The following is an excerpt from GIRL: Love, Sex, Romance, and Being You, by Karen Rayne, Ph.D., published by Magination Press, an imprint of the American Psychological Association. GIRL is an inclusive guide for all self-identified girls to gender and identity, dating and romance, and healthy sexuality. Karen Rayne is a nationally recognized educator, trainer, author, and expert in sexuality education.
Who's Supposed to Ask Who Out?
Because the cultural concept of a date is old fashioned, it’s hard to say who’s supposed to ask who out. We could fall back on the old-fashioned rules, which say that the boy is supposed to ask the girl out, end of conversation. But that doesn’t make a lot of sense if you like a boy and you want to ask him out. And, it doesn’t make any sense if you’re interested in women and/or if you’re trans and not out and/or if you’re gender non-binary and/or many, many other problems with the boy-asks-girl rule. A strict understanding of gender roles just doesn’t hold water anymore, which adds to the confusion around the entire dating paradigm in the first place. If you can’t figure out who’s supposed to ask who out, of course dating as a cultural practice is going to fall away. So, here’s the answer: A person who likes another person is supposed to be the one to reach out. Not necessarily to ask the other person on a date, but to express interest, to gauge the other person’s interest, and to suggest that they spend some time together.
How Do You Ask Someone?
You ask someone by being emotionally vulnerable, clearly communicating your interest, and being honest about your interest in them. You use the communication skills you have at hand to invite the person you’re interested in to be emotionally vulnerable, to clearly communicate their interest, or lack thereof, in you, and to be honest with you.
Another way to think about this process is that you are inviting someone into a space of exploring a healthy relationship, whether that intended relationship be a short hookup, a longer relationship, or an exploration of the options. Here are some details on how to go about that invitation:
Express Your Emotions
Emotions are tricky. When asking someone out, you need to tell them about your feelings without knowing their feelings, or at least without being sure of their feelings. The potential for rejection exists when you ask someone to hang out with you. If you don’t know a person very well, you may worry that rejection will be harsh or dismissive. In those situations, it can be easier to not express why or how much you want to spend time with that person. You might decide to ask for something lower-stakes, like inviting them to a party that you’re throwing or to participate in some other large group activity with you and your friends. These kinds of activities are never a bad idea for the first time hanging out with someone.
If you were to walk up to your person of interest and start talking, but interrupt yourself several times to start again, to apologize for taking their time, and then to say never mind and walk off, you’ve missed an opportunity to communicate with clarity. To avoid this sort of thing, plan out what you're going to say before you start talking or texting.
If you know that you are ready to start something with someone, you should let them know that. If you want to get to know someone better with the hope of eventually having something more serious, be clear about that intention. You could tell them that you think they're cool and you want to get to know them better. Regardless of what your interest is, it's so important to be honest about it.
Whether you've never had sex at all, or you're considering having sex with a new partner, there are a few things you may want to consider. Many of us are unfortunately under-educated or misinformed about sex because of the poor curriculums at most schools, making it all the more difficult to gauge when would be a healthy time to consider taking this intimate step. The fact is, so much goes into the decision: the timing, the location, your mental state, and most importantly: the person you're planning to do it with. Obviously this is all a lot to consider and things don't always go as planned — hence why we have an entire post dedicated to girls sharing what they wish they'd known before having sex for the first time.
More than anything, though, you want to feel ready. But what does that mean? We turned to 7 experts for their insight on the subject to help guide you through. Herein, all they had to say.
