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Moving in or Moving On

Dear Philippa,

My girlfriend and I have been together for years. Although we maintain separate mailing addresses, we are always together either at her place or mine. I'm ready for the next step, moving in together and even marriage. She seems happy with the way things are right now. I don't want to pressure her but I feel like we might be headed on separate paths. What should I do?

�Sam, Northville, MI


Dear Sam,

Relationships progress through natural stages. As time passes and people form closer bonds it is natural to question where a relationship is heading. Both parties do not necessarily reach the same point in a relationship at the same time.

Like everyone says, a good relationship is all about communication. Nobody says communicating about this stuff is easy or comfortable. But most of us create more confusion by letting our imagination run overtime, misinterpreting someone's actions, and secretly building resentment and barriers.

You say your girlfriend seems happy with the status quo. Have you told your girlfriend how you feel? Do you think if you told her, you would scare her off?

Meanwhile you aren't happy and she is probably picking up on it and wondering if you're losing interest, seeing someone else, or if she has done something wrong.

Even if she has told you she isn't ready for change, that doesn't necessarily mean this has anything to do with you. For example, she may have intimacy issues that she needs to address with a counselor. If so, she will want to deal with this for herself and then for the relationship, not just to make you happy.

You need to decide what you truly want for yourself. How long are you willing to have things to stay as they are? What are your dreams? If you want to marry and have children in the next few years, does she share your dream? How do each of you view the relationship? How would each of you improve the relationship? Try and stand aside and see the relationship as an independent 3rd party, separate from each of your personal feelings and needs.

Sometimes we just drift into relationships without any thought of the future or what would really make us happy. We want so much to be in love and be loved that the future seems unimportant. If I could turn back the clock for people like you, I would suggest that you have this kind of dialogue early on in your emerging relationship. When people are dating they need to talk about their goals and vision for the future. Then couples need to keep talking about these things as time and needs change.

When you can put your needs and fears aside and accept whatever the outcome will bewhether your girlfriend shares your dream, or you accept her view, or you decide to splitthat's when amazing things in the relationship can start to happen. Be proud of yourself for wanting to take a good relationship to the next step. You deserve the reward of a fulfilling relationship that comes out of taking risks and questioning the status quo.



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