Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“I Want to Marry my Long Distance Boyfriend, But He Isn’t Sure Yet”

I’ve dated my current boyfriend for close to two years now – the first 14 months we were in college together, and for the last 8-9 months it’s been long distance (I moved to Asia and he’s still in the US, finishing up his PhD). We love each other, and spent every moment of the first 14 months together. We’ve been doing a decent job of long-distance as well, except we really miss each other and can barely afford to go visit the other. We’ve talked about maybe getting married some day – his mother loves me. I’m trying to get him to visit me in December but it depends on the amount of work he has (he’s about to finish his PhD) and it’s a lot of money as well.

Both of us know that the only way to be together is to get married, and I’m actually kinda ready for it. He isn’t there yet, and he’s told me that. He thinks he will be some day but isn’t sure about now, and says maybe the December trip will help but has no idea whether he can come or not. I couldn’t possibly think of anything other than waiting around for him because we’re just so perfect, but I want this to work and really want to get married. I don’t necessarily need it to be now, I just need his commitment, but he’s not there yet. What should we do? — Overseas Love Drunk


Wha??? I’m not sure why marriage is the only way for you to be together (maybe for visa reasons?), but if that’s truly the case, then it doesn’t seem like there’s much potential here. Obviously, you two need a lot more time in each other’s company before either of you is ready for a commitment like marriage. You need to figure out where you’re going to live for one thing (are you in Asia indefinitely? Does he plan to move there when he’s done with his degree?). And what does “finishing” his PhD even mean? If you were both in college just nine months ago, I’m confused as to how in the world he could possibly be “finishing” a PhD program since one typically takes about five years. Is your plan to “wait around” that long? What if he can never afford to come visit you during that time? Do you still plan to carry on a monogamous long distance relationship for years because you shared 14 months together once?

If it sounds like I’m knocking what you have with your boyfriend, it’s only because I’m trying to paint a realistic picture for you. Maybe there are details you’ve left out of your letter that would completely change the picture, but based on what you shared, this seems like the sort of relationship that might exist well in fantasy but would be very hard to execute in reality. And that the only argument you made for your marriage case is that his mother likes you is also of some concern. What about what you both want for your future? Do you share common goals? Have you discussed children? If so, do you share a desired timeline for when you might want them? Have you discussed any of the big issues a couple needs to discuss before getting engaged? Or, are you just focused on being together any way you can and for some reason marriage seems like the most logical means to that goal?

I say focus on small things first — like your next visit. If he can come see you in December, great. Use that time to discuss some of these larger issues, but also focus on reconnecting and seeing whether the connection you share is still as strong as it was when you lived in the same place. After his visit is over, think about when you might be able to visit him. If neither of you can even commit to visiting the other, you need to seriously consider whether marriage is anywhere near the cards for you. If you can’t make a few sacrifices to see one another on a fairly regular basis (maybe every 4 months or so?), how can you expect to make the sacrifices necessary to marry one another and merge your lives? Marriage does not solve problems. It only exacerbates the ones that already existed. So make sure you have a handle on them before you even think about walking down the aisle.

*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.

79 comments… add one
  • avatar

    justpeachy August 22, 2011, 3:07 pm

    My exact same reaction: what….?

    Of course this guy is non-committal right now. Maybe you’ve had this conversation with him but left it out of the letter but how long are you planning to be in Asia for? If you’ll be there indefinitely and he doesn’t want to move to be with you, why would he say he wants to marry you? If you plan on moving back to the US, then what’s the rush to get married? Just back off a bit. If he comes in December, maybe he won’t be so afraid of moving to be with you, but odds are, he doesn’t want to move. And he won’t change his mind about it.

    If you want a future with this guy, you’ll probably have to move back to the states eventually. And if that’s not something you can see yourself doing, MOA.

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  • avatar

    kerrycontrary August 22, 2011, 3:08 pm

    Wendy I was confused by the timeline of this letter as well, but maybe by “college” she meant “grad school?”. I was also confused by the “we can only be together if we are married” statement. Is this because of a Visa issue? religious beliefs? or personal values that you won’t move for someone you aren’t engaged/married to? I also find that a lot of people just leaving college and seeing some college friends get married catch wedding fever and they want to get married for the wedding, not the marriage itself. I’m not saying that’s what is going on here! Just saying its a possibility.

    Anyways, I’m not so sure if the LW is doing a “great job” at long-distance if they havn’t even established some essential ground rules such as: how long will this relationship be long distance? how often will we visit each other? can we even picture ourselves marrying one another? what are we trying to get out of this relationship? As an adult I think these are all questions to ask when entering a long-distance relationship. While the alternative of breaking up doesn’t create a pretty picture, if the boyfriend can’t even commit to visiting or being together in the long-term, what is the LW waiting around for?

