What if he leaves me at 31?

More rings stressing people out.

Dear Meredith,

I have been with a wonderful man for more than six years. We have always had real plans to get married and start a family. He always called me the love of his life. We're now both 27. Where we live, people usually get married around 30.

Our compatibility is close to perfect. We love each other's families and we communicate well. Our sex life is great. Even though we've had struggles and some big fights, we have it so good that I believe I am very lucky. (Sorry for all of this info., but I'm trying to paint a picture of who we are.)

For a couple of months I've been feeling that he's been distant, both sexually and with his communication. I was very busy with exams so when I asked him if anything was up he said no, in order to protect me. After my exams, he spilled the beans. For the last couple of months, he has been starting to feel unsure I am the one. He feels that he is in a crisis. It started when he was seriously considering proposing and buying a ring. He said he felt like he wanted to stay 27 forever.

He says he is still in love with me. Still, he isn't sure about our relationship anymore. I answered that marriage was not that important right now. I love him and I'm sure that we should be together. Since then, he has expressed how relieved he is that he told me. He does not feel as strongly about the need change things. He does not want me to move out or for us to take a break (my suggestions, to give him space). Our sex life is actually way better than before and his body language has changed. But I am still heartbroken!

My questions is: What should be my next step? Should I move out for a couple of months to give him space? Should we break up? Should I ride it out? I love him so deeply, but what if I am not his one? What if he's never ready? What if he leaves me at 31? I will have lost the love of my life, I will be childless, and perhaps I will never find another life partner that I love as deeply as him.

I am sorry that I am being so childish. There are people out there with real problems. But I don't know what to do.

– Worried

Don't apologize for having feelings and sharing them. That's why we're all here, right?

It sounds like you've figured out that there are no guarantees in love, and that you can be with someone who's madly in love with you and still have it not work out. No one can promise that you'll be with your boyfriend at 31 – or 51. Even if he was racing to get married, it'd still be a risk. That's why commitments are such a big deal. You're basically saying, "I love you enough to figure out how to make this work, even when it stops working."

The good news about your situation is that you picked up on the change in your partner's behavior, and when you asked him to explain, he was honest and empathetic. You responded by considering his needs and assuring him that you'd give him space. He then let you know that he wanted you to stay close. So many couples have trouble with this kind of communication. You two are proving that you can take on a problem and make it better. That's important.

I understand that you live around people who are blissfully married by 30, but I bet some of those couples have experienced these kinds of doubts. Maybe they're having them now.

As for next steps, just see how it goes. Continue to communicate and trust your gut about when it's time to ask questions. Know that if this doesn't work out, you will be OK. He's not the "love of your life," he's the person you chose. And you can always choose someone else.

– Meredith

Readers? Next steps?