Dear Wayne and Wanda,
I was pretty stressed out this entire holiday because I was sure my boyfriend was going to propose and I knew I didn’t want to say yes. He had dropped some hints that he had a big surprise for me, and an “extra special” present. Christmas came and he did shock me — with tickets to Hawaii for Valentine’s Day. I still half-expected a proposal, but New Year’s came and went without one.
Let me be clear: I’m good with how all this has worked out because I truly would not have accepted his proposal. We’ve only dated a year. We’re both 25. I think we’re too young and it’s too soon. But this left me wondering, should I be dating him at all? I know lots of people who met their spouse or even married before age 25. I adore my boyfriend. We have fun together, we have friends and hobbies in common, and I know for a fact Hawaii with him in February would be awesome.
I also know he’s not “my person.” I’m not sure what that means, exactly, but I know I don’t want to marry him now and I can’t imagine that will change. I’m not sure I want to get married ever. That said, should I break up with him? I feel like I’m possibly wasting his time. And maybe my time? I guess my bigger question is, if you’re in a relationship, but know you don’t want to be with that person forever, when should you end things?
First piece of advice: take a deep breath and stop putting so much pressure on yourself. You’re 25 — you’re young! You have years to figure this stuff out. And relationships, in a kind of live-action, real-time human trouble-shooting kind of way, are sort of how we figure all that out. You’ve found someone who seems to care about you and treat you well — hello, Hawaii tickets! Enjoy it.
And so you don’t want to marry him. So what? Romantic relationships serve many purposes. They are comforting, entertaining, supportive, enriching and so many more things. They may be physical, or emotional, or both. In relationships, we learn what we need and what we don’t. We learn our own weaknesses and strengths. Very few of us find “our person” out of the gate because, well, there’s so much to learn! And while some relationships may be shorter than others, and not destined for the altar, they’re no less potentially significant.
Also, as you said yourself, you may never get married. Would that mean you should never be in a relationship? Heck no! Now and in the years to come, you’ll figure out what you want and what you’re looking for and as you hone in on that, you’ll be able to have honest conversations with your partners about that. That may mean, at times, your needs and theirs’ aren’t in sync, and perhaps you will opt to end relationships. But today, at age 25, with a cool guy who surprised you with Hawaii tickets? Relax, let the relationship breathe — and definitely go to Hawaii.
If this relationship, and your doubts and anxieties about it, are all you can think — and overthink — about, then yes, you should definitely move on sooner than later. Why continue holding all of this in when you have control to release that energy and release the boyfriend who isn’t your “person”?
Hawaii is amazing and famous for working its relaxing, refreshing and romantic magic, especially when sharing it with someone you adore. If you could shift your concerns about crossing a fairy tale finish line of marriage and focus on the positives of this relationship, to that special Hawaii time with the guy who at the moment remains your boyfriend, and simply make the most of each day with him, I bet you’ll have a great time. You may even find a clearheaded and peaceful space to have a long-overdue heart-to-heart check-in with him about love, your lives and this relationship. Wouldn’t it be illuminating for you to hear where his head’s at?
But if you’re stressing that Hawaii time is just getting deeper into something you don’t really want to be in, and even more freaked out about the potential of a Valentine’s Day surprise sunset-on-the-beach proposal and your subsequent surprise heartbreaking rejection, you do owe it to yourself and to your boyfriend to cancel the vacation and the relationship.