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    • avatar

      ReginaRey August 22, 2011, 3:38 pm

      Agreed. As to the “wedding fever” – I’ve seen it happen sooo many times since graduating, and I’m wondering if the LW doesn’t have a case of it herself. If one of her reasons for wanting to get married is “his mother likes me,” I’m wondering what picture of marriage she has in her head…a wedding, or two people committed to each other through good and bad shit…forever.

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      • avatar

        Quakergirl August 22, 2011, 4:01 pm

        Agh, this is the *worst.* I have tons of friends who’ve gotten married in the cloud of wedding fever that settles over every college graduation ceremony. And then they look at me like *I’m* the crazy one because I’m not buried in magazine articles about centerpieces and favors and chair covers because I’m, ya know, working?

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        kerrycontrary August 22, 2011, 4:12 pm

        There was a fantastic article on The Frisky maybe a month ago about how when you end college in a relationship, people expect you to either get married or break up. But why do you need to celebrate one huge life milestone with another? How stressful is that!? I want to know that I can support myself by myself before I join my life with someone elses. I also want to make sure my significant other and I are getting married for the right reasons, not just because “its the right time” and everyone else is doing it. I think that for some couples that get married right after college its the right decision, but I always heard that you change SO MUCH in your 20s. That your values and goals could be completely different at 28 than they were at 22.

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        SpaceySteph August 22, 2011, 4:15 pm

        Wasn’t that Regina Rey’s column on The Morton Report?

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        Quakergirl August 22, 2011, 4:33 pm

        That’s definitely true for most people, although in my case there’s not any pressure to break up because everyone has been expecting us to get engaged since high school graduation. When college graduation came and went over a year ago without a ring, it definitely raised quite a few eyebrows, but we’re very content to be the same team we’ve always been. It isn’t that I’m not sure about Quakerboy or I’m waiting on the relationship to make sure we don’t grow apart (we’ve been together long enough that I feel like if we’re going to grow apart, then either we would have already done it or we would never see it coming so why try to wait it out). We’re already pretty tangled up in one another’s lives, emotionally, physically, and financially, and he’s already mostly supporting us– I make a pittance comparatively. I just literally have no time (or interest, really) in fussing over roses v. lilies or which color of bridesmaids dress is universally flattering. When things calm down with work, then sign me up, but until then, I’m happy to wait, I know he’s not going anywhere.

        The only thing that gets to me is that people think I’m stupid for being willing to wait, like I’m letting him hold all the power or that I’m somehow disrespecting myself. I chalk it up to midwestern family values, but it does sting a little bit. Marriage is important to both of us, but if we’re going to do it, I want to do it with all our family and friends there, which takes some planning and effort.

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        Quakergirl August 22, 2011, 4:35 pm

        Yikes, apologies for the random italics. Clearly I’m in coding fail mode today.

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      • katie

        katie August 22, 2011, 7:43 pm

        dang- i had no idea there was such pressure to get married after graduation! me and my boyfriend met in college and had since graduated, but i haven’t felt any pressure to get married, thankfully! lol

        i am with you- i know i want to marry him one day, but for now I am happy to wait. thats ok with me.

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      • avatar

        Quakergirl August 22, 2011, 9:39 pm

        I think there are a lot of factors that lead to it– at least in our case. One, we’ve been together 6 years now, so people are starting to twiddle their thumbs waiting on us to pull the trigger. It’s not even that we’re not ready to be married– being married would be great, it’s the getting married part that we’re not so psyched about, which people (and by people I mean my mother) don’t quite get. Which brings me to Two: people in Missouri don’t just elope unless there’s something you’re doing that you shouldn’t be. It gives the wrong impression. You have a wedding with your family there to see you, period…and we have a lot of family that thinks this year (and the last 4 or 5 years) would be a real nice year for a wedding. And Three: we’re getting up there for people from our area to be married– 23/24 isn’t young where we’re from.

        But if you’re from a family that thinks 30ish is a more appropriate age for marriage, you haven’t already been through a scandalous *two* graduations with no ring, and you can just get married whenever/wherever you want without having to take vacation days to fly halfway across the country and have a three-day meeting with your mother about centerpieces, I think the pressure would be lessened.

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      • katie

        katie August 22, 2011, 9:47 pm

        wow, those factors make for a very unpleasant situation, im sure. i hope that people around you don’t voice this too much (especially your own mom!) and can be happy that you are just happy where you are.

        i am totally with you on the geography- my dad lives in rural minnesota, and it just a different kind of thought process in those areas. 23/24 would be very old there to be getting married.

        just have peace knowing you are living your life your way, and not some other way mandated by other people.

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      • avatar

        Bethany August 22, 2011, 8:57 pm

        Just wait till you’re married and the “when are you having kids?” pressure starts!! If it’s not one thing, it’s another! I’ll never understand why other people feel the need to pressure people into making HUGE life decisions!

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        artsygirl August 23, 2011, 9:45 am

        I hear that – I am hitting three year anniversary next month and more than a decade together and his mother and mine keep checking my waistline.
        Of course during my reception one of my cousins asked me if I was going to get pregnant on my honeymoon.

