Dear Shan Tell’em,
I’ve been dating my boyfriend for 2.5 years. We’ve known each other since high school (10 years), and recently, he decided to enlist in the armed forces. He’s finished with his training and will be leaving soon. Last Saturday, he mentioned a sailor getting married and how her new husband is getting ready for wherever they land. So I figured it was a good time to ask where we were headed. We have a lot to consider: how we will see each other, how to make time for each other based on career demands etc. and his response? “We’ll see when we get there.” So I kinda of see where he’s coming from, but to not have any thought for a relationship that isn’t a new development was kinda shocking. I do want to go on the record to say I don’t have any plans of marriage so he doesn’t have pressure like that coming from me, but I did expect some level of vision at least short term. We both see each other as life partners long term, but we’ve got some hurdles to get through. Should I be bothered?
Left in the Dark
Dear Left in the Dark,
I’d be a little bothered too if I wanted to talk about future plans with my significant other and they gave a very nonchalant response like “We’ll see when we get there.” With that being said, I’d like to think that he has at least some idea of what he wants to do with your relationship after 2.5 years. For me, the question isn’t so much about whether or not YOU SHOULD be bothered, but the reason why YOU ARE bothered.
You mentioned that you have no plans to marry at the moment. What is it that you wanted from him when you asked him that question? Usually, when someone in the relationship asks that type of question, there’s some intent or at the very least, a strategy/idea of next steps for the relationship: living together, talks of marriage, breaking up, something. So when you say “vision,” be clear on what you were expecting and communicate that.
I’m also wondering what motivated your “Where are we headed?” question. The fact that he is leaving could breed a level of fear and/or uncertainty about your future that you might not be aware of. You have to be honest with yourself about how much fear played a role in your behavior during the conversation. If you know that your relationship is long term, which I gathered from the both of you stating that you view each other as life partners, then ask yourself what is really going on. And be honest with the answer.
While there’s nothing wrong with having a “plan” for your relationship, you have to have enough trust in the universe, yourself and your mate to allow life to work. You can’t plan everything, and honestly, your boyfriend wasn’t completely wrong by responding the way that he did. I think what happened was that you were looking for a bit of reassurance that he was just as committed to the relationship as you are, and that you two will in fact be okay. Instead of posing somewhat confrontational questions that could make someone feel blindsided, just be upfront with him and tell him how you are feeling. There’s nothing wrong with being a little vulnerable, and it strengthen your relationship in the process.
Good luck and I wish you the best.
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Shantell E. Jamison is a Chicago-based writer, radio personality, and cultural critic. She’s also JET Magazine’s Digital Content Editor. She’s been featured on WBEZ 91.5FM, “The Monique Caradine Show,” Vocalo 91.1FM, KDKA Newsradio 1020AM, WBGX 1570AM, WYCA 102.3FM, Chicago Now, The Grio, The Black Youth Project, The Gate Newspaper and “Launching Chicago with Lenny McAllister.” Her debut book, “Drive Yourself in the Right Direction: Simple Quotes on How to Achieve Your Best Self” is available now at Amazon.com.