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I've finally admitted the truth to my boyfriend today - that I'm not ready to be engaged. He asked me a few months ago, and at the time I said "well, ok, yeah but I don't want to make a big deal about it, no ring needed, etc." Then he asked if that was a yes, and I said yes, although I think I said it because I was too afraid to say I wasn't ready yet.

We have a good relationship, we're best friends, have good communication most of the time, help each other, have fun together, love, respect, and appreciate each other. I can definitely see myself having kids with him and building a life together in the future. We've been together for 1.5 yrs already, more than a year living together.

Ever since his proposal I've had this nagging feeling that something's not right because I'm not at all excited about being engaged, I don't express enthusiasm when I tell people about it, and I'm not having any fanciful thoughts about how our wedding will be, other than that I hope it doesn't cost too much money so we'll have enough to go on the big trip we've been planning.

At the same time, I am sort of panicking inside feeling like I'll never be free again, and I'll never be able to realize my dream of traveling the world for several months on my own, completely free and open to whatever comes along. I feel like there are experiences I want in my life which I haven't had yet and I won't have if we get married. Also, the thought of only being able to sleep with one person for the rest of my life freaks me out. In short, it's pretty obvious that I'm not really ready for this kind of commitment.

Of course my bf is not too happy about this. He feels like I lied to him, and I guess I did. I've been skirting the issue for a while now, talking about my fear of commitment and how I don't want to give up on my dreams - if we get married, the next step will be me going to study for a PhD and basically both of us settling down into a career, then having kids in a few years (BTW I'm 27 and he's 31). Today I finally admitted the whole truth about how I'm feeling and he basically gave me an ultimatum - either we're getting married or there's no point of us staying together and him wasting his time staying with me only for me to decide I don't want to be with him. If I want to travel, it's either us separating and me going it alone and then seeing if he wants to get back together, OR getting married and then traveling.

I don't know what to do now. We're living together and will be at least until May, after that it's time to decide what's next.

Does anyone have any advice for me?

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I think your boyfriend was right to say that he feels you should commit to him or not. And I can understand why he feels misled.


The basic rule of thumb is that if you are unsure about getting married - then you should not marry. I am sure you love him - but it is apparent that you do not love him enough and it is too risky to proceed with the engagement and marriage hoping that your love for him will become stronger.


Answer this question for yourself: if he broke up with you would you feel more miserable or more relieved? You might well feel both emotions - but which would be the stronger.


If you do decide that you don't wish to marry him then I think you should not live with him any longer. That would be very hard on him - after all, he has done nothing wrong but love you and he doesn't deserve to be hurt any more than he has to be.

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Here is what I would do - if he would agree to this. Move out - not in May, now - it's only money that's required to live in a new place. Tell him that you will not date other people (and he shouldn't either although of course this is up to him) and that you will not be in contact with him at all and vice versa. After three months, see if you miss him, how much you miss him and whether you can imagine life without him and what that would be like. If sooner than that you realize he is the person you want to spend the rest of your life with, and that you are ready to get married now, yes, contact him but that should not be sooner than a month - you really need to see what life is like without him and while you may miss him a lot the first two weeks you are apart that might just be because you miss being a couple, and the routine, etc.


I would not get back together unless you are willing to set a firm wedding date within a few months from then.


As far as lack of enthusiasm about planning the wedding, etc I just wanted to note that I have known many women over the last 15 years plus (I am 40) who are thrilled to be getting married and are thrilled about planning the wedding - everything is so enthusiastic, but they will never tell you that they really aren't thrilled to be marrying that particular person - they are just excited about the big party and the status of being married.


So, also consider whether planning the party part makes it worse for you - increases the stress or the anxiety and if so, take a stand and decide to elope or have an immediate family only wedding and then take that trip.

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Batya's advice may be the answer - I have heard similar from radio advice personalities. But there is a risk that, even if he agrees to it in the first place, it may serve to drive him away from you during the time you are apart. You may ask him to comply with such a request but he is under little or no obligation to comply - rationally or emotionally.


