Virginia Ironside's Dilemmas: My boyfriend refuses to move in with me

Dear Virginia,

I've been with my boyfriend for two years, since university, and we've talked about moving in together. But I feel he's getting cold feet. He keeps making excuses, saying he wants to stay in his flat until the lease runs out, and that he wants to go abroad on his own for six months before settling down. At a party, I actually saw him taking down the number of another girl. He said he was just drunk, but I was upset. I love him so much, but feel he doesn't love me. What can I do?

Yours sincerely, Sheena

The sooner you put the idea of moving in together on hold the better. Actually, don't even put it on hold. Just wipe it out from your future plans. At the moment you just don't know where you are – and your boyfriend probably doesn't really know where he is, either. You can't tell yet whether he's is frightened of the prospect of settling down, or if he's decided he doesn't love you as much as he thought after all. Either way, leaving him be for the moment will make his choices easier. And put you out of your misery sooner.



Imagine he's suffering from fear. And think of him as an angry dog under a chair. If you approached this animal, offering all kinds of titbits and balls and sticks and calls of "Pretty doggie, come here doggie... there, there!" and every time you moved closer he barked and growled, then what would you do? If you had any sense you wouldn't get closer and crouch down, risking getting your nose ripped off. No, you'd simply walk away. You'd do the washing up, whistle a nonchalant tune, get on the phone. Act completely relaxed. Within half an hour I bet that dog would slowly come out from under the chair, start licking himself, and, eventually, look up at you, wondering where you'd put those chews.



This is exactly how you should behave with your boyfriend. Well, not exactly, of course... but similarly. Take the initiative. Tell him that you, actually, are having second thoughts about your plan to move in together and have been having second thoughts for some time. Be honest and tell him that you're aware he's uncertain, but then lie, saying that after much thought you yourself have started to wonder if it's such a good idea for you. Go further. Say that even if he changed his mind and wanted to move in, you're suddenly feeling very wobbly about it all and not certain that, long-term, it would work out.



Either he'll become quite desperate, and beg to set up home as soon as possible, or he'll breathe a sigh of relief and slowly slither out of your life. Either way, you'll pretty soon know where you stand.



If he starts blowing hot again, don't be too quick to jump at the chance of being together. You will now have all the cards. Keep in control by not leaping up and down and clapping your hands and saying "Right that's settled. I've already bought a ring for you to give me! Next stop: marriage!" Pretend to consider the offer seriously before saying yes to the idea. And if he blows cold, at least you will have pushed the situation yourself into some kind of resolution. And rather than hanging on for the next few months, suffering the most agonising pain and anguish, you'll be able to dust yourself down – I hope – and think about finding someone else.



Readers say...



He doesn't deserve you



Run a mile! How can you go on loving someone who so clearly does not love you? It is one of the hardest facts of life that those whom we love dearly do not always love us. Indeed, sometimes they make use of us and he is doing that with you. I bet you even take care of his laundry and cook for him sometimes, don't you? You sound like that sort of loving, caring girl.



You deserve better. You have your own place, make your own life. Without him. He does not deserve you.



June Helen Rogers, London NW3



•••



End it now



Did Sheena read her letter before sending it? I don't understand why this represents a dilemma – the boyfriend is clearly not interested any more, but can't bring himself to end the relationship. Do it for him, and travel round the world in your own right or do whatever you want to do with your life. Don't waste it on someone who is "just not that into you". For goodness sake, where is your self-respect?



Ruth Coomber, Needham Market, Norfolk

•••

You need a break



I think you must know the answer to your dilemma. He's obviously not ready for the kind of commitment that you want. This does not necessarily mean that he's not fond of you, as two years is a long time to be with someone, but settling down together has started his alarm bells ringing. Men mature much later than women. I assume you are both in your twenties and therefore have a lot to achieve and things to do in your lives before setting up home together. If you love him, you will let him get on with his life. To pressure him will only drive him further away. After six months abroad, he might just feel differently – then on the other hand, so might you.



It is always very difficult to let go of someone you love, but if he cannot be honest with you now, what chance is there for a future together? He seems to me to be quite a weak and immature man. I suggest you give him as much encouragement as you can and suggest that the break will be good for you both.



After all, when you have time to reflect during his absence, you might just discover that there is always another bus just waiting around the corner.



Anita Ashford, Norwich



•••



Accept that it's over



Think of the feeling you get when your bathwater is going cold and there's no more hot water in the tank. You know you should get out of the bath, but you also know that, briefly, that will be more unpleasant than staying. This relationship is like that. You must take a deep breath and and get out of it. You are still enviably young, and there are masses of other single young men who want to meet you. Don't just watch other women at parties being asked for their telephone number. Become one of them.

