Dear Miss U,
My boyfriend and I have been dating for a while. The first year we didn’t really FaceTime that much, mostly because he was busy with work and college and I felt like he didn’t have time for me. Four years have gone by and nothing’s changed. I have been loyal and faithful. He has come and gone. The only thing we actually talked about is having kids together, getting dogs, and living together. My real question is: with being with someone for more than 4 years, with no ring and being completely clueless about my love for him, am I wasting my time? Should I end this relationship for someone who’s willing to commit?
A ring does not tell you someone is committed any more than a marriage certificate guarantees forever. Engagement isn’t your ticket to happily ever after. Some rocks and shiny metal aren’t going to step up for you when you’re at your worst or cheer for you at your best. This time-honored and most-coveted symbol can’t say to you any of the things you need to hear at this point in your life.
You know what will tell you he is committed? A measuring stick by which you can judge how far you’re going to make it together? Communication! The ability to talk to each other about everything and anything.
If you can’t tell him that engagement and marriage are important rituals you wish to partake in then you’re not ready for them anyway. If you can’t tell him how much he means to you, provide him with examples of the million ways you’ve dedicated yourself to your love for him in the last five years and gently but firmly tell him you need more from this relationship then maybe, just maybe, that’s why “nothing’s changed.”
In short: talk to the guy. About everything! Talk about who’s going to do what chores when you live together, about ways in which you can help each other achieve career goals, talk about owning property and how to achieve that (or just discuss if this is something either of you care about), talk about travel, and how you will raise your kids and what your family traditions might be. Talk about sex! Talk about what will happen if your libidos change, or one of you discovers kink in a big way. Talk about needs and expectations and world issues. Talk about immigration, refugees, environmentalism, feminism. Talk about how you will live the truth of who you are (be that a need for travel, or being close to family, or building an Earthship, or circumcising your son, or body building…) and what you bring to the relationship to strengthen it. Talk about everything. The more scared you are to talk about it, the more it probably needs to be said.
Lastly: marriage is, at its heart, a contract. It’s a legal institution. Before you start trawling google images for the kind of engagement ring you want, start hashing out the kind of marriage you want and make sure it aligns with the kind of marriage he thinks he is signing up for.
You’re only 19. I know it feels like you’ve been with him since the Stone Age but in reality, you’ve only just made it to adulthood. It’s quite possible he hasn’t even considered engagement at this point because there are so many other things on his mind. That doesn’t mean he doesn’t care about you. It doesn’t mean he isn’t committed or that he doesn’t envision a future with you. Maybe he doesn’t, maybe you are wasting your time, but a stranger on the internet can’t tell you that; only he can.
So tell him you’re seriously serious about this relationship and you want to put all your eggs in his basket. Ask him what he thinks and feels about that, and his response (or lack thereof) will give you the information you need to proceed.
Dear Miss U,
So I’ve been with my girlfriend for 2 months now, and this is my first LDR. We text every day, we skype, call, play games and plenty of things. We constantly have each other on our minds, and I have never been so happy. I believe I truly love her, but sometimes there is just nothing to do. We talk for 5 minutes about our day, and then there is just silence. I live in the UK, she lives in California so we make time for each other despite the 8-hour gap. I look forward to the moment I hear her voice again, but I just don’t know what we can do. I’m an anxious person anyways, and I’ve never been so scared of losing someone before, despite our relationship being new and strong. I know we are both young, and this may not be serious to others, but I know where my heart is.
Thanks for any help.
I know she is the one.
You’re normal. This is normal.
Think about older couples you know. Maybe you have parents or grandparents, or siblings who are dating. When they are with their partner, are they always in constant conversation? Of course not. Sometimes they just hang out and watch TV, or they play a game, or they clean the house together. Sometimes they are in the same room but doing completely separate things, only speaking when a thought occurs or they need something to be passed over.
A common misconception is that you can’t have this companionable silence in long distance relationships, you must always be talking. That’s not true. You can still be together (on Skype) and doing separate things some of the time. You can still do things together that are not talking, too. Read her your favorite book. Choose an online game that you only play together (or make characters together in a game you already play, so you stay the same level), Do fun things together and don’t be afraid to get creative!
Books of questions are also your new best friend. Get a book of questions and ask one if the conversation starts to die.
You’ve got this!