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Happy Valentine's Day! Now Cut Your Losses
By SP_COP on February 13, 2015 | From
Happy Valentine's Day! Now Cut Your Losses Tomorrow night, at restaurants across the land, men will whip rings out of their pockets and try to find some vaguely original way of asking the woman across the table if she would like to spend the rest of their lives together raising children, choosing furniture and arguing about just how clean the bathroom vanity needs to be kept. At many other tables, women will be hoping for a proposal that doesn't come. If you are in that second group, I have some hard news for you: It's probably time to leave.

I say probably because if you are 24 years old or have been dating for less than a year, then it's a little too early to be seriously worried about where this relationship is going. And if you don't want to get married, then hey, don't! Breathe a sigh of relief that he didn't propose, grab a snack and settle down for the latest issue of "The Americans."

Those aren't the folks I'm talking to. I'm talking to you, 30-something woman who has been dating the same guy for a couple of years (or more), maybe already moved in together and started picking out that furniture. The one who is ready for those babies, or at least a joint tax return, and would like to get the matter settled as soon as possible. The one who is anxious that her partner doesn't seem as eager as she is but is afraid to deliver an ultimatum for fear the answer will be "OK, bye."

Here's the thing, though: The guy who leaves you because you deliver an ultimatum is probably also the guy who is going to leave you a couple of years later, having wasted more of your prime dating years on his dithering. Pardon the sexism, but most men aren't operating on the same timetable for having kids, and also, at least in my experience, they don't tend to stay silent and hopeful for so long. And I'm sure there are also lesbians and gay men out there who are frustrated with a partner who doesn't want to settle down, but again, the gender differences in biological timetables -- and willingness to commit -- don't seem to loom so large for them in my circles. So I'm going to address this column mostly to the folks it is most likely to describe -- heterosexual women -- and if there are others who feel this way, too, just change the pronouns in your head and proceed.

So here's my message to those ladies: It's time to let go. I know, I know -- it feels catastrophic to think about ending a relationship that you've already invested several years in, when what you want most in the world is for that relationship to continue until one of you gets carried out feet first. But take it from me, it will feel even more catastrophic after you've invested several more years. If you're in your 30s, both of you already pretty much know who you are. And after a couple of years, you also know whether this is someone you want to spend your life with. You're not going to get any new information by sticking around -- except "My God, I wasted five years on this man."

As you may guess from the prior paragraph, I speak from personal experience. I invested almost four years in an almost-great relationship that ended with me, shattered and tear-stained, deciding to pick up and move to Washington. You can hear all about it in this NPR segment from a few months back, which they re-aired this morning. Or you can read about it in my book, where I delve into even more of the gory details and deftly weave it together with the sad saga of GM's decline, which happened for much the same reasons that my failed relationship did....
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