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        ReginaRey August 22, 2011, 4:15 pm

        Kerry….is it weird to say that I wrote that article? Because I did…haha.

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        kerrycontrary August 22, 2011, 4:22 pm

        nope! its my bad!

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        kerrycontrary August 22, 2011, 4:24 pm

        this one?

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        kerrycontrary August 22, 2011, 4:26 pm

        nevermind! I just assumed your name was actually regina!!! sorry Wendy for making this thread super long

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        ReginaRey August 22, 2011, 5:39 pm

        Nope, RR is just the username!

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      • avatar

        Jess August 22, 2011, 7:17 pm

        wow that was you? that was a great article, I could really relate to that

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    • avatar

      crazyayeaye August 22, 2011, 5:47 pm

      I also think she meant grad school by saying college. I’m in a doctorate program at the moment and a lot of other people still refer to it as college.

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  • avatar

    Morgan August 22, 2011, 3:22 pm

    I’m…confused. Getting married will magically solve the issue of you being in Asia and him in the U.S.? I’m also not sure about the timeline on the phd, like Wendy said, unless by college you mean grad school, and you finished your program 9 months ago but he’s still working on his.

    So basically, you want to get married someday, and you’re fine if someday isn’t now, but you need him to confirm that someday does in fact exist? Your letter reads to me like “9 months into long distance and freaking out because i see no end plan.” so focus on that. Focus on regular visits, and then focus on eventually ending up on the same continent. Like Wendy, who is very wise when it comes to long distance relationships (well, and many other things, too, but especially LDRs), said, focus on the small things. Baby steps. Marriage, if that is where your relationship ends up going, will come.

    One thing: if he’s super stressed about the phd in December, that might not be the best time for him to come. He’ll be stressed, probably distracted, and maybe even a little annoyed. If its only a couple of months difference, wait til he can come and truly enjoy the visit and just focus on spending time with you, instead of when he’s going to cram in a chapter here and two hours of edits there.

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  • avatar

    Jena August 22, 2011, 3:25 pm

    Have the two of you even discussed whether he *wants* to move to Asia? I’m assuming his PHD is for something that he wants to do back in the US — so what is the issue? Are you looking for a reason to come back? There are a ton of missing details here. If the reason you’ve talked about marriage is that “his mom loves you”, um, there need be more concrete reasons to get married. And what is the difference between long distance boyfriend vs long distance husband? Nothing except a piece of paper.

    Can’t wait for the update here

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  • bagge72

    bagge72 August 22, 2011, 3:27 pm

    Ugh I need to take a coffee break (don’t drink coffee, so I will just take a walk outside), and come back, and reread this to see if I can put 2 and 2 together, because lots of things are missing.

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    • avatar

      TheOtherMe August 22, 2011, 4:16 pm

      Same here. ( although I drink copious amounts of coffee !! ) it’s like she wants him to say, ” I don’t feel that way now but I am 100% sure that I will in the future”

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      • bagge72

        bagge72 August 23, 2011, 8:48 am

        Oh definitely, which I think if she pushes that Idea he is just going to eventually break up with her.

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    • bagge72

      bagge72 August 23, 2011, 9:11 am

      Ok I will give this a shot. LW this is tough to do, because nobody knows why you need to get married for you two to be together. Is it because one of you needs a visa for you to be in the same country? If we take that part out of the equation right now, I would tell you to take your time, and wait until you two can be together again for a significant amount of time. You two were together for the honeymoon phase, and I’m sure that was great, and made you feel like things were amazing, and you were meant to be together, but I really think you need to physically spend more time with him to make sure nothing has changed. This is the part of the relationship where you don’t have to agree with everything you both say, when all of those little things that bothered the crap out of you, but you held them in, because it was all so new, all of the sudden coming stumbling out of your moth, because it is secretly driving you crazy. You get to tell each other things you told no one else before, and see if they are going to hang around to be with you, because they understand that is what made you who are. You might have already done these things, but if you haven’t it’s a great feeling to know that you feel comfortable enough to share these things, and it didn’t scare anyone away, or didn’t cause a big argument.
      I think it is always a good thing to be able to get to that point before you make the commitment of marriage. It is great to talk about marriage before, and see where you future is going, and if you are heading down the same path, but to make that commitment, before you really know whe each other is can be difficult.
      So at the very least wait to see how things go if he comes in Dec., and if he can’t make it don’t make a big stink about it, because he has a lot on his table right now, and then go from there. Your guy needs time to see where he is at, and if you can’t give him that time, then it isn’t going to work.

      So long story short, having open communitaction is key, and if you haven’t told him to stop chewing with his mouth open, and you haven’t taken a shit with him in the same living space, I would give it a little more time!

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  • avatar

    Maracuya August 22, 2011, 3:42 pm

    4 months seems nice but maybe too expensive for the two of them. A flight to Asia is around $1,500 to $2000, which is doable but also complicated by his PhD schedule–depending on his lab’s “personality” taking that much vacation would be tough–and since I’m assuming she has a job, a lack of PTO. (Well, that’s my personal experience.)

