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May 15, 2009

Practically married

Filed under: Advice — posted by Breakup Girl @ 9:03 am

Justifiable matrimony from February 9, 1998

Dear Breakup Girl,

My girlfriend and I are both interested in marriage and children, and find each other sufficiently attractive that we’re willing to consider pursuing those goals jointly. We’re both approaching 40. I’m very shy, so I’ve had only three serious relationships before. She is about equally shy, but has had a little more experience, because as a woman she hasn’t been required to take the first move in relationships.

The thing that worries me is that we share almost no common interests other than our common interest in making a family. Can such a relationship work? Are we just getting desperate, and trying to make a relationship work that really can’t?

— James

Dear James,

Love may not always come to us in the form of a lightning bolt or an enchanted glance across a crowded room, but Breakup Girl is also fairly convinced that it does not come in the form of a trade agreement. Your description of your relationship — “[we] find each other sufficiently attractive that we’re willing to consider [our] goals jointly” — has all the romance of the Hawley-Smoot Tariff. Now, some people do cut their losses and make “arrangements” — you know, when they decide, “All right already, this may not be an epic love story, but at this lateish date, having a family is more important. Heck, let’s get hitched.” Completely their business, and completely justifiable. (Small comfort, however, when Breakup Mom recently assured Breakup Girl that she was “not at that point yet.”) I am also talking about people in their 40s, not, like, people in their late 20s; hello, Julia Roberts.

BUT. By and large, when Arrangements get made, they get made between buddies. Between people who might not make perfect soulmates, but who do make excellent roommates. That’s why Breakup Girl is, like you, worried about this lack of common interests. It doesn’t sound like things are that much of a picnic right now; is it really a relationship that can withstand the strain and challenge of parenting (which, as Breakup Mom will tell you, go on well into your childrens’ 20s)? Even if you do stay together for the kids, so to speak, I worry that they’ll turn out to be founding members of Adult Children of Indifferent Parents.

Here’s the joint venture I think you two should consider. Shift your status to “friends” and co-found a social organization called Shy Singles in their 40s. I am not kidding. People will come out of the woodwork. Either you’ll meet someone that way, or you’ll discover a “common interest” you two never knew you had.

Breakup Girl

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