I cannot say how he would feel, but I would already have doubts about marrying you if you were to commit now and taking time apart may be the final straw for him.


Any relationship needs to be balanced. Yours is already unbalanced and it may be very difficult to correct that. Although you cannot quantify love on a scale and measure one against the other it becomes apparent if one person loves the other significantly more - especially if one person is reluctant or unwilling to commit.


In other words - you have already damaged the relationship - be careful of damaging it beyond repair if you do decide that you want him after all.

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I thought ultimatums were a bad thing and only led to a sure break up and resentment? I notice most people advise against a woman giving a man an ultimatum about marriage?


They can be counter-productive it is true but sometimes there is little reasonable alternative other than waiting for a proposal that never comes. But in this case the proposal was made and accepted - and it is very damaging to a relationship when someone changes their mind about an engagement.

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This man is 31 years old and I'm sure he doesn't want to be wasting time with someone who may never want to marry him. At the same time though, if you are feeling nothing but pressure about the idea of marriage then you are definitely not ready. If you were to go ahead and get engaged and set the date etc. It would be more because there wasn't any other choice, rather than because YOU really wanted to.

I agree with the idea of taking a break. Time and space can give you a whole new perspective on things and sometimes you don't realize what you have until its gone.

Or if it turns out that you are happier being on your own, then obviously it wasn't meant to be.

I was in a similar situation a few years ago, and there was no way I was going to let myself be pressured into having a big engagement party. And yes we did break up but it was for the best.

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I agree with the idea of taking a break. Time and space can give you a whole new perspective on things and sometimes you don't realize what you have until its gone.

I must reiterate that although this may work you must not assume that he will be content to wait until whatever time you decide you want him back (or choose to move on). If you do decide you want him back he may be gone for good. By all means take the risk - but realise that it is a risk. He is under no obligation whatsoever to comply with what you want and it will not mean that he does not love you enough if he chooses to move on without you.


Whatever you choose to do now involves risk but you should remember that he has choices as well.

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DN's advice - particularly this last post - is excellent. I know of happy/stable marriages that occurred after ultimatums but I am not suggesting a true ultimatum here.


I also agree it is a little different where the proposal was accepted rather than never accepted.


Also, consider this - are you truly willing not to date anyone or be involved with anyone for 3 months? Or is one reason you want to be free is so you can see what else is out there?


Also explore why for you marriage is a more serious commitment than living together - I am not saying it is or it isn't but explore what the difference would be for you.

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Relationships are about trust, and about communication. It's good that you have communicated your concerns to your boyfriend/fiance. The reality is that you have a man in front of you that wants to marry you and spend the rest of his life with you.


If you are not ready for that, do not go on any further. There is nothing worse than being lead on and thinking that you are committing your life, your heart, and your soul to someone that has serious questions about it.


I think you should probably move out now. Stay with a friend or family. People that are not ready to get married should not. You don't want to live life with regrets. I would suggest maybe going to counseling and really try and get to the bottom of your fears and concerns before you go any further. It's natural to have fears that once you get married, that's it. Marriage should be viewed as a beginning, not an end. Life does not end when you say "I do", it's just the beginning...


I went through something similar where I was was on his side of the house. We went through the entire process of planning our wedding and were 3 weeks from it when she finally came out and said she was not ready and thought we should postpone it. It would have been much easier to break things off much earlier in the process on both of us.


I hold a lot of resentment, but I appreciate her ultimate honesty and did not wait until the day of the wedding, or 6 months to a year later to state that she made a mistake.


Either way, he is going to be hurt, but you should clear this up as soon as possible.

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I should have suggested this in my first post - there is a great book called "What No One Tells the Bride" that has a candid straightforward discussion about how to figure out the source of your fears, what is "normal," etc. It is not at all preachy or "psychobabble" - at the very least it may get you thinking rather than focusing on your panic or anxiety. It was written in the late 1990s I think but you can find it online I am sure.

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Hi chapluga, this is certainly not a fun place to be.


I was in a similar situation last year, and I found that the more I thought about it the messier and more loaded it all became. I had middle of the night panics and was quite ambivalent/fearful of the wedding.


