dating

'My boyfriend of 2 years said he doesn't want to be with me forever. But we're not breaking up.'

As told to Shona Hendley.

A few months ago, my partner, Nathan* and I were in bed together having one of those sporadic, intimate conversations, sharing our feelings openly and honestly. 

It was one of those understated, unplanned moments that seemed romantic, beautiful and like something you would look back on in years to come and smile about fondly. 

We lay there, intertwined, discussing our own relationship and the stage we were currently in, how everything seemed as it should be and that for us it was just perfect. It was like one of those movie scenes – an incidental, yet profound moment that unexpectedly brings characters even closer together that before; making them unbreakable.

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Nathan and I have been together for two years and throughout that time we had always seemed in step with each other, at the same point on the same page with everything, especially (I had thought) in how we viewed our relationship – where it was and where it was going.  

But as we opened up to each other that day, I mentioned our future, specifically that I saw us one day being married but even if we didn’t officially tie the knot that it wouldn’t matter because we would be together forever. 

Although neither of us had ever mentioned marriage or the idea of ‘forever’ before, I wasn’t concerned about saying it, I was so confident Nathan felt the same way. 

Instead, Nathan’s reply turned all of what I had believed on its head. 

"We won’t be together forever," he said to me almost nonchalantly. "I love you; I adore you and I love where we are now, but this won’t be my forever relationship. There’s nothing wrong, I just don’t see that for us, I never have."

I stood staring at him, shocked, devastated but without the ability to reply. My silence was enough for him to realise that what he said may have been clear to him, but it certainly wasn’t to me. 

"Nina*, I love you. I want to be with you now, isn’t that what matters the most?” he asked me.

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Between the bombshell he had dropped and the way I’d been feeling just seconds prior, I was left in a state of utter disbelief.

I had no idea what to say back or how to react, I just needed time to process it and to make sense of it in my mind, so I said nothing.

Listen to Mamamia's podcast, The Undone, discuss what dating burnout is really like. Post continues below.

In the days and weeks following that conversation, Nathan seemed to move on, going about his life as normal. 

I acted as if I had too but internally, I was confused and devastated, going over it again and again in my mind.  

Is ‘now’ what really does matter the most?

I thought about this long and hard, knowing how unpredictable life can be, I mean 2020 has shown us all that.

So maybe ‘now’ is what matters most, not the future that can be unreliable and unpredictable?

I sat with this idea for a while and have tried to embrace Nathan’s outlook about our relationship.  

I have been existing for the present, for the now and generally, day to day when I am not going over what he said in my mind, we are genuinely happy. He loves me, I love him and ultimately, I don’t want us to end prematurely because of an honest conversation that we had about the future. 

There are some points where I think I can be content with this and think everything will work out as it’s meant to. But then there are other times, when I start thinking about the future, whether it’s a holiday plan or something that I want to achieve and every time I do this I see Nathan there too, right next to me.  

And then he disappears. 

So, I go back and forth about what to do, from having a 'seize the day' mantra to 'what is the f**king point'?

I have spoken with Nathan about my feelings a few times now, but it really goes around in circles without any resolution. He is understanding but his perspective hasn’t changed. In his view it shouldn’t matter if a relationship is a forever relationship or not, that it doesn’t make them any less significant or less meaningful and that we should just move forward.

I know not viewing Nathan as a part of my forever is going to be difficult for me to negotiate but maybe he is right? Maybe you don’t have to believe a relationship will last for it to be important, or for it to be wonderful? Or maybe you do.

Shona Hendley is a freelance writer and ex-secondary school teacher. You can follow her on Instagram: @shonamarion.

The feature Image is a stock photo from Getty.

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