    From that standpoint I’ve been there, LW. But from another, there’s no reason to be forcing him to get married now. Set a visit schedule and end time. Discuss concretely, what your two financial situations look like and then ask yourself if you’re okay with that. Make sure that your boyfriend is on board–just because he doesn’t want to commit to the rest of his life with you (after two years!) doesn’t make him a bad guy. Lay off the pressure and if you guys are building a strong relationship, that should come naturally.

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    • avatar

      demoiselle August 22, 2011, 3:55 pm

      $2000 would be 1/9 of my graduate student stipend for an entire year. I sure hope that the LW’s boyfriend is paid a lot better, because that’s an incredible sacrifice to make for a visit.

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      • avatar

        kate August 22, 2011, 5:55 pm

        No kidding..,. 2k on a stipend is a lot.

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        Maracuya August 22, 2011, 5:59 pm

        Yeah, it’s a lot for me and I have a decent paying job. And it’s not worth it to go for any less than a week or two. So it’s more like I visit once and if he’s lucky he can visit twice (he has much more vacation than I do.) I can’t imagine trying to do that on a grad student stipend.

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      • avatar

        savannah August 22, 2011, 9:01 pm

        As someone who just moved back from Asia and had her LDR bf visit, you can definitely get to many parts of Asia without spending $1500 let alone $2000. You just need to plan. We were both in grad school at the time (no stipends to speak of here, lucky ducks). We pooled our resources together and made it a priority to see each other every 4-5 months. It was not easy at all but it is what made the distance bearable and saved our relationship while letting us each pursue our own goals.

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      • katie

        katie August 22, 2011, 9:20 pm

        thats such a great idea- why dont they both fly to different parts of asia, or maybe like hawaii or something more in the middle to see each other. i mean i guess then they would have to pay for a hotel or something, but maybe it would be cheaper to meet in the middle… maybe it would make it easier to see each other…?

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      • avatar

        Maracuya August 23, 2011, 12:32 am

        That’s true. I guess my situation is a little different. I’m not in school so my schedule isn’t very flexible and I only get 10 days off a year. And he has to wait to be granted leave.

        I estimated $2000 as an upper limit because I have friends from certain Asian countries that tell me they spend that much, although my flights usually cost $1100-1500.

        I think all that matters is there’s enough communication in a relationship so that everyone’s on the same page regarding visits.

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  • avatar

    Amanda August 22, 2011, 3:50 pm

    “We’ve talked about maybe getting married some day – his mother loves me.”

    I’m so confused by this letter. LW, your boyfriend has told you that he is not ready for marriage. In response, you need to slow things down. Please don’t pressure him for a marriage that he does not want.

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  • avatar

    Steelbird August 22, 2011, 3:59 pm

    Just a guess on the timeline, but it’s possible she was an undergrad and started dating a grad student. She graduated with a B.S. or B.A. or whatever, which is why she says they met in “college”, and he’s still finishing up in grad school.

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    • avatar

      Morgan August 22, 2011, 4:04 pm

      That would explain so, so, so much about this letter.

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    • avatar

      Valerie August 22, 2011, 4:35 pm

      This is what I was thinking too.

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    • Budj

      Budjer August 22, 2011, 4:01 pm

      Seconded.

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  • Budj

    Budjer August 22, 2011, 3:14 pm

    A lot of missing information here…what does his marriage commitment allow you to do? Justify moving back to the US for him? I don’t quite get this…but regardless…slow down.

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    • avatar

      Amber August 22, 2011, 3:25 pm

      I agree, I was very confused reading this. And I like how she added that his Mother liked her, like that is a reason people should get married. Slowing down would definitely be a good thing in her case. It would be interesting to know why she moved to Asia. And if a move back to the US is even a possibility.

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  • avatar

    beans629 August 22, 2011, 4:24 pm

    Aww. This totally sounds like she fell in love with her TA.

    LW, we get it. We’ve all been there with the ‘he’s-absolutely-perfect-for-me-and-I-can’t-EVEN-imagine-being-with-someone-else’ relationship but here’s the thing.

    Your boyfriend isn’t really ready to get married because he’s already married…to school and getting his PhD.
    The pursuit of a PhD is a serious commitment. It takes tons of energy, work, and sometimes money to finish a PhD. Then after that he still has to find a job with that newly inked PhD. So really he won’t be ready for a real relationship (much less marriage) until at least one year after getting a job with the PhD.

    My advice is to enjoy Asia (not sure if that’s home or if you’re on a job) and meet new people or reconnect with old friends and then start building your life. You never know the real ‘one’ might be at the next event you go to with your friends.

    Seriously, I’ve seen both sides of the coin. Successful LDR and unsuccessful ones. I will tell you that the successful ones involved both people being on the same page as far as goals and long term plans. They also made a huge effort to stay connect through regular visits and email/phone.

