Tuesday, July 27, 2010

She Wants a Parent, Not a Partner

Time to reach back several months to a Dear Abby letter I wanted to cover. AT A CROSSROADS IN ILLINOIS wrote:

I have been seeing "Hillary" for a little more than a year. We're both in our late 20s and just starting our careers. We both live with our parents.
Everything was good until that last sentence. You both need to establish yourselves as independent adults.

We've been having problems because I'm not willing to move in with her. I have told Hillary many times that there is no audition for marriage, but she's convinced it would "bring us closer."
She wants you to be Daddy. Shacking up is a bad idea. If you're mainly in it for the sex, you haven nothing go gain and a lot to lose by shacking up. If you're looking to get married, your chances of a lasting marriage are better if you don't shack up.

I admit, I'd like to take things slow (call me old-fashioned), but Hillary doesn't know if she can wait until I feel ready to take this step or propose.
Don't let her threaten you. If she doesn't like the way you do things, she's free to see others.

Our parents are not exactly rooting for us, so we're taking another break from things.
Do you want to be married to someone who 1) never lived by herself (as the letter later emphasizes) or at least on her own with a roommate; 2) tries to pressure you; 3) your parents don't like; 4) who has parents who don't like you? Is that what you want for the rest of your life?

I suggested that we both find our own places for the time being.
Good idea. Do that. If she stops seeing you, fill your time with others.

Even Dear Abby replied:

Neither you nor Hillary seem ready for the kind of commitment she's angling for right now. What's clear to me is that she wants to get out of her parents' house…Your suggestion about getting separate apartments is a good one.
Don't fall into the trap of becoming the new parent when you're looking for a partner – especially when she probably wants the money and protection and attention of a parent, but not the authority of a parent. If you do go ahead and decide to propose to her, make sure you negotiate a killer dowry from her father.

I know that in the old days, women lived in their father or brother's house until they married. But times were different back then. Women often consumed their time helping out around the house or in the family business, and men would court a woman by visiting the home and talking with the family. Women now have equal access (or better) to higher education and the professional workplace and are getting married later. Especially in struggling economies, I understand that some adults move back home for a while. But that is different than never leaving in the first place.

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