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He's Happy With the Way Things Are, But I'm Not 

Dear Athena,

I'm in my thirties and am dating a man who's nearly 50. We've been together for a few years; we also share a business. I love him and want to be with him, but I know he is really not into anything too serious. I wanted to move in, and he wasn't into it, but then he gave me a drawer to leave stuff in at his place. I know he's not into getting married, and I don't know if I am. And what about kids one day? I don't know if he's into that, either. I really don't want to seem too needy — that would be a turn-off. He's happy with the way things are, but I want things to be better. I don't need a ring, but I feel like I want something more, and I'm not sure he can do it. What should I do?



Dear Stuck,

When was the last time you two had a real talk about your relationship? It sounds like it's high time for another one.

Before you sit down and talk about your future, you need to determine what you are and are not willing to negotiate. You have to ask yourself some serious questions. I'll help you make a list.

Do you want kids? If you do, or think you will one day, you need to talk about it with your guy. If he's not "into" it, that alone could be a deal breaker. It would be a real shame if you stuck around hoping he'll change his mind. Starting a family is major, and you really don't want to stay with someone who doesn't share your feelings on the matter.

What kind of commitment do you need, if not a ring or wedding vows? What guarantee can he give you that will set your heart at ease? Maybe he wants to spend the rest of his life with you but doesn't want to make it a legal commitment. You don't have to be married to be in a serious, long-term relationship — but you do need to be on the same page about it.

Are you willing to give up the business if things don't work out? Or could you still work with him if he wasn't your boyfriend? You must discuss the possibilities with him and decide what you would do if your relationship status changed.

What's most important is that you don't feel "needy" for wanting an emotional commitment from your partner. Wanting to know where things stand isn't needy; it's logical. And what's wrong with having needs in the first place?

You have to take care of you, no matter what. You're responsible for your happiness, and only you know what will make you happy. Regardless of the arrangement you decide upon, you should always feel empowered to ask for what you want. If you don't, you won't get it. And he won't know how to give it until you put it out there. So give it a shot.



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