Having the right partner is key
"The right partner is someone who makes you feel safe–physically and emotionally. The right time is when it aligns with your your personal values, life goals, relationship goals, and emotional and physical needs. When you fully trust your partner, feel comfortable in your surroundings, and feel totally empowered in your decision, sex can be a source of joy and pleasure. But when those things are not aligned, it can be a source of stress and pain." — Jared Matthew Weiss, founder of adult sex education community Touchpoint
Know what makes you feel good
"Picture yourself with your potential partner. Do you know what kinds of touch provide you with pleasure? Can you imagine speaking up and asking for what you need? If things don’t go smoothly (sex is full of possible awkward moments), do you think you’ll be comfortable talking with your partner? Have you explored birth control options and STI protection? If the answer to any of these questions is 'no,' I recommend sticking with self-pleasure and partnered activities like mutual masturbation. You can’t guarantee your first experience will result in mind-blowing orgasms, but you can guarantee it feels empowering and fun. So why not take the time to make sure it’s the best it can be?" — Kim Sedgwick, co-founder of Red Tent Sisters
Have sex because YOU want to
"In relationships, we sometimes feel the need to do certain things to please the other person. And this desire is absolutely healthy and necessary to sustain a relationship. However, sex is not one of the things we should be doing for anyone but ourselves. Have sex because YOU want to have sex. And be absolutely sure that's the case." — Crystal Rice, Therapeutic Consultant
If you can't talk about STDs, you're not ready
"I think you may know that you are ready to sex if you can discuss the consequences of sex openly with your partner. You have to be able to ask your partner if he [or she] has ever had or currently has any sexually transmitted infections. You also need to be able to discuss how you and your partner would handle a potential pregnancy. Although these may not be steamy or romantic topics to discuss in the heat of the moment, if you cannot discuss the consequences of having sex or you don’t know the consequences, then you are not ready to have sex." — Dr. Celia Trotta, Board Certified Psychiatrist
Make sure both you AND your partner are comfortable and ready
"It's sort of like wanting a boyfriend or girlfriend, but not having a good guy or girl in your life that you want to date. Try not to latch onto wanting a boyfriend or girlfriend until you can put a name to the idea. Likewise, don't try to figure out whether you're ready to have sex until you're thinking about it with a specific person. Then ask yourself — and them — whether you're both ready to have sex with each other. At the very least, you should feel like your partner respects you, appreciates you, and values you. Ideally, you'll also have that respect not only for them, but for yourself, as well." — Michael Noker, Relationship Writer and Host of Single AF Podcast
If you're grossed out by bodily fluids, you're not ready
"Despite what you hear, a lot of people aren't having sex. There's a lot of talk, but not as much action as you'd think. I surveyed 900 young adults aged 18 to 25 about how many partners they've had in their lives. How many would you guess? The median answer was three; the single most common answer was one. So if you decide to wait until your time, you'll be in good company. Also, it's really, really vulnerable to be completely naked in front of someone. Plus there are bodily fluids involved with sex; you get sweaty, you have to clean up afterward. If that scares you or grosses you out, you're probably not ready yet. Spend more time making out and getting comfortable with them." Jill Whitney, Licensed marriage and family therapist
You should never feel pressured
"No matter what, you are going to be nervous. The most important thing to remember is that you should never feel pressured and you can say no at any time. You're then only one who will know, in your heart, if you are ready or not. Trust your intuition." — Jody Bailey of The Erotic Life
Having sexual desire is important
"Without active desire, you are less sure that you’re acting out of your own actual agency, and you may be less likely to have a good experience. There’s no real reason to hasten to have a sexual experience if you can’t optimize it by feeling ready, trusting, informed, and acting from a real space of choice. Many adults spend years (even decades sometimes) getting over bad early sexual experiences, or bad habits cemented early that come about because you don’t have the knowledge to do something differently (or ask that of a partner). So the final two things I’d say here are: knowledge is crucial, and so is being able to communicate it." — Carol Queen, Author of The Sex & Pleasure Book: Good Vibrations Guide to Great Sex for Everyone
This article was co-authored by Kelli Miller, LCSW, MSW. Kelli Miller is a Psychotherapist, Author, and TV/radio host based in Los Angeles, California. Kelli is currently in private practice and specializes in individual and couples’ relationships, depression, anxiety, sexuality, communication, parenting, and more. Kelli also facilitates groups for those struggling with alcohol and drug addiction as well as anger management groups. As an author, she received a Next Generation Indie Book Award for her book “Thriving with ADHD: A Workbook for Kids” and also wrote “Professor Kelli’s Guide to Finding a Husband”. Kelli was a host on LA Talk Radio, a relationship expert for The Examiner, and speaks globally. You can also see her work on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/kellibmiller, Instagram @kellimillertherapy, and her website: www.kellimillertherapy.com. She received her MSW (Masters of Social Work) from the University of Pennsylvania and a BA in Sociology/Health from the University of Florida.
