After seven years, I’m not satisfied

Chat at 1. (A short one.)

Dear Meredith,

I've been going out with this guy for almost seven years now. Unfortunately, I've been feeling unsatisfied with our relationship as of late. Two main problems come to mind. First, I love him very much, but I feel like he is not working hard enough toward his goals. I just finished my degree, have a job, and I am planning to go back to school in order to get a better career. He, however, still has yet to finish his two-year schooling over the past five years. I have confronted him about it, but he tells me that he wants to do things at his own pace. I'm afraid that his pace is too slow for me. I am a pretty independent woman, but I’ve been thinking that we should move in together sometime soon, but not if he can't get his act together, finish his schooling, and get a career (he has a job but not a career). He is a pretty temperamental guy (not in a dangerous way), and will try to avoid confrontation and conflict whenever I bring this up. Is there any way for me to let him know how much this means to me?

Second, I feel as if our communication has dwindled. Over the course of seven years, I expected as much, but not to this extent. He doesn't call, and texts are very seldom. I am always the initiator when it comes to contacting each other. Heck, he doesn't even ask me how I'm doing or what my plans for the week are anymore. He recently got new roommates who also happen to be his friends. I have a feeling that he prefers to hang out with them than with me. I've also confronted him about this, but he assures me that he loves me very much. I can't shake this feeling that he may be getting tired of me.

We have a great relationship, and we do settle our differences for the most part, but these two things are starting to get to me. Is he falling out of love? Is there any way for me to work around this? Is it time to let go and move on? I don't want to let seven years go down the drain, but I don't want to be unhappy either. What should I do?

– Happy, but Unhappy, Boston

It doesn't matter how much his career status means to you. He's told you that he wants to work at his own pace, so you can either accept that or move on. You can't force him to share your priorities, and you can't think of him as a work in progress.

As for paragraph two, yeah, that sounds bad. My guess is that you guys are in a serious rut because you're not working toward anything in particular. Every couple needs something to look forward to. It's time to ask him where he sees the two of you in a year. Find out whether there's a plan that you can get excited about.

Honestly, you've written one of those letters that's mostly miserable until the "we have a great relationship" sentence at the end, which makes me wonder what I'm missing. I have to assume, based on paragraphs one and two, that unless you can accept his job status and start planning a move-in, this relationship isn't enough for you. And if that's the case, that's OK. It wouldn't be seven years down the drain; it would just be seven years of experience.

Readers? Can she expect him to work harder at the degree for her? Should they stay together? After seven years, what does she need from him? Discuss.

– Meredith