    If he can’t commit to that or you’re afraid to bring it up then maybe you should rethink your marriage plans.

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    • avatar

      Valerie August 22, 2011, 4:50 pm

      “The pursuit of a PhD is a serious commitment. It takes tons of energy, work, and sometimes money to finish a PhD. Then after that he still has to find a job with that newly inked PhD. So really he won’t be ready for a real relationship (much less marriage) until at least one year after getting a job with the PhD.”

      YES. THIS. Also, I just wanted to add that, depending on what field the boyfriend is in, he may have to do a 2-3 year postdoc after he finishes his PhD if he ever hopes to get a job, which means he has to commit to a program for at least another 2 years BEFORE even getting a job! That’s a lot of time to “wait around.”

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    • caitie_didnt

      caitie_didn't August 22, 2011, 6:01 pm

      Not that what I’m going to say applies to the LW, BUT: a lot of people do get married and occasionally have children while completing their PhD’s. If you’re planning on staying in academia, it’s often easier to have children while in grad school because your schedule is *slightly* more flexible and you don’t have to stop the tenure clock.

      Anyways, this doesn’t really relate to the LW, but I thought I’d bring it up because it’s easy to use “not till i finish my PhD” or “not until I finish my postdoc” or “not until I get a job” as an excuse to not commit to someone. When the time is right, you make it happen, regardless of what else is happening in your life. This doesn’t apply to the LW because I suspect this relationship is largely in her head at this point and her bf is so clearly not interested in getting married.

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      • avatar

        kate August 22, 2011, 6:04 pm

        I was going to mention this. The bulk of my friends got married during their PhDs. But they married mature people. I’m not sure how mature this LW is at this point.

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      • caitie_didnt

        caitie_didn't August 22, 2011, 8:46 pm

        word.

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      • avatar

        Valerie August 22, 2011, 10:47 pm

        “When the time is right, you make it happen, regardless of what else is happening in your life.”

        ABSOLUTELY. I’m in the middle of a PhD program right now, just finished my qualifiers, all while planning a wedding (I’m getting married in October-less than 2 months!!!!). My fiance is in the middle of a medical residency program, but for us, the right time is now. Neither of us wanted to wait until we’re finished with our respective programs, which is 2 more years for both of us.

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    haggith August 22, 2011, 4:28 pm

    so… what is the advice the LW looking for? “please Wendy, tell me how to make my boyfriend ready for marriage”? he already said he’s not ready for such a commitment. believe him!!! focus on the now… if that now is not strong enough, it won’t hold the future

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    • avatar

      SpaceySteph August 22, 2011, 4:38 pm

      Yup that sounds like exactly what she’s looking for. Despite the fact that Wendy (nor her commenters) ever advocate marriage for anything but the true desire of both parties to be together forever and willingness put decades of hard work into their relationship. Sigh.

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  • avatar

    ReginaRey August 22, 2011, 3:33 pm

    I’m with Wendy’s last statement on this…This LW seems to think that getting married = “poof! All of our problems are magically solved!” Marriage does NOT solve problems. And whether or not you think you’re ready to get married (which I doubt, given your shakey “reasoning”…his mother? …really?), obviously he isn’t. He’s told you so! Some guys don’t even give women the courtesy of informing us they aren’t ready.

    This guy is being up front with you, and you should stop talking long enough to LISTEN to him. It seems like right now, his priority is his education. That’s not wrong of him. Obviously he’s going to need a lot of time, distance or no distance, to get from “some day” to “today” in regard to marriage.

    The worst possible thing you could do is pressure him into something he’s not ready for, while convincing yourself you’re ready for it. Are you really? You haven’t known each other all that long, and a big chunk of it has been long distance. You haven’t been able to test the strength of your relationship while physically together, in the “real world,” which is a big pre-cursor to marriage. You need to slow down and accept that your boyfriend has a different timeline, different priorities for his life, and a different opinion on marriage than you. If you find that it just isn’t aligning with your priorities and desires, then he isn’t the right person for you, and you need to move on. If you’re willing to wait years, and it will likely take YEARS, for marriage, then perhaps this can work. For now, you should work on maintaining a healthy LDR, without pressuring your boyfriend to make moves he isn’t ready for.

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    • avatar

      ape_escape August 23, 2011, 5:12 am

      ugggghhhh a thousand times yes!

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    ReginaRey August 22, 2011, 3:44 pm

    Ok, so I just gave what I consider to be reasonable advice. But my mind keeps drifting to one other thought, which I may get reamed for. But I’ll take the purple thumbs.

    Something about this seems…immature and a touch desperate. The whole “his mother loves me,” thing is worrisome. Not to mention, when talking about her prepardeness for marriage she said, “I’m actually kinda ready for it” – not very convincing, nor very sound rationale for being prepared for marriage. All of that plus, “I couldn’t possibly think of anything other than waiting around for him because we’re just so perfect,” sounds like things we’ve all said when we’re pretty young and desperately, hopelessly in love with a boyfriend who may or may not be right for us – we’ve just convinced ourselves he is.

