DEAR HARRIETTE: I have been with my partner for seven years. We were young when we met, and my boyfriend did not want kids or marriage at the time. I always held out hope that he would change. As the years went by, I stuck to my desire for children and marriage, until recently when something changed within, and all I wanted was to stay with the love of my life. I no longer care about having children with him and just want to live the rest of my life with him. When I told my longtime boyfriend about my epiphany, he said he needs some space to think about what I said. What? I told him what he's wanted to hear all of these years, and now he needs space? What can I say to him? I feel like I've done everything he's asked for now that I am not pushing for children and marriage. -- Not Enough, Scarsdale, New York
DEAR NOT ENOUGH: It sounds like your boyfriend may be prepared to make good on the promise he made to you from the start: namely, that he really isn't into commitment. I was taught years ago to believe people when they tell you things about themselves. It's unfortunate that you were willing to build a life with him despite his lack of interest in a committed relationship or desire to build a family. Because he has been with you for all of these years, it is understandable that you would believe that he intended to stay with you, albeit still following his rules. Your willingness now to acquiesce to his rules as long as you stay together has shaken him. It means that he has to evaluate how real your relationship is for him, and what he wants to do about it.
The good news is that you are soon to find out whether he wants to stick around. If he does come back to you, this time make sure that you create terms that satisfy both his needs and your own.