Long term "boyfriend - girlfriend" relationships sustainable over many years?

I was reading this thread "So I died last night… ", and wondered how long girlfriend - boyfriend relationsips can typically extend themselves across time before one partner or the other demands a more permanent committment? I know it depends on the couple’s situation to large degree, but relationships of 5 years plus are (IMO) somewhat unusual for younger couples without concrete marriage plans in the offing.

Have times changed? Are multi-year boyfriend-girlfriend relationships typically sustainable across extended periods of time without concrete committments to marriage?

Would you doper ladies be happy with a man just willing to be a boyfriend five years out?

A woman I work with has had the same ‘boyfriend’ for 27 years. They both keep their own homes, and do not plan to move in together or marry.

I would not personally stay with someone in a boyfriend-girlfriend relationship for that long, or even for five years, without some sort of committment.

Nope. I am only speaking for myself, but no way. I’m not in a hurry to get married, but my boyfriend and I agree that by the end of a couple of years (sooner, I hope, I’d say a year but I don’t want to push him) we aren’t talking seriously about making it official, then there’s a real problem.

When you say, “without some type of commitment”, what does that mean?

My aunt, who passed away a couple of years ago, had the same “boyfriend” for as long as I can remember. Truly “to death do us part” without the marriage. FWIW she had been married before and he was widowed. They never lived together, but were always together and AFAIK completely faithful. I think that they were together about 25-30 years.

I also have a friend who is now married (to another friend; I introduced them :cool:) but her previous relationship was 17 years, from high school until early thirties. I remember I was kind of shocked at the time that someone could “just be” boyfriend and girlfriend for such a long stretch. I think that in the end they weren’t in locations close enough to maintain the relationship. But it’s almost like a long marriage, save the actual marriage/divorce part.

Would I! My husband’s the jealous type and tends to get really pissed if any of my boyfriends become anything more. :smiley:

Seriously, we were together for…um…seven years before we got engaged. And we probably wouldn’t have gotten engaged then if we hadn’t been talking about moving out of state together. (I was absolutely not willing to shack up for an undetermined time; it’s just not my thing.) We’d known for quite some time before that we would get married, but it was always a “someday” kind of thing, since neither of us wanted to get married while either of us was in school. Med school was enough stress, no sense adding the stress of a wedding and adjusting to married life on top of it and loading the deck against yourself. If it had been feasible for us to live in the same city during his residency without living together, I would have been more than happy to put off marriage until at least after his intern year for the same reasons.

If I were in a relationship where we weren’t talking the possibility of marriage by the end of two years together-I would leave. 5 years? Never-I expect a permanent commitment by the time I can measure my relationship in half or full decades.

My cousin and her boyfriend have been an item for over 15 years. They hooked up when they were both in their mid 30’s. She didn’t want kids, he was hopelessly enmeshed with his mother. They both had lives and careers before getting together. And while they enjoyed their time together, they didn’t want to get married, or even live together.

And so it has worked for them. His mom finally expired less than a year ago, but they’re currently both content to see each other about 3 nights a week, go on trips and vacations both together at times, and separately at other times, and pursue their other interests (non romantic).

Not what I’d want, but it sure works for them.

One of my cousins started dating a guy when they were both in their 20s, and the relationship dragged on forever before they finally got married after 11 years of dating (and several postponed wedding dates).

I never made it to the wedding; the day before, I fell and broke my leg very severely, and spent the next several days in the hospital and the next year on crutches with a fracture that wouldn’t heal. What is the medical term for a fracture that won’t heal? A delayed union.

Nearly 8 years later, they are still married - she is in her early 40s, and they are still debating whether to have kids. I don’t understand it, and nobody in the family can stand her husband, ut hey, she’s an adult and makes her own decisions.

I’ve been with my boyfriend for 11 years, we’ve been living together for 9 years. I have no desire to get married. Before I met him I had been living with another guy for 8 years, and engaged for 3 of those years. I couldn’t go through with getting married to a variety of reasons I’d rather not go into.

I don’t know why marriage turns me off so much. I feel commitment should come from the heart, not a piece of paper from the state. I guess I have seen too many married people get divorced to believe that sort of commitment means anything more than what I have without the piece of paper.

So I have personal experience of being faithful for years without any sort of “official” commitment. It can be done. In the same time we’ve been together a close friend of ours has been married three times - who has the stronger commitment?

But also, who’s to say that a stronger commitment is any better, or more real, than a loose one?

I’m married and I like being married. But I’ve known a handful of people over the years who are just bone-deep independent–they don’t want any sort of primary relationship in their life–not with anyone–they might enjoy somebody’s (or several somebodies) company, but they don’t want any relationship to be one of the lodestones of their life.

There really isn’t anything wrong with this as long as they find like-minded people and as long as they don’t fall victim to the social pressure that seems to feel that some sort of permanent commitment to another person is and ought to be the measure of a full life. It may be for many people, but it isn’t the only way to be.

Relationships aren’t a collection that has to be completed, and I don’t think that either the long-term non-escalating relationship model or the serial dater/serial friend model (the other pattern I see in people like this) is in any way a less profound or rich way to live a life.

My sister and her husband dated almost 7 years. She was in high school and he had just started college. Then they were at college together. When he finished college he moved to a larger city for better career oportunities, and they only saw eachother on weekends.

