You Need Help: How Soon Is Too Soon To U-Haul, Get Married, Have Ten Babies, Be Together Forever and Ever and Ever and Ever?

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Q:

My girlfriend and I have been together for almost 4 months now and I am HEAD OVER HEELS OMG SO IN LOVE WITH THIS GIRL LIKE WHOA. All I want to do is U-Haul so hard and I don’t want to stop there. I want to marry this girl. I want to marry this girl right now and start a family.

Overall I’m a pretty slow moving, cautious person. I’ve had other relationships that have lasted years (read: YEARS) and only sometimes thought, “yeah, I could MAYBE marry this girl, but maybe I should wait to be sure…” But this girl, I know. I JUST KNOW I want to be with her forever.

We were friends for several months before dating but I’ve still only really known her for less than a year. So logically I understand that it’s too soon to move in and definitely too soon to elope. Right? RIGHT?!

But in my heart of hearts I know that I’ve found her. I’ve found the one. The one that I want to be with forever and ever. The one that makes me a better person and who loves me for me. The person I love and want to be with all the time. The person I think is just so great and just so great for me.

So I need help. I need to be talked down from this crazy ledge. Or do I? Maybe I need a hopeless romantic to give me a little validation that sometime when you know, you know – and that’s okay. I don’t know what I need. I need help. Am I being crazy?

A:

You’re being in love! Being in love is a LOT like being crazy, especially at the start. Your skin is on fire, your teeth itch, you feel like 3-4 body parts are on the verge of explosion at any given moment. How did we get so lucky?, Oh my gosh this girl! This girl! I wouldn’t say I’m a “hopeless romantic,” but I believe in big feelings, unstoppable forces and not-so-tangible energies that make me vulnerable to the feelings you say you’re feeling so I’m not gonna talk you down. I’m gonna congratulate you on finding a magical thing, and then we’re gonna talk about what to do about this thing.

New Relationship Energy is a high, right? It’s a high. You feel high right now! And you don’t want it to end. Sometimes these choices — getting an apartment, getting engaged, getting married — are methods of maintaining that high, of ensuring there’s always something even MORE intense and devotional to do in order to feel that rush all over again. That’s one reason people make big decisions too quickly, but the other reason is that, as Harry famously told Sally, “when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.” You want to do these things because, well, you want to do these things!

But should you? Well, I’ve been a strong anti-U-Hauling advocate since before I knew what U-Hauling was — at 20, I’d radically misinterpreted my own personality and moved in with my boyfriend, who really liked eating at Hooters. Two weeks into our co-habitation I realized I’d made a terrible mistake, but we lived together, so it was hard to exit, and complicated, especially ’cause I’d been paying most of the bills.

I’ve resisted, since, opportunities to shack up too early, or at all. I’d been known to declare it “always a bad idea,” claim it “killed romance,” remind people that “you think it’s the same as just staying at each other’s place every night, but it’s not.” My ex-girlfriend and I took careful steps: nine months in the same town, a year in the same building, and then almost two years in the same apartment. (and then we broke up.)

And then I found my current person. Like you, I’d been in many relationships prior to this one and this one was markedly different. This was it! This was special! Just thinking about her looking at me and smiling made my stomach do flip-flops! (It still does, actually.) We’d only been together for a month when she left a farm in Oregon to be with me in California, but the rent where I lived in the Bay Area was astronomical. So either she’d move into my (still expensive but) rent-controlled place and we’d see each other constantly, or we’d find affordable apartments far away from civilization and never see each other at all. The first option was clearly the winner, but I still worried that we were gonna kill this thing before it started.

It didn’t. It was actually really fun, like we’d tricked our Moms into letting us have a sleepover every night! I mean when you’re first falling in love, any thing you get to do together, even grocery shopping or going to IKEA three times in one day, feels like the funnest thing you’ve ever done. (To be fair, that IKEA joy has never faded.) There was bickering, for sure, and it felt like a cruel crash-course in our assorted psychological triggers at times, but we made it, more excited about the future than ever. Less than a year later, we got engaged, moved across the country together, moved into a very small house with my Mom for five months, and then bought a giant house of our own and moved into it. Short of having a baby, we were officially on track to do everything way faster than recommended.

The good news is that we’re still together and still in love and still planning to spend our lives together. But for a minute there — shortly after moving into our house — it seemed like we might not make it after all. It was terrifying. And when we finally sat down and talked about our true feelings and desires and the kind of life we wanted, separately and together, a big thing that came up was choice.

As in: we’d never really had the chance to actively choose to be together — whether that meant have dinner together, take a vacation together, be monogamous, or design career paths with the other in mind. The way our life was set up was for all those things to be the default, and for doing things separately to be what required the extra effort.

Yeah, there are practical things worth eschewing U-Hauling in favor of putting off, like the possibility of occasionally feeling homicidal about one another’s various household chore-related inadequacies or the terror of financial logistics. But the real argument against moving too quickly into Official Commitments is that there’s a value in extending the period of time in which the way you build a life together is directed only by what’s in your heart and guts and brain, not by leases and legal documents and bill payments and shared sofas.