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Sex can be a wonderful thing, if you are ready to become sexually active. If you are not ready, then it can have some severe consequences including emotional problems, sexually transmitted infections, and even unintended pregnancy. There are several ways that you can determine if you are ready to start having sex. If you decide that you are ready for sex, you will need to discuss concerns and expectations with your partner and make a plan for protecting yourselves. Doing these things will help to ensure that your first time will be safe and enjoyable.
At one time or another, almost every married person I know (including my husband and me) has questioned whether or not to call it quits.
It’s an incredibly painful question to ask yourself because the only way to answer it is to dig down deep, way past the superficial hurts.
And for most of us, there’s no black and white answer about whether you’re ready to leave your marriage or not.
There are just too many things to weigh and consider as you figure out what’s best for you (and your kids).
At its heart, your question is really about values, respect and what you fundamentally want for your life. (No one besides you will know how to answer this question for you.)
However, sometimes by looking at your marriage from different angles, you can gain clarity.
Here are six key questions to consider as you determine the larger question of whether you’re ready to end your marriage, work to make it better, or just accept it as it is:
1. How is your sex life?
Sex is an important part of marriage. At its best, sex is a baring and sharing of both bodies and souls. At its worst, it’s just another chore to either do or ignore. The two most concerning sexual problems to have are these:
- You feel trapped, scared or sad when you think about sex with your spouse (and you’re not in a sexually abusive situation).
- You’ve not had sex for a really long time (think a year or more without medical restrictions) despite wanting and asking for it.
In and of themselves, neither of these problems necessitate the need to divorce, but they are most definitely situations that you must address.
If your sex life isn’t what you want it to be, this is a golden opportunity for you to reach out and get help. You don’t have to continue to live like this. You deserve better and I can help you find the path to getting there.
2. Do you still have basic respect for each other?
Mutual respect is critical for any successful marriage, yet there are moments in every marriage when respect, unfortunately, goes out the window. There might be a serious problem if you feel either of these two things to be true:
- You’ve lost ALL positive feelings for your spouse.
- You believe your spouse can do nothing right.
This isn’t a one-way street though. Obviously, if you (the “core you”) truly believe that your spouse has lost respect for you, then that’s a problem too. And you need to consider it as you determine your course of action.
If respect is lacking in your marriage, you need to know that it is possible to find respect again.
It won’t show up overnight and you might need to start with showing yourself some respect. (I’ve helped many people rediscover the respect that their marriage was lacking.)
3. Do you find fault instead of finding solutions?
Sometimes it’s so much easier to play the blame game than to step up to the plate and admit your part in creating the current situation. It’s normal to do this once in a while, but spouses who consistently blame their partner typically do so because they’re too self-absorbed, too easily insulted, or simply ignoring the obvious solutions because their hurt (and resentment) runs too deep.
Ending the blame game requires one of you to stop playing, get courageous, and change the rules.
It’s by your willingness to change that you allow your spouse the opportunity to change too. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean your spouse will take advantage of the opportunity in the way you want them to.
However, you won’t know what’s possible if you don’t quit finding fault and start finding solutions.
4. Have you developed bad habits?
Now, I’m not talking here about the little annoying habits that we’ve all got. I’m talking about biggies, such as:
- You’ve become just parents instead of remaining lovers and partners.
- Deception, lying, cheating (like feeling the need for a separate/private/secret phone) exist in the relationship.
- Bad/non-existent communication leads to fighting all the time or no fighting at all.
- You maintain a vice-like grip on the bad things that happened in the past and use them as weapons again and again and again.
- Every situation becomes a fight instead of asking how you can fix or deal with this.
- You’re so tired of trying that you just can’t force yourself to do so one second longer.
- You both refuse to meet each other’s needs.
- You’re living separate lives where you don’t really know or care about what’s going on with each other.
- You’ve stopped communicating about anything substantial.
Luckily, habits can be changed – even the bad ones. And even better, when you change, you encourage your spouse to change their bad habits too.
Yet changing habits takes work and awareness that most of us don’t naturally possess. (If we did, we would have already changed our habits.)
Most of us need someone else to help us change our behavior. When you’re ready to explore how changing your habits could change your marriage, it’s time to reach out for unbiased support.
