Hey there, Papabear!
First, just want to say how thankful and grateful I am for your column. It’s such a joy to read all the help you've given to furs of every sort, and watch as they grow with many letters and wonderful advice.
So now its my turn to ask.
I am a 19 year old college kid from the south. I'm what you call a workaholic.... I strive for 4.0 grades and spend long hours anxiously fretting about my chores, my job in the reptile house at my local zoo, my pets, my friends, my family ... anything you can imagine. I attended counseling for a short time after I suffered a bit of an anxious break caused by a really unwanted sexual encounter with a boy I was dating a while before. I am also religious (but no worries, no close mindedness here! All humans deserve to have agency in their lives). I'm also very logical, so it didn’t take long for me to address that what happened wasn’t my fault, I made it out still a virgin, and I happily continued on my way. My friends all address me as "the sane one", as I always think things through before reacting, and have helped a lot of people in grief.
So that’s why this situation is so strange.
I ended up taking up a hobby to fill some time (time I later wouldn’t have. Whoops! Overloaded class schedule!) And turned up meeting this fantastic man in the hobby, and we started dating after a year of being friends. We moved very fast. Emotionally, a bit physically (however, he very much respects my desire to wait till marriage for sex). We simply clicked so well, despite coming from very different lives and backgrounds, and to this moment I can see myself staying with him forever. we've never really had a fight, though I've certainly given him plenty of reason. His love, patience, and mind are unmatched. He is simply a God among men.
But my worries get in the way. I soon found out via my sister (cute sweet girl she is) that he was planning to propose to me. Now, I already knew this, as we'd discussed it. But suddenly, now that I knew the day exactly, I was terrified. All the concerns that I'd pushed back in my head suddenly ran to the front. "Where are we going to live?" "How will I focus in school?" "How will we resist the temptations a year of being engaged would bring (as we agreed to wait a year to get married so my school would be in a more solid place... to his reluctance)" "We're both sickly people, what happens if I get sick and can't support him?".
I knew then I wasn’t ready. I didn’t love him any less, or have any malicious thought or even concern about our relationship. Not to mention my parents and family (who are very important to me) barely knew him, and I wanted them to have a chance to understand him too.
So I sat him down. We talked for four hours straight. I had planned for it to be very simple, to declare my love but explain that I just wasn’t ready yet. Engagement is very very serious to me... I didn’t want to just waltz in naively and take his love, affection, and sacrifice for granted.
But the words didn’t come out right.
Eventually I got my point across, but it was like putting glass figures on a shelf. They got there, but... not in tact.
Its been a few days since, and its been a tad difficult. He is hurt, disappointed. And who could blame him? We still have a lot of fun together. When we're with each other, as he says, "all the worries go away", and its so true. Weird and illogical, but true. But, there’s still this underlying uncomfortable vibe I get from him. I can feel that he has doubts in our relationship. He said to take all the time I need to be ready, but he doesn’t really see what "ready" would require. And I cant find a way to explain it in a way that makes sense, cause it doesn’t make sense to me either!
I love this man, I know I do. I could never match the sacrifices and love he has given me. But I desperately want to try. I want to do this right, and make sure we are ready to brave the future together. But concerns... school exams, Work, family illness issues, and then fears of the future are preventing me from giving my all right now. I know I can solve my worries, I've done it before and will find the means.
But... what can I do for his worries? Nothing I say seems to fix what I broke, whatever it is I broke. We're still so happy, but some of the things he says have these worrisome undertones. I keep telling him there’s nothing to worry about, but he doesn’t believe me. I've never felt like such a kid in my life, or felt so dramatic. I feel like a teenage girl actually! Its weird!
What can I do Papa Bear? How can I assure him everything is going to be ok? I know all couples have issues, but I always thought it would be... different. We are having the problem that we love each other too much. It's completely and utterly insane in a good way. I just want to find a way to express the love I so honestly and humbly feel for him. But it seems almost hopeless until I can solve my own anxieties ... and even then, what if he doesn’t believe I've solved them?
Thanks Papa, you're the best
-Krogan-ish (age 19)
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Wow, you are doing so much right with your life! You work and study hard, have a job that yours truly is envious of (I once applied for a zoo job, but was the runner-up because I lost to a woman with a master’s degree in zoology), have your spiritual life together while being non-judgmental of those who follow a different path, and found a great guy who is not an LDR. Bravo!
The one little glitch in your life is the result of your Type A personality. You’re nervous about the idea of getting engaged and married because of all the unknown factors that introduces. You want to be certain that, if there is a crisis, such as one of you losing a job, you will be safe and secure. You and I both know, don’t we, that nothing is every 100% safe and secure?
Regarding your conversation with your boyfriend. I’m guessing that you basically said you don’t want to be married right now and, after perhaps giving him some reasons, left it at that. Now he’s left wondering if his love for you is going anywhere, or if it is just going to continue as it is. While that’s not bad, he wants something more and, I bet, in the back of his mind is wondering if you think he’s good enough for you and whether you’re waiting to see if someone better comes along. Not that you are! But that’s how people can think in these cases.
So, here’s what you do. First, decide whether you really do wish to get married—even if that is way down the road. If you do (and I have a feeling you do, since you say you love him), write down what it would take for you to feel comfortable enough to get married. Would it mean not before finishing school? Would it mean that both of you would need stable jobs? Would it mean having a certain amount of money in savings first? Whatever it is, write those down as your goals.
Now, sit down with your boyfriend and talk about your goals in life. Your Type A personality likes to plan (yes?) because that makes you feel like you are on solid ground and will ease your insecurities. Tell him that you feel insecure about getting married now because of reasons 1, 2, and 3. So, make a plan you can both agree on and discuss milestones you wish to achieve along the way toward those goals. The prize at the end is engagement and, finally, marriage.
You then have something in place that helps both of you: it eases your insecurities about the what-ifs, and it reassures your boyfriend that the relationship is going somewhere.
Hope that is helpful to you! Good luck!
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