advice: the dreaded “why aren’t you two engaged?”

In ALL, DATING & MATING, MARRIAGE, STRAIGHT UP ADVICE by Stephanie Klein40 Comments

QUESTION FROM A GREEK TRAGEDY READER [Let’s call her Amy]: I’ve been dating my current boyfriend since November 2008. I’m 30 and he’s 38. In August of 2009, after roughly 9 months of dating, he told me that instead of celebrating our 1 year anniversary, he thinks we should get engaged. I planned and paid for a trip to California in October, so he could meet my family. He repeatedly reinforced that he planned on asking me to marry him in November and told me (and friends of his) one week prior to our trip that he was going to ask for my father’s permission. He didn’t.

When we got back to Manhattan, I asked what his intentions were. He told me that he thought we would move in together first (in December) and 3-4 months after that, he would propose. After much discussion (and anger from my part), he said that he didn’t get his expected quarterly bonus at the end of September and that derailed his engagement plans. It’s now June, 2010 and we’re still not engaged, but we moved in together in the beginning of May.

Our relationship is great, and he’s the “one” for me. I’m trying to be patient with him regarding his financial situation, but I have periodic meltdowns wherein I say, “I want to be engaged,” and he says he needs to be in a better place financially. I told him I’m willing to get engaged without a ring, or with a very modest ring, but apparently this hurt his man-pride. He’s told me, right now, he feels like “dead weight.” I have a great job and a good income. I like nice things (ahem, Gilt Groupe), but would never expect him to foot the bill. We split our living expenses 50/50.

What I want most is to be able to flip a switch and not feel like utter sh*t all the time…just get over it and not want this so badly (why the F is being engaged that important to me if I’m otherwise happy?). In really bad moments, I start dissecting myself for inadequacies and internalize (i.e. this isn’t about his finances, it’s about my weight or looks or attitude, something I’m doing wrong…). It is getting increasingly hard to smile and congratulate my friends and our mutual friends who have gotten engaged recently (hello, like 14 in the last 2 months). And it is getting increasingly more difficult to stomach the “milk for free” and “2 year deadline” comments….and of course the dreaded, “why aren’t you engaged” which is, on occasion, asked in front of him.

 straight up advice

It just so happens that you’ve come to the right place. Odd, but somehow I feel like this is my sweet spot. First, some required reading:

Your guy might be 38, but he’s acting 28. What in the hell does that mean? See for yourself…

1) From Cougars + Kittens: “He can’t see himself married because when he was younger and thought abstractly about his married life one day, he always saw himself as a bread winner, as an accomplished man with a high-paying career, not a job, a career. He saw himself as a man. When do you begin to see yourself as a man and not as a boy? When you’re married! When you’re married you’re responsible for another person, and worse, you have to really be accountable for yourself.”

2) An Appointment With Dis is encouraging, promise. If anything, reading it will make you realize not to push so hard, to talk it out, to expect him to get on bended knee, ask your father for your hand… woman, you’re ruining it for yourself. There is nothing fun about knowing he’s going to ask (“just not knowing the exact how“). It’s controlling. Again, you’re ruining it for yourself. If you trust, in the deepest part of you, that he will, in fact, ask you one day, when he feels more financially secure (and that it’s not simply a stall tactic due to uncertainty about you or marriage in general), leave it alone. So you can enjoy it all the more when it does happen.

From An Appointment With Dis: That’s the problem with expectation (particularly the type beyond your own control); it can lead to disappointment. I hate to say it, but even when something brilliant happens, if you were expecting it, you won’t be nearly as elated as you’d have been if you were blindsided by it. We overestimate our pleasure and pain when we have time to forecast things. When unexpected surprises creep in (both the magical and menacing), we feel things more deeply. But how do you avoid having expectations? Realistic or not, they’re still there, with their own pulse, and what do they add to life, aside from a clear declaration, even if only to yourself, of how you’d like to be treated?

3) Does Soon Really Mean No? The Cliff’s Notes: “As long as everything becomes an excuse, ‘someday’ stays where it is: as far away as it’s always been. We make space in our lives for what matters, now. Not in promises and soons, but on mantels with sterling frames, in shelves we clear to make room for our now. Everything else is talk.”

4) Ultimatums Might As Well Have The Word ‘Mate’ In Them The cheat sheet: “If we’re not *here* by *this* date, then I’m gone. Sometimes, I think having to say that is reason enough to just leave. The women who have to put an expiration date on their relationships shouldn’t be in that relationship in the first place.”

5) Breakups + Breakthroughs, a personal favorite. “Eventually the excuses wear thin, and we begin to question ourselves. If I were thinner, had better hair or that exotic look. Don’t do that. Don’t question yourself. People do it when the relationship doesn’t work out, wonder what they did wrong in the autopsy of it. I could have been more understanding, more patient, I should have listened, shouldn’t have taken it so personally. The bullshit we tell ourselves is as long and old as the Nantucket rhyme. And we pedal it to ourselves, convinced. We nod our heads when our friends tell us differently, when they tell us it will be fun, that we’ll do so much better, but we don’t live there, at that happy address of Confident and Independent. We’re warped by then, thinking independent women are ugly and alone by default, not preference.”

6) Meet My Needs, another essential read. Seriously. “We complain that someone else isn’t meeting our needs, but we never ask if we’re meeting our own needs. ‘I need to feel…’ Fill in the blank. ‘I’ll be happy when…’ then give it to yourself.” In your case, I’d say the need you want met is validation. You want others to take your relationship seriously. You want validation from your man that he’s in it for the long haul, so you’re not played for the fool, wasting your time and eggs in a relationship that’ll never move forward. And I’m telling you, you need to figure out how to give yourself validation. Read “Meet My Needs” again. And again. Until you figure out what you can give yourself to feel confident and self-assured that you’re making the right choice. 