5. Have you remained in your marriage solely because of religious beliefs?
For some people this is enough reason to stay in a marriage and work on it for a lifetime. But for others, their religious beliefs may be masking one or more fears such as loss, the unknown future or even judgment.
If you’re staying in your marriage for religious beliefs, but aren’t willing or able to work on your marriage we need to talk. Living in fear and misery is no way to live your life. You deserve so much more.
6. Are you and your spouse’s visions for the future different?
Do you have incompatible ideas about whether or not to have children, where to retire or even moral and ethical differences? These different visions could provide some interesting discussions (and maybe a few arguments) as you try to reconcile your different dreams and reach a compromise. Or, maybe they’re the last straw.
These 6 questions will help you more thoroughly evaluate whether leaving your marriage is the right answer for you or not. And that’s all they can do.
For some these questions are enough to help them feel more confident in making their decision.
For others, these questions add more confusion to an already confusing situation. If this is you, you may be ready to take the first step toward working with me as your personal coach by scheduling a private consultation.
Together we’ll figure out what your next best step is in determining whether you can save your marriage or if leaving your marriage is the right answer for you.
If things seem to be going well with someone you just started dating, you might begin to wonder if they’re truly interested in a long-term relationship. It’s common to speculate, and search for signs they’re as happy and interested in commitment as you are. But even though it may be awkward, it’s almost always better to skip all that and simply ask.
"You don’t want to fall for a person who doesn’t share your goals," Jonathan Bennett, relationship and dating expert at Double Trust Dating, tells Bustle. "Knowing the truth quickly will allow you to find and date different people who want a long-term relationship." There are, however, a few early signs and signals to watch out for that may mean this person is thinking long-term — even if you haven’t had that chat yet.
Once you notice these signs, it should give you the confidence to talk about the future. "If you think the person is interested in commitment and you have that same goal, I would advise working to move the relationship in a more committed direction," Bennett says. "Be intentional about having important conversations, like defining the relationship and establishing some degree of exclusivity." That way, you can both be on the same page — no speculation required. Here, a few ways to tell if someone might be interested in a long-term relationship, according to experts.
They’ve Had Long-Term Relationships In The Past
If your new love interest seems like they might be interested in something long-term, you very well may be right — especially if they have a history of commitment.
"Past behavior is the biggest predictor of future behavior," Bennett says. "If the person you’re dating has typically pursued long-lasting relationships, it’s a very good sign [they] will want to get into another one."
How do you know when you’re ready for marriage? That’s the million-dollar question. Pose that question to the outside world and you’ll likely get the played-out, “When you know, you know!” A successful marriage takes more than being madly in love—some prepared self-awareness is crucial, too.
Ahead, we’ve rounded up 17 mostly serious, sometimes funny signs to help you tell if you’re actually ready to get married.
1. You Love Yourself
You can't be happy with someone else until you're 100 percent happy with yourself. Sure, you can ask for your partner's support when you're upset, but as marriage coach Lesli Doares says, "Being married is about joining two lives together, not giving up one. Being content in your own skin means you won't be looking to your partner to fill voids in your life."
2. You Start Seriously Relating to Love Songs You Once Called "Silly"
Oh, man. You used to make fun of those mushy-gushy ballads that described physical aching when a lover was away. But all of a sudden, bae takes a business trip and your chest is heavy, your insides are squirming, and you just cried at a gum commercial. Oof.
3. You're Not Still Searching for a Better, Better Half
This feels like a no-brainer, but please tell us you've deleted the dating apps and ceased all communication with the cutie at the dog park if you're considering "for better or for worse" with someone else.
Speaking of better, instead of secretly wondering if he/she is the best you can do, focus on making your relationship the BEST it can be. (Spoiler: If you decide to get married, you'll do this for the rest of your life.)
4. You've Got More Than Your Significant Other on Your Side
Nobody knows you better than your friends and family, so if they're telling you this is the finish line—GREAT! But if they're bringing up red flags about you-know-who, it might be time to pump the brakes and address those concerns.
5. You Kinda Feel Like Superheroes Together
Whether it's tag-teaming a grocery list or assembling a particularly devilish piece of Ikea furniture, if there are moments when your dynamic duo could take on the world, this is a good sign. Peak coupledom is all about teamwork and creative problem-solving. If you're always ready to save the day together, then you can start thinking about save-the-dates.