I think everyone has raised good points, but the one I agree with the most is Batya's last suggestion. I don't know this particular book, but I do wholeheartedly agree with you seeking this kind of assistance, and using these sorts of books as tools to help you either unpick the source of your worry and address/resolve it, or at least feel better about things.


I have to say that when I had my uncertainties there was no way I'd take a break, even though objectively I agree that would be sensible. I do see where he might be coming from, but I also question whether you and your guy really understand where your fears are coming from, and what are your beliefs about marriage.


I do not agree that "if there's doubt don't marry". I think the issue is what type of doubt and how much there is. How can there NOT be doubt of some form? My god, we are talking about "the rest of your life", what can be more confronting? Most of us cannot even get our heads around our own mortality, let alone where we'll be in 5 years, next year or next month. If you focus on "the rest of my life" it may well terrify you out of what might be your perfect relationship.


I can go on for ages and run the risk of doing a usual me and overdoing my post, so I won't. Ask me if there's anything I can suggest, or if there's anything you would like me to mention, and I will. But basically, believe me that I was exactly where you say you are right now, and I had the same fears. I also went ahead with the wedding, made it go according to what I wanted, and had a great day. I do not regret my move to marry my husband at all, and have put aside almost all my fears. It actually gets much easier to face.


Now maybe you are really having greater doubts than me, how can we ever objectively compare? But I am asking you to test your feelings and your fears as much as possible. Remember that marrying your best friend does not have to be about giving things up, but is about creating that team, that support structure, that enables you to achieve what you want in life. Yes it does involve some compromise, but in your fear you may be overstating that compromise.


The two books that helped me were:

- Can't remember! It's at home, but I can grab it and advise if you want. It's about commitment, and reading it changed my mind about my own commitment issues.

- "Lies at the altar" - helps you unpick the values that you both have, and the degree of alignment

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Caro33- I've heard great things about lies at the altar but haven't read it.


I wanted to echo what Caro33 said - I think people are too quick to throw around black and white terms about the huge commitment that is marriage as in "you have to be 100% sure" he has to be your dream man, you have to be on cloud nine - all those have tos and shoulds. . . . what I have seen is women bury their doubts in getting nutso over wedding planning - it's easier to freak out about the color scheme or your bridesmaids looking good (but not that good, lol) in a dress than whether you want to marry this particular guy. Good for you for not doing that!


I have seen women who were 100% sure and excited get divorced over exactly the same issues they swept under the rug while engaged, and women who were brave enough to admit to certain doubts who are now happily married. Caro33's advice is sound - while yes it would be GREAT to have no doubts - to "just know" it is "right" - the real challenge is to examine your doubts and get to the bottom of them.


Which reminds me that Judith Sills A Fine Romance has a helpful chapter on doubts while engaged.


Look, your fiance deserves to be marrying someone who is excited to be marrying him, right? Just because you have doubts doesn't mean you cannot get to the bottom of them and let the excitement shine through. The true excitement that you are marrying him - not the excitement that you get to wear a pretty dress and spend thousands of dollars per hour for about five hours.

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Yes, right on re the wedding sometimes being the issue, not the marriage. I think many people get carried away with the wedding rather than thinking about the marriage and what that means. If more people thought about the realities and the importance of their commitment rather than the extravagance of their party, I bet there would be much less claptrap about true romance taking over, and many fewer weddings.


I too was not one of those women who looks forward to the "big day". The wedding industry is filled with so much BS, as well as downright disheartening messages about "the best day of your life" (what happens after that?). Some people would have you think you are being doubtful about the marriage when in fact you are just pushing back on which colour your dress is, whether to have calamari or fish balls at the reception, and whether your father gives you away. That stuff can be worked around. You don't have to care about any of other people's tradition if you don't want to. It's only really about getting together the people who love/value you so they can witness your commitment to make a life together as a couple.