Felicie Oakes, Birmingham

•••



Love is not enough



I can see why you're confused. But just because your boyfriend loves you doesn't necessarily mean he wants to move in with you. In fact, it's probably because he does love you that he's finding it so hard to tell you his plans have changed. It's time to make it easier for him, I'm afraid.



Adele Parr, London E1



Next Week's Dilemma



Dear Virginia,



My brother sexually and physically abused me from when I was 10 until he left home. A few years later, he tried to attack me and then, three weeks after he'd said he wanted a physical relationship again, he committed suicide. My family were distraught. I'm now in my 40s. Having never told them, should I now reveal the truth to my family? Do I speak out and tarnish their memories of my brother, or keep quiet and continue to feel ashamed and haunted for ever?

Yours sincerely, Nell



What would you advise Nell to do? Email your dilemmas and comments to dilemmas@independent.co.uk, or leave your suggestion in the comments below. Anyone whose advice is quoted will receive a Belgian Chocolate Selection by Amelie Chocolat ( www.ameliechocolat.co.uk)

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Environment
The plant ‘Nepenthes zygon’ was donated to Kew in 2004
environment
Arts and Entertainment
booksPhotographer Richard Young has been snapping celebrities at play for 40 years - but he says it wasn’t all fun and games...
News
i100
Sport
Aguero - who single-handedly has kept City's Champions League dreams alive - celebrates his dramatic late winner
footballManchester City 3 Bayern Munich 2: Argentine's late hat-rick sees home side snatch vital victory
News
Muhammad Ali pictured in better health in 2006
peopleBut he has enjoyed publicity from his alleged near-death experience
Arts and Entertainment
Tony breaks into Ian Garrett's yacht and makes a shocking discovery
TVReview: Revelations continue to make this drama a tough watch
News
news
News
peopleSinger tells The Independent what life is like in rehab in an exclusive video interview
News
The assumption that women are not as competent in leadership positions as men are leads to increased stress in the workplace
science... and it's down to gender stereotypes
Arts and Entertainment
Inner sanctum: Tove Jansson and friends in her studio in 1992
booksWhat was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Singer songwriter Bob Dylan performs on stage
films
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Austen Lloyd: Commercial Property Lawyer - Cheshire

    Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: CHESHIRE MARKET TOWN - An exciting and rare o...

    Austen Lloyd: Residential Property Solicitor - Hampshire

    Excellent Salary : Austen Lloyd: NORTH HAMPSHIRE - SENIOR POSITION - An exciti...

    Recruitment Genius: Gas Installation Engineer

    £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Gas Installation Engineer is required ...

    Recruitment Genius: Domestic Gas Technical Surveyor

    £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Domestic Gas Technical Surveyor is req...

    Day In a Page

    Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

    Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

    Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
    Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

    Putin’s far-right ambition

    Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
    Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

    Escape to Moominland

    What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?
    Nightclubbing with Richard Young: The story behind his latest book of celebrity photographs

    24-Hour party person

    Photographer Richard Young has been snapping celebrities at play for 40 years. As his latest book is released, he reveals that it wasn’t all fun and games
    Michelle Obama's school dinners: America’s children have a message for the First Lady

    A taste for rebellion

    US children have started an online protest against Michelle Obama’s drive for healthy school meals by posting photos of their lunches
    Colouring books for adults: How the French are going crazy for Crayolas

    Colouring books for adults

    How the French are going crazy for Crayolas
    Jack Thorne's play 'Hope': What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

    What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

    Playwright Jack Thorne's latest work 'Hope' poses the question to audiences
    Ed Harcourt on Romeo Beckham and life as a court composer at Burberry

    Call me Ed Mozart

    Paloma Faith, Lana del Ray... Romeo Beckham. Ed Harcourt has proved that he can write for them all. But it took a personal crisis to turn him from indie star to writer-for-hire
    10 best stocking fillers for foodies

    Festive treats: 10 best stocking fillers for foodies

    From boozy milk to wasabi, give the food-lover in your life some extra-special, unusual treats to wake up to on Christmas morning
    Phil Hughes head injury: He had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

    Phil Hughes had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

    Prolific opener had world at his feet until Harmison and Flintoff bounced him
    'I have an age of attraction that starts as low as four': How do you deal with a paedophile who has never committed a crime?

    'I am a paedophile'

    Is our approach to sex offenders helping to create more victims?
    How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

    How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

    Serco given Yarl’s Wood immigration contract despite ‘vast failings’
    Green Party on the march in Bristol: From a lost deposit to victory

    From a lost deposit to victory

    Green Party on the march in Bristol
    Putting the grot right into Santa's grotto

    Winter blunderlands

    Putting the grot into grotto
    'It just came to us, why not do it naked?' London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital

    'It just came to us, why not do it naked?'

    London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital