The road that any relationship takes is unique to the two people in it. Everyone has their own values, their own differing backgrounds, and their own ideas about what it means to date and whether or not that road will eventually lead to an altar. So, what do you do if you love your girlfriend, but you don't want to marry her? Let's look at some of the factors to consider when trying to make this decision.
- The Commitment Factor. First of all, using the term "girlfriend" usually means that some kind of agreement has been made by both parties that there is committed couplehood. If not, then there is probably no reason to be worried about pressure to get married. If you're not committed to the woman in question, then stop calling her your girlfriend, and that should clear things up for both of you. If you love her but you haven't committed to her, then I might suggest visiting a good therapist, or at least re-evaluating whether what you feel is actually love. If your relationship still qualifies, then read on.
- The Time Factor. It's true that often men and women view the timeline of a relationship differently. Men often just want to enjoy the togetherness and the benefits of having a steady girlfriend, but they don't necessarily feel that urge to start saving up for wedding bands and that special proposal. Women, on the other hand, often do have a set idea in their minds about just how long they want to wait-while investing in the relationship-before expecting that forever commitment. If you have been committed to your girlfriend for less than, say, six months, and she is dropping hints about getting married soon, you will need to sit her down and explain that you are not interested in getting married, and that will save her a lot of emotional anguish in the long run. At that point she will be able to make a decision for herself. Even if you love her, she really has that right to have the information and do what she needs to do for herself. If you have been dating longer, and you have been avoiding your girlfriend's hints about marriage and not responding, or even worse, agreeing with her, you need to come clean. Women are hurt much more by finding out they have wasted months or years and a lot of emotional energy by investing in you and their dreams than they are hurt by the honest truth. That is, if the truth comes sooner rather than later.
- The Expectation Factor. Women are much more molded growing up to expect marriage, babies, and a home life than men are. This is neither good or bad, but it can create a lot of problems if you are not wanting the same lifestyle or don't feel like you need a marriage commitment. It could benefit you to ask about your girlfriend's values regarding marriage and family early in your relationship, and do it before you have shared your own values so that she doesn't answer with something that will be sure to please you. You need to get to the truth. If you don't want to fall in love with a woman who wants to get married soon and start having children, finding out right away what your steady date's values are could save you both a lot of anguish in the long run.
- What to Do Now. If you are already in this situation-if you love your current girlfriend but you don't want to marry her-you need to consider whether you have conflicting values. Love will not conquer all. You should not get married under pressure from her, from family members, or from friends. Don't do it! But have a conversation. Be curious about her feelings and why she feels the way she does. Be honest about yours in return. If you love her, it could be one of the best gifts you could give.