At 19 He Said Marriage, At 21 He's Not Sure - Too Young To Marry

Dear Veronica,

I need help. now. I came across this hub [When Your Girl Wants to Get Married and You Don't] yesterday and read a few of your others and they are really insightful and helpful and kind of made me feel a little better but also still I'm confused... well anyway I'll say what's going on first:

My boyfriend and I have been together for almost 3 years. A couple years ago he told me that "someday he wanted to get married..."  I felt the same... I felt like our relationship was more serious than a "normal" relationship; I mean we've talked about our future together a million times since then, our dream house, someday having kids..., someday getting married, etc.

I have been talking about getting engaged, but I thought it was ok, because I thought that getting engaged (and then EVENTUALLY married, which I emphasized...) 

I know now I shouldnt have talked about it (so much)...  he is a guy, and guys like making those decisions, and perhaps I should have just waited until one day he asked me. Maybe he felt like i was pressuring him too much, but I wouldn't have talked about those things if I knew he didn't want me too - he always enthusiastically talked about the future with me too, and even in all the presents, gifts, cards, home made things he's given me, it says "love you forever, together forever, future, etc"

and so I'm really confused. right now.

We're in a long distance relationship ...(I'm in the US, he is in Chile, but I visit him every summer and winter vacation I have. I'm in college, I'm 20, he's going to be 22 this year. I realize that is "young", but we love each other a lot, and obviously having gone out this long in a long distance relationship, I just have always assumed things would work out)

anyway... a couple days ago I said I felt like things were a little different, like we weren't connecting on the same level as before... and then later that night he kind of began telling me a million and one things.

And it was all very confusing, and I think he was confused and maybe took what I said wrong or I don't know but, this is what happened:

That he didn't know if he could handle a long distance relationship, that he was weak.... that before he used to say he knew he wanted to be with me together forever, but now he wasn't sure. that before he was young, and now he is being realistic... that sometimes he felt really pressured and that he just wants to live in the moment. and that "i dont know if we'll get married or engaged someday, but it's not going to happen any time soon so don't think about it and stop talking about the future"

and this made me so confused because he never told me he felt pressured, and he always talked about the future together before... 

and then he said maybe he needed a break to think about how he felt about me, if he wanted to be in this relationship, etc etc

and everything was so confusing... and i asked him if he still loved me and he said "yes" and i said "well then what do you need to think about, the distance?" and he said "yeah maybe i dont know"

[this was all late at night so he was also tired, which could have been a factor in him wanting to take a break to think]

he said he wants to be a normal "young person" (he was speaking in spanish so that's the translation... but you know what i mean, young, have fun, not think about the future etc, live in the moment) and that he has a million and one things to do before even thinking about getting married and stuff

and then i told him that i never meant to make it sound like i wanted to get married right away...or something ,and that besides, even if we didnt get married any time soon, i didnt care, that the basics of me talking about the future was that i felt like he was the person i wanted to be with "forever", for the rest of my life, and that i didnt see why being "married" would stop him from doing all the things that he wants to do in his life "before he gets married" and i said, i always support him in everything, and would love to share all the things i know he wants to do, so i didnt understand at all...

and he said he hates long distance, that it sucks, that it's hard for him, that sometimes he just wants to break up and stop because it's so hard (to which I said that's the case for me as well, that sometimes it hurts so much that i dont want it anymore , but that i love him enough, and that we always said we'd wait for each other, so then I did keep waiting until we saw each other again)

he said he cares about me a lot, that he loves me, that if i was over there it would be the best and most amazing thing ever

but "i'm not his wife and he doesn't want to take life so seriously. he wants to be free"

and i told him how wasn't he free?

and he didnt really explain. so i said, did he want to break up with me?

no.. he didnt... he wanted to be with me. so i dont know what that meant either...

then he started talkign about wanting to take a break (i think i mentioned this before?) maybe a few days, he "didnt know how long, maybe weeks" and i said it wasnt fair to do it so long, that he had to let me know how long it would be.

and then i was confused and defensive and crying and then he said "you knew from the start that you loved me so much that you wanted to be with me forever, that's not fair"

which made me MORE confused... 

v-we

Dear v-we,

I realize your very long comment got cut off, and I am glad you emailed me with the rest, but basically it all says the same thing. There is absolutely nothing confusing here. It is crystal clear what happened.