[sidetrack] It drove my parents and me nuts! She would come home from college on the weekends, then spend all her time with him. He was always at our house and he wasn’t a likeable type of guy. He wouldn’t eat anything my mom cooked, so my sis had to fix him something after the rest of us ate.[/sidetrack]

Then when she finished college, she kept waiting for him to pop the question. She kind of needed to know what city she was going to live in before she applied for jobs. Then my parents basicly told him “Either shit or get off the pot.” So he shit and they got married. They’ve been married 26 years.

What **anu-la1979 ** said.

Like Boscibo , I don’t ever see myself getting married. I think the legality of it would make me less secure in the relationship (I can explain more but it boils down to this: I don’t want to wonder if he’s staying because of a piece of paper.) But, I am happiest in a commited relationship.


sounds perfect to me. Well, that minus the mother hang-up. :smiley:

I was with my ex for 15 years. Neither of us needed or wanted to be married. We lived together for 5 years, then apart for 2 more. I don’t see myself ever marrying.

My uncle and his girlfriend have been together about ten years (that’s an estimate, I’m not really sure.) They’ve been cohabitating for much of that time (not sure if that counts as a “commitment”) and have moved three times (from city to city, not just locally). They don’t want to have kids, and so they don’t see any reason to get married. (I would think there would be a financial insentive come tax time, but I don’t want to pry into their business.) My uncle is also a good 15 years or so younger this his girlfriend – so I guess they’re not exactly the typical couple. But they’re happy, and the rest of us are happy to have her as part of the family (even unofficially), so who really cares?

My aunt who is 78 married her boyfriend of 35 years about 8 weeks ago. I believe he is the same age or a little older. Niether of them had been married before and he had been taking care of his mother since he was a young man. She died a few years ago. I asked why they decided to get married and they said it was just time. A couple of weeks after the wedding I asked my aunt how she liked being married and she said “Well, we haven’t had sex yet, Herby is always too tired.” This was not information I needed to know.

It might be unusual in the USA, but it’s very common here (and in other european countries). A lot of people who have been living together for a long time only marry for practical reasons, for instance when they beget children or want to buy a house together, or such things. In the last marriage I attended to, the couple had been living together for something like 12-15 years and already had two children. Amongst my brothers, two married my SILs after several years of common life, and a third one has been living with his partner for more than 15 years without marrying her.
Actually, I can’t think of anybody I know well (friends or relatives) who married before having been living for several years with their spouse. And I wouldn’t myself consider marrying someone without such a previous long-term commitment. How could I know whether or not I really wanted / could live with this person on the long term otherwise? It would be nonsentical to undertake an official commitment if I’ve no clue about how my couple would work out. I lived for 5 years with a woman without we ever considering/ talking about marriage, not even once. Which was obviously a good idea, since we eventually splited.
So, yes, long-term commitments without marriage work out very well. Why would you expect that signing a paper would make that much of a difference (apart for religious people taking marriage vows very seriously)? If it’s unusual, it’s merely a cultural issue. It’s probably just because it’s “what people do”.

I’m in Quebec.

"Québec is the world’s largest producer of maple syrup, the 'ome of Celine Dion and Roch Voisine; The land where everybody is shackin’ up, and the legal drinking age is just a suggestion. "

Here, everyone talks about their “conjoint”, which I think would translate to commonlaw spouse. People live together for years, and may never get married. Many will take the last step when they decide to have children, but not everyone will.

From what I’ve seen with friends and family here, most of these unions have just as much commitment as any marriage. And if/when these people do get married, it usually lasts, because they’ve lived together so long and have learned to work things out when trouble hits.

I’m not saying it’s a perfect system, but it seems to work out very well for a lot of people.

I suspect it matters very much who the people involved are and what they want. My husband and I set a date after we were together about four years. I wouldn’t have waited much longer , because I wanted to get married and wasn’t going to wait indefinitely. Nothing wrong with people who are together a long time without marriage, but that was what I wanted, and if he didn’t want it , then it wasn’t going to work anymore than it would have worked if one of us wanted kids and the other didn’t. My sister and her boyfriend have been together about four years. I don’t think they will ever get married, because neither them wants to get married. They’re both divorced.

Come to think of it, if I suddenly ended up single, I doubt I’d want to get remarried or even cohabit. Not because I’m unhappily married (I like being married just fine), but because I’m nearly twenty years older, don’t want any more children, and don’t know if I would want to get used to someone elses’s habits at this point

I never will marry, I’ll be no man’s wife,
I intend to live single all the days of my life.

That said, I have been with my ‘boyfriend’ for a cool 20 yrs come this halloween. You heard it right, 20 yrs. I can hardly believe it myself. Neither of us have ever been married, and we didn’t want to have any children.

Truth be told though, in many, many ways we are much more ‘married’ than many of the couples we know with the documentation. Certainly we have seen numerous ‘matches made in heaven’ smash on the rocks, some in record time, some when no one suspected.

Initially I think it was my own dysfunctional family background that made me shy to marry. Every one of my siblings is divorced, and I just didn’t ever want any part of my future decided in a divorce court.

We did a lot of things that would surely ‘ruin’ our relationship as well;
When we were dating we began working in the same place, strike one!