Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“My Long Distance Foreign Boyfriend Doesn’t Want to Get Married”

From the forums:

no-marriage-single-life

I’m in my mid-20s and met my long distance boyfriend a few years ago in his home country in Europe when I was studying abroad as a college student. I’ve never fallen as hard as I did for him — he is sweet, hilarious, cultured, and also loves me so, so much. My semester abroad was over after a few months, so we did long distance until I graduated. Then, I moved to his country to find a job. Since I am American, I would have had to be sponsored by an employer for a visa to work there, and it just wasn’t going to happen. After a few months and countless interviews that led nowhere, I moved back to the US.

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.

***************

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34 comments… add one
  • Fabelle

    Fabelle October 1, 2013, 9:08 am

    Ooh, I was just reading this in the forums & the OP buried the lede so deep that I didn’t even notice the “I’m not a marrying man” bit. So yeah, WWS. And even without that, I’d move on. It seems like you’ve already emotionally moved on— & I’m not talking about the crush, even, just the “it’s a chore to talk to him” thing— but you want to cling out of a desire to make sure this all was worth it? Don’t cling, & then realize when he moves to you that you’re not into it anymore. This is the perfect time to cut ties.

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  • avatar

    SasLinna October 1, 2013, 9:26 am

    I would say I’m not a “marriage person”. But if getting married were necessary to be able to live with my partner? Of course I would marry him. There’s something really odd about giving priority to an ideological stance over, you know, actually being with the person you love. Perfect advice, Wendy!

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  • avatar

    GatorGirl October 1, 2013, 9:26 am

    “To be brutally honest, it sometimes feels like a chore.”

    WTF, break up! What? Ugh.

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    • avatar

      GatorGirl October 1, 2013, 9:36 am

      So actual thoughts- you guys want different things in life (marriage), live on different continents, and you’re completely disinterested. It is time to let this relationship go. Long distance is hard, really hard but in the 3 years we where long distance I never ever thought my relationship was a chore or became disinterested. It’s a really big red flag that you use that kind of language to describe your relationship.

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      • othy

        othy October 1, 2013, 10:24 am

        WGGS. Even in a long distance relationship, you should never feel like it is a chore.

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      • avatar

        lets_be_honest October 1, 2013, 10:27 am

        Well, we had an LW in the forums a few months ago that said sometimes she’s just doing her own thing and doesn’t necessarily want to Skype every night, and everyone said they understood that.

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      • avatar

        GatorGirl October 1, 2013, 10:41 am

        I think the two are different. Like needing time with out being attached to a computer to have your own life/friends/hobbies, and calling your relationship a chore are pretty different, IMO.

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      • avatar

        lets_be_honest October 1, 2013, 10:58 am

        Yea, I guess you’re right.

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  • avatar

    bethany October 1, 2013, 9:27 am

    You two want different things. MOA. That’s really what it boils down to.

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  • avatar

    SasLinna October 1, 2013, 9:32 am

    Psychologically, I think what may be going on here is that even though this LW is pretty much over the relationship by now, she can’t let go because now the guy has finally expressed an interest in moving to the US. Like, she really wanted him to commit, he never did, now she’s grown resentful and is over it, but – zading – just as she wants to pull the plug he suddenly says he wants to move and “maybe” marry.

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    • Kate B.

      Kate B. October 1, 2013, 10:22 am

      Sounds like a ploy to keep her around. He likes things just the way they are. Or maybe he’s suddenly realized he needs a green card.

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      • avatar

        SasLinna October 1, 2013, 10:28 am

        At the very least, it becomes very difficult to distinguish a real commitment to a shared future from last-minute attempts to save the relationship once you’ve reached this stage.

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      • Cara

        Cara October 1, 2013, 12:53 pm

        Seems like he could live and work in the US anyway, from OP’s discription. Apart fromt he fact that he doesn’t really seem to WANT that. Not everyone wants to live in the US, and even if: With a good educational background it’s not that hard to go.

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    • avatar

      lets_be_honest October 1, 2013, 10:26 am

      This comment reminded me of a case of the “wins.” Maybe she’s suffering from that. Once she “wins” by getting him to move and commit, maybe she will REALLY be over him since she sounds like she’s on the way to that already.
      Anyone ever experience this? A guy or girl who plays hard to get, and then you finally win them over and all of a sudden you’re over him/her?

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      • avatar

        SasLinna October 1, 2013, 10:35 am

        Hmm, I think her commitment to this guy was real, unlike in the “winning” scenario where the assumption would be she never really wanted him? IMO she did really want to be with him, but then she noticed he’s not not really all that committed, and that’s when she sorta gave up, but she may still have a lingering disappointment that he wasn’t ready to make the commitment.

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      • avatar

        lets_be_honest October 1, 2013, 11:00 am

        Yea, I’m not all that convinced she’s trying to win. But it does say something that she’s pretty much all but given up and now that he’s showing a thread of hope, she’s latching onto it.

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      • avatar

        eljay October 1, 2013, 10:39 am

        Not only have I experienced it, I’m living it! Ugh, story of my life. I know, I need therapy. 🙂

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      • avatar

        lets_be_honest October 1, 2013, 11:01 am

        Hey, at least you like to be a winner in life 🙂

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      • avatar

        eljay October 1, 2013, 11:16 am

        Haha! Damn straight!

