Hi Harlan,

I have two friends who are both in yearlong relationships. Both of them have been told recently by their men that they are not ready to propose. They say it would be at least a year, if not two, before they do so. Does this mean they don’t want to marry them ever, or do they really just need more time? I’m scared my friends are wasting their time with these men. I just want a guy’s perspective. Thanks!

A Lot of Guys

Dear A Lot of Guys,

So, you really want to be a bridesmaid?

Ten years with no ring is a long time. One isn’t. Marriage is a big decision (a forever decision). Rushing it might mean rushing to a divorce. Unless your friends are nearing the end of their childbearing years or if there is a religious reason, I’d cool it on the pressure. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people are waiting longer than ever to get married (the median age for a first marriage is 25.8 for women and 28.3 for men in 2012). Also worth sharing with them: Living together before marriage delays marriage. Give it a year or two to see if their men want a deeper commitment. But don’t be so quick to assume a guy who is waiting is a waste of time. These men might want to be comfortable with the idea of marriage before getting married. They might want to stay married a very long time. What matters most is that they are willing to talk about marriage. It would also help if they can explain what needs to be in place before getting married. Having a plan should be reassuring. Maybe they want to have a steady job, a secure future and confidence that they are ready to commit to one person for the rest of their lives. Waiting to get married isn’t bad, immature or about a man who lacks commitment — it can be about a guy who takes marriage seriously and wants it to last forever.

Dear Harlan,

It is bad that I’m following in my siblings’ footsteps, even though I have a completely different major from them? My older brother graduated from the same school and my sister finished one year there. Now I’m starting.


Dear Freshmeat,

It’s only bad if you if you’re too afraid to pave your own path. This is your time to live your own life and discover your own passions. Make sure you leave for school with patience, places to go and people in your corner (in addition to your siblings). Patience will keep you from feeling pressure to do things for the sake of doing something different. Forget a couple weeks or months — it can take a couple of years to find your own way. Make sure you have at least three places in mind where you can get involved. This will ensure that you have somewhere to go (other than your sister’s place) and your own interests. Investigate clubs, organizations, athletics, religions, intramurals and other activities.

Make sure you identify people on campus who can be in your corner — friends, student leaders, professors, upperclassmen, spiritual leaders, orientation leaders, residence life staff — you get the idea. These people will help support you as you pave your own path. Let your siblings’ mistakes, life lessons and inside info guide you, but let patience, places and people help you pave your own path.

Harlan is author of “Getting Naked: Five Steps to Finding the Love of Your Life (While Fully Clothed and Totally Sober)” (St. Martin’s Press). Write Harlan at [email protected] or visit online: www.helpmeharlan.com. All letters submitted become property of the author. Send paper to Help Me, Harlan!, 3501 N. Southport Ave., Suite 226, Chicago, IL 60657.

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