Post # 1
My boyfriend and I have been together for about 1.5 years, living together for about 7 months, have a dog together. We’re both in our late twenties. When we started dating, he told me (unprompted) that he wasn’t trying to waste my time and that he only wanted us to be together if we both saw it working out long-term. Anyway, since then, things have gone really well and we’ve talked a bit about getting married and having kids and agreed that these are things that we want to do together. (yay!) We have a little bit of a built-in timeline because I have the BRCA-1 mutation. My doctor has told me that, ideally, I should be done having kids by 35 so that I can have a full oopherectomy/hysterectomy to reduce my risk of cancer. Neither of us are in a rush to have kids, but we both want to have at least two kids and so that doesn’t leave us a TON of time to start thinking about engagement/marriage/kids, etc.
The other day, we were having a conversation about some of our friends starting families (i.e. having kids) and he said something along the lines of “I need at least two more years to be an idiot before I can think about that”. I laughed and didn’t think much of it at the time. Since then though, I’ve started to wonder if he meant two more years of being an idiot before having kids or two more years before “starting a family” as in getting engaged and getting married.
I am more than okay with the first scenario. In fact, I wouldn’t mind waiting more like three to four years to have kids. But, I don’t really want to wait two more years to engaged. He’s finishing up school right now and we’re planning a cross country move so I don’t see an engagement happening in the next six months, but I’d like it to happen around a year from now (in a perfect world). That would put us both at around 30 at the time of our wedding and give us a year or two to enjoy being married before having kids.
So basically, I’m in a position where I just need to get clarification on what his timeline is. I know it’s no big deal, but I still feel weirdly nervous about bringing it up. All of our other conversations have happened naturally or have been brought up by him so I’ve never really had to think about it before. I just don’t want him to feel like I’m demanding a proposal or putting him on the spot.
One of my friends suggested asking about a general timeline “where do you see yourself in three years? career, house, family, etc?” which is what I’m currently thinking about doing, but I’m open to other ideas.
How did you bring up specific timelines with your SO? Were you blunt? Did you send out subtle or not so subtle hints? Did an external factor force you to discuss a timeline?
Post # 2
charleysgirl : I would essentially repeat your post to him verbatim. You laid it out clearly and your logic is sound – you aren’t nagging, you’re trying to get clarity and you both sound mature enough to just lay things out. As for your question of bringing it up to him – you don’t have to be wishy washy about it. Just bring it up and say, “Hey XX, there’s something that’s been in the back of my mind lately and I just really want to talk to you about it. Is now a good time?” and sit down and talk. Maybe just bring up the “two years to be an idiot” thing for clarity and just explain that you’re happy right now and just want to be on the same page/be a team, especially through your upcoming move?
Your friend also has a good idea – that “where do you see yoruself in three years” question is a good way to bring it up, but it kind of leads to a possibility you might not like the answer. I would just bring it up to him (even though it’s kind of hard to initiate because it’s grown up talk!) and be clear about what you are looking for and that you want him to be there with you, and you can compromise, but you just want to be on the same page.
Post # 3
I would just sit down and say “hey I’ve been thinking about our future and would love to discuss a timeline so we can make sure we’re on the right track” or something like that. You have very logical reasons for your timeline and it seems like he’d be understanding. I’d just outline your reasons and ask if he’s in line with what you think or if he has concerns about it. I would be wary of the “where do you see yourself in three years” questions because like PP said, you may not get the answer you want. It may be too generic to make you feel at ease so I think the best bet is to ask him straight up and be clear about what you’d like to happen.
Post # 4
Posts like this always puzzle me. Say all of what you wrote above to him and Voila! You’ll have an answer.
Post # 5
charleysgirl : I know it seems like a simple thing to bring up, but I’m in the same boat as you as far as thinking of a way to bring it up. It’s a relatively straight-forward topic, and even if communicating other things has always been a breeze, bringing up THE TALK feels so daunting! Everyone makes it seem like a drop in the bucket to bring it up, but the time leading up to it sure doesn’t feel that way.
Sorry that I don’t have any advice to give, but I’m empathizing with you on a very deep level right now lol
Post # 6
These posts baffle me as well.
OP, you want to spend the rest of your life with this man. He ought to be the one person on the planet you feel like you can talk to about anything, especially your shared future.
You and the other 12,437 waiting Bees who are worried about putting too much “pressure” are under the mistaken belief that these men are fragile hothouse orchids that will wilt at the slightest variation in relationship temperature.
If you’re not using a loaded gun or remotely controlled explosive device, you’re not pressuring him. In your situation, you especially have to take care of yourself.
Have a direct, open conversation. The words don’t matter, the feelings do.
