Waiting for monogamous relationship?

Dear Dr. Milrod:

This is probably an all too common question but I was wondering how long is too long to wait for a monogamous relationship? Let’s say you are in love with a wonderful guy/girl who treats you like a prince/princess and everything is top notch (i.e. sex, intelligence, enjoying time together), but the other person is just not ready to make the commitment. How do you know when it’s time to ask?


Dear Jessica,

I don’t think there is a specific amount of time to wait for someone to ‘become’ monogamous. Remember, it’s the person you are asking something from, not ‘the relationship,’ which in this sense becomes an abstract agreement between two individuals. If monogamy is important to you, you’ll need to let the other party know. As to when you should ask the question – it depends on your level of comfort with the person. Note that I did not say “your level of desire” in this case. You can have tremendous attraction to a person and still not feel intimate or trusting enough to ask for a commitment. And, if the person has stated to you that s/he is not ready to make a commitment, it depends on what you want. If you are willing to wait, then wait. If not, then move on. As to how long you should wait – perhaps until it doesn’t feel good waiting anymore.

On an anecdotal level, I have found that people who state that they are not ready to make a commitment to monogamy rarely are, and that they do not change – at least not until the next prospect comes along. Now, women tend to want exclusive pair bonding much sooner than men in a relationship, whether gay/lesbian or heterosexual. Sometimes it’s good to keep that in mind and not push; when you start feeling uncomfortable, ask the question and then deal with your feelings, depending on the answer. If it’s a young man you are asking about, then yes, chances are he’s not ready for “a commitment.” Some individuals are like in the Roy Lichtenstein cartoon paintings; all of a sudden, there’ll be a talk-bubble above their heads, saying, “Oh wow, I forgot to get married!” And then they’ll grab the first one that seems reasonably suitable. I have seen this behavior among middle-aged men. It’s like a stampede! But before then – Ms. Right could come along and it doesn’t matter one whit

Christine Milrod, Ph.D.

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