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We've been engaged for years

Posted by Meredith Goldstein  April 19, 2011 07:33 AM

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Q: Hi Meredith,

I am in my mid 30s and have never been married. I would like to experience this in my life. I have a beautiful daughter I have raised by myself. I sometimes feel I have failed her by not giving her the childhood I had with both parents. I have tried to find a person to share our lives with for most of hers. That brings me to "Greg."

I have been in a relationship with "Greg" for eight years. He is a wonderful man who I love very much ... however ... we became engaged four years ago and he won't set a date.

I took my ring off because I feel he doesn't want to marry me. When I mention it, he just avoids the conversation or plans a surprise trip to keep me from ending it. He was in a bad marriage before and I think he's scared to try it with me. I think this is unfair and he should have faith and trust in me. Isn't that what a relationship is all about?

I don't know what to do.

Although Greg is good to my daughter he is not a dad to her. They don't have a relationship I would consider a close one.

Our relationship has suffered because of my closeness with my daughter. At times I think he's jealous of her. I actually feel guilty about it. Like it or not, I am a mother first!

As I read this back I think ... this is SO obvious that it's time to move on ... but I feel stuck.
I guess my question is...when is enough, enough?? How do you move on when you thought you were going to spend your life with someone??

– Heartbroken, Massachusetts


A: Sounds like you have a great boyfriend who isn't doing much to be a great husband. He loves you. He takes you on trips. After eight years, he still wants you. But you want more.

I want you to make a decision about this relationship based on your needs, not your daughter's. I know that you're a mom first -- and that's great -- but you're not shopping for a new dad for your kid. You're looking for the right partner for you, someone who respects that you're a parent and can give you the support you need to do the job. If your partner bonds with your daughter, that's just a bonus.

And because I'm prioritizing your needs, I keep coming back to the opening of your letter: "I am in my mid 30s and have never been married. I would like to experience this in my life." Daughter aside, you want a different relationship than the one you're in. I can't promise that something better is waiting if you leave -- ending things with Greg is a risk, for sure -- but you have to stay true to yourself. After eight years, your wants haven't changed. Get some final answers from Greg so that you can make a real decision.

And as for moving on, well, there's no easy fix. You'll need a new routine and some time to mourn. That's another letter for another day.

Readers? Greg does seem to love her, but what's holding him back? Is she being unrealistic about the dad stuff? What should she say to Greg? Should she end this relationship or give it a chance? Discuss.

– Meredith


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ABOUT LOVE LETTERS: Welcome to Love Letters, the place for love advice (giving and getting). Globe relationship columnist Meredith Goldstein and Boston.com readers are ready to take your letters and tell you what's what. Have a question? Click here to submit or email us at loveletters@boston.com.
Blogger Meredith Goldstein

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.

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