He is only now just going to be 22 years old this year. He is way too young to be talking about marriage. 

The things you talked about together 2 years ago, when he was 19, prove everything I have said in so many hubs about the frontal lobe development. There is a biological reason for what happened. There is a part of the brain, the part that can grasp long term commitments, consequence, and reality in a very clear and real way, that simply did not exist when you talking all dreamy about the future. At 19 everything was easy and pretty and uncomplicated for him, because the part of the brain that would explain otherwise had not developed yet.

So all of those conversations were literally the talk of kids, fantasizing.

What happened over the next two years, is physiology. Physically, his brain changed. This has nothing to do with his love for you, or with his being emotionally ready. Literally, physically, physiologically, a part of his brain developed, right on time. And this development gave him the capacity to to comprehend for the very first time what it actually means to commit yourself to someone for the next 60 years. 

For the first time he grasped how ridiculously young you two are to be talking about marriage. He had completely missed out on being a normal young guy, like he tried to tell you. And he's completely right. There is no rush and absolutely no logical reason for him to be making lifelong commitments at this point in his very very young life. 

I really applaud him for trying so hard to communicate all of his growth and new abilities to grasp the future to you. And I think he did an outstanding job. His saying that it's not fair that you knew how you felt about forever all this time, is exactly what I'm talking about. 

Instead of listening, and encouraging his communication, and embracing his growth so that you could grow with him, you kept holding his past words against him. Arguing that 2 years ago, (before his brain developed, before he matured, before he was capable of conceiving what consequences and commitments really are) he fantasized about a future with you.

What you did in these conversations was paramount to, if a child told you they want to be a ballerina when they grow up, and then at age 18 when they are considering colleges they tell you they want to be a doctor. And you argued with them, "But you said you wanted to be a ballerina! What happened to all that! How can you say that one day and not mean it the next? What changed? What is suddenly wrong now with ballet?"

Of course he has no words for this that make sense to you. He's trying to explain that he feels differently because he can see things differently. He's done everything right, and tried admirably to explain to you that he just wants to be his appropriate age, and not making plans - plans that he now has the ability to understand - to promise and commit the entire rest of his life, when he never really dated, and this crazy-ass-young age.

I realize your comment was so long it is incomplete above, but it is all you up there. Please reread what you said, now thinking about his physiological change. He was literally, physically growing up, and trying to explain it to you, and take you with him. But you were not having it. You were pushing for much more than anyone his age should be entertaining, and you were constantly clinging to what he said when he didn't know better. 

He's wonderfully mature. That has nothing to do with the fact that he still had to grow up. And will do so some more. His next major growth will be around the age of 28, when he goes through his Saturn Return, or his Rites of Passage. 

My advice to him, and to anyone, is to wait until after that age before you marry. You're a different person after your frontal lobes come in, and again you are a more focused and mature person once you go through your Saturn Return. 

v-we, please go ahead and let this go. You're 20, and you should be acting 20. Pushing and rushing, and trying to force other people that are growing at a normal and healthy pace, into doing things they can't be ready to do, isn't good for you, or them. Relax and enjoy this time. It goes by so fast, and you will never get it back again. You will never be 20 again. I know you don't want to believe this right now, but when you are 30 you will look back on this and think to yourself, "What the hell was I thinking!"

Good luck to you.

