Will he grow up or are we doomed?

Hi Meredith,

My boyfriend and I have been together for almost four years, and living together for the past two. He's my best friend. We're there for each other during serious family matters, but spend a lot of time being goofy and playful together at home. My concern with our relationship is about his view of the future. On one hand, he talks openly about retiring together and having kids (we also adopted a pet about a year ago). However, if I get mad at him for not cleaning up after himself around the house or other seemingly small things, he gets so clammed up and questions the future of our relationship entirely. He's said, "I'm comfortable in a mess and you're not. This just shows how different we are, and how is that going to work for 30-plus years?" I'm his first serious relationship, but he's not mine.

Sometimes I don't think he's mature enough when it comes to our relationship. We don't have any other issues, so why does he go from 0 to 60 about small problems? I’m not ready to be married or start a family yet, but I do want to know that these things might be on the table for us in the future. I'm not sure I'm getting that from him. We're almost 30. I've heard him say to his friends that he still hasn't ruled out the idea of living with his parents and starting a business. He's unhappy at work, and this leads to a lot of daydreams – things like "if I moved to California, I'd be happier." But again, he wants to have kids and retire with me? I'm not sure where I fit into these daydreams. Are they just daydreams, or is it more? Will he grow up or are we doomed?

– On Edge


" ... why does he go from 0 to 60 about small issues?"

Maybe he's using these small moments to bring up his feelings about bigger problems. Or maybe he's just frustrated because he doesn't have a solution. Are there other ways he can contribute to the shared household? Tasks you'd rather not do but would appreciate being done? Would he contribute to a cleaning service? The point, when you fight about this stuff, is to find a compromise.

"Are they just daydreams, or is it more?"

He's the only person who can answer this question, which means it's time to ask. Just make sure the conversation doesn't turn into a criticism of his priorities. His daydreams might be real plans. It's not as though the only definition of living a "grown-up" life is marrying and having kids with you. Make it clear that he doesn't have to map out the next 20 years right now, but that you'd like to know whether he sees you in any of these alternative futures.

A warning: Even though you've been together for four years and he's approaching 30, he might not be able to tell you what he wants. It's possible that he daydreams about retirement with you one day, and imagines himself as a single Californian the next. You need to decide whether you can live with an "I don't know" or a "maybe." You might get one of those answers, and it doesn't mean he's being immature. Sometimes it takes many years – and being over 30 – for a person to feel good about a path. It's on you to consider his answers and make decisions for yourself.

– Meredith

Readers? What's a better way for this couple to talk about household responsibilities and future plans?