A problem shared: my boyfriend says he’s too young to commit to me - even though we’ve been together for 10 years

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Ten years ago, in my first year at university, I met my partner, who I’m still with today.

We saw each other throughout uni, first casually and then more seriously. When we graduated, we stayed together, and after travelling for a couple of years we returned to Sheffield and set up home together. He’s the only man I’ve ever loved and neither of us really had a proper relationship before meeting each other. We have the same friends, share the same interests and day-to-day, everything’s great.

The problem is I feel we’re still in the situation we were in as undergraduates. Although we live together, we’re renting. He says he doesn’t want to buy because he doesn’t want to be tied down. I think it makes financial sense to get our own place and settle down properly, but he won’t hear of it.

I’m 28 now. In the future I want to get married and have children. He says he “might” want these things too, but can’t be sure yet as he’s still so young. When I try to talk about it, he tells me to stop pressurising him.

I’m starting to worry that I’m wasting my time with a man who can’t commit to me. Friends say that he does love me, he just needs to be jolted into doing something about it. But I worry that if I issue an ultimatum and walk out, I’ll be losing my best friend and the man who I could happily spend the rest of my life with. Would I be silly to risk a very happy relationship just because he won’t commit yet?

Something troubling you? Share it with your new BFs, Jo Davison and Molly Lynch.

Jo advises:

Actually, he has committed to you.

You’ve been sharing a life, a home, friends and common interests for years.

But just as you don’t seem to realise that this equals commitment, neither does he.

You both seem to have fallen into a life together, as so many people do. There’s nothing at all wrong with that. In fact, a relationship that just seems to naturally evolve, all on its own, is probably going to be healthier and stronger than the ones that couples rush or force along to fit into some preconceived ideal, a framework that fits what they think is society’s norm..

Though for the two of you, the outlook on what should happen next is so very different.

You want to move what you see as a happy, strong relationship on to the next level. You want to buy a joint home but he doesn’t see a house, he sees 25 years of joint debt. You need to know that he wants to have children with you but he’s not ready to even think about becoming a dad and take on responsibilities that last a lifetime.

It terrifies your Peter Pan boyfriend, just two years off 30 but still acting like a kid. He doesn’t want to grow up.

I’ve seen this imbalance umpteen times in my 24-year-old son’s relationship with his girlfriend. They too are the same age; she too is light years ahead of him in emotional maturity.

What you need to figure out is whether he thinks nothing should change because he’s an immature, feckless youth at heart who doesn’t want to take on any more responsibility than he has to (believe me, so many men, even when they’re into their forties, still live this way) or at the back of his mind there’s a nagging voice saying: ‘But you’ve only had one serious girlfriend. How can you possibly know she is the one to spend the rest of your life with when you have nothing to compare her to?’

If it’s the second, and you force him to commit, he could end up cheating on you some day. If it’s the former, you have two choices; you either wait until he does eventually mature, or shock him into realising how much he takes you for granted.

If you stay and let things drift on, you probably will get more unhappy. This issue will nag away at you and in turn, you will nag away at him.

So, I think you should become Ms Independent and go your own way for a while. Give him a taste of what life might be like to have to live without you. It seems manipulative but don’t feel guilty about it. At the moment, he’s controlling this relationship; you’re just taking the power back.

Molly advises:

Get out now.

The classic male commitment-phobe was only cute when Chandler from Friends did it. In real life, he’s a bigger time-waster than Chelsea FC when they’re one up in injury time.

You’ve been together for a decade. You’ve moved in together. And yet he won’t share your name on a mortgage contract, or acts like a little kid when you try and bring it up. He sounds like the sort of bloke I’d be loathe to spend 10 seconds with, let alone 10 years.

I find it completely mind-boggling that this hasn’t happened sooner. There are some women who want to have ‘the conversation’ by the third date.

At no point when you were travelling the world did you want to ask him - where is this going?

Perhaps you made the mistake of doing so aboard an overcrowded bus to Calcutta, in which case he might’ve thought you’d lost track of your route.

The fact that you have the same friends might seem all sweet and nice and lovey-dovey to you, but I’ve got another word for it - sad.

While it’s always nice to have a partner who you share things in common with, it sounds like the only thing you don’t share is a toothbrush in your house.

It’s not that I worry about your biological clock. You’re only 28 and women are having babies into their 30s and 40s these days, so you shouldn’t feel pressured in that sense.

What concerns me is the fact like the pair of you sound like you’re living in this little bubble you’ve been in since your student days.

You’ve talked about how happy you are, but at no point do you say that you believe this man is the love of your life.

You might well be very content for a few years if you did bully him into tying the knot but it is likely to result in one of you getting over-friendly with a colleague or something equally ugly.

Be honest with yourself, are you frightened of what would happen if you split up and you had to go out there on your own? Fear of the unknown is not a healthy reason for staying in a relationship.

I don’t think your friends are right to advise you to ‘jolt’ him into doing anything. They’re probably slightly biased if they are his friends too.

What you need is a pal with no connection to him to speak plainly. Thankfully, you’ve come to the right place.

He might end up begging you to come back, but at that point you might not want to get back with him.

And that’s the most exciting thing about it. Have a bit of self-worth, go out and live your life.

Reader Karen Perkins, dating coach and life coach, advises:

Could you really cope with an ultimatum right now? Concentrate on yourself instead. Become the person you want to spend the rest of your life with and if he is actually right for you, he will follow. Get out there, develop your interests and plans, travel abroad and invite him along.

Then if he is not interested in a future with you, you will at least have a great life, new friends and have experienced all of the things you want to do. You won’t have put your life on hold . Good luck - and have fun.