    Somewhere, somehow, I think there’s a boyfriend back in the U.S. who’s more than a little freaked out about the pace this relationship is going at, and wondering how to stop the marriage train before it gets out of control. Forgive me, but I get the strong sense that this is a bit one-sided.

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      Quakergirl August 22, 2011, 3:54 pm

      I got the same vibe. If I hadn’t read that they’d just graduated from college (or possibly grad school?) I would have guessed LW was in her first year or two of high school. This is just not the logic of a rational, mature 20-something who’s ready to be married. Being married is a big huge f-ing deal, and it doesn’t sound like the LW gets that. It isn’t all giggles and sunshine that solves every problem you’ve ever had. In fact, as Wendy said, it tends to amplify them, especially when you live on separate continents and one of you is still finishing school.

      LW, getting married is possibly the worst solution to this problem. Seriously, focus on visiting each other when possible, and start talking about the Big Things (what goals do you have for yourselves as individuals and as a couple? Can you achieve those goals together? Do you communicate well? Do you want kids? When? How many? How do you plan to raise them? With what values and religious beliefs will they grow up? How do you both handle money? Etc.) Once you’re on the same page about that stuff, then start to maybe, maybe, maaaaybe consider getting married.

      But if you aren’t on the same page, don’t force it. You’re better off alone than married to the wrong guy, or one that doesn’t really want to be married to you.

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    Valerie August 22, 2011, 4:45 pm

    “Both of us know that the only way to be together is to get married.”

    You know, maybe Asia is home for the LW, and as soon as school ended, her visa was up and she had to go back. Maybe THIS is what she means by the only way to be together, and for her to come back to the US, is to get married? I’ve never understood how the whole visa thing works, but maybe this has something to do with it.

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      haggith August 22, 2011, 4:49 pm

      believe me, it’s a pain!!! expensive, time consuming, frustrating, you name it. my then boyfriend really, really must have loved me so much to go through that ordeal, and it was because he was completely committed.

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        Quakergirl August 22, 2011, 5:47 pm

        “expensive, time consuming, frustrating”…agreed, but then again, so’s divorce.

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        haggith August 22, 2011, 6:12 pm

        true… who wants to go through that twice?!

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      SpaceySteph August 22, 2011, 4:58 pm

      This may be true if they want to have a relationship that lasts forever, but it doesn’t mean you have to rush into a marriage now. There are visits, there is Skype, there are ways to maintain a relationship in the short term (which to me is on the order of a few years) without getting married tomorrow.

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    SpaceySteph August 22, 2011, 4:51 pm

    I want to say that I was never this young/immature and this stupid. Want to, but can’t. Its only been 3 years since I graduated college and when I did I was absolutely this immature and stupid. I had a college boyfriend who was going to graduate in a couple years, move to be with me, and we were going to get married and live happily ever after.
    Shockingly, it didn’t work out. Long distance is hard. Its especially hard when you are in a new situation far from home (as I was and as you presumably are, since you’ve made a big move from the US to Asia) while the other person remains in their comfort zone, surrounded by familiar places and people. Its hard when you see this distance between you, and you think you need to end it right this instant.
    I urge you to realize that you have the rest of your life to be with this guy (or, if it doesn’t work out, you will one day look back and be glad that you DON’T have the rest of your life to be with him) so you can stand a few months or even years apart. I know its hard now, I know you think you miss him so much and you think your heart is breaking. But you have to remember that it is only temporary. 2 days temporary or 2 years temporary, one day your long distance situation will end and then the next phase will begin. A phase which will carry with it different challenges which are no less difficult. Challenges like maintaining a marriage or raising children or a crazy mother in law or debt or a house that needs work or whatever comes next. It won’t be easier, make no mistake of that. My current challenge is balancing a more demanding job with a house that needs work and painting and cleaning and weeding, and my boyfriend (who is local and takes alot more free time than my former LDR)… new and different challenges post LDR.
    You do not need to rush into a marriage that you don’t really seem convinced you are ready for, and that your boyfriend is obviously not ready for because you need to end the long distance right this minute. Relax. Enjoy where you are right now in your life. Enjoy your time in Asia and your new experiences and these few years of your life. When you get to the next phase of life, whatever it is, enjoy those experiences and deal with those challenges too. Your life is not a sprint, its an ultramarathon.

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      AliceInDairyland August 22, 2011, 6:22 pm

      I love this comment!

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    • katie

      katie August 22, 2011, 8:16 pm

      “Your life is not a sprint, its an ultramarathon”

      i love this.

      listen to this, LW, and take it to heart.

      my boyfriend and I are going to las vegas next weekend, and he keeps saying how we should get married while were there. i keep saying no, that i want to do it in the order that I feel is natural, which is not an elopement in vegas. and this is what i say to him! what is the rush to get married? were here now, happy the way it is.

