Love, Heartbreak

What To Do When He's Ready To Settle Down — But You're Not Quite There Yet

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How To Know When It's Time To Break Up With Your Boyfriend Because You're Not Ready To Settle Down

Maybe your partner oohs and aahs every time a diamond commercial comes on TV. Or perhaps he's brought home a bunch of real estate magazines and spends his weekends perusing Zillow listings.

However he's made it known, your significant other has expressed that he wants to take the next step in your relationship and settle down with you.

But what do you do if you're not ready to take that plunge?

Being on different pages about the future of your relationship can lead you to ask, should I break up with my boyfriend? Or is it possible to salvage the relationship?

Making the right choice about when to break up (if at all) if you're not sure a relationship is right for you isn't easy!

RELATED: 4 Signs It's High Time To Get Out Of Your Relationship (And Fast)

Figure out what's truly important to you.

The first step in determining whether or not to end a relationship or move forward with it involves doing some soul-searching. To truly love one another, you have to love yourself first! And loving yourself means embracing the things that truly matter to you.

Maybe that means remaining child-free so you can travel the world together without lugging along a diaper bag. Or perhaps it involves owning a chic penthouse in a thriving metro center. Maybe it means adventuring on near-nightly outings with friends.

Whatever matters to you, honor that!

Issues arise when life goals between partners become incompatible.

For example, if your partner dreams of owning a house in the country where they can raise goats, but you can't imagine a life without all-night delis and bustling sidewalks, calling the whole thing off before getting too deep might make the most sense. Likewise, if the thought of diapers makes you want to gag, but your partner dreams of being the next octo-mom, gently going your separate ways might be in order.

To make the best decision about how to proceed in your relationship, examine what you need to live happily.

Separate minor disagreements from deal breakers.

Firstly, not every disagreement means you should walk out the door. Before calling it quits, evaluate whether you can compromise or implement a creative solution.

An important question to ask yourself is, "Am I saying I don't want this right now, or am I saying I don't want this ever?"

If you truly love your partner and can't imagine living without them, could the two of you compromise on a long engagement with no set date versus planning a wedding six months down the line?

Breaking up is far easier than getting divorced, so if you're uncertain as to whether you want to get married right now and your partner can wait, a long engagement can be a good compromise. However, if you know you never plan to walk down the aisle, cut ties now. As much as it may hurt, it hurts far less than doing so two or three years down the road.

RELATED: 6 Not-So-Obvious Signs That It's Time To Dump Him And Move On

Consider compromising.

The old song had a point — breaking up is hard to do!

Remember, compromise means doing something voluntarily. It means you decided staying with your partner ranks more importantly on your priority list than hanging with your posse every night. It means meeting in the middle and buying a house in the 'burbs versus a downtown penthouse or a farmhouse in the boonies — and still feeling happy about that decision.

Compromise does not mean settling.

Settling leads to resentment, and resentment will kill your relationship as surely as salt will kill a snail!

If merely imagining the pitter-patter of tiny feet fills you with dread, but you forge ahead with parenthood anyway, resentment and pain will surely follow. No matter how hard you try to hide your feelings, children always know when they're not wanted. Plus, your lackluster approach to parenting will cause wicked arguments and tension. Don't do that to your partner or future kids — choose to walk away now instead of creating pain down the line.

Conversely, maybe you feel conflicted about having kids or feel frightened by the prospect of parenthood. Ask yourself about the underlying source of that fear. If you're afraid you won't make a good parent due to having a less-than-desirable childhood yourself, for instance, you may try addressing these fears with the help of therapy first before calling it quits on your relationship. But if you simply don’t want kids because you fear you'll lose your independence, this may lead to resentment down the line.

The key? Compromise, but never settle. A little pain from a breakup now will only spare you much bigger grief down the road when resentment rears its ugly head.

Another key is honesty. If you know you never want marriage or kids, make that known from the beginning of your relationship to save future heartbreak.

Listen to your heart.

When you and your partner can't find common ground on big issues such as whether to get married or have children, amicably going your separate ways frees you both to live the lives of your dreams. But don't rush to break up if you're only fearful or a bit uncertain.

Always communicate your feelings honestly with your partner so both of you can choose whether staying or parting will lead to greater happiness.

RELATED: Answer These 8 Questions Before You Break Up With Anyone

Kate Harveston is a leading women's health journalist and the founder of So Well, So Woman.