Most of the book reviews are in. Good job. Will post/pick a winner soon.
Q: Dear Meredith,
A year ago I met an intelligent, kindhearted, affectionate man who is also very cute and has a great career. He is incredibly good to me and tells me every day that he is in love with me. I am fairly certain that he intends to propose in the next few weeks and I’m feeling very panicky about it.
I know I’m incredibly fortunate and I should be ecstatic about the idea of spending my life with a man who will certainly be an excellent husband and father. However, some small part of me thinks that if I accept, I will be settling because I’m in my mid-30s and want to have a family of my own someday soon.
I do love him, but not in a madly passionate sort of way. We are good friends, we each enjoy the other's company, and we have similar values and temperaments. My family loves him and his family likes me very much too. We have frequent pajama parties that range from pleasant to very nice (but never mind-blowing). In short, I’m sure we could live together contently for decades to come, but do I want to settle for content?
My older relatives and married friends tell me that the mad passionate sort of love is just lust and it fades after a few years. They feel it is much better to settle down with a good person who I respect and admire. A good friend of mine, who is Indian and in a happy arranged marriage, tells me that my boyfriend and I have the perfect foundation for a good marriage. In fact, she believes people should be wary of making a commitment to someone who they are “madly in love with” because that sort of passion fades with time, leaving little common ground on which to base a partnership. My younger unmarried friends tell me to hold out for that mad passionate love.
I would love to hear your thoughts and the thoughts of your readers, particularly the long married ones.
– Cold Feet or Just Wary of Settling?, Boston
A: CFOJWOS, you're going to get a lot of stories today from people who married good/blah partners and wish they hadn't. You'll also probably hear from folks who married amazing, passionate partners and wound up getting their hearts broken. Then you'll hear from the people who learned that "settling for content" turned out to be the kind of love they always wanted. Everyone's story is different. No one knows the answer to your question.
Except for me, of course. And my answer is: stop this man from proposing. Tell him that you get the sense that he's about to take that big next step -- which is lovely -- but at the moment, you have no desire to go there with him. You're just not ready.
I'm not saying you should spend years wasting your/his time delaying a proposal, but you need to be able to evaluate this relationship without a big, romantic question hanging over your head.
I'll also say that our choices about partners are usually about timing and what's going on in our own heads. What I mean is, if you had met Mr. Nice Guy (your boyfriend), after a wild, passionate romance that blew up in your face, you might be twice as passionate about Mr. Nice Guy -- because he'd offer all that you lacked in your previous relationship.
We never get to know what else is out there, and choosing a mate is always a risk. Even if we start out confident, we might have doubts later on in a relationship. All you know is that right now, you have fears. Fear of missing out. Fear of settling. Fear of losing him. If you can spend some time considering those fears without thinking about marriage, you might be able to figure out which fear is most important to you.
Sometimes you have to let an itch get really, really itchy before you feel confident about scratching it. Make sense?
Readers? Could this go on indefinitely without a proposal or will the desire to stay or go become more obvious over time? Will you share your stories for her benefit? And should she use your stories to make any decisions about her own relationship? Discuss.
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Meredith Goldstein is a Boston Globe columnist who follows relationship trends and entertainment. She offers daily advice on Love Letters — and welcomes your comments. Meredith is also the author of "The Singles," a novel about complicated relationships. Follow Meredith at www.meredithgoldstein.netand on Twitter. Love Letters can be found in the print edition of The Boston Globe every Saturday in the G section.