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6 comments

v_we 6 years ago

Well see, I *wasn't* being pushy. Whenever we talked about the future, he talked freely about it too. I can see if he suddenly realized all that, that somehow he would view it as pushy. since the "arguement", or him telling me that, I've just avoided talking about stuff like that. I'm fine with not knowing yet if we'll get married or not someday etc, and not planning stuff. it was just really confusing because it really went from a few days ago he had been talking about it, to him just all of a sudden saying out of nowhere.

Thanks for telling me about the frontal lobe thing. I *did* read that on another of your hubs, and it definitely helped me calm down a little. But I was still confused... and I'm glad that you're telling me that it is something very normal.

My fear was just that maybe he loved me less, or was getting bored of me. I am fine with living in the moment, and not thinking tons about the future. It was just that afterwards, I wasn't entirely sure how to act around him, or if things we had discussed that *weren't* in the "far away" future, but in the "next few years" (like random road trips, etc) were ok to talk about or not.

But I think you're saying, that that's probably fine. Right? I was just confused on if he also, if being unsure about that commitment all of a sudden, maybe he had started to doubt the commitment to our relationship as well (which I also mentioned, the long distance thing, the 'maybe i should take a break to see how i feel about you)

but you're saying... I just freaked out too much when he told me. =) right? and that if I had calmly listened and not asked a bajillion questions, he probably wouldn't have said the other stuff.

Thanks again for the insight. It's just nice to have someone who actually has more experience with these things tell me "hey it's ok. just because he said he doesn't know about the future anymore, doesn't mean he feels any different about you"

That was what, I think, left me more confused than anything else. =]


v_we 6 years ago

PS. I didn't "know from the start that I wanted him forever" that was something that he said... I only ever considered the future after he first told me that he wanted to marry me someday. but you're right probably, that I thought about it too much.

I think, sometimes in a long distance relationship, it's hard to *not* think about the future a lot (especially when things have been talked about a lot), because it's the future when you know you'll "finally be together". But I will just think about the next time I will see him, I think, and wait and see where it goes from there =) again, thanks =]


v_we 6 years ago

one more thing... that maybe you can help me with? Do I love him *too* much? How do I go about not thinking about the future too much... i mean marriage w/e thats fine if we dont think about it talk about it but...

how do i go from believing he's someone that I would like to be there in the future, to not thinking about it much? Because it's something that I've gotten used to just feeling like a "constant"...

or is it ok that I feel like he's that kind of constant? haha. Maybe these are dumb questions. But I don't want to screw this up over some stupid misunderstanding. I mean we're fine now, I think, but I do still sometmes feel weird/unsure about what I'm allowed to think about "future wise"

if that makes sense?


Veronica profile image

Veronica 6 years ago from NY Author

v-we,

At your extremely young age, yes you do love him too much. You should be loving your career and your life and your passions that much, and focusing on you and becoming the best you that you can be. You can not be a good partner until you can be a great You. Take this energy that you're putting into obsessing over this guy and invest it into You.


v_we 6 years ago

well how do i stop loving him "too" much.

i love what im studying and do all my passions, and do tons of stuff. its pretty easy to do when im in a long distance relationship. how do i love him less?


sarah_21 6 years ago

v-we, i totally understand everything you're going through right now. i'm doing long distance right now too and its really hard not to talk about the future. We did long distance once before and I kind of pulled the same "I need space I want to do my own thing" speech. Except my boyfriend was pretty good about it. He was very upset but then calmed down and told me that I could see other people if I wanted, etc etc. Over the next couple of weeks I realized that he was the only one I wanted. I never even really saw anyone else. A lot of other things have happened since then. I came home, things were good, things got bad, things got worse, things got better... Now he is the one who has moved and things are pretty great when we see each other and great most of the time overall until we get frustrated by the distance. We're constantly talking of the future now because it is indeed a time when we can finally be together again in a less temporary sense.

So my advice is just try to be supportive and loving and give some space but not too much. And give yourself space too. It will work itself out, or it won't.

Good luck. I'm with you on this one.

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