the long run. We are both in our early 20s, but I’m not sure if I want to spend years of my life with someone who doesn’t see me as “the one.” However, he is such an amazing guy and we have a really good relationship and are both happy together. Should I stay with him and enjoy it while it lasts, or should I move on already? — A Moving Conundrum

In your first paragraph you say that to make sure you both want the same thing and are ready for a step as big as moving in together, you asked your boyfriend whether he saw a longterm future with you. One would presume that, since you were doing the asking, you do see a longterm future — possibly leading to marriage — with this man, and that any answer from him to the contrary would mean you don’t “want the same things,” right? Well, your boyfriend truly does seem to be the “amazing guy” you say he is because he gave you a huge gift — the gift of honesty. He told you that he can’t see himself ever marrying you or having a life with you. It must have been a real blow to hear those words, but you are very, very lucky to have heard them now versus one, two, three years down the road after moving in with him and investing more time and energy in a relationship that doesn’t have a future. I know so many women who would have killed to hear those words before spending a big chunk of their 20s — and 30s — with men who would never commit to them.

So, knowing what you know now, you have to make a decision — one I really, really hope does NOT include moving in with the guy; you have to decide whether you’re going to stay with your boyfriend and enjoy the “here and now” or whether you’ll spare yourself further hurt feelings down the line and move on already. That’s a decision only you can make, but I can pose a few questions for you that may help you arrive at that decision a bit more clearly. First, can you truly enjoy the relationship anymore knowing that your boyfriend likely doesn’t feel for you the way you feel for him? Can you remain happy with someone you may very well have started considering “the one,” knowing he’s sure you aren’t his one? Would you just stay with him as long as he didn’t dump you for someone he has stronger feelings for, or do you anticipate some end date in the future you both agree on? If knowing your boyfriend doesn’t see a future with you now, what would be your reason for ending the relationship eventually? Obviously, it would have to end eventually. Relationships that don’t have a longterm future always do. So, would you rather be the one to control when things end, or do you want to give him all the power? By staying with him indefinitely, you do know you’re opting for the latter, right? If that’s something you’re OK with, and if you’re OK knowing you aren’t your boyfriend’s choice in a life partner and that you’re simply someone to enjoy companionship and intimacy with until he finds someone he likes better, then by all means, stay with him. But if you aren’t OK with all of that, I think you know what your decision needs to be. And really, the sooner the better.

*If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, send me your letters at wendy@dearwendy.com and be sure to follow me on Twitter.

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Comments on this entry are closed.

avatar spark September 7, 2011, 7:11 am

MOA! Even though you’re young, I think you will regret wasting time. And the break-up will be so painful–and likely on his terms, when he finds someone else. Who knows, another Mr. Right could be right around the corner, and you could be missing out.

avatar meaghan September 7, 2011, 8:06 am

Living with him will not make him see how awesome you are and change his mind. I know a lot of people have the thought in their heads that they can change someone, but you can’t. Look for someone who sees you as the destination instead of the train he’s riding to get there.

avatar Eljay September 7, 2011, 10:19 am

Brilliant!!

avatar ReginaRey September 7, 2011, 8:14 am

LW – PLEASE move on now. Your boyfriend may not have broken up with you, but please don’t think that just because he didn’t say “We’re breaking up,” it means you can still stay in this relationship. When you break up with someone, you’re basically saying exactly what your boyfriend said to you: “I can’t see myself ever getting married to you or having a life with you.”

If you stay with him, he probably won’t end things right away. He’ll wait until he gets fully tired of the relationship, or he’ll drop you when something better comes along. Right now, he’s just waiting for it to run its course, and he doesn’t feel like going through the hurt of really breaking up, or upsetting you more by doing so. You may think that by staying with him you have a chance of changing his mind. Trust me – you have no chance of changing his mind. Trying to get him to love you the way you want him to – by choosing you as his life partner – will make you cling harder, which will make him run even more.

