The low-down on the length of time you should wait for a guy to commit before hitting the highway.
When he seems to be perfect "on paper," it's very difﬁcult to know how long you should wait for him to make a long-term commitment. There are no hard-and-fast rules about how much time is enough for a man to decide whether or not he wants to commit to you. Different types of men and relationships will require different approaches. Here are several different types of men along with ideas about how to approach each to determine whether or not there is long-term potential.
This type of man acts like he's in the relationship for the long term but remains unwilling to discuss marriage. If this describes your man, it's time to sit down and have a bigger conversation. Many women believe that if they bring up marriage it will send the man scurrying, but it's normal and healthy for you to want to discuss this with a man who's truly looking for a long-term commitment and has shared this with you in the ﬁrst few months of dating. Tell him you're enjoying spending time with him, love him, and want to check in to make sure you're both on the same page regarding the relationship. Ask him if there's a time that works for him where you could spend some time together talking. Then, once you're face to face, revisit the relationship goal conversation. Remind him, "I’m in a place where marriage is very important to me, and I'm wondering if you see this relationship progressing in that way?" It may seem scary. The fact is, he might say no; but if that's his answer, it's important for you to know this sooner rather than later.
There are women who avoid this conversation for months or even years, hoping their partners will see how fantastic they are and then be inspired to change. While this could happen, the odds are that you may be waiting a very long time while building up a healthy amount of resentment—which is certain to be a relationship drain.
If your partner won't discuss a timeline or is unable to deﬁne exactly what it is he's waiting for before making the leap, you'll be forced to ask yourself how long you're willing to wait for him to decide. You also need to decide what you need him to do to show you there's movement in the direction you desire. For example, is he willing to go to counseling with you to sort through the issue? Is he willing to tell you what's holding him back? Can he articulate it?
If it's a challenge that has more to do with his past or his own challenges, is he willing to seek coaching or counseling individually? Ultimately, being in this position could make you feel somewhat powerless. But if you set small milestones that show he's willing to work toward a mutual goal, it could be important to practice patience. However, if the man you're dating cannot commit or tells you marriage isn't in his cards, you ultimately must choose what you want in your life in terms of relationships and commitment.
Does he say that he plans to be with you forever but "doesn’t believe in marriage?" If he wants to be with you and his words and actions match consistently over time, yet he consistently wants to banter back and forth regarding the value of marriage in 21st century society, toss around the latest divorce rate statistics, or point out how many married friends you have who don't seem happy, it's time to use the same techniques as you would with The Pretender, above. Ask him about his willingness to engage in counseling or his willingness to suspend his need to be "right" in his view of marriage so you can create a mutually beneﬁcial solution. A man who wants to be with you long term also wants you to be happy, and ﬁnding a way to get there together is the ultimate goal. You may need to let go of your fantasy of a fairytale proposal and instead work with your partner to ﬁnd a way to solidify your commitment to each other that enables each of you to get what you want, when you want it, in a way that's a true expression of your love.
In some cases, a compromise wherein you create a new deﬁnition of long-term commitment, perhaps including a different sort of ritual or ceremony on which you can both agree, is truly the best solution. Perhaps one (or both) of you has been married before and feels a strong urge to avoid making the same mistakes over again. Perhaps one or both of you had divorced parents and are considering what you'll do differently to ensure your relationship lasts. Maybe he wants to be with you always but is attached to his personal space. Whatever the circumstances, allowing your partner to express his fears and anxieties (and being able to express yours, as well) openly without judgment, viewing this "problem" through a lens of possibility, can lead to a solution that is truly satisfactory. In the 21st century there are many creative options, both practical and spiritual, that can be utilized to overcome fears around such issues as ﬁnancial responsibility and custodial obligations while still enabling you to ritualize and honor your commitment to each other. A true win-win relationship is one in which both partners want the other to be satisﬁed and are both able to give up the need to be right regarding the pros and cons of traditional marriage in order to ﬁnd a mutually beneﬁcial and joyful arrangement.
The Faux Beau
He has given you the "disclaimer"—he says he loves you, is attracted to you, or loves spending time with you, but he's not ready or able to make a long-term commitment—and shows no signs of wanting to change. In this circumstance, it's time to stop settling for "good enough" and create space in your life for someone new. He may be fantastic, loving, and better than anyone else you've dated in the past; but ultimately if you want to be with someone who wants to be in a happy, mutually beneﬁcial, committed relationship, it's time to cut your losses.