‘I don’t know if I want to get married’

Chat at 1 p.m.

I'm 26 and looking for some advice. I've been with my partner for seven years now and he's a really wonderful person. Sweet, considerate, hardworking, generous, patient...he's stayed with me through my battle with mental illness, grad school, and even me cheating on him with my ex early on in our relationship. My parents love him, my friends love him, his family loves me, etc.

We work well together in a professional setting (as we work in the same field and will occasionally do outside projects together), we travel well together, and I know he's going to make a great dad one day. He's got a lot of great qualities and loves me a lot. We've been engaged for two years – we were never planning on getting married straight away and we just don't have the money for a bigger wedding, so we're trying to wait and save up. But if I'm 100 percent honest, I don't know if I want to get married. My partner is really special to me and I do love him, but I've always felt like there was something missing.

I've met guys that I instantly clicked with and fell head-over-heels for, but those tended to be really unhealthy relationships. My relationship now is calm, steady, and comforting, which are all good things, but I always find myself missing the crazy passion I've had in past relationships. I am young and this is by far my longest relationship. Is this just what happens over time? I see couples that seem crazy in love and can't live without each other and I just can't imagine being that way with my current partner. We're fine with long-distance. We have our own independent lives. I enjoy having him in my life and I value what he brings to my life. Is that enough to base a marriage off of? Is this what actual adult love is supposed to be?

– Engaged

"Actual adult love" takes many forms. Some partners get less passionate over the years. Others experience ebbs and flows. In your case, it sounds like you're not feeling enough flow. It's good to figure that out now – because it's OK to want something else. You do not have to marry someone just because they're a really nice person.

You probably know that it's pretty normal to have big doubts and fears about committing to forever. Many people who experience this kind of commitment anxiety wind up thrilled to be married once the decision has been made. But your letter is a bit different. You say you like your independence and that your partner's presence isn't necessary. That's OK – but you don't want it to be. You want to miss someone when they're not around. It is possible to find that with someone who's good for you.

I can't promise that you'll have suitors lined up to show you what it's like to be crazy in love. I also can't pretend that it will be easy to let go of someone who's been in your life for seven years. Being single after this much time in a relationship will be a real adjustment.

But this kind of ambivalence about a relationship is just as unpleasant. If you know you don't want to get married, it's time to admit it.

– Meredith

Readers? Is this actual adult love?