May 16th, 2011 by Nina Atwood
Dear Nina: I have been dating my boyfriend for about one year. We live in Hong Kong. He is Chinese and grew up in Switzerland. I am from Britain. I am 27 and he is 10 years older than me. He is thinking of having children and I am not ready for children yet. I feel I really respect him and like the companionship with him. We make each other laugh and he is unique and kind. I have sick elder family in the UK who I have responsibility to. One day I will return. I feel this is on my mind a lot and wonder what effect this will have with my boyfriend. We have had small conversations about our relationship. He has not committed to any answer of if we will last outside Hong Kong or if it’s just a short term thing. I feel I would lose a great guy but I wonder after one year is this love??? Please help me. – Kate
Dear Kate: You can’t know what is in the future, but you can pay attention to the signs that are pointing to the truth about your relationship. One thing I find odd is that your boyfriend is talking about wanting children, but he isn’t telling you that you are the woman he wants to have his children. Maybe he is still trying to figure out his feelings for you. It sounds like it’s time for a candid, open “you and me” talk. Ask lots of open-ended questions such as “what do you envision in the future with you and me?” Listen and ask more questions as he opens up. Stay in the conversation until you have clarity.
The more important question is one you must self-reflect about: What are your feelings for him? Are you really in love with him? Is he the man you want to spend the rest of your life with? If you aren’t sure, that’s a bit of a yellow caution flag since you have spent a year together. Normally couples are pretty sure about how they feel about one another after a year.
You are at an emotional fork in the road as a couple. Either you will become closer and move down the path to creating a life together, or you will begin detaching. The quality of your communication at this stage will be a big factor. The more you can foster intimacy – “into me see” – by asking questions, listening, and understanding, the more clarity you will have, and the greater the possibility that you will draw closer. If you do not progress into deeper commitment, these conversations will pave the way for a parting that is healing, not damaging, and that will be a springboard to a better relationship.