Do you really want to be that girl who clung to a relationship after the guy good and told her that he didn’t really want to be with her? Do you really want to be that girl who tries feebly to change her boyfriend’s mind, and loses her self-respect and power in the process? Do you really want to be that sad, downtrodden little person who hopes and wishes that he’ll just love her, when he already said he wouldn’t?

F*ck NO! I’m telling you right now – you do NOT want to be that girl. It’s going to take some lady balls, but stand up straight and move on from him. Don’t sell your power and your self-respect by clinging to someone who doesn’t want you. Give yourself the freedom to date and find someone who tells you: “I see myself marrying you. I see us having a life together.” Anything less is not good enough for you, or any person.

avatar silver_dragon_girl September 7, 2011, 8:44 am

It’s time to move on. It hurts, I know, but dragging this relationship out longer will not make him change his mind. It will only make it harder when it ends.

How will you feel when he arrives home one day and sits you down to tell you it’s time to break up because he’s ready to settle down- and it’s not with you? How will you feel when he tells you he’s met someone he CAN see himself spending the rest of his life with?

Leave now, while you can do it on your own terms.

avatar Quakergirl September 7, 2011, 8:51 am

Nooooooo! Don’t move in with him! This will not end well. Here’s the problem when two people with different views on the future of the relationship move in together and start to combine their lives: one of their views is going to become the reality, but they’re both going to be miserable. Either you guys continue the relationship for an indefinite period of time until you decide you want to get married, and he refuses, at which point you’ve wasted years of your 20s in a dead-end relationship and now need to untangle a life you’ve built with someone. That’s not going to be fun. And even if he eventually caves and agrees to get married, in all seriousness, how well can that end? Living together creates this huge inertia towards getting married, but if both of you didn’t really want to be married to each other in the first place, that marriage is pretty much doomed from the start.

If your goal in dating is to be married, make your dating decisions with that in mind. I get that you’re young and don’t necessarily want to get married tomorrow, but if getting married is your ultimate goal, it doesn’t make sense to date someone seriously or move in with someone who doesn’t want the same things. A casual fling is one thing, but moving in with someone is a huge financial and emotional investment. Don’t do it knowing that it’s all for nothing.

avatar lexington September 7, 2011, 9:09 am

Le sigh… This is exactly what I was trying to say, only actually coherent. Coffee has basically given up on me.

avatar Angie September 10, 2011, 4:54 am

Yes… brilliantly written comment. Fully agree. And not to mention (speaking to the LW) what would you do if you lived together/got married and either accidentally or purposely (on your part at least) had kids? They would be in for a world of hurt. He would be stuck between not really wanting to be with you and really wanting to be with his kids (hopefully). And having to explain to them that Mommy and Daddy don’t really love each other… and going through a whole messy divorce, custody battles, child support, etc. Also, if you are the kind of person who wants to get married, then I’m going to assume that you may want kids someday. Think about the example that you would be setting for them. That’s a bit far-fetched I know, but that could happen if you stay with this guy. A person you’re meant to be with shouldn’t feel “so-so” about you. At this point it sounds like he wants to have his cake and eat it too. He doesn’t want to be alone, he doesn’t really want to be with you… he just wants a space-filler until the person that “matters” comes along. Trust me, you don’t want to be a space-filler. I’ve had it happen to me in relationships and friendships. It kicks your self-esteem in the face, makes you think you’re just unlovable and you don’t matter. GOOD relationships consist of two people that bring out the best in each other. Find someone that will bring out the best in you, not bring out the clingy, self-loathing, uncertain, and miserable you that I know you don’t want to be.

avatar lexington September 7, 2011, 8:55 am

He is not going to change his mind. He is telling you right now that he will never marry you and he is telling you the truth. Don’t waste time living with someone who is not going to be in your life long term. I’m assuming that you do want to get married someday- you could be missing out on meeting that guy while you are with someone who is just passing time with you. If a guy wants to marry you, most of the time, I think they know early on that this is the one. This guy obviously knows you aren’t. Move on.

avatar TheOtherMe September 7, 2011, 8:58 am

Be grateful that you know this now. I am not sure how it would work out, moving in with someone who doesn’t see a future with you, isn’t the “moving in” also part of the future ?