When you live separately, you choose to spend time together, and that choice is deliberate and special, it’s not a default. You choose whether or not you wanna have a sleepover even though you’re tired or cranky or sick or distracted, or you choose not to because of those reasons. You choose to invite her over when your friend is coming by rather than automatically turning friend-time into a group hang ’cause there’s only one living room and you’re both it. When you live together, pretty much any time is a time you could have sex, which at first means you have sex all the time but then can eventually mean you never do because well, there’s always tomorrow, or next weekend?  (Look, I’ve read a lot of Lesbian Sex Surveys.) Even if you’re gonna choose spending every night together for the rest of your lives, the act of choosing and not doing it because you’re locked in to a lease or a marriage or a family is an important act.

All that being said, we did everything “wrong” and we’re still okay! So it’s very possible that you could do everything wrong and also be okay. I don’t have any regrets. But if you DO have other options, I’d like to gently suggest considering them for a little while longer, or to at least wait until a practical time to make a change.

And, if you do move in together sooner rather than later, I’d suggest: radical honesty (don’t get passive aggressive, make room to be frank, don’t take household things personally), make lists for each other about your pet peeves and household desires right away, be clear about finances and get a two-bedroom or larger so you have the option of taking space from each other (and figure out how to do that without feeling insecure about it).

Remember that being in love doesn’t necessarily mean that you should want to spend every minute together, constantly be in touch, or rely on the other for all your basic life functions. But! Have fun. You’re in love! Follow your heart! You found her! GO FORTH AND BE MERRY.

Sincerely Forever,

Riese


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Riese is the 36-year-old CEO, CFO and Editor-in-Chief of Autostraddle.com as well as an award-winning writer, blogger, fictionist, copywriter, video-maker, low-key power lesbian and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York and then headed West. Her work has appeared in nine books including "The Bigger the Better The Tighter The Sweater: 21 Funny Women on Beauty, Body Image & Other Hazards Of Being Female," magazines including Marie Claire and Curve, and all over the web including Nylon, Queerty, Nerve, Bitch, Emily Books and Jezebel. She had a very popular personal blog once upon a time, and then she recapped The L Word, and then she had the idea to make this place, and now here we all are! In 2016, she was nominated for a GLAAD Award for Outstanding Digital Journalism. Follow her on twitter and instagram.

Riese has written 2535 articles for us.

16 Comments

  1. This reminds me a line from the Hip song, Fireworks

    “We hung out together every single moment
    ‘Cause that’s what we thought married people do”

    Having never been in a serious relationship, this has always stuck with me as a little kernel of wisdom. Married people (or people in a serious relationship) can need space too.

    (I also just realized that though Gord Downie is male, there isn’t anything indicating the genders of the characters in the song.)

  2. I’m going to mention one reason for waiting to get more information, illustrated by a personal life example.

    Three years ago I met a person who was everything I ever wanted. Within six months we knew we wanted to be together forever. We waited until a year to get engaged, and decided on a long engagement, but I didn’t really know why- I already knew everything about them, and I loved it, right?

    Shortly after the engagement a type of stressor came up that hadn’t previously, and my partner suddenly showed an angry, mean side they’d never shown before. And it didn’t get better; it got worse, even after we started addressing the stressor. Their anger was out of control, once triggered. I stuck it out for some months after that, but ended up packing a bag in the middle of the night and leaving because I felt so unsafe.

    This isn’t to say “maybe your partner’s like this”, because I like to hope that sort of thing is rare. It *is* to say that there are lots of sides to people that could be big, and surprising, that we don’t know about until certain stressors pop up- and those stressors don’t come along every day. That’s one reason to take into consideration for waiting, if you so choose.

    I wasn’t wrong that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with the person I knew- but the person I knew was an incomplete picture. It turned out that person- the one without the abusive anger management issue- didn’t exist.

    • This is a very good point — back when I was more of a skeptic than I am now, we used to talk about how there are like a series of life events you have to go through with your partner before you can be sure that you’re ready to get married. They ranged from “experience a period of time in which one of you is unemployed” to like “spend 24+ hours with the other’s family.”

      As well as you think you know a person in a short period of time, you really can’t know them all the way until certain life events that take a few years to happen will happen. Plus people change!

      • Ooh, I would LOVE to see a list of things to go through before knowing you’re ready to get married. (I thought a road trip would be one of those things – we passed the test, we were just as chill on a road trip as we are not on a road trip.)

  3. I feel like I highly recommend having am in-depth finance talk. Not because money is more important than anything else, but because it’s a surprisingly effective way to bring up all kinds of hidden things/emotions. It’ll usually bring up what we value, how we want to live, and if things go awry, it’ll make it easier. Also, sometimes people don’t want to talk about finances because they feel it’s unromantic/will kill the buzz, but if you can’t talk about it at the time you most want to please each other, you definitely won’t be able to during difficulties without a lot more pain.

