How important is timing?

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Hi Meredith,

I've been thinking about the importance of timing in a relationship. I once heard from someone that two people could be perfect for each other, but not stay together if the timing is wrong.

I'm turning 30 soon and so is my boyfriend of two years. About six months into our relationship, I found out that he was going to apply to business school, and all but four of them were out of state. At that time, we decided to stay together and take it as it went. Last February he got into two of the faraway schools and he moved away to one of them in August. I told him that I didn't want to live with him unless we were engaged (not for any religious reasons, but because I've moved in with someone before and had a bad experience), and he wasn't ready to make that kind of commitment. He said he wasn't sure if he saw himself marrying me. I wouldn't say I was ready either at that time, and I wasn't certain about anything, but I did, at least, want to start talking about it. We decided to do long-distance.

I love to think about the future; he doesn't. I've reached many of my professional goals and I'd like to get married; he's just started school to get a better job and that's what he is focused on. I've talked to him about this, have asked him if he sees himself marrying me or being with me in a year, and he says he can't see that far. I ask him if there is any hope he'll want to marry me and he says, yes, he hasn't ruled that out, but he can only see a few months ahead. He's also feels strongly about being debt free before he gets married, and he'll accumulate some debt through business school. I told him that this makes no sense, that I should have a say, and that I can't wait that long.

My greatest fear is that I'll have wasted my time waiting for a guy who doesn't want to marry me – that I'll be 35 and left single and devastated. I know he's the one for me. He's a loving and kind boyfriend and when we are together, I know he loves me completely. I just can't understand how after almost two years he is still unsure. So I bring us back to the idea of timing. Is it possible that we are wonderful together, but our timing will prevent us from us being together forever? Do you have any insight on why he's having such a hard time thinking of the future when it seems so easy for me? He said this is a huge life decision and he's not willing to move faster just because I want him to. I'm somewhat joking, but if guys had a biological clock like women, they might think very differently!

- In Time

This period of long-distance might answer some of your questions. He just left, which means you don't know how it will feel to be with him months into this kind of separation. The distance might bring you closer and force some conversations about planning. It's also possible that he will continue to reject any kind of timeline. If that's what happens, you'll have to end the relationship and be single (and it'll be long before you're 35).

Timing is part of this, but it's more about pacing. After a year and a half of being with you, he was not ready to plan with you in mind. He did not change his business school plans. He did nor rethink his list to make sure it would be easier for you to stay close by.

Also, his brain works differently than yours. It sounds like he likes to finish one thing before he starts another. This is a person who might not want marriage and kids until his late 30s. You seem open to waiting, assuming you have guarantees, but it's clear you'd prefer to start much sooner than that. That's OK. It just means he might not be the right partner for you.

Pace is the big divide here. You can do many things at once. You enjoy a schedule. He takes one step ... and then the next. See how long-distance feels and then be honest with yourself about who’s making the effort to stay connected, how that's happening, and what plans develop, if any. I have a feeling you'll both know where you stand after some more time apart.

– Meredith

Readers? Is this timing? Pacing? Something else?