Here’s a little secret, “the world is full of amazing guys” I’m sure you’ll find one that DOES want to have a future with you :)

fast eddie fast eddie September 7, 2011, 9:00 am

As several women have put it: So many men, so little time. In this case it needs the amendment of: Ah, to be young and anxious to have your entire life all planed out.

Every relationship has it’s pluses and minuses. If there’s more of the former your a winner. That said his honesty is commendable, he’s trying to avoid being labeled a jerk for not assuming the responsibility of fulfilling your desire to settle down. Frankly your a bit too young for that much baggage. On the same hand moving in together without the intent of it being permanent is asking for trouble. I suggest you continue to enjoy your time together and let it be what it is without the big rock hanging over your heads.

avatar lk September 7, 2011, 9:05 am

I say move along now & quickly! Thank him for his honesty & kiss him goodbye.

So, so, so, so many men : ) It’s a zoo out there, but zoos are fun & educational!

Skyblossom Skyblossom September 7, 2011, 9:07 am

Thank him for his honesty and know that he respects you enough to be honest. Many women spend years with men who give them neither respect or truth. But, don’t move in with him. You’d always be looking at him wondering why he doesn’t see a future with you. You’d always wonder when he would break up. You’ll wonder if he’s met someone he likes more than you.The uncertainty will always be a strain on both of you. Knowing that the relationship won’t last will change the way you feel about it and him. You’re in the twilight of your relationship and there is no good way to bring it back. For whatever reason it’s over and you can’t make the sun shine on it again. You can only delay the inevitable and that will constantly hurt. Thank him for his honesty and move on.

avatar Maracuya September 7, 2011, 9:08 am

I would have to break up with him. There’s a difference between, “I’m not ready for marriage,” “I don’t ever want to get married to anyone” and “You’re not it.”

The last one is what he’s telling you, that he sees himself getting married and having a life with someone but he can’t imagine it being you. Knowing I’m just good enough for now would NOT make me want to move in with him, or even keep seeing him.

Budj budjer September 7, 2011, 9:39 am

Don’t move in with him. Cut if off or continue using eachother for sex while emotionally distancing yourself until you find someone you like more.

avatar ele4phant September 7, 2011, 12:03 pm

I know that you’re a guy so maybe its different for you, but for most women continuing to use an ex for sex will KEEP you from moving on. At least for me that’s how it played out when I tried.

There’s no such thing as emotionally distancing oneself while also being sexually intimate with an ex. Its possible to maintain an emotional disconnect while having sex with someone if you haven’t already formed a romantic bond in the past (or its been a very VERY long time), but if they are someone you’ve loved (or are still in love with), forget it. Its bad news bears.

avatar lets_be_honest September 7, 2011, 12:17 pm

Bad news bears!

Budj budjer September 7, 2011, 12:42 pm

It’s the same way for me….I don’t think you can draw a gender line there. I left the option open because if she is like us (which she probably is based on the letter) she can cut it off. If she isnt she can do exactly what this guy is doing to her if she enjoys his company enough still even with no end goal for their romance.

avatar Ginelle September 7, 2011, 9:42 am

Reading this makes me so grateful for my break up. I was literally in a very similar situation my LDR was supposed to end a week from tomorrow and we were going to move in together. Until he surprised me with a visit this weekend, to tell me he doesn’t see a future with me. It sucks so much, but it’s better to be searching for “the one” rather than being with someone who is pretending that you’re their one. In the end it leads to more feels, resentment and bigger heartbreak. Either way it sucks, but if you MOA now it’ll suck less.

avatar silver_dragon_girl September 7, 2011, 10:11 am

Aww…*hugs*

avatar Ginelle September 7, 2011, 10:31 pm

Thanks. Sunday and Monday really sucked, but with work to keep me busy and baking to distract me yesterday and today, I’m doing okay with it. All I really want to know is who breaks up with someone right after sex? After a year and a half together, I’d like a better break up please!