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      • iwannatalktosampson

        iwannatalktosampson October 1, 2013, 11:16 am

        Life is all about winning and keeping score.

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  • avatar

    kerrycontrary October 1, 2013, 9:48 am

    Just move on. I promise that you can find someone here in the US. Well, not promise, but chances are this guy is not the ONLY man out there for you. You’re young. Take away all of the wonderful experiences you had living abroad, and living with this man, and move on with your life.

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  • avatar

    Taylor October 1, 2013, 10:29 am

    Question for you LW – does he not want to get married bc he’s from a culture that people don’t get married as much in? Or is he against the commitment? The Dutch folks I know are often in committed, kid having, lifelong relationships, but the “getting married” part is seen as somewhat outdated, and not necessary for establishing the commitment.

    There’s a lot of other good points in the comments, but that’s my $0.02 input.

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    • avatar

      Nadine October 1, 2013, 10:41 am

      I totally get the ideological opposition to marriage – all power to people to feel their feelings – but in this case, its the means for them to actually be together, to ‘establish the commitment’, so yeah. Doesn’t pan out.

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      • avatar

        BreezyAM October 1, 2013, 10:47 am

        When I was in a similar situation with a man who ranted and raved about the patriarchal institution of marriage…

        We got married. By his choice. Not my bugging. It was just the logical sensible choice to achieve our goal.

        I know I’m always the cynical one but I think this guy likes having a young american girl to have sex with a few times a year and fawn on him and never had any intention of actually doing squat to really be together. Or yeah, he just finally noticed oh shit maybe this isn’t a sure thing after all and is finally hustling a bit and um, she’s over it!

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  • lemongrass

    Lemongrass October 1, 2013, 10:46 am

    You shouldn’t stay with your boyfriend because he’s ‘close enough.’ Sure you might be able to make this work for a few more years but eventually it is going to boil down to the deeper issues you two have. You don’t have to let it get that far before you break up. Do it now while you can still have fond memories.

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  • avatar

    Lucy October 1, 2013, 10:54 am

    WEES. Move on yesterday. You can do better.

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  • landygirl

    landygirl October 1, 2013, 10:58 am

    I used to be in an LDR with a guy who said he didn’t want to get married. He eventually dumped me for a different LDR only he moved to be with her and eventually married her. Save yourself the pain and just move on, you’ll both be happier eventually. Also, date someone in your own area code next time.

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    • Kate B.

      Kate B. October 1, 2013, 11:28 am

      Man, this happens a lot. It’s not that they don’t want to get married. They don’t want to get married to YOU. Ouch. Been there.

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      • landygirl

        landygirl October 1, 2013, 11:38 am

        Funny, his getting married to someone else didn’t really bother me as much as his moving to be with her. It was far easier for him because they were both employed at the same company so it was easier for him to find work where she lived. He would have had a difficult time finding work here. I have no ill feelings towards him and wound up getting married before he did.

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  • fast eddie

    fast eddie October 1, 2013, 10:22 am

    From the BF’s perspective he’s facing a choice of leaving his home, family and job for an unknown situation with you demanding marriage. That’s an all-or-nothing plus heavy penalties if it doesn’t work out. The LW could/should let him MOA and pursue other options that are far less riskier and more beneficial.

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    • avatar

      rieux October 1, 2013, 10:27 am

      That’s what she was facing, too, except worse: IF she had found a job, she’d be leaving her home and family for an unknown situation with someone who WON’T marry her.

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    • avatar

      RCG July 7, 2014, 1:21 am

      Actually, she already moved to HIS country a couple of times, and already left her home, family, and job for an unknown situation with him more than ONCE. She already did that more than once, I think it’s quite reasonable that after a while she would expect marriage. I agree with you though, she should MOA and pursue HERSELF something less riskier and more beneficial.

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  • avatar

    Sophronisba October 1, 2013, 11:30 am

    It’s probably better not to interpret your boyfriend’s point of view and committment level without getting his input on the subject. It sounds like a frank conversation about where each of you stand and how you see the future playing out is long overdue. Just like moving in together to save rent is no reason, marrying for a visa is no reason either, btw.

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  • avatar

    schwinny October 2, 2013, 1:13 pm

    Regarding the relationship issues, WWS x 100. Marriage is often the only way mixed country relationships can work. If he is automatically ruling it out, think very carefully about what he is saying to you.

    Regarding the immigration issues, it is complicated for both of you. Immigration to the US is complicated. There are a limited number of visas every year and those are usually gone within a few days of the pool opening for the year. Assuming your boyfriend could find a job with a company willing to sponsor him, they (he and the company) must be successful getting the visa from the Fed. It is not a simple option any more regardless of his skills.

    In the other direction, you may have similar issues depending on the country. One compromise, if both of you have high-value skills, is for both of you to pick up and move to Australia. Find a job with a company willing to sponsor you, or demonstrate enough points on their skills/experience scale to immigrate independently. The burdens are not usually so high, especially if you work in an occupation that is in demand in Australia and/or you are young. I have a number of friends from different countries who have done that successfully in the past few years. The window is closing but not as quickly as other countries.

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