When You’re The Couple Who’s Been Together FOREVER But Aren’t Married

June 27, 2019  |  
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not married yet

Source: Dean Mitchell / Getty

Dating someone for a long time—like the better part of a decade—while not being married creates some funny and interesting dynamics. My boyfriend and I have been together for nearly six years. We live together. We spend holidays with one another’s families. He has access to most of my private online accounts (including financial ones) as do I his. We’re pretty linked up—we’re just not married. We don’t want to be married right now. I mean, the truth is, we’ve both said, “Look, if we could just snap our fingers and be husband and wife right now, we would.” But we also don’t necessarily want to miss out on a wedding. But we also don’t want to plan or pay for a wedding right now. We’ve just sort of eased into domestic life together and have almost forgotten about getting married. In fact, many of our friends have now been married for several years. Some have even divorced. And we’re still boyfriend and girlfriend. We’re okay with that. But it creates some funny scenarios.

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Saying “My boyfriend” starts to feel weird

I will admit that calling him “my boyfriend” feels funny. He’s so much more than my boyfriend, and “boyfriend” denotes something so playful and light. We do have fun and are playful together. But he’s also my partner who I’ve been through some tough sh*t with. He’s taken care of me when I was sick. We’re each other’s family. There should be some other word for what he is to me, even though he isn’t my husband.

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You have to prove your legitimacy

Sometimes people will talk to me as if my partner won’t be my life partner—as if he’s just one boyfriend in a string of many and we are just trying things out. I think the term “boyfriend” makes them think this is fleeting. I have to try not to get annoyed with them, since I know “husband” sounds more permanent but, to be clear, we do plan on spending our lives together.

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Though, younger married couples are less legitimate

The funny thing is that, married couples who have only been together for a total of a few years will talk down to me as if they know more about committed love than I do. They dated two years, have been married maybe one year, and think they’re experts on love. I want to say, “Oh, that’s so cute—but you’re technically still in the honeymoon phase. Those chemicals could wear off in a matter of months and you could realize you married the wrong person! Talk to me about commitment when you’re also seven years in.”

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We’ve signed other paperwork

Though we don’t have a marriage license we do have a shared lease, we’re one another’s emergency contact, I’ve issued him a credit card from my account in his name, and more. We’re linked up through a lot of paper work and legalities. Just not a marriage license.

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We’ve been “Dating for seven years” sounds odd

It does sound funny to say we’ve been dating for seven years. Dating sounds so active—it sounds like something you do when you’re still testing the waters with somebody and figuring things out. So I say we’ve been together for seven years.

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People give him side eye

I do notice people giving my poor boyfriend side eye. Though this is the 21st century, a lot of people still think it’s entirely up to the man to propose, and that my boyfriend is forcing me into some non-married purgatory. I’m perfectly capable of proposing to him if I want to. But, I don’t want a wedding right now.

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Going to the hospital with him is a whole thing

If you’re together for as long as we’ve been, you make a few hospital visits together. Urgent care over an injury or the emergency room over chest pains. We’ve done it all together. Sometimes I have to really fight my way into the room with him since I’m not “technically” family as I’m not his wife.

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People question my commitment, too

Some of my friends wonder if I’m committed to my partner. They think that if I don’t want to get married yet, that I must not really love this man. It’s hard for many to understand that some people just don’t need the whole wedding and paperwork to feel secure in their love.

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At one point, people assume you’re married

Some people just think we’re married. They’ve known us as being together for so long that they accidentally refer to him as my husband. We’ve posted a few very nice professional photos together online and some people thought we’d gotten married and not told them.

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Your parents just want grandbabies

Eventually, our parents stopped asking when we’d get married and started saying, “Look forget the wedding—we just want grandbabies!”

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The theatrics of a new couple wedding feel silly

We go to a lot of weddings. When I was younger, and attended the wedding of a couple who’d been together for say, two years, I thought it was all so grand and perfectly appropriate for their wedding to cost $50,000. Now, seven years into a relationship, I feel differently. I see all of that lavish spending for such a young couple and think, “Meh. There are better ways to spend money. And maybe you shouldn’t even spend that much until you’ve been together at least five years—you should know this thing is going somewhere before spending like that.”

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It would be nice to join finances

One thing I will say is that it would be nice to join finances. I understand that doesn’t automatically happen when you get married, but the transition is a bit smoother. We’re at a point when tallying up utility bills and paying things from different accounts is starting to feel funny. I mean, really, what’s mine is his and visa versa.

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He’s a beneficiary of my life insurance, but not my spouse

The funny thing is that my partner is a beneficiary on my life insurance policy, and I’m a beneficiary on his. If I tell someone who doesn’t know me well that my boyfriend is a beneficiary of my life insurance policy, they raise an eyebrow. Meanwhile, nobody says a word when a married couple who has only known one another for a few years makes this same financial decision.

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There comes a time you’re just over a wedding

I think we may have just gotten over the desire for a wedding. Maybe it’s a young person thing, and we’re just getting too old to really daydream about the DJ and the expensive dress and all of that. Hey, maybe we dodged an expensive bullet by waiting it out.

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So you discuss eloping, but that feels odd, too

We do, however, want to get married eventually. So we have discussed eloping. But we don’t really want to do that either (he wants to more than I do–in Las Vegas of all places). I still want my close friends and family there. I don’t know what sort of ceremony we’ll have one day but, it will be somewhere in between a grand one and a drive-thru wedding. Some strange, in between thing.

 

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