*This article is a work of nonfiction based on actual events recounted to me by a friend who witnessed them firsthand; used with permission
Deciding to make your relationship permanent and commit to having a life together and raising a family changes the way a couple sees each other. And when only one of the partners wants to take things further while the other is ok with being relaxed and not considering a family just yet, arguments and doubts will easily show up.
How do you react when you tell your partner you want to be married, and the next thing you notice is they're trying to move out as fast as they can?
My friend Mary, who lives in Phoenix, Arizona, has been dating her boyfriend, Harry, for three years.
They were friends in college, but they only began a relationship one year after they graduated.
"By then, we both had stable jobs, and we were single at that time. Before, we usually comforted each other after leaving a boyfriend or a girlfriend. But just then, we didn't have anyone in our lives, so it was the right time to find out if we could be anything more. I was curious after learning so much about his previous relationship, and I had a feeling that since we could get along as friends, we had good chances to be a couple, too," Mary said.
Harry asked her out on a date, and they went to watch a movie in Phoenix. They also had dinner at her apartment later on since they couldn't afford to go out to a restaurant.
"We didn't earn that much, but it wasn't about money. I just wanted to see if we could have fun together and adjust to each other's habits. He was always so positive, and I needed that a lot after my previous relationship," Mary said.
Things went well that evening, so they kept seeing each other three times every week.
They took walks in the park, did their shopping in Phoenix together, got groceries from the same place, and loved watching movies together.
"It just got better and better. We didn't argue and had very similar tastes. And he was great at cheering me up when I was tired after work. I felt like our relationship would last much longer than what I'd gone through before," Mary said.
One year after their first date, Harry asked her to move in together. Mary agreed, and she packed her things, ended her lease, and began living in his apartment in Phoenix in four days.
"I was so excited. To me, this was like moving forward and the step right before a proposal. I was sure it would happen soon, and I did want to get to know even more about him and what he wanted for the future," Mary said.
Despite her hopes, a ring didn't show up in the following months. Nor during the next year. While her family kept asking her about her plans for this relationship, she couldn't give them a clear answer since Harry never said he didn't want to get married.
He just kept postponing it and finding new reasons why it wasn't the right time to consider their wedding.
"It all made sense because we had our careers to think about, and promotions and earning well before getting married is important. But I wanted to feel he was ready for that, and I didn't. He was happy with our relationship the way it was, but I wasn't. I needed more. And commitment was what I was looking for," Mary said.
Mary decided to have a talk with her boyfriend, and she let him know they couldn't go on like that indefinitely. She pointed out she wanted to get married and that it was an important step in a relationship for her. Harry listened to her and didn't argue with what she said but avoided saying anything else for the rest of the night.
And when she woke up the following morning, his things were packed, and he was getting ready to leave.
"Just like that. With no warning or explanation. I just saw him drive away. I didn't get time to say anything or ask him why he was doing that," Mary said.
She thought he was upset with her and that she should wait a few days to let him calm down and decide to talk to her again. Once three days passed, she called and texted him, but there was no reply.
And when she had lunch in Phoenix, she saw Harry at a table with another woman. They were close and behaving like a couple, so Mary felt he just hurried and replaced her once she asked him to propose.
"I want to get married; he packed his things and found a date. In just a few days, I heard him tell someone else he loved her. That was so unfair. We should be able to talk about anything in a relationship. At the first indication of getting uncomfortable, he left and lost my trust," Mary said.
Harry saw her and went over to her table. He didn't apologize but just told her he wanted to be done with their relationship and that she shouldn't try to call him again. And the other woman also came round and told Mary she was now his girlfriend and that she'd been disturbing them long enough.
What do you think about this situation? Is it fair for Harry to just leave after finding out his girlfriend wanted to get married and have a family together? Should he try and find a compromise since they've been in a relationship for several years, or is it better to go since they don't want the same things in life?