My girlfriend and I have been together for four years. We moved in together last year and things have been going really well since then. We adopted a kitten a few months ago, we share finances, we cook for one another and our relationship is really strong. I would like to take our relationship to the next stage, and I’ve been dropping hints and stuff about getting married but she doesn’t seem interested. I don’t mind being the one to pop the question and we’ve talked about ending up together in the early stages of our relationship, but lately she just sot of ignores the topic when I bring it up. I’m in my thirties and if she is not interested in getting married to me, then I want to know so I can find someone who is looking for that long term future together. Is there a better way I should be bringing this stuff up? I’m feeling vulnerable right now because I just found out of my last single friends got engaged over the holidays. It feels like all my friends are moving on to the next stage of life and I’m stuck. Please help.
-Waiting on a Ring
You’ve got two separate issues here: Wanting to move toward marriage with your girlfriend and feeling left behind compared to your other friends.
Many people go through stages of feeling left behind. Whether other friends are moving in, going to grad school, having babies, or planning weddings, it is difficult to be the odd one out if you’re sensitive to feeling the need to “keep up.”
We all have our own paths in life, however. Your timeline need not look exactly like anyone else’s. We all know this on some level, but we forget it sometimes. When you feel those nagging thoughts — “All my friends are planning weddings and she won’t talk about ours” — challenge them with something that feels true to your life. You’ve got a live-in girlfriend you love and you think she’s the one. You might not have everything you want, but you are probably closer than you think you are.
Competing with friends over life milestones never brings joy, and it will never help you get closer to what you want. It will only sensitize you to the pain you feel around not keeping up with your peers.
Even if your pals seem to have everything together, I promise you their lives aren’t as perfect as they appear on social media. Things always appear rosier from the outside looking in.
I encourage you to let go of ideas you have around a right timeline for something like getting married, and to talk with your girlfriend in a more direct way. She may not be picking up on those hints. They might not be as obvious and direct as you think.
While some lesbians have always imagined getting married someday, others never related to bride fantasies. Your partner may be happy with your current status, and unaware of how you’re feeling. Talk to her about how you two are doing.
Have a more casual and relaxed conversation about where the two of you are at. It’s okay to springboard it off the latest engagement news if that feels natural, but you can also just let say you want to check in around marriage. Remind her how you used to bring it up and ask what she thinks about that now. Let her respond.
Use open-ended questions that give her freedom to share her feelings instead of yes/no questions, i.e., “Are we still on the same page about getting married one day? Like, when is that one day?”
Assuming she comes back with some version of yes, i.e. “Yes, but I need to finish my thesis first” or “Yeah…one day, you know I love you,” encourage her to talk more specifically about what — or when — she means so you know where things stand.
Let her know what you want in the same clear, direct manner. Avoid ultimatums — “if we aren’t engaged by my next birthday, I’m out of here” — in favor of coming up with a road map of where you want to go next, together.
And if she no longer shares that forever vision of the two of you? Then you know what to do next.
If you have a question for Lindsey, email the editor at firstname.lastname@example.org with “Q for Lindsey” in the subject line and she’ll answer it in a future article!