My boyfriend wants to marry me. I love him, but settling down with one person seriously concerns me. The only times I ever feel like getting married are fleeting moments when I feel insecure. I love serial monogamy. I'm 36, and have enjoyed these consistently fulfilling two-year relationships since high school. It is so exciting. If the person just puts their hand on my knee, I almost die of ecstasy! I relish every moment, everything they say and do, their every quirk and nuance. Developing these relationships into solid, communicative, balanced partnerships is rewarding, but after about two years, while I love the person and know them so well ... well, I know them so well! The sparks have faded. Still, how long can I keep this up? Should I settle down? I don't want kids, so don't factor that in. — Unsettled
There comes a time in a girl's life when she's looking for that special dozen.
If only you could see how miserable serial dating is making you. Just re-read your words: "It is so exciting! ... I almost die of ecstasy." (Almost dying of ecstasy is so overrated.) Surely, you'd be happier if only you'd get the white dress and get with the program: "We're gathered here today to join two people, one of whom is scared out of her pantyhose that she'll end up an old cougar preying on recent college graduates in a bar."
You'll be a hard woman to propose to, considering you're only tempted to get fitted for the old ball and chain during "fleeting moments" when you feel insecure. What's the guy supposed to do, wait till he notices you gnawing your cuticles, and really quick, drop down on one knee? And what then? While many couples these days do write their own vows, "till dull do us part" probably isn't going to fly. Yet, this seems to be what works for you, not because you're a commitment-phobe, but because you're a commitment realist. That's why you walk the walk (right out the door when it gets boring), unlike those who only talk the talk: "If you love something, set it free ..." but if you really love something, make sure it gets bogged down with a bunch of legal hassles if it ever tries to leave.
The path you're taking isn't without risks. As helpful marriage-minded types have surely informed you, you could die alone and be eaten by your cat. Of course, if you marry, you could still die alone and be eaten by your cat. Even worse, you could die alone while you're still very much alive and married. And yes, some women have an increasingly hard time finding dates as they get older. This doesn't mean all women will. Because men value youth and beauty, you need to stay in shape and take care of your skin. (Forget the $300 ampules of hydrogenated sheep urine; just be sure your sunblock protects, not only against UVB, but the UVA rays that make skin look like Sacagawea's moccasin.)
Your attitude, of course, is a strong selling point: A guy can keep the ring, his genetic material and the granite countertops; you'll stick around as long as the fun outweighs the unfun. At some point, chasing newness may start getting old. That would be your cue to seek a more predictable form of novelty — like marveling at how the same old man always manages to keep it fresh: every night, coming up with hours of new and irritating throat-clearing noises. "Honey, is that you?" you call from the kitchen. "Or has a wounded brontosaurus slipped into the living room?"
Gnarly and me
This girl I'm seeing is great in so many ways, but I'm not a fan of dogs, and she has the worst kind — small, yappy, needy and smelly. I'm turned off and grossed out that she lets it sleep in the bed and "kiss her face," and basically caters to its every need. I know I sound petty, but I'm seriously considering backing out. — Disgusted
Nothing makes a guy want to kiss a girl like seeing that a dog got in there first. I know, I know, a dog's mouth is cleaner than ... the Dumpster behind the fast-food Chinese place? Dog owners typically claim otherwise — sometimes, at the moment you're observing that a dog's tongue can go all sorts of places a human's can't. This relationship might've had a chance if her dog were some old mutt that occasionally wandered in from the yard. Instead, it's essentially a loud, smelly article of clothing she never takes off. Considering the strength of your disgust, backing out is anything but petty. In the future, inquire about pet ownership early on, and steer clear of any girl who hears the term "doggie style" and gets all excited about dressing little Trixie up as a bee.