6. You Have No Problem Apologizing
Everyone effs up at some point, so if you're taking on forever with someone, you must have the ability to look that partner in the face and say, "My bad." And it has to be sincere!
7. You Don't Threaten to Leave When Discussions Get Heated
If something in your kitchen catches on fire, the absolute worst thing to do would be running out of the house, right? If your romantic counterpart is avoiding difficult discussions or throwing out menacing ultimatums, that should sound some alarms. Marriage is about working as a team to put out the flames when they arise. There's a reason firefighters are sexy.
8. You Can Discuss Exes With Minimal Drama
Speaking of fiery conversation topics. We know ex-talk can bring up some icky memories, but it's important to confirm that the person you're with 1) is completely over any old flames and 2) learned from his/her previous relationships. Too many "crazy exes" might indicate the problem may actually lie with the accuser.
9. You Recognize Effort Is Mandatory
Everyone loves to say that true love is effortless. That's bull. Maybe the affection is easy at times and the wanting to work on your problems is natural, but the actual relationship work itself is just that—WORK. Make that distinction upfront, and be sure you and your partner don't have any delusions about "rainbows and butterflies."
10. You've Perfected the Maintenance Text
Now for some good news about the above-mentioned effort: It doesn’t have to be exhausting all the time. An indication that you and your (maybe!) future fiancé understand the thoughtfulness required for spousehood is “the maintenance text.” A maintenance text is not meant for information swapping. Rather, it just says, “Hi, this thing reminded me of you and I care enough about making you smile to let you know.” The best ones involve inside jokes or hilarious GIFs.
11. You're Financially Stable(ish)
Oh, gross. We're talking about money. Alas, it's one of the top reasons couples report bickering with their partners. While you obviously don't have to be Bill Gates–rich to get married, you do have to be fiscally responsible as a pair, and that means being able to openly communicate about all your joint and personal #MoneyMoves.
12. You're Willing to Participate in Each Other's Hobbies
You never fancied yourself a fly fisher. But, if you went out and bought waders and a rod just because so-and-so loves steamed trout, you're in deep, friend—and we don't just mean in a cold river here.
13. You Don't Need Inanimate Objects to Have a Good Time
If you can't hang out alone sans Netflix or iPhones, then do you really have a connection beyond a joint appreciation for WiFi?
14. You Don't Set Tests for One Another
“Why didn’t you text back within seven minutes?” “What if I take a mold of your thumbprint in your sleep and use it to unlock your iPhone? Will you have texted a super good-looking human who wasn’t me in the past 240 threads?” Giving your partner “chances” that are actually booby traps reveals there’s deep insecurity surrounding this relationship, and it’s not ready for aisle talk yet. (Though, we do recommend regular talk ASAP.)
15. You're Still Discovering New Things About One Another
Periods of boredom and monotony are normal, but if you're still uncovering happy surprises about each other after years of being together, that's due to some conscious attempts at engagement on your part, and that's encouraging for the future.
16. You Start Putting Them Down as Your Emergency Contact
Before mom!? Book the venue. You're ready.
17. Your Partner Relates to All of These Signs, Too
Marriage isn't a two-for-one deal; both of you have to feel these sappy feels while also committing to toughing out the crappy parts.
So, you’ve got a crush – now what? You can always watch their Instagram Stories or try to "accidentally" run into them while you’re both out and about. There’s also the method of convincing your mutual friends to create an event where you two can see each other. The problem with these plans is you’re leaving it all up to chance. If you want to hang out for real, it’s time to send one of these casual texts to your crush. Sure, it’s scary, but if you know how to ask someone to hang out in a casual way, it could all work out in the end.
It’s time to stop scheming and hoping for the universe to magically deliver you your crush. You’ve got to take matters into your own hands. Of course, that’s way easier said than done when you’ve got a potential rejection on the line. That’s why keeping it low-key is the way to go. If you know how to ask your crush to hang out the right way, it’ll feel like you’re just testing the waters. You’re keeping it cool and there are less stakes involved.