I was mildy negative and fearful about the wedding until a couple of days before it happened. All those people squeaking with joy and wanting to graft their perfect idea of a wedding onto your experience can get draining and depressing. It can make you doubt whether you love the man "enough". I hate frou frou and rituals, and hate being the centre of attention, so I squirmed through most conversations about it. My then-fiance knew how much I loved him, and I was grateful that he didn't judge me too harshly for being uncomfortable.


Chapluga, can you see yourself without him? Is that appealing at all? And I mean in the most basic sense - strip away your preconceptions about what being married is, or what limitations it imposes. Also imagine yourself past the heartbreak and just living life. Imagine yourself in six months time, having broken up. What does that look like to you?

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I cancelled a wedding 10 years ago. The funniest conversation I had re: the BS of the wedding industry was the following. I was cold-called by a videographer:


Videographer: Imagine this, it's 20 years from now and you can watch the video and see your grandmother dancing.

Me: Yes, well, my grandmother is dead. Thanks for calling. [click]

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I cancelled a wedding 10 years ago. The funniest conversation I had re: the BS of the wedding industry was the following. I was cold-called by a videographer:


Videographer: Imagine this, it's 20 years from now and you can watch the video and see your grandmother dancing.

Me: Yes, well, my grandmother is dead. Thanks for calling. [click]


The power of video hey!

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I agree with others that this is often a feeling that both men and women get, but they brush it under the rug, or pass it off as cold feet, or just feel they are being selfish and all sorts of other things.


Of course that nervousness is normal; and depending on your relationship, your life experience and your expectations of marriage it can be more or less present. Before the actual reality occurs (i.e. the proposal) a lot of time women spend their time just wondering when it will come, then when it does, the reality hits!


I am not sure of your relationship dynamic, but marriage certainly should not mean an "end", and as a couple it is up to the two of you to determine your life course. I know plenty of married friends whom still pursue their dreams - be they educational, or travel, or athletic pursuits, or their other passions. Many of them do so with children. But I think a lot depends on your partnership and support for one another.


I think you need to really get to the bottom of your fears, and figure out where they are coming from and whether they are truly serious fears about him and you together or are they fears of the "forever" in general, and about what you "expect" to happen if you are married?


I do agree though that if you do decide that you cannot go through with it, it is better to decide this as early as possible; and yes move on for the both of you because undoubtedly that would be painful for him, and ultimately not a healthy situation for either of you.

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I am in a situation that is so similar to yours that I actually question if you are not my fiance posed as a woman. If you had joined today rather than yesterday I would feel it was true, but I do not so....


As a person in the situation that your fiance is in I can only tell you what I wish had happened. We had a un-planned pregnancy, I had an appoitment scheduled for an abortion. He came to my house and told me that he "wanted me" I asked, "well, what if we lose the baby or something? I do not want you to be with me only because I am pregnant."


He assured me that no, he wanted to be with me no matter what.


Since then, we have looped over and over again. I have lost my home, career, friends, portions of my identity as well as my sanity.


Now, do NOT get me wrong. I love my baby that was born from this but still, I wish I had ended it back then and not allowed myself to believe what I knew in my heart was not true. I wanted to believe that he really wanted me and was excited.


Well, he is excited now. Only because he realizes that he may lose all. This does not feel as good as having someone really love you, be IN love with you.


I would rather be alone. (Better to be alone than wish you were)


I am much older now and I imagine that if this relationship does not survive than I will make a choice to be alone.


Your fiance clearly wants to be in a long term relationship. There is nothing wrong with this, you just want diffrent things right now.




If you are meant to be together, then it will still be there after you have done the things you need to do for your self. End it, travel...do what you need to. When you feel that you want to be in a settled long term relationship, then proceed.


I was more than happy being single when I met my current partner. Now, i wish I had stayed that way, not lost my freedom and/or financial security.


Do your finace a favor,let him go now before your situation becomes more complex like mine (house, kids, money etc)


You will be doing him a favor and yourself. It will hurt and be dis-orienting for a while. I suggest you plan a trip before telling him, that way you have something positive to focus on and devote energy into researching rather than questioning your decision.


Please, take it or leave it. I am only telling you what I wish had happened in my situation.


best of luck. Stay strong, you sound like a strong healthy self aware person.

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