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Waiting for the next step

Posted by Meredith Goldstein  September 8, 2011 07:10 AM

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Q: Dear Meredith and LL enthusiasts,

I am a longtime reader and am looking forward to some unbiased advice. Some background: My boyfriend and I are in our mid-twenties and have been dating for four years and living together for more than two. We love each other very much and have discussed a future together. We are both very happy and secure in our relationship.

We recently relocated to a house he purchased. The house is not terribly far from our old home, but far enough that I needed to find a new job. Even though I was open to and excited about this move (and I still am), I've made some sacrifices that I feel are pretty significant, and I did so without any mention or pressure about an engagement, partially because I knew buying a house is big deal in and of itself, and also because I know we will take that step eventually.

I don't question his commitment to me, but lately I feel that the transition I've gone through recently is huge and that he has not recognized that at all. I also think we're at a place in our relationship where the next step is waiting right in front of us. I'm ready to take it, but I feel like it's out of my hands. Is it out of line to feel that an engagement, or a more formal commitment, is to be expected? Is it an unfair expectation? How do we discuss this without making him uncomfortable or making me sounding crazy?

– Great Expectations, Portsmouth, NH


A: GE, my gut (and your letter) tells me that your boyfriend doesn't understand that you've made big sacrifices. You've done all of this stuff with a smile on your face and have gone out of your way to make these transitions easy for everyone. How would he know that you're a bit overwhelmed and that you want more?

I don't want you to turn into a belligerent whiner or anything but it wouldn't hurt to let him know that this move has been a big deal for you. He can't empathize and hug you (and consider that it might be time for a proposal) if you don't tell him how you feel and what you want.

You don't win anything by playing it cool. Just be honest. As in, "I'm psyched about this house and my new job, but ... I have the future on my mind. I keep thinking about the next step and want to know how you feel about it. Ever since we moved and I changed jobs, it's been difficult not to focus on the next big thing." That doesn't sound crazy, does it?

This stuff is only out of your hands if you keep silent. Just bring it up with a smile on your face. Maybe he's been thinking about it, too.

Readers? Am I right to say that he hasn't acknowledged her sacrifices because he doesn't know that any of this was difficult for her? Are these decisions in her hands? Should she bring them up so close to the move? 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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