Q: Dear Meredith,
About 5 months ago, I met a great guy. He is nice, funny, and most importantly, "normal." So far this has been one of the healthiest relationships I have had in a long time. However, there is one problem: He's 27 and I'm 30. Like most women my age, I am looking for someone who is looking for a more serious commitment. And when I say serious, I of course mean marriage and family. I'm not saying I want/need all of this tomorrow, but I would like for this to happen within the next few years.
All of my friends are engaged or married and naturally it's something I want as well. My problem is that I don't believe this new man in my life (let's call him Frank) is ready for all of this. Frank still lives at home and never discusses these topics with me. Now I understand that it has only been five months and I am rushing into things here, but I want to know that these are things he is hoping for as well. My question is, do I stay and hope that within the next few years (if we are still dating) that he will want marriage, etc. -- or do I leave and hope to find someone else who wants those things that I want right now? Also, do I bring the subject up (and how, without scaring him off)? I don't need to hear that he is going to want to marry me tomorrow, but I would like to have the peace of mind of knowing that this is something he thinks about and that I'm not wasting my time.
– Ringless in Rockland
A: It's too soon to ask this guy whether he's ever going to marry you, but it's not too soon to talk about life goals. That's a part of the dating process no matter how old you are. High school kids talk about whether they see themselves in college. New grads talk about whether they want to move to the same city. Sixty-something retirees talk to new partners about how they'd like to spend their free time.
You're absolutely allowed to ask your "normal" guy what he wants to do with himself over the next few years. He'll probably ask you too, and then you can say, "I want to be happy. I also want to be married to someone awesome who makes me laugh."
In another six months you can have a more specific conversation, but for now you can get a lot from a few discussions about hopes and dreams. If he tells you that his dream is to still be living at home in two years -- or to move to another country -- you can make decisions accordingly. But if he says, "In two years I want to be in my own place with an amazing girlfriend" ... well, that's a start. If he says, "I have no idea what I want," well, that's just honest -- and at least he'll know where you stand.
Five months isn't about big answers -- it's about asking a million little questions.
Readers? Is their age difference significant? Should she bring this up at all? Will it help to keep the focus on herself and her own wants and needs? When can she have a real discussion about marriage? Should she bail now? Help.
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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.