QUESTION FROM A GREEK TRAGEDY READER: My boyfriend proposed to me two months ago. We have been living together for less than a year – and while he’s great, and I know he loves me unconditionally, I feel as though this isn’t right. I don’t think that he is a man that is mature enough for a marriage. Some of his friends don’t have jobs and have to borrow money from their parents to help pay rent. While I know this isn’t him, I can’t help but think it is a reflection of him. How do I tell someone who loves me I’m not ready to marry them?
I have questions of my own here: How old is he? How old are you? Did you say ‘yes’ two months ago when he got on bended knee? How long had you been dating before you moved in together? Do you think he’d be mature enough to get married if all his friends were married?
From what information I do have, from the six sentences above, it sounds like you’re making excuses. You’re looking for an out. It doesn’t sound as if you want, more than anything, to marry this man, except you feel you need reassurance that he’s mature enough to be making this next step. Not at all. What it sounds like is that you know it’s not right, at least not now (the next question will be, when will you be ready?), but you don’t know how to have your cake and eat it too.
Look at your actual question to me: How do I tell someone who loves me I’m not ready to marry them? Notice that you did not ask, "How do I tell someone whom I love deeply that I’m simply not ready to get married to him, or to anyone, and still preserve the relationship?"
How you handle this situation speaks to your strength of character. Disappointing people, having to tell people things you know they don’t want to hear, takes courage. And it has to be said definitively, clean. You need to know the answers before you begin the conversation. You need to sit in silence and ask yourself, your deepest part, if this is you sabotaging a good thing. Or if this is you, the deepest part of you, struggling to speak out, looking for any excuse to break out because this relationship simply isn’t right for you. Or maybe it’s the right man, but the timing is wrong. You wrote that you’re not ready to marry him which is different than not wanting to marry him. Not ready implies that you want to stay with him. I only want to caution you on this: many people I know stay in relationships, for many many years, waiting for some epiphany. They’re afraid of making a mistake so they keep things status quo as long as they possibly can before their partner threatens to leave. And with the fear of loss and regret governing their decisions, they decide, "Okay, fine. We made it this long. Guess we’ll get married." They set a wedding date a year out, then try to change it, then come up with excuses, trying to leverage more time, all the while hoping they have an epiphany, that something might happen to make them KNOW in their deepest self that this is what they want. And what I’m saying to you here is that you shouldn’t be engaged if you aren’t rip roaring ready to be married the very next day.
So to answer your question in the most direct way, how do you tell someone who loves you that you’re not ready to marry him? You tell him the truth, as soon as you know it. And you do it at home, without distractions. You should be clear on your WHYs. Even if your answers are, "I don’t know why. I wish I did. But something in me just knows I’m not ready." Though, quite honestly, I think that’s a pussy answer. I think you do know, and I think you owe it to the person you’re with, owe it to yourself, to come to terms with how you really feel.
GOT QUESTIONS? NEED ADVICE?
If you have questions or need advice on anything from where to eat to how to get over the bastard, just email your question to my advice email address. Nope, I’m not a shrink, but since people keep asking for my opinion, I might as well share it and air it, so everyone else can weigh in too.
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