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I've been with my boyfriend for appox. 16 months. I had a horrendous relationship prior to that that lasted two years which I should have left after about 6 weeks. I gave myself space afterwards, then dated on and off for about a year before meeting current bf. His relationship background is a ten year relationship in his 20s - that ended because she wanted marriage and children and he didn't want them in his 20s. He now says that he would have married her in his mid 30s if they had stayed together - funny that. Then the break up devastated him apparently, he went off to climb some mountain, lived like a hermit, then some years of short relationships that didn't last then met next gf. This was long distance for awhile and eventually she moved to UK to be with him. She was the one who had to push for that move throughout. They were together a year and she was living with him several weeks before he even told his family she existed. Met another of his exes this summer and found out that while they were dating she had also pursued this idea of moving to be with him and he wouldn't do it. Anyway this second serious relationship has him in his mid thirties. She moves in, they fight all the time (according to him) they get engaged because she wanted to and he ends it soon after. Within 6 months of her move to UK and moving in and getting engaged it's all over. Cue another mountain retreat, isolating himself for months and then after few years he meets me. Our relationship had been the best relationship I have had, he is attentive, supportive, kind, generous. I have never had trust issues with him. We spend weekends together, and a couple of days mid week alternating between his flat and mine. But telling his parents about me was a ridiculously big deal for him. He told his mother and I briefly met her - because I insisted about six months in - he only told his father about me last week which apparently really stressed him out. I should add that his parents by his own admission are lovely people who care deeply about him, he had a happy childhood etc etc. No abandonment issues there that I know of. His father's reaction was the same reaction he gives whenever he's told bf has a gf. He was thrilled. BF says that his parents' biggest fear is that he will end up alone. So yes there were a million warning signs there. 6 months ago I tell him I love him and he says he can't say it back, he doesn't know what that word means to him but that he thinks he shows me love so why does the word matter. He suggested we spend even more time together and see how it goes for a few months. We've done that and while it's fine of course it also feels like a trial, and increasingly I feel my own esteem and confidence ebbing away. We were on holiday this summer and I raised the issue of future, moving in together etc. I've only just bought a place myself so wasn't talking about tomorrow but it was a general where are we going conversation. He said he can't think about the future in concrete terms. Whatever the hell that means. But he will try. God I realise typing this how stupid it all sounds. Mortifying. Anyway he says yes he can see himself getting married, yes he sees me in his future but no he is not ready to move in. He likes to come across all vague and self help book when he's 'agonising' over future decision, thoughts and feelings but is very able to articulate when he doesn't want something, it's just no. The past few weeks have been tough, I'm feeling unsettled and increasingly unhappy and anxious. On Friday I said we needed space. He took this badly. Now he is 'thinking' and trying to get perspective. He says he's devastated and hurt that he's been 'working on' getting to the same place in the relationship that I am. Whatever that means. I have a wonderful supportive non judgemental friend who will call out this behaviour and challenge me and say 'but what does that actually mean!' She doesn't think he is a bad person but that he is behaving appallingly now. So since the first difficult conversation I have tried to be supportive, my friend says more than anyone should have to be, and patient. But I've read other threads here where people are simply saying walk away to similar situations. Yesterday he said he's been thinking but when questioned all he really is doing is naval gazing and self pity. He said he loves our relationship, that he's opened up to me more than any previous gf. That he cannot imagine his life without me now. That he wants to be able to move in with me but he is terrified of failure, that he knows it's illogical. He doesn't think he could cope if we moved in and the relationship failed. That he feels guilty and horrendous for hurting me, that he thought we were doing better because he had told his father about me and I was due to meet the two parents this week. He said he has always been committed to the relationship and believed it would work, hadn't envisaged the relationship ever hurting, that he has tried to make me happy, that he feels stuck now, that initially he found it very difficult to open up to me but it's been great, that he doesn't understand why moving in is such an issue for him, that it should feel natural and he wishes it was, that he hates that he found it so hard telling his father, that I've provided him with all the impetus to change and he's trying and he feels he's made progress but not enough. He tried counselling before but didn't stick with it and says he was afraid of dealing with things that might make him less happy. I have no idea what these things are he has always said his family is very loving. They lean heavily on him I do know that. Sorry this has been so long. I thought it might be helpful for me to write it all down for my own sanity.
That was hard to read without any paragraphs. The long and short of it is that he seems scared of commitment.
Some people are just like that and prefer relationships that remain as boyfriend and girlfriend forever. No cohabiting either as that's too much for them.
Does he have friends who are married? Has he witnessed relationship breakdowns a bit?
I wouldn't waste my time with him if you want a commitment.
Sounds like a hipster, writer wannabe. Tell him to get over himself & stop being a broody, miserable, joy sapper or he'll die alone.
Then go off into the sunset without him.
(My ex was like this & it grated on my tits. Thought it was cool to be so aloof & emotionally detached. I left him and now have a happier relationship where I know where I stand. He's since gotten engaged so I think he's sorted his act out thankfully!(
Sorry I can see now how that was a nightmare to read. Thank you nonetheless for taking the time to read it.
Yes he has seen unhappy relationships and break ups. He seems more bothered by the relationships that are unhappy and staying together despite their misery, rather than the divorces.
Stick to your guns, OP. You deserve someone who will commit to you, and this hand-wringing and equivocating is fucking insulting. If he wants you enough, he will come round and step up. Unfortunately it sounds like he has a history of not doing this and regretting it later, but you can't let that be your problem.
My first instinct is to say leave the guy as I've lived through what you have but then the second thought is... I see so many couples just "stick it out" together for years, the woman being the patient martyr (see William and Kate) and then the man eventually commits. It has never been my idea of perfect love (the fact my man would have to ponder for years before deciding I was the one not the most romantic) but yeah, I've seen this working for people countless of times and sometimes even worried if my rigid stance costed me some potentially great relationships. I think men like that can only really be "captured" either through waiting them out (though a little risky) or if you want t sure fire way then get pregnant and stick to your guns (looking at his behaviour he would probably initially tell you to get rid so you'd need to be strong, but guarantee he'd come around eventually.)
In hindsight I think we women are being fed this view that it is men who decide whether to commit to us when in real life we can have them very quickly committed for life - and if you know him enough and think he would be good long term then why not? Like I said there are literally millions of couples like that out there - first kids, then cohabitation for years then eventually the man realises the whole situation is the best thing that could have ever happened to him and after all the years starts posting lovey-dovy stuff on Facebook - oh my kid, my family blah blah.
Would it be so unfair? Well is it fair to sting someone along for years and waste their youth? I think not. And for men like him it seems the decision needs to be made for him.
You have said what you want and maybe you could tell him again clearly.
If he can find it in himself to have what, for most, is normal progression of a relationship, then you will stay.
It is unfair on his part to unload his fears, insecurities and commitment issues and expect you and your actions to allay them! He has to figure those out for himself.
Suggest he goes on another retreat and think about moving life forward instead of self-pity which I think is what he does when he does on those trips after relationship breakups.
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