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At 24 He Completely Flip-Flopped on Marriage! What Should I Do?

Updated on February 8, 2010

Dear Veronica,

I need your advice. My now ex-fiancé just ended our relationship. We were together for 7 years and he proposed a few months ago. We are both 24 and have started great careers. We talked about spending our lives together for a long time, but wanted to wait until we were both financially stable. We talked about our future and what we wanted and I thought this is what he wanted. At his initiative, we began looking at houses before we got engaged and after. He says he loves me but doesn't want to get married anymore and doesn't want a relationship. I can respect his honesty, but I am having a very hard time dealing with it. It was a complete shock to me and both our families. We have both been pretty stressed lately with a lot going on around us. I thought it may have been the stress of everything, but now I think it may be more than that. I have stood by him and supported through many tough times in his life and been there for him when he needed it. He says he is scared to get married and I understand that and told him we don't have to get married right now, we can wait a few years. He won't talk to anyone about any of this. I know our love is that once in a lifetime kind of love. We are best friends and he is the love of my life, I don't want to give up on that, but I don't know what to do. Please help.

Dear Rachel,

Two things are going on.

One thing I'm sure is going on with your ex is the physiological changes he's gone through recently. Literally, parts of his brain (frontal lobes) developed giving him the ability to understand commitment and long term consequence for the very first time. This is alot bigger than you may realize. It does not mean he's merely thinking differently now. It means physically his brain now has the capacity to grasp concepts he could not grasp before. He is a different person at 24 than he was 7 years ago. He is moving through different stages of practical application regarding his new comprehensions. It makes perfect sense that his first reaction might be to cling to you and become more committed, and then becoming completely overwhelmed and accepting his inability to handle this right now or to make a commitment at this time. He may even feel an aversion to it. This is completely normal, and completely common. I'm sure you've heard many authorities say that people under 25 are too young to get married. Well, this is why. Aren't you glad you didn't get married to him when you kids were 22, only to find out 1 or 2 years later he doesn't even know if he wants to be in a relationship let alone married. 

I think though, there is a second thing going on here. It does not bother me at all that his brain is physiologically different now and he is rethinking relationships. It bothers me that he doesn't want to talk to you about it.

If you two really are best friends, he should not be adverse to talking to you about this. Only you can solve this part of the problem. Why doesn't he want to talk? Did he find someone else he likes talking to? Has he become honest with himself about who he really is and what he really wants in a friend or a partner?

Or, is it that he just can't talk to you. Your note to me sounds like you're smart, sweet, understanding, and loyal to him. But you also slip in things like that you and both your families are just shocked at his behavior. Are you being his best friend through this, or are you making him feel like his behavior is shocking, and there's something wrong with him? Are you contributing to his feeling like he's let everyone down? Obviously that is only going to solidify his feeling that he should not be in relationship. 

I'm not saying you're wrong. I'm saying, if you want to get through this, you have to rethink your approach here. Things like, his saying he's scared to get married: Your response was that you can wait a few years.

He's feeling judged, self conscious, rejected, or that there's something wrong with him so he's pulling away. That response didn't address his needs, it reworked yours.

If you want to get through this, your response needs to be less about you and what you want (marriage in a few years) and more about what he needs right now. "OK, so marriage is off the table right now. Let's not even talk about that. You know what, let's not talk about relationships. Let's just be us. Let's have fun, let's go shoot some pool." 

Of course, you have every right to want what you want. You do have a choice. You can go on from here without him. Or you can still most likely have him but for that you're going to have to be patient, smart, and you're going to have to be a friend before being a bride with an agenda. I'm not even saying he won't marry you in a few years. I'm saying that right now today he isn't capable of knowing that or discussing it.

I can't guarantee that your patience will pay off. But I can guarantee this much: if you aren't willing to give it a try, you're probably not ready to make the commitment to be a life partner.

Try being a friend. Try not judging or pushing or imposing. Let things move at his pace. Try just hanging out and being understanding. Remind him of why he spent 7 years with you: you're fun, easy to be with, you're supportive and easy to talk to. Once he starts talking to you, things may change. He may fall in love with you all over again. And this time, it may be for good.

This Hub

was written by Veronica for hubpages. If you are reading it elsewhere it has been stolen.

All text is original content by Veronica. All photos are used with permission. All videos are courtesy of youtube.

Do you have a relationship question? Email me, I'm happy to help.


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    heart~ 7 years ago

    Dear Veronica,

    I too need your advice. I'll try to keep it short: me (27) and my fiance (30) went to another country together to buy the wedding dress, we've been sort of planning our wedding and saving money for the wedding, my valentine's gift was the dress for the civil. We love each other very much and do as much as we can to make each other happy. All of a sudden (since the loss of his grandmother) he's saying he doesn't know if he wants to get married, he's freaking out and thinks that we might forced the relationship because we've been through so many things (failed pregnancies, ups and downs, support when I didn't have a job etc etc) but he also makes clear that it's not like he does not want to marry me,he wants to marry but is just having second thoughts. Besides this, there's another problem, we are living in the UK at the moment the plan was to get married and move to the US because we want to start a life there. He doesn't want to be in the UK anymore so if we don't get married I can't go the US. I'm not sure what is happening, I'm confused and without me wanting I find myself withdrawing and not wanting him around because I'm so hurt.

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    LaVie 7 years ago

    I've been reading your hubs and you are a good adviser!

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    Sandy Mertens 8 years ago from Wisconsin, USA

    I like your self help Hub here. I will be back for more of your advice.