avatar lets_be_honest September 7, 2011, 9:45 am

Even if he does change his mind, which he WON’T, do you really want to spend your future with him knowing you want him more than he wants you. As I typed that, it sounded childish, and maybe it is, but who would want to feel like that? Like you had to convince him? Move on, don’t wait for something better from him or someone else for you to come along. He’s wasting your time, well he’s not actually because he’s being honest about not wanting to waste your time. Count your blessings that you wont be That Girl who is screaming at her girlfriends about the guy that wasted X years of her life.

avatar ele4phant September 7, 2011, 12:05 pm

Its not childish at all. One of the worst feelings in the world is to love someone fully, but know that they don’t return the feeling. No one should have to endure that.

avatar LTC039 September 7, 2011, 10:08 am

He doesn’t see a future with you… He had the balls to tell you that but he doesn’t have the balls to end things. Interesting… Do him & yourself a favor & end this. If he is telling you this so straight forward now after time together, then yeah, believe him. Couples move in together to take their relationship to the next level, whether they marry or not, moving in together is a big step. The reason a lot of these scenarios fail is because many people DON’T realize that moving in together IS a big commitment, pretty much the same as marriage, & they move in with a partner that isn’t working out from the start. If your boyfriend is saying this, moving in together is only going to make things worse in the long run. Sure at the beginning it may be roses & daisies, but yrs down the line, you’re going to find yourself resenting him. If you are in your early 20s then EMBRACE it & don’t tie yourself down to someone who isn’t going to give you what you want.
I used to talk about eventual marriage with my ex, he would tell me straight out he didn’t want to marry me, & I would pass it off as “he’s just saying that now…” No. They mean it.
Be strong & move on! Don’t waste the pretty!

avatar HBomb September 7, 2011, 10:22 am

My advice is that it would be in your best interest to end this relationship. He honestly told you what may have been very difficult to hear, but you have to listen to what he is saying. You are only asking for trouble down the road if you stay in this and expect more out of this relationship.

avatar Renee September 7, 2011, 10:24 am

I’m glad you had this conversation, think about so many of us who didn’t?

Yes, it’s initially painful but MOA. For me, there was always something about the 18 month mark in a relationship. Probably because you’ve been through all the holidays and met extended family. If it isn’t the right person I feel at that point there is an obligation to move on, unless you enjoy the experience of purgatory. If you feel he is then there should be talk about how to plan life out together, even if marriage is not immediate.

avatar McLovin September 7, 2011, 10:28 am

This sounds like the beginning of what could be a long, and painful fade-out on his part if the two of you stay together. From the little information contained in the letter, he has clearly put the future of your relationship in your hands. It’s a cop out on his part. Most likely, he feels that by letting you know that there isn’t a long term commitment on his part that you will take the initiative and end the relationship instead of him having to do it. Move on.

bagge72 bagge72 September 7, 2011, 10:36 am

He definitely gave you a clear answer, and I know it’s hard, but the best thing to do would be to tell him that since he doesn’t see a future with you, that it would be best if you two went your separate ways. You say that you are both very happy in the relationship, but the truth is that he may not be as happy as you, and you are a very lucky person, because he told you that. A lot of people would have to suffer through years of a bad relationship, because they can’t let go, even though they aren’t happy. You also never know, telling him that you want to break up, might make him realize what he is missing. I know it has happened before, not saying it will happen here though.

bagge72 bagge72 September 7, 2011, 10:43 am

Sorry I shouldn’t put that false hope in your head. When you break up with him, you need to have a clear mind, and go into it thinking that it is truely over, and you can move on to bigger and better things.

avatar Addie Pray September 7, 2011, 10:43 am

LW, it’s going to be really hard but you have to do what Wendy and the others say and move on. I think I’d probably stay in it and hope he eventually changes his mind… and like Regina said above, I’d surely lose all self-respect and dignity in the process. So don’t do what I would do. Be strong now, and get out. (a) you’ll feel better about yourself and (b) you can get a jump start on healing your broken heart (as opposed to later on when he still doesn’t want to marry you and either he does the breaking up or you do, but only after even more years invested in the relationship.