Not to mention, when you take control of the situation, there’s something super sexy about that. You’re making the first move, which gives you the upper hand. So, if they do decide to say no, you at least come off as a confident main character who’s ready to move on to your next fling. The only issue is deciding on what to say. You want to keep those chill vibes going and knowing how to ask someone to hang out over text takes skill. Luckily for you, there are plenty of casual texts you can send to your crush depending on what situation you’re in.
It’s OK if you’re feeling a little shy, but don’t let the fear of rejection hold you back. If you don’t want to totally lay yourself on the line, take a subtle approach. You can let them know that you’re looking to hang without actually confessing your crush. That way, you can play the invitation off as platonic if you need to save face.
- "Are you going to Lauren’s party tonight? I’d love to see you there."
- "It was great running into you last week. We should make that happen more often (and maybe on purpose next time)."
- "What are your thoughts on pizza? A new place just opened up, and I’ve been looking for someone to check it out with me."
- "I feel like I haven’t seen you in forever. Are you around to catch up over coffee this week?"
- "The weather is supposed to be great this weekend. If you’re looking for someone to take advantage of it with, hit me up."
Believe it or not, you can express your needs without actually seeming needy. Make your crush believe they have something that you need, whether that is a skill, knowhow, or just great company. Not only will your crush feel flattered — it will also give you an excuse to hang out without actually asking them out.
- "Are you down for going to Game of Thrones bar trivia tomorrow night? You know that show better than anyone."
- "I’m in desperate need of a study buddy. Are you free on Sunday to hit the library with me?"
- "I have a coworker’s housewarming coming up this weekend, but I’m kind of dreading going on my own. How about you join me and make it more fun?"
- "You’re a major movie buff, right? Want to come see this artsy flick with me this weekend and explain it to me?"
- "I’ve been craving some good sushi. If you take me to the best sushi restaurant you know, then dinner is on me."
If beating around the bush isn’t your thing, then more power to you. Go ahead and leave no ambiguity about what you want by telling your crush exactly how you feel. After all, setting a date and making a plan will make it harder for your crush to say "no" than an open-ended invite might. Plus, you can still keep your message light so you don’t freak them out by coming on too strong.
- "You. Me. Bowling this weekend. I want to see if you’re as good as you say you are."
- "Full disclosure: I think you’re cute. Want to be cute together over drinks this week?"
- "It’s been so long since I’ve seen you. Can we get dinner tomorrow so I can confirm you’re as attractive as I remember you being?"
- "So I’ve been crushing on you for a while now. Want to make my day by asking me out?"
- "I’ve been thinking about you a lot lately, and I think that means I should finally ask you on a date. What does your week look like?"
Sometimes, you’ve got to show your crush that you’re taking notes. By mentioning something they’ve said or posted in their Instagram Story, you’re showing that you’re interested in what they like. It’s another subtle way to show them you care by stroking their ego a bit. Use the info you know to set up a hang they cannot deny.
- “Remember when you said you know the best place in town for tacos? Well, a new place just opened up in my hood. Wanna see how it compares?
- “I know you’re a basketball fan. I ended up with two tickets to the game on Friday if you wanna tag along.”
- “Since you’re from New York, I’ve got to know your stance on pineapple on pizza. Maybe we could grab a slice later?”
- “Just finished marathon-watching The Office again. Please tell me you have a new show suggestion, and would you want to watch it together?”
- “What was that coffee shop you went to in your Insta Story the other day? It looked so cool. Would you want to go there together?”
Take these text ideas and make them your own. Be sure to put your own spin to them if needed. After all, you know what would interest your crush the best. Just remember it’s totally casual and cool that you’re taking reins to ask your crush to hang. No matter the outcome, you’re already winning. The date is just the cherry on top.
Editor’s Note: This story has been updated by Elite Daily Staff.
6 Things to Do When Telling Her You’re Not Ready to Get Hitched
Sometimes in a relationship, you’re not sure how to phrase a delicate subject or tricky topic. Sure, saying nothing at all is easy, but avoiding the subject doesn’t do anyone any good. Awkward Conversations provides you with a template for what to say — and what not to say — and why, so you can have those difficult discussions without them turning into full-blown fights.
Long-term relationships come with a certain set of expectations. When you’ve been dating someone for years, people start nudging you. Even if you’re not ready for marriage, they ask when you’re going to finally pop the question. They don’t know that you might not be ready for another five years, or maybe, you never even want to get married.
