DEAR AMY: My boyfriend and I have been together for five years. Recently, we have been talking a lot about having children and getting married. I’ve never been interested in a formal marriage, but would be happy to marry him if he asked. He has always pictured his (eventual) children being part of the wedding ceremony. Because of this, we’ve decided to start our family and buy a house before we have a formal wedding ceremony later in life. We’re in our late 20s, have educations, savings, a lovely apartment, and a dog that is fantastic around small children and babies. We both work full time, and he is returning to school in the fall to do a year-long program. We gave up our party lifestyle a couple of years ago and now live a much quieter life. We want to expand our family but are scared about timing. We know there’s no “perfect” time to have kids, and we’re ready to say goodbye to the last of our crazy youth, but we’re still nervous. How do you know when it’s time to start trying? Is there ever a moment when you know you’re 100 percent ready?
DEAR UNSURE: If you plan to get married anyway, why are you waiting? And if you are not interested in formal marriage, why would you be “happy to marry him if he asked?”
You seem either confused or very casual about marriage. Delaying marriage until after the kids are born because he wants to have your own children participate in the wedding ceremony seems distinctly immature (to me). I suggest you pursue more clarity about why your guy feels this way. If he wants a cute ring bearer, maybe you could enlist your pup.
Generally, the only moment you know you’re 100 percent ready for kids is usually when/if you’re struggling to get pregnant after months/years of trying. Then, the whole thing becomes bathed in urgency and certainty.
Otherwise, most people fly by the seat of their pants, to some extent. Your lifestyle at this point sounds like you’ve made a nice nest and you’re both readying to fill it. Good for you.
DEAR AMY: I’m a 15-year-old girl and I’ve been working at a summer job. I have really developed feelings for a guy named “Brad.” We flirt a ton, to the point where I have been asked by co-workers what is going on between us. I get this bubbly feeling when I am with him or even just thinking about him. He makes me so unbelievably happy. I have caught him looking at me numerous times. We’ve been very touchy. We have used the same straw and spoon on multiple occasions, which I thought was weird at first but now it gives me butterflies. There is only one problem. I personally don’t think it’s that big of a deal but to some other people it’s huge (for example, my mom). I’m a sophomore in high school and he’s a sophomore in college. He’s 19. I really don’t know what to do because I don’t think it’s a big deal. It’s not like we’re dating (at least not yet), but I like him too much to say no to him (if he does ask me out). I just don’t know what to do and I need advice.
DEAR TEEN: That bubbly feeling you get is a result of the awesome chemistry you feel when you have a crush on someone. It’s a great and wonderful feeling, and if you’re lucky you will feel this way many times over the course of your lifetime.
The reason your mother thinks this is a big deal is because you are too young and he is too old. The four-year age difference between you and “Brad” means that if you became sexually involved, he would be breaking the law. It is against the law for someone his age to be sexual with someone your age.
Enjoy your crush. Keep talking to your mother about what you’re experiencing and how you’re feeling. Return to school with the understanding that if you’re going to go out with a boy, he should be closer to your age.
DEAR AMY: You referred to “Not Lonely Woman” as an “introvert.” Not Lonely said she preferred being alone, and that she lost interest in talking to people “after 10 minutes.” I’m an introvert. This person isn’t an introvert. She is a jerk.
DEAR INTROVERT: “Not Lonely” didn’t seem obnoxious (to me), but genuinely preferred her own company to being surrounded by people. This seemed to fit within the parameters of introversion.