    Good luck with whatever you choose!

  4. I recommend a long engagement – I love long engagements – because people change all the time their whole lives, and it’s important to find out if you guys can change and still be in love. That being said, congratulations, head-over-heels person! This is fucking rare! Savor it!

  5. Enjoy the ride but cool your jets – if she’s the one for you, she’ll still be the one for you in a few months/a year/whatever.

    What’s missing from this question is an indication of what the other party feels/wants – is she also chomping at the bit to elope and make babies, or is she happy with things as they are for now? Have ya’ll talked about it?

  6. I 100% agree with all of the things Riese and others have said here.

    I uhauled it pretty quickly (we only technically moved in together 4 months in, but they were pretty much living with me in about 1 month because they were jobless and I lived far away), and have 0 regrets, but in some ways I wish we’d had the opportunity to wait longer. Don’t get me wrong, they still give me butterflies when they walk in a room, and I feel lucky every day that I found them, but living with anyone is an adjustment and it makes the *Real World* intrude much more quickly. Enjoy the magic of having uncomplicated love! And there’s a special kind of wonderful agony when you don’t see your human for a day and your body aches to be together.

    I also feel like you can have just as deep and committed relationship without a legal document that is extremely costly to undue. If you’re going to be together forever, why rush? Wait until life has thrown you both curve balls and you’ve seen them at their worst AND their best.

    Anyway, congrats on finding your human!

  7. I agree with all the advice up there, and also:
    First, there are so many big grand romantic gestures you can do, short of moving in or before moving in together! You can propose, or talk about how much you want to propose, make plans for your children’s names, go on a trip (if you can afford it), go watch the shooting stars in sleeping bags. Cohabitation is actually one of the least romantic thing I can think of – exposing yourself to all the drudgery of shared daily life, without the romanticism of marriage or travel.
    I also think age has a lot to do with how soon is too soon. I met my current partner at 28, after an 8 years relationship and a slutty single year. 28 is young, but I was looking for either a NSA or the real deal, settle down & grow old relationship. I knew on the 2nd date that I’d want to marry them, and roughly a year and a half later we did after a 6-weeks engagement. Due to circumstances, we only moved in together about 3 months AFTER we got married (immigration issues + difficult housing market + moving to a different country shortly after wedding = marriage was easier & more urgent than living together) and things have been great. I never thought I’d do this the old fashioned way, marriage before cohabitation, but it made sense for us at this point in our lives. And in retrospect I see the perks of starting cohabitation not so much as a trial period but as the first adventure & challenge in this part of our life together.
    So yes to commitment, yes to rapid engagement and turning your life upside down to be together, but if you can hold off the cohabitation for a little while it might make the relationship stronger in the long run.

  8. I am a strong strong strong proponent of living through stressors/major life shifts with someone before long-term commitment of any kind.

    But also I don’t think it is necessarily strange or weird that you KNOW. In terms of observing my friends who desire monogamous long-term sexual/romantic partnerships, several of them have dated a person for years without taking certain big steps (such as cohabitation) and after breaking up have very quickly moved in with/married/committed to their next partner.

    If you’ve experienced long-term relationships of that type before, you probably have a better idea of what you’re looking for/what works for you, which could be why you’re feeling certainty so early!

  9. I thought I met the one, and she broke up with me out of the blue. I walked down 1st avenue sobbing, and a spare changed comforted me.

    I thought I met the one, and I fell out of love with her.

    I thought I met the one, and what everyone told me about her being a raging serial a user was true.

    And now I think I’ve met the one, and she tells me “we have lots of time.”

    It may be, or may not be, but either way, YOU will be, so take comfort in that 🙂

    (Totally unrelated: do I know anyone who knows Laura Jane Grace? Does she do weddings?)

  10. Read the room…? See if she’s just as invested?

    You don’t have to move in or propose quite yet but something I really liked about my fiancée when we started dating was that she was very open that she had strong feelings for me and was very sweet to me. You don’t have to hide your feelings.

    FWIW, I moved in with my fiancée after six months together (we had only met once before we started to date), and we got engaged after a year together. We are having a long engagement (a bit under two years, because we got engaged less than a year away from the time of year we wanted for our wedding and I got the sense that you needed a year to be able to reserve things). We probably could’ve waited to do those things. But we still love each other (and we still don’t fight).

  11. Riese, I love your comments about the conversation you had about the difference between choosing to be together vs it being a default path. A wonderful person who’d been married for decades once told me that marriage is a daily choice (they may not have come up with this, I feel like I’ve seen it written in Catholic theology books, but still). According to them, each day you wake up and decide to be the other person’s partner in life, each time there is a challenge you choose to work through it and each time something great happens you choose to celebrate it. I love that way of thinking about it and feel like it could apply to nonromantic relationships too.

    If that first choice (move in, propose etc) happens early in the relationship that’s fine, but there is something romantic about it happening later and yet still intentionally.

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