Kim wrote a fairly lengthy post, Why Bother, describing why men put off getting married, or don’t get married at all. Let me warn you at the outset that Kim makes no concessions to political correctness. Also, what he describes is the view from the man’s side of the relationship. Sharing the same viewpoint, I agree with most of what he says.
What really struck me was part of a comment about the post from Javahead. He says,
There are times I need to remind her that at least half of the things she does “for me” are really, mostly, hers. And that she sometimes ignores the things that are important to me in favour of the things she thinks (or hopes) should be important.
This resonates with me because I’ve had two relationships with women who were very, shall we say, goal oriented. The goal in both cases was the most direct path to marriage and children. In both cases it didn’t take me long to realize I was a means to that end rather than a partner in the relationship.
About two months into our relationship, one of these women asked me out of the blue, “When are we getting engaged?” This is an indicator of disaster for a number of reasons. First, and perhaps most obvious, is that asking to be asked is particularly passive aggressive. Topping from the bottom, to borrow a D/s phrase. If you want to leave behind the gender roles of the past, leave them behind. Don’t cherry-pick and expect your partner to know what the hell is going on. If you want to get married, ask. If you want to be asked, then keep your mouth shut about it.
Another reason this bodes ill is such a question should never need to be seriously asked. If the lines of communication are open, both parties will know where the other person is in the relationship. If the two people are far apart, or of one doesn’t understand why the other person isn’t on the same page, some discussion is required. Total misunderstanding or ignorance of where one’s partner is in the relationship is an indicator of a serious problem.
It should go without saying that one person can’t nag/bully/convince the other to be where they want them to be. If your partner does this, you have two choices. Either get to the bottom of what’s really going on, or get the hell out of the relationship while you still can. Being pushed in this way means your partner is a teenager in an adult body and doesn’t understand how relationships work. Even worse, the standards you’re held to are entirely different than the standard to which your partner holds himself or herself.
More directly related to Javahead’s quote is another experience I had with the engagement-eager woman. She’d attended a concert and described it to me in detail. Her description ended with, “You would have loved it.” The music she described was about as far from my taste as possible. Her description of the performance and staging of the concert would’ve had me looking for an exit if I had the misfortune of attending. I replied, “I would’ve liked it?” She said, enthusiastically, “Absolutely!” I paused and said, “Are you sure?” This time she paused and replied, “Oh yea, I guess not.” After a moment’s thought she realized I would’ve hated it, but that moment would never have occurred without prompting. It’s great to like something, and it’s great to want your partner to like it too. It’s not so great for your partner if you assume they like everything you do.
The other woman gave a similarly disastrous indication of my relative importance in the relationship. At the time I watched auto racing on weekends. She casually said, “You won’t have time for racing when we have kids.” More than a little surprised at her bringing up children in this way, I asked why. She told me that kids take time. Apparently an idiot, I asked, “I won’t have a few hours free in the span of an entire week?” I can’t remember the details of her answer, but it wasn’t encouraging. What was important to me was clearly of no importance to her.
These are just the most obvious examples of danger signs I picked up on. In neither case did I immediately run out the door. All I’m saying is that having an idea of how you want your future to unfold is great. However, finding someone to sit in the co-pilot’s seat and follow your plans doesn’t make for a relationship. It also doesn’t indicate a commitment-phobia.
Guys don’t get off the hook so easily however. In one case, I didn’t speak up as soon as I should have. Of course, by that point, speaking up did not go well. In the other case, speaking up did no good. Anything I could say was misunderstood or ignored. When I finally stopped going along, no compromise was possible because, perhaps because there had been none before. You’d think she’d be willing to spend some time at my place, right? After getting used to spending six or seven days a week at her place, she wouldn’t even entertain the idea of a change. I never heard from her again, but two weeks later I did hear she was back with the guy she dumped for me. Good luck, pal.
A genuine romantic partnership is made up of two people who not only love each other, but also like each other. One doesn’t always lead with the other always following. Knowing what you want is fine as long as you realize your partner has goals even if they’re not as specific as yours. They’ll have their own ideas and are just as much a part of the relationship as you are.
To those of you who have found this type of relationship, I’m both please for you and envious of you. I’m growing increasingly doubtful that I’ll find it for myself. This is okay because no relationship is better than being in a bad relationship. It I find that woman, I’ll be thrilled. If not, I’m content.