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Ask Ellie: If partner swears off marriage, it's time to reassess

If you want marriage and kids, he’s not the man for you

Dear Ellie: I’m a single woman, age 29, never married, and in love with a man who says that he loves me. He’s five years older than me and divorced. He had a girlfriend for several years, but they only lived together on weekends.

I recently learned that they broke up because she wanted to move in with him full-time, and he wouldn’t agree to that plan.

I mention this because I fear something’s going on with my boyfriend … not cheating or ­anything like that, but regarding his not wanting to become “a couple.”

We’ve been dating as lovers for 18 months. We’d met online before COVID, then grew close emotionally during lockdowns, until we could meet in person.

We’ve been devoted to each other ever since — talking/texting several times a day, having dinners at my place at least twice a week, and staying at Airbnb’s for weekends every couple of months.

Recently, I told him that our relationship feels like a whirlwind romance and he said he agreed.

I then said we should start planning our future together, because by 30 or even 31, I’d like to get married and consider starting a family. I thought he’d be excited to get started on that part of his life.

Instead, his whole attitude changed, and he said, “been there, done that.”

I was shocked, but decided to wait and discuss it at another time. His reaction was even colder.

He said our life together was “perfect” as is, that he was never again going to risk a divorce because he’d already lost half of his hard-earned money and had to sell the house he’d loved to pay off his greedy wife’s demands.

I’m beginning to believe that this is the reason he never wanted to live together full-time with his previous girlfriend and now not with me, either.

I thought we were perfect together. Should I consider just carrying on as before and hoping he’ll realize he has nothing to worry from me?

Do you see any chance of my getting him to change his mind, since I’m so openly in love with him and would never try to “take him for everything” in the unfair way that his ex did?

I thought we were perfect together. Also, I do own my own place, so should I just consider carrying on as before?

Please tell me if I’m overreacting.


You’re definitely not overreacting!

The seeming quality of your love relationship was a natural at both your ages, for planning ahead toward a full-time union … including marriage and the possibility of having a child.

But that’s a door he closed firmly after his divorce, and hasn’t opened at all since. He’s a man who still feels he was done in by his ex.

Instead of just accepting his view and hoping he’ll change it, get better informed about the family court laws on divorce in your jurisdiction. His ex might have received, financially, exactly what she was legally entitled to receive… e.g., half the shared assets.

As you learn such legal realities, it’ll seem even more apparent that this man is fixated on his resentment from the past.

To be fair, his ex might have been as grasping as he describes. There are angry/stubborn/selfish people of all genders in some very difficult break-ups. But that’s not you.

My advice? If you want marriage and kids, he’s not the man for you.

Ellie’s tip of the day

When a romantic partner equates “marriage” as a divorce trap/money grab, reassess the relationship.

Send relationship questions to [email protected].