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  • fast eddie

    fast eddie August 22, 2011, 5:01 pm

    The other issues aside if he’s in the midst of putting his dissertation together this isn’t the time to pile more stress on him. Take my word for it that task requires it to be the #1 priority. The Love Drunk wants her “needs” meet just as we all do but for the time being there aren’t enough hours in the entire year for him to give her that. Everyone else has made valid points but love requires giving and right now give him time to finish his education and make do with visits. If he loves her as much as she believes he does, the time coupling will be there. Ya got’s to have patients.

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  • cmary

    CMF August 22, 2011, 5:07 pm

    It looks to me like the title of the letter sums it up pretty well. She wants to marry him, he’s not sure. He is not sure. Why would you want to marry someone who isn’t totally sold on the idea of marrying you? I think it’s more along the lines of, “I want to have a wedding so we can play grown-ups together.”

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      ReginaRey August 22, 2011, 5:37 pm

      “I want to have a wedding so we can play grown-ups together.” You would not believe how many engagements/weddings I’ve seen since graduating college that seem to fit this mold completely.

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        Maracuya August 22, 2011, 6:05 pm

        Yes, a good number of my friends are getting engaged and they’ve been dating …max 3 years? More like 2. I’m already past that point but I don’t want to rush into marriage yet. Although I can see how easy it is for people to want to ‘keep up’ and have their own wedding (ugh, thinking about catering and booking venues gives me a headache.) But it’s “exciting” and people think they’re moving to some next step and they’re ‘left behind.’ Don’t fall for it! I’ll get married when the time is right for both of us.

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    cookiesandcream August 22, 2011, 6:09 pm

    I read this letter a little differently because what stuck out at me the most was this line: ” I don’t necessarily need it to be now, I just need his commitment, but he’s not there yet.” To me that means that the LW isn’t necessarily looking for a ring just yet, she just needs to know if her boyfriend is on the same page as her. Regardless of whether the two meet in December, they definitely need to have a serious talk. LW, I think you should try your best to meet with your boyfriend in December (I’m guessing you two are planning on meeting over Christmas break) so you two can have the talk face to face. I definitely wouldn’t recommend email or AIM for a conversation like this. I think it would make your boyfriend feel uncomfortable if you begin the conversation with the words “marriage” or “kids”, so try asking where he sees himself in the future and how you fit into the picture. Or you could try asking him what he wants from this relationship. Then based on his answers, you can decide if you want to continue this relationship or not. If he’s non-committal or evasive, then unfortunately it’s a sign that you’re not necessarily going to get the answers that you want.

    Good luck, LW!

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      Maracuya August 22, 2011, 6:23 pm

      That’s true. I guess I just read it differently because her letter felt all over the map to me.

      “We’ve talked about maybe getting married some day ”
      “Both of us know that the only way to be together is to get married, and I’m actually kinda ready for it.”
      “He thinks he will be some day but isn’t sure about now, and says maybe the December trip will help ”
      “I don’t necessarily need it to be now, I just need his commitment.”

      I feel like if they’ve already talked about getting married, not just, “I’d like to get married [to someone someday],” then she should know how he feels. I don’t know if there are visa issues, but I’m assuming so. I don’t know if when she says, “the December trip will help” if she means help him to decide to marry now, commit to marrying, or just commit to a long-term relationship.

      But I would bet my money that wanting his promise of marriage is just borne of a potentially well-founded fear that she could be wasting years of her time if he’s noncommital.

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    meaghan August 22, 2011, 6:31 pm

    You two seem to have hugely different priorities: he wants to finish school and most likely start creating his career and financial foundation for the rest of his life while you are assumedly home and settling in with your hopefully already attained career looking towards marriage as your goal. These are not things that you juggle together: how will you plan a wedding while he’s in the US working on school and you never see him? How will either of you have job security in either country? Does your family approve of this?

    You got your answer from him already: he’s not ready and thunks someday he will be, but for now school is his number one priority not you. I think you just don’t liked that answer.

    Sorry, but it seems like you’re the rubber band. The more room he puts in the relationship the more tense and clingy you become. That’s not going to make him marry you. Focus on seeing each other and using that college degree you just earned.

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  • katie

    katie August 22, 2011, 7:50 pm

    LW, I wonder what will happen if you guys got married… say in, 6 months to a year. what would that realistically look like? i am willing to bet it would be super stressful for you having to plan a wedding while in asia, or maybe stressful for your family/friends for having to go to asia/help you plan a wedding in asisa, stressful for your boyfriend to be thinking about a wedding he has TOLD YOU he isn’t ready for while he should be thinking about his phd, and then stressful for you again, because if he really isn’t ready for this but agrees to it, then he will start to resent you, and it is hard enough to feel affection over a long distance- imagine that type of wedding situation over long distance.

    honestly, I think you should just be content with where you are now. have a deep heart to heart with him the next time you see him face to face and see where you stand. and if he wants to marry you, but just not right now, then be happy with that commitment. being in a long distance relationship with someone takes a lot of hard work, even more when one of them is in asia im sure, and so if he is willing to go through this with you, i would take that as your commitment. he is with you, remember that. dont try to rush things- let them happen naturally.

