Q: I've been having a long-distance relationship with a great guy. I am from Poland and he is from Australia. He is an amazing person and fantastic in bed, but he says he is not ready to get married yet! He wants to cohabit for a while. I don't feel secure living with someone without any time limit for the next serious step. Is there any sense in pushing a man to get married? Are there any ways to make him want to?

--Slavic Gal, 25

A: Do you know the song "Independent" by Webbie, wherein he says, "When you call her on her cellular she tell you she don't need not a goddamn thang?" Ignore the confusing double negative and think about that. Webbie -- who speaks for all men in this instance, but probably in this instance only -- is saying he's attracted to a woman who's got so much going on in her life that she never trips about what's going on in his. She's independent and she doesn't need him, so he respects her more than he would if she was begging him to be with her, or bugging him about getting married.

No one, male or female, wants to hear "I love you to death, move in with me, buy me a ring, marry me" ad nauseum. You may think it conveys love and loyalty, but it actually makes you sound desperate and demanding. An attractive partner is one who has goals, guts and ambition. They're not codependent, relying on another person to give approval or to make their life complete. No one likes to be told they have to do something they don't want to do, either. What if you had a friend who was adamant about remaining a virgin until marriage, but her boyfriend wouldn't stop pressuring her to have sex? You'd tell her to stand her ground, because she shouldn't compromise her beliefs and potentially make a mistake she can't undo. The same rule applies here. If you keep pushing your man to take a big step he's not ready for, he will either leave you, or stick around and become resentful. That resentfulness will inevitably destroy your relationship.

It's been said a million times, but I'm saying it again: Marriage is hard work. At your age, it makes sense to wait a few more years before making a presumably lifelong decision. Just because you're in love with him now doesn't mean you'll love him more once you hook up for life. You need to get to know each other's habits, rituals and personal-space preferences. I don't know if you know this, but guys are kind of disgusting. They blow their noses in the shower -- without Kleenex! -- and reuse dirty silverware. Your man probably only washes his sheets when you come for a visit, and I highly doubt he replaces his toothbrush every three months. Are you really ready to see all that?

I'm with your man on this one (regardless of his hygiene). Why not take marriage for a test drive before you take the plunge? I don't purport to know Polish cultural norms, but maybe you're caving to family members who insist unmarried couples shouldn't live together. Just remember that you are not your mother or your grandmother; you're a modern, independent woman, and most importantly, you've got a lot of life ahead of you. Choose your partner wisely and for the right reasons. Marriage should be 100 percent consensual, and not at all conditional.

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