He wants to take it further but I'm not sure I'm ready
Dear Dr. Pam,
I’ve been seeing a guy for 5 months and over the past couple of months it’s started to become a bit more serious. I really like him and we have an amazing time together. I’m 27 and he’s 31 and, although pretty much everything is great, there is one problem – I think he’s quite keen to settle down soon. It’s not that I never want to settle down, I might have kids one day but it’s not something I want to think about for another few years as I’m just not ready. What should I do? We haven’t discussed it properly as I’m scared we might break up. I just want to keep on enjoying this relationship...
Dear 'Keep on enjoying',
Right now there are many women out there screaming at your dilemma saying, 'Send him my way, I want a good man in my life and I'll make it permanent!' That said, I completely understand you feel – this is a really good relationship and your loving every minute but you're young and don't want all the responsibility that goes with settling down. Perhaps inside you see yourself having further relationships beyond him too?
There is, though, quite a problem with the way you're approaching this – you've taken on the role of 'mind-reader' at this point because you don't actually know what he's thinking! Yes, you probably have a good idea that at 31 he's ready to settle down. And yep, because things are hunky dory with you two you assume he wants to make it permanent with you.
But if you don't talk to him you won't know what he's really thinking. Maybe he feels exactly the same way you do. Maybe he has no intention of settling down with you for good. Your intuition says so but it's not always right even though it's usually a pretty good gauge.
Some people might say why worry about the ‘he wants to/you don't want to’ settle-down-issue until he brings it up? Many would just ignore this but obviously you've got a heart and a conscience and you want him to know how your feeling.
So here are a few tips to try:
- If you're having a conversation with him that could quite naturally lead to this subject then go for it. In this circumstance it's far better to grab an appropriate window than to force it by saying 'we need to have a conversation'. Saying that immediately puts someone on the defensive.
- And if things quite naturally lead you to ask him where he feels your relationship is going – keep it as simple as that. Too many people end up feeling awkward and start beating around the bush – that's when wires get crossed.
- If he proclaims everlasting love for you and sees you as being the mother of his children you still don't need to panic. This is the time for grown-up conversation and not for freaking out. Let him know – as you let me know – how much you love being in a relationship with him but you're not ready to make that decision.
- When you're honest like that it's up to him how he reacts – hopefully in a calm and confident way and not immediately breaking up with you. To be honest I can't see that happening anyway when you say things are so good between you unless he's harbouring an urgent need to settle down and perhaps start a family. In that case he may want to move on to a woman who's ready to share the sort of relationship he wants.
Final tip: If he says he wants 'more' but is happy to keep things as they are, don't end up in the guilt-trap. I hear from too many people who felt guilty they weren't giving a partner what the partner wanted – even when they'd been completely honest. He's a grown man and if he agrees to your terms than simply enjoy it. You've been honest and that's the best we can be in these cases.
Good luck with it, Dr Pam x
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