From the forums:
I immediately got a job and my boyfriend and I were long distance again for the better part of a year (with him flying in to see me once every 2-3 months since he has far more vacation time as a European and is more established in his career – he is 10 years older). Eventually, however, I was able to land a spot in a 1-year work exchange program between my country and his. I moved back to his country AGAIN, this time with a job waiting. It was a year that we got to live together, though for the latter part of it, I fell into depression with the uncertainty of what would happen after the year was up.
As the contract was coming to a close, I started bringing up marriage since marriage would allow us to stay together and work in one another’s countries. Every time I brought it up, he said he didn’t see himself as a married person. This really hurt me – I’m not one of those girls who’s in a rush to get married, but, since we both had said we wanted to spend our lives together, I couldn’t see why we wouldn’t take that next step which would make it actually possible to do so.
Anyway, I moved back to the US again and got another job, which brings this story to the present day. After discussing how difficult it is for me to find a job in his country, we have decided that he will try to find a job in the US (should be easier given his experience and specialization). I know he has sent out some applications, but I don’t know how hard he is really trying. At this point, I have vowed not to bring up marriage again because I sure as heck don’t believe in pressuring someone into it! I’ve let him know, however, that I am sick to death of long distance and, if we couldn’t find a way to be together by spring, then I am moving on.
Enter the next complication: it is now September and, in the last couple of months, I’ve developed a crush on a neighbor. So far, it is pretty innocent and I am trying not to let it cloud my view of my relationship. But the truth is – either due to the excitement of the crush or perhaps because I have been psychologically preparing to exit my current relationship in the spring – I find myself no longer excited/happy to talk to my boyfriend. To be brutally honest, it sometimes feels like a chore. However, I feel I owe it to my boyfriend to keep it together as he is still trying to find a way to move here.
Since my feelings are ambiguous now, should I really let my boyfriend continue to try to uproot his life for me? I know I need to communicate with him, but I don’t know what to say. I still love him a lot and we have so much in common, have visited each other’s family around the world, and are so invested in our relationship. I don’t want to blow it up due to impatience or a silly infatuation.
I desperately need your advice as my boyfriend is coming to visit in a couple weeks, and I want to address this then. — Fed Up in Limbo Land
For all the effort you’ve invested into making this long distance relationship work, you sure have glossed over a huge, glaring obstacle that almost ensures an eventual end point: he doesn’t want to get married and you do. Now, perhaps your reason for wanting marriage is simply to make being together easier and you aren’t, at the root, a “marriage person” either, but that doesn’t really matter. What matters is that your boyfriend is, apparently, anti-marriage (at least for himself) and, while there’s nothing wrong with that necessarily, it does speak to the difference in your values as well as to the commitment you have to your relationship.
There are many practical reasons people get married (and why EVERYONE should have the right to marry whom they love!): to have access to better health insurance plans; hospital visitation when there’s been an accident or illness; the right to make end-of-life decisions for a partner; taxation and inheritance rights; easier ability to adopt together; access to social security benefits; financial protection in case the relationship ends; and, of course, getting permanent residency in a partner’s home country. The fact that your boyfriend is so quick to reject all of these benefits — one of which would ensure your ability to actually be together, finally, in the same country — because he’s not a marriage person speaks VOLUMES about his true commitment to you (as does his seeming lack of interest in moving to the US; in several years together, he’s only just now started to entertain the idea of looking for work here? Hmm…).
The truth is, when you love someone and truly envision a future together and know in your heart you’re meant to be, you move heaven and earth to make it happen. Your boyfriend hasn’t even tried to move himself. And yet, you think you owe it to him to keep working at this relationship even though he’s done seemingly less work than you have? If either of you owes the other anything — and I don’t think you do — he owes you an apology for stringing you along for so many years when he’s not as committed to a future together as you are. He’s certainly not committed enough to marry you, and after several years together, and when marriage is one of the few ways you can actually BE legitimately together, that says something. He’s just not as committed as he needs to be for this relationship to work long-term.
I haven’t even mentioned your crush because it’s inconsequential. This is strictly about you and your boyfriend, and from your description you’ve run out of fight and he never had much to begin with. I say MOA. As difficult as it will be, pulling the plug now will be much easier than waiting months from now when your boyfriend finally admits to himself and to you that he doesn’t have any intention of moving to the US and he doesn’t have any intention of marrying you and, if that means you can’t be together, then oh, well. Do the sad good-byes now, before you start believing he’s actually looking for a job in the states only to be let down that he isn’t committed to that idea either.
If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at firstname.lastname@example.org.