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    • katie

      katie August 22, 2011, 8:10 pm

      oh PS- a great mother-in-law is all great and well, but if the actual relationship isn’t enough, no amount of MIL love will help that. one of my ex’s mothers is so awesome and I would have loved to have her as my mother in law- but we actually stayed friends after he and I broke up, so I kind of do still get her as my MIL, a little. my current boyfriend’s mother is a total pill. However, I think about our actual relationships, and even though the previous boyfriend’s mom was awesome, I would not put up with that relationship just because of her. and on the flip side, I am totally willing to deal with my current MIL situation, because my relationship is worth it. so please dont take that too much into consideration before getting married…

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    Peter August 22, 2011, 8:09 pm

    Somewhere in the U.S. there is student stressed about finishing a PhD, worring about the next step in his career, hoping that his finances hold out long enough to make good choices that will inflence his life for years to come! And he should propose to somone that loves him so deeply that she went to asia? Just a question

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      demoiselle August 22, 2011, 8:15 pm

      Peter, for the first half of your comment I was nodding in agreement, because I feel the LW’s expectation for commitment and/or a promise to move to Asia right seemed like a lot for him to be dealing with.

      But suggesting that she’s somehow at fault for going to Asia? That’s out of line. Do you really measure women’s love by how much of their own dreams or future they are ready to sacrifice, just to stay near a boyfriend?

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        MissDre August 22, 2011, 8:28 pm

        Or it’s possible that’s she’s FROM Asia and her visa expired, so she had to go back home. Either way, she’s not at fault for leaving.

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      • bittergaymark

        bittergaymark August 22, 2011, 8:45 pm

        Expired visa? Um, then that would only make me even more suspect of her motives. Seriously. And PS — if I was truly in love with somebody, I probably wouldn’t move halfway around the world… But then I am old fashioned that way. 😉

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    Peter August 22, 2011, 9:07 pm

    If the love is real, you will find a compromise, at least until the dust has settled, and you move on together. If you are in a relationship for the long haul, you have patience, and do not make one-sided decisions, or put pressure on the other. and always remember that actions speak loudest. She must have left at least with his tacit agrement, and it is not unreasonable to ask her time to finish want he had already started. visas and paperwork are just that, BS, I know, been there and done that

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    SpyGlassez August 22, 2011, 11:13 pm

    I don’t know if this could be the LW’s situation, but when I graduated from the college I went to, it was VERY popular for English grads to go to Asia to teach English for a year or more. I had at least 4 friends who chose to do so, and while they all enjoyed the experience (one is still over there) they have DEFINITELY said it is a hard adjustment. That was honestly the first thing that came to MY mind when she mentioned moving to Asia. Usually it’s a year-long or two-year-long commitment, and if she’s feeling homesick that could exacerbate the feeling of wanting to be committed to him. Also, if there’s any kind of situation where she’s trying to figure out whether or not to stay in Asia and extend her contract, she might be trying to figure out what his take on their relationship is. It may not be that way – I may be reading far too much into this – because she does sound a little immature, and I definitely don’t think her reasoning is sound. I’m just thinking that there’s a chance it’s something along those lines.

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      SpaceySteph August 23, 2011, 10:36 am

      “Usually it’s a year-long or two-year-long commitment, and if she’s feeling homesick that could exacerbate the feeling of wanting to be committed to him.”

      I agree (and was trying to allude to this in my ridiculously long comment above). Even if she’s from Asia originally, but especially if she’s in a short term stay like you describe, its very lonely and scary to pick up and move away from your college town. You cling to the boyfriend because its your strongest tie to your comfort zone. I moved away for the long haul so I eventually built a comfort zone around my new life, but if you’re in it for the short term it is impossible to put down roots/get comfortable.

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    David Jay August 23, 2011, 12:43 am

    Plan the wedding and make sure to send him an invite! Men are rarely ready to get married, regardless of how smart and right we know it is! 😉

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      Theenemyofmyenemyisagrilledcheesesandwich August 23, 2011, 12:57 am

      …I think they have a couple of things to work out first.

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    Rachel August 23, 2011, 5:52 pm

    Sounds like they need to have a talk about what each one of you expects out of the long distance relationship. Wedding or not, they need to make sure you’re not relying too much on impersonal modes of communication, like texting and messenger. If they don’t already have webcams, they should definitely get some! You can chat for free right on Facebook Video Chat Rounds ) Video chatting is much more intimate than the phone (and cheaper) and will help you avoid lots of misunderstandings and awkward silences. I think distance doesn’t have to get in the way of intimacy and commitment if they have a good basis for communication.

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