Post # 8
A simple, “when do you see us getting engaged and married?” will do. You’ve already discussed this stuff generally so I don’t see how this will scare him off or pressure him.
I brought it up before we moved in together because I wanted to make sure we were on the same page. We’d discussed marriage & kids vaguely but I wanted to be sure we actually had compatible timelines before we combined our lives, and I wasn’t interested in living together for years and years without a commitment. You two already live together AND you’re planning a cross country move, so I think it’s more than time to have this conversation.
Post # 8
sassy411 : I think I love you.
charleysgirl : Listen to sassy411. The idea of having the conversation is so much scarier than it actually is. In my case, it came up pretty organically. My now husband talked about us moving in together and I said I didn’t want to be a forever girlfriend, sitting around years waiting for a proposal. We came up with a timeline that worked for us and he proposed way sooner than I expected him to.
None of us know if your boyfriend wants to be an idiot for 2 more years and get engaged then, or get engaged sooner. Only he can answer that. Since this conversation already came up and you’re planning a cross country move, bring it up again. Tell him exactly what you told us. You’re not being pushy for wanting a say in YOUR future, and if he gets all sweaty and hemming and hawing about giving you answers, then that IS your answer.
Post # 10
sassy411 : sorry if this is totally spamming you—my comment refuses to post so I’m trying one last time lol
I see you saying this a lot. I don’t think, in most cases, it’s about feeling like you’re “pressuring” a man into something. I think it’s more so a combination of wishing you didn’t have to bring it up at all (because in a perfect world he’d be the one to bring it up and you get out of it lol), feeling nervous that your timelines don’t mesh, and wondering how the other person will react to the proposal of the topic. When you’re talking about the rest of your life, it can be a bit nerve-wracking once you face the fact that the other person may not currently be on your same wavelength.
Throughout our lives, girls are conditioned to think that men can’t wait to drop on one knee and run to the altar, but once you start to adult you realize that this is seldom the case. You realize that things don’t always just happen organically like that, and oftentimes you have to be a grown up and face reality that you may have to take the lead. With that, you could potentially be facing rejection (which no one likes, and would likely come in the form of an “I’m not ready yet”).
Does this make any sense?
Post # 11
tobeornottobe7 : I understand what you’re saying and like I said in my post, I rationally know that it’s no big deal, but I still feel nervous about it for some reason. I know it’s illogical!
Post # 12
sassy411 : Hi! Thanks for the feedback! However, I think maybe you misunderstand my concerns a little bit. I’m not worried about pressuring my boyfriend into marrying me and I don’t feel the need to treat him like a “hothouse orchid”. He’s already made it clear that he plans to marry me and we’ve discussed many aspects of our future already. I think azf0019 actually described my concerns perfectly. I have more anxiety about starting a conversation that could potentially be difficult if we’re not actually on the same page regarding timelines. Like azf0019 said, this is a conversation about the rest of our lives and I don’t know, maybe I’m pathetic, but I’m a little bit anxious about initiating it.
Post # 13
redmango : Thank you for your response! You’re absolutely right! The anticipation is usually worse than the actual conversation. I know this logically in my head but it doesn’t seem to translate into reducing my nervousness, haha!
Post # 14
Your thoughts seem to be perfectly rational and I wouldn’t hide behind a general timeline, I’d have an honest discussion about when he sees y’all getting married.
With my SO, I just flat out asked him how long until we were married (in his opinion, obviously I get a say)… We had been together for 5 years and were just getting out of school, so I definitely didn’t want to get married that minute but I wanted a general timeline to go off of. We decided 2-3 years, so I then knew I could sign a lease with my best friend, etc.
Having the conversation ended up being very helpful because we got to share our preferences. I explained that I really wanted to make sure our engagement didn’t end up being 2 years long, so I would rather wait to get engaged until we were actually ready (mostly financially) to be married. I’m not very patient lol.
I will say he was hesitant to talk timelines are first because he wants the proposal to be a big surprise and he is worried that if we get too specific on timelines and I will be able to predict the proposal 🙂
Post # 15
Of course, it makes perfect sense. No one wants to face the possibility of rejection.
I totally agree with you—we women have really been sold a sack of Bandini about this super duper special romantic surprise proposal silliness. As if we get anything less than a rom com scene, we are less than.
At the same time, I’m always concerned about women who are in intimate relationships feeling so anxious and uncomfortable approaching their partners about the topic of marriage that they surrender all of their power to steer their own futures. Is that anxiety instrinsic or extrinsic?
Relationships are subject to negotiation. Partners argue, they fight, they talk, they negotiate, and, ideally, they come to a joint resolution that works for them both. If they marry, there will be many uncomfortable conversations to be had. May as well start learning how to do it now.