How do we honor our serious commitment when marriage isn't an option?

I am married and have been poly since we started dating 10 years ago. In general, everything is very smooth and works well between us. Almost two years ago I started dating someone else who was a bit of a game changer - I've dated other people, but this has turned into a deep, serious long-term relationship. He has always been monogamous but was willing to explore poly to be with me and has taken to it wonderfully. My question is not so much advice about how to manage my multiple relationships, but if you have ideas of a way to acknowledge my other partner with a significant gesture or in a major way when we I can't legally marry him. We've discussed the fact that, in a different situation, we would have approached marriage by now, and while we both are content with the fact that we can't, I would like to do something tangible to demonstrate my long-term commitment. I know it will have to be something that is meaningful to both of us, but I'm struggling with even gathering ideas in the first place at this point!

Congrats on having found two deeply loving, committed relationship! Some ideas:

  • Saving to go on a once-in-a-lifetime vacation that you'll enjoy together
  • Matching tattoos or an investment in high quality, daily-wear jewelry like rings or watches
  • A "commitment ceremony" that is not a legal wedding but includes traditions and people who are important to you
  • A joint project, like fixing up an old camper van, starting a chicken coop, organizing a community event/meetup, etc. together
  • Adopting a pet together
  • Moving in together
  • Working together on a new term for your partnership (spouse, partner, lifeshare, etc. also, you can say 'husband' even if you're not legally married.)
  • Legal name changes - a blended last name, adding each other's last names as middle names, etc.

Do you have thoughts or ideas for this letter writer? You can leave them in the comments on the main blog,

how can i tell my girlfriend that i don’t want commitment. i made it pretty clear in the beginning, keep in mind i’m 15, and i hate commitment. I wanna be with other people, while being with her, but i know she won’t like that. how do i tell her that i wanna have other relationships without making anything with anyone official without hurting her

It used to be that people your age dated pretty openly, and there was a difference between “going out with” and “going steady with.” But things have changed, and I take it your girlfriend isn’t an Archie & Veronica fan.

I get a lot of questions like this - people say “I want my partner to understand something, or agree to something, but they don’t - how can I say the magic words to get them to feel or think a different way?” The thing is, you can’t. Your girlfriend might as easily write to me to ask how to tell her boyfriend that she wants commitment. Hearing this will hurt her feelings - you can’t avoid that, but you can handle it with grace and gentleness.

If your girlfriend wants commitment, and you don’t, one of you two needs to compromise or the relationship needs to end. It’s okay to want different things, and it’s good that at this age you know what you want in a relationship and can clearly articulate it. Your girlfriend won’t be happy to hear this, and you should be sensitive and responsible with the emotional fallout, but soon you’ll both be able to pursue relationships that meet your needs better.

A note on your age: I don’t know many 15 year olds who love commitment, and it sounds like you have the self awareness to keep yourself from getting locked into a relationship that’s not appropriate for where you are in your life. That’s awesome! But be careful about letting “I hate commitment” become a rigid facet of your self-identity. There are times where committing is the healthy thing to do, so stay open and take each situation as it comes.

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