My boyfriend and I have been dating for a little over a year and a half. Before we met, he lived in L.A. working in a job he enjoyed, and then was fired because of cutbacks. His father recently passed away so with that and losing his job he decided to move back home to help out his family. He got a new job that he pretty much despises and which pays miserably, and he has been searching for work for a little over two years now with no luck. Right before our one-year mark I asked him if he saw a future with me. He said with living at home and working in a miserable job, he can’t even imagine buying a home and supporting a wife and kids. He’s gotten close to getting a job he really wants, begins to feel hopeful, and then is let down. So he’s decided to not make plans for the future because he doesn’t want to be let down again. He can only focus on the present.
I can understand how depressing that is, but I was always hopeful about us and I’m now beginning to lose hope. I wonder if I should wait it out to see when/if he gets a job and see if then he’ll want to talk about a future with me. I know we love each other and we have a good relationship, but I’m turning 29 this August and beginning to need something more stable. I don’t expect him to propose to me tomorrow, but I feel I at least need to know that he wants a future with me. I want to talk to him about this, but I feel that, if I do, he will give me the same answer and either I have to live with that or end the relationship. Do I wait it out longer or do I give an ultimatum? — Impatient
As you said, you’ve already talked to your boyfriend about whether or not he sees a future with you and his answer was: “I don’t know,” which is just another way of saying, “No,” or “No, not right now, but maybe eventually…” It’s a yes or no question. You either see a future or you don’t. He clearly doesn’t (right now), and as he’s already told you, he cannot currently imagine his life past the present tense (with anyone, period). Even if you re-phrase the question, you’re still going to get the same response. And you say yourself in your second to last sentence that if you got the same answer he’s been giving you, you know you either have to live with the uncertainty or end the relationship. Giving your boyfriend an ultimatum isn’t going to change his response. The only thing an ultimatum will do is eliminate one of your options. Rather than live with his answer — the answer you’re already expecting — you will be forced to end the relationship. So, what’s the point? Why eliminate one of the two options you have?
I do understand your frustration, especially in light of the controversial “timeline” we women who want families are forced to live by. If you do want children one day, you can’t afford to keep waiting around for your boyfriend to decide what it is he wants (and when!). So what I would do if I were you is decide how much longer you’re willing to wait — three months, six months, until your birthday, etc. — and if nothing has changed by then, MOA. I wouldn’t tell your boyfriend about this deadline you’ve set. Keep it to yourself. As it gets closer, you, of course, can and should again broach the topic of your future and see if his response is any different. If it’s not, then you can tell him, “As you know, I’m about to be 29. I have a window for finding someone I want to spend my life with and starting a family before my ability to have children is compromised. As much as I love you, I just can’t keep waiting by your side while that window slowly closes. I can’t miss my chance to find someone who can give me the commitment I want and need. I wish it were you, but we both have to accept that it’s not.”
It will probably break your heart to have to leave your boyfriend. But a broken heart can be mended. Waking up one day and realizing you’ve wasted precious years on someone who can’t commit is not as easy to fix.