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Parallax - Advice

February 16, 2004

Love Bites

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There are millions of fish in the sea and millions of eligible single men and women in the world. Yet, every week we get letters from people who act as if there were only a couple potential mates or dates on the planet. What's with that? Meet this week's charming trio: a grad student who wants a guaranteed return on her five-year investment; a lonely guy who resorts to New Year's resolutions because he won't listen to himself; and a girl with an ex who's being wooed by da bro'. For our duo of desire, it's time to fish or cut bait.


A degree of love?
A degree of loneliness.
 Date: 02/16/04

One and only?
One and lonely.
 Date: 02/16/04

Brotherly love.
It's ex-tra special.
 Date: 02/16/04

More advice...
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A degree of love?

Dear Conversely,

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I am a twenty-six year old grad student dating a twenty-five year old med student. We met as undergrads and have been together ever since. I was ready for a commitment after three years. Five years later, he's still not ready. He insists he loves me and says he wants to marry me one day, but he won't give me a time frame. He blames his parents' divorce for his feelings about marriage. I love him, but I feel he is stringing me along. I want to believe his promise that one day we will marry. I don't believe in ultimatums, but I feel foolish and insecure about making more sacrifices as he continues medical school. If he really loved me why would he risk losing me after five years?


Her view:

Dear Degree-of-Anxiety,

He is most definitely stringing you along—there is no better way to say it. Given the amount of time you have spent together, he knows in his heart what he wants to do...and he is not comfortable marrying you. (By the way, fifty percent of us have divorced parents, so this does not bring on a marriage phobia). It is really very simple. He will keep you as long as he does not have to make that ultimate commitment which, frankly, he will not be willing to make for years.

By the time he is interested in marrying, he may have found all sorts of reasons for which you are not 'the one.' He may decide there are differences between the two of you or that he has not been with enough women to know who is the right choice.

Ultimatums are no fun for anyone and seldom work. It is time you took control of this situation and left. Leave him, and be willing to lose him. He will plead for a while to have you back, but likely will not be goaded into a commitment he cannot make.

So many other fellows would be excited about the promise of marriage—why not date one of them?

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His view:

Dear Degree-of-Anxiety,

This is your main problem—you think he's risking losing you. This is incorrect. As things stand right now, he faces no such risk. He has you by his side. Whether because of love or insecurity, you sacrifice your timeline and needs to adapt to his. As you have done so for five years, he has no reason to expect that anything will change because you're completely wrapped around his finger and you barely know it.

You know that there is only one thing to do here—dump him. Don't pressure him. Don't deliver an ultimatum. And don't whine about how much you love him because this is not about love anymore.

Just dump him and move on. Start looking for someone else. You will eventually realize you can fall in love again, maybe with someone who's less afraid of commitment.

Maybe your doctor will realize that he made a big mistake and that he should have committed. Maybe he'll still be in time to win you back. But that's a maybe and he has to come to that decision himself. In the meantime, stop hiding in your cozy relationship and take some steps on your own.

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You Vote! 11% of Women agree with HER VIEW and 89% with HIS VIEW.

75% of Men agree with HER VIEW and 25% with HIS VIEW.

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