That’s OK, but it’s definitely a conversation that you need to have with your partner. You have to ensure that you’re both on the same page to avoid someone (or both of you) getting hurt down the line. Here are some helpful tips on how to navigate this minefield.
1. Find Out Where Her Head’s At
You might’ve avoided that awkward conversation until now, but if you’re reading this article, that’s probably a sign that it’s time to ask her what she wants. Not only is a proactive discussion the adult thing to do, italso means she won’t have to awkwardly drop hints such as “accidentally” leaving an engagement ring catalog in the bathroom.
You: “We’ve been together some time now, and I wanted to ask how you felt about the future. What do you see happening with us? What are your goals?”
Don’t be afraid to ask openly! Let her know she can be honest, no matter what. You’re not here to judge her answers.
2. Don’t Be Too Harsh
You: “Well, that’s just too bad that you want to get married, because I don’t.”
Her: “What do you mean, you don’t? Why not?”
You: “I just don’t.”
This is the kind of conversation that can turn ugly, fast.
Remember that finding out your partner doesn’t want to get married can be a very difficult thing to hear! It’s a bold declaration that has a lot of potential to upset someone, which is why you probably shouldn’t be so blunt. Instead, be gentle, and phrase it in a softer manner. This will help to de-escalate any tension around the subject.
You: “I don’t know how I feel about getting married. To be honest, I’m not sure that I’m ready for it. Let’s talk more about this because I want us to be on the same page with everything.”
3. Explain Your Reasoning
It might seem like you don’t need to explain your decision, but this isn’t like deciding on an ice cream flavor at the mall. This is something that will affect both you and your partner, so it’s only fair to provide the reasoning behind such a significant decision.
You: “I’m worried that I’m not ready for marriage. I’m not emotionally mature enough for it right now. Also, my career’s in a tricky place. It would be unkind to you to pretend otherwise, and marriage is such a big step. I don’t want to go into it with cold feet.”
The more you can do to explain your decision, the better. Just saying you’re not ready is such a vague, subjective statement that’ll almost certainly be frustrating for her. Provide context when possible. Do you have a phobia of commitment Have you seen your parents’ marriage break down? Do you simply not have faith in the institution of marriage? As a bonus, it’ll help her empathize with you if you speak your mind.
4. Emphasize That It’s Not About Her
You: “I want you to know that this isn’t about you at all. I hope you see that. I wouldn’t be ready for marriage no matter who I was dating. You’re wonderful, and I do want for us to be together long-term. This doesn’t affect that.”
When you say that you don’t want to get married, the other person might think it’s something they did, It’s hard not to take it personally, and she might think that you’re only in this for the short term, or that you don’t see her as marriage material. That would be a painful prospect for anyone to confront.
If you do want to be with this person for the long-term, tell her that. Explain why you have an aversion to marriage, but that doesn’t mean you can’t commit to her. Alleviate her of any fear and reassure her that you love her.
5. Be Prepared for a Difficult Reaction
Unfortunately, a fundamental disagreement like this is the kind of thing couples break up over. One person not wanting to get married could potentially be a dealbreaker. Whatever happens, it’s very possible that your partner will have a strong emotional reaction. If this happens, don’t freak out, and instead, Tty to provide verbal and emotional support as best you can. Recognize that, while to you, it feels like you’re just stating a preference, to her, she’s dealing with a powerful form of rejection.
You: “I’m so sorry that I had to deliver this news in this way. I wish I could have provided more. I’m here for you, no matter what.”
6. Resist the Urge to Lie
If you’re sure that you never want to get married, don’t tell her to wait a year in a misguided effort to spare her feelings. This will only lead to more heartache and confusion down the line. Instead, tell her the whole truth as gently as you can. If you do it with kindness, she’ll be much less likely to react angrily or to lash out.
Finally, tell her that you want to see if there is middle ground or any room for compromise. Couples often reach a halfway point on things like this, and it’s worthwhile to examine whether you have room to adjust, whether that’s by exploring the issue through more discussions, or even going to couples therapy. That way, you can get over this seemingly insurmountable obstacle, and have a happy, long-term relationship.