Every week, Mallory Ortberg answers additional questions from readers, just for Slate Plus members.
Q. What’s the problem with a long engagement?: When my girlfriend and I moved in together about three years ago, she told me her long-term goal was marriage and children. I was fine with that, since I figured we had plenty of time (I was 29, and she was only 27). Well, she came right out and proposed to me recently.
I have no problem with a woman being the one to propose, but I do feel we’re still way too young to be settling down. We travel extensively, go out a lot, have growing careers, and in short have a great life together. I do love her—she’s beautiful, smart, and fun-loving—so after much discussion, I offered to accept a long engagement, like two to three years. But she says if I’m not ready now, I never will be, and she doesn’t want a “reluctant bridegroom” anyway. She broke up with me and is now preparing to move out.
I’m devastated and can’t believe she’s throwing our love away to chase after some stupid fairy tale. I’m not saying no to marriage and kids someday; I’m just looking for some compromise on her part. Is it really too much to ask for a little more time to enjoy ourselves before we settle down forever?
A: I think if you believe your girlfriend’s desire to get married and have children after living together for three years is a “stupid fairy tale,” then you two are probably not well-suited to each other and this breakup is for the best. If you consider yourself to be “way too young” to be settling down at 32, I’m not sure why you think settling down at 34 is much better, and I am inclined to believe that your girlfriend read you correctly when she assumed “another two to three years” meant “kind of never.”
Your girlfriend has always been upfront with you about what she wanted and did not propose to you prematurely. It is you, not she, who has been reluctant to compromise, and she has acted accordingly. Now you have all the time you like to enjoy yourself. I do not believe you have been treated unfairly.