you have the right idea then. when i dated, i used a "three strike" policy. I would go out on three datyes with a guy and if i dind' tlike him for any reason, i would not date him anymore. it was a very quick way of getting to know a lot of people.
anyway, i think the biggest problem that you have is the "dragging the relationship on too long." that's really what you need to work on. after that, it's smooth sailing. It's about being honest with yourself and analysing your relationship to make sure that you get what you need. if you're not, tell him. If it doens't change--abandon ship ASAP. My sister has a 3 month process for this before she breaks up with a guy. . .and it works for her. mine was much quicker (see three strikes above). I would usually ditch before i commited at all.
i think it's cool that you want to own your own house before you marry. it's a great goal. there are lots of good loans out there for people too right now, with low interest rates and the market is pretty hot. If you have a good job, you'll be surprised what you can qualify for. I certainly support you in that endeavor; it's an excellent one.
Sit down an dmake a list of the attributes that you want in a significant other. All sorts of things: spiritual qualities, behavoiral qualities, hobbies and interests, jobs, education, even looks. Make a list, from one to five. Like so:
1. brown eyes
2. fit body, musclar legs (big requirement for me, not sure why, except that most guys around here have bird legs)
3. green eyes
4. endomorph==but still fit
5. honey colored hair.
so, my number one interest in looks is brown eyes. and, i'm looking for fit, active men. (at least, when i started this list way back when). But, i'm not "married" to brown eyes. I just recognize that i prefer it.
and then these qualities come behind things like
1. prefer graduate degree
2. must have university degree
3. if no university degree, must be active, intellegent, autodydactic.
1. strong spiritual practice, prefer liberal or eastern influenced beliefs
2. christian, preferably catholic--liberal catholic
3. open minded about religion
4. fitness and out doors activities
5. weight lifting, specifically; yoga as well.
so, what i'm doing--although this isn't entirely accurate--is that i'm making a picture of the kind of person (male or female) that i want to be around, what things i value most, and then i can start looking for these qualities. I particulrly found value in my "perspective on women" list--which cut out a lot of guys while i was dating.
turns out, my husband made a similar list--and although he wrote that he prefered brunettes, he actually likes blondes better, and ended up with me anyway.
my relationship with my husband and my commitment to him is the same as it was before we were married. I really didn't change, or feel locked into, anything once we were married--as i was already commited. As for your descriptions of your relationships, mine is similar. My husband and i talk about everything, support each other, etc etc. I truly do love him.
i'm just not sure that i "love" being married, since there are a lot of social stigmas that neither my husband nor i fit into. he mentioned to me that when you are different, you're always different. So really, it's no different than before we were married, when we were "living in sin" and perfectly happy with that--although people had problems with it.