Relationship Advice

For Want Of A Nail

sophisticated woman with coffee cup

I have decided to end a two-year relationship with my boyfriend and don’t know if I am making the right decision.

I am 32 years old and have never been married.  My boyfriend, Brandon, has two sons from a previous marriage.  Over the course of a year we realized we shared many interests, and our relationship evolved into a romantic one.

On our two year anniversary, Brandon made it clear he wants to marry me.  Although he brought marriage up before, I never gave him a strong indication that I would say yes.  He now feels, and I agree, it’s time to move forward or move on.

Brandon, 44, is a wonderful man.  He is caring, a great father, has good values, and is intelligent and creative.  He is deeply in love with me.  While I appreciate him and am very fond of his boys, I don’t feel deeply “in love” with him.  We are companions who get along well and enjoy each other’s company.

On a sexual level, I want someone more aggressive, with a different physical look.  It sounds superficial, and I don’t know another way to express it, but Brandon is not my “type.”  He doesn’t turn me on.  I feel guilty and flawed because I am having a hard time committing to such a great guy.

We have been in counseling together, but I believe it’s impossible to manufacture the chemistry of love and sexual attraction that is missing.  Nothing we do seems to work.  We are affectionate, but the spark is not there for me.  Brandon believes if I try hard, I can change.

Another aspect of our relationship is that Brandon is financially secure, and I am not.  He is a software designer, but he doesn’t have to work.  I am a full-time photographer.  It has not been a very lucrative path for me, but I make enough to survive.  I work long hours at my job and freelance for extra income.  Marrying Brandon would relieve my anxiety about money.  If I marry him, I will toil less and have more freedom.

I dread the idea of starting over and trying to meet someone else.  We live in a very small, isolated town where there are few eligible men.  If I want to meet someone else, I would need to move.

These past two weeks, Brandon and I have been at an impasse.  Marrying him would represent a conscious compromise I would have to make with myself.  I can’t sort out the conflicting messages between my head, my heart, and my body.


Jolie, when our basic needs are satisfied, our higher needs assert themselves.  You may think marrying Brandon will give you freedom from toil.  What it will give you is more time to think about what you lack.  People focus on what they don’t have, not on what they have.

Do you remember the nursery rhyme For Want of a Nail?  For want of a nail the shoe was lost; For want of a shoe the horse was lost; For want of a horse the rider was lost; For want of a rider the battle was lost; For want of a battle the kingdom was lost; All for want of a horseshoe nail.

You are at the beginning of a sequence of events, a sequence of causality.  The sequence could end 20 years from now with you saying to your child, “You know, I never really loved your father.”  The sequence could end in years of therapy, trying to learn how to have sex with a man you don’t love.  The sequence could end in many ways.

Which sequence do you want?  The one which ends this way, or the one which ends with you marrying the man you love?  Don’t trick yourself into thinking you can marry for security and not suffer consequences.

Wayne & Tamara

Night And Day

How do you know when you've crossed the boundary between liking and loving someone? What is the difference?


Kirby, it's hard to talk about this boundary without using example and comparison. They don't give an exact picture, but they suggest and give you a sense of the reality.

If you say, “I love my dog,” but look at an apartment that doesn’t allow pets, you only liked the dog.  Whoever said, “You can fall in love with a rich man as easily as a poor man,” never loved.  Whoever thinks love can be measured by a bathroom scale or diminished by age, never loved.

Love is like the answer to a riddle.  Other answers may seem good or clever, but only this one answer is perfect.

Love is like the right job.  The job inspires you and feels like play.  You crave the work, you are passionate about it.  It lifts you up and drives you to new levels.

Love is the color which connects with the deepest level of your being.  It is the music which speaks to you.

When you love someone, you are totally yourself with them.  Nothing can drive a wedge between you.  Whatever life throws at you, you deal with together. 

When you reach the boundary between like and love, you know you are entering another country.  You are beyond newness and infatuation.  You know what Shakespeare meant when he called love “an ever-fixed mark that looks on tempests and is never shaken.”