Before I take a smack + crack at answering this (with more straightforward, specific advice), I’ll let others weigh in with their own words of wisdom. Floor’s all yours…

go ahead, askGOT QUESTIONS? NEED ADVICE? If you have questions or need advice on anything from where to eat to how to get over the bastard, just email your question to my advice email address. Nope, I’m not a shrink, but since people keep asking for my opinion, I might as well share it and air it, so everyone else can weigh in too.

Comments

  1. Ask HIM to marry YOU. He feels like “dead weight” and emasculated now because he doesn’t have the money for the best ring? Whereas stringing you along for over a year, continually making excuses, is the thing that’s truly childish. That’s what he should feel emasculated about.
    Not to be harsh, but on top of it all, his priorities and values seem a little messed up if this is actually his reasoning — that it’s all the “financial situation.” If you really want to spend your life with this person, you need to figure out if you share these priorities and perspectives, or at least can accept them. Personally it would be a big red flag for me.
    Something else seems fishy to me though, maybe just because I don’t know all the details. But between when he told people he was going to ask your father’s permission, and when he didn’t, something happened. That specific lack of action was a conscious choice. Maybe he got cold feet about the whole thing, which seem like they’ve been recurring since, and possibly will continue indefinitely; or maybe he’s stalling, seeing if “something better” will come along. I don’t know if you’ll ever really get anywhere together if you don’t get him to be honest about what went wrong on or before that trip.

    1. I agree. This exact same thing happened to my friend, they moved in, said he was going to propose, blah blah blah. Months and months and months go by and then in September he breaks it off, saying he was going to do it in May but something happened where the thought of proposing made him want to throw up. The financial situation is an excuse. If he really wants to, he’ll propose tomorrow.

  2. Is engagement really a unilateral decision that the man makes in a twenty-first century relationship? If you want to be engaged – or more specifically, want to get married in the near future – ask him to marry you. If he refuses, then perhaps the two of you are not actually on the same page about what is important in your relationship. Ultimately, it’s about making a lifelong commitment, not a particular ring or a fancy proposal.

  3. I have two cents:

    1. You should never let what somebody else does affect you or make you feel like you currently do. Obviously, this is affecting you because he keeps going back on his word.
    2. Let.It.Go. You’re not going to enjoy it as much if you micromanage the entire process. Smile, Breathe, and Go Slowly. Guys tend to hate it when their girls bitch about something. The less you bitch about it, the more likely it will happen.
    3. Why does he keep going back on his word?? He said he was going to do it, Why hasn’t he? Seems like you’ve kept your word all the way through.

    RE: People asking questions, I’m married and don’t plan on having kids for a while, yet the first question that spews out of my friends’ mouths is: When Kids? It’s really annoying, but I just bite back: If you ask me one more time, I won’t talk to you until I have them. Subject is dropped and we move on to what matters.

  4. Marriage is not the be-all and end-all of this age/stage of life. Why do we allow ourselves to get caught up in extreme drama all for the opportunity to be ‘bride-for-a-day’? So you can then settle in to something safer and feel entitled to bitch, moan, criticize and try to change him?

    It’s a baffling social expectation that defies logic.

    Just for fun, my daughters and I sometimes watch that Bridezilla show. Those shrieking, vile, hate-spewing harridans preparing for their ‘perfect’ day truly define my opinion of the marriage institution in general.

    How about this? Love yourself. Find peace within. Establish life as a single, grateful, joyful, whole person. Develop your interests. Find a hobby or a worthy cause. Do good works. Make the world better. *That* will be so more beautiful to him than a haranguing, bitchy, whiny fiance begging to be married.

    Yesterday would have been my 23rd wedding anniversary – had I had this advice then – I wouldn’t also be celebrating my 11th year divorce anniversary.

  5. This is a really sticky spot, because you’re at the age (same as me) where one should be either married or getting married (according to those who ask ALL the time when you’re getting married, right?).

    But, I’m curious as to why HE keeps bringing up an engagement if he’s not ready. I think that I would really sit down with him and let him know that you’re hurt by this and that it’s making you question yourself. I’d try to get to the bottom of his motivations — is he really wanting to get engaged or is he just biding his time, dragging his feet for a reason? Or does he have some crazy expectations about the engagement, that things will change and become all sunshine and roses and he wants to be finanacially ready for that to come about?

    It is possible that you’ve already had many of these heart to hearts, but if not, i think that would be a good place to start. And I think that whenever you start internalizing it and questioning yourself, you should take THAT as a red flag to talk to HIM about things rather than just put this on your own shoulders. Doing that is just going to wear you down and eat away at your self-esteem.

    Hang in there!

  6. Setting healthy boundaries isn’t the same as giving an ultimatum. Ultimatums are desperate attempts at control, when you already feel lost, when you have nowhere else to go. Different from drawing a line in the sand and saying what you need.

  7. Do you answer these questions publicly? I keep looking for answers to the other questions and never see them.

  8. He’s 38, right? Racing towards 40, and he can’t commit, you split things 50/50 and he says he feels like ‘dead weight’…RED FUCKING FLAGS!!!

    My favorite part, is how YOU, paid for the trip to CALI, so HE, can meet your family. Seriously doll, from where I type, YOU sound like the man of my dreams.

    the best before date on this milk carton has expired, it stinks. Go buy a new carton.

  9. Propose. To Him! If he says no, you have a lot to discuss and should be doing that sooner rather than later.

  10. From a guy’s perspective here’s what he could have went down.

    When he went to visit your family and he was planning to ask your Dad for your hand, he might have felt inadequate that close to the people who he would have to answer to if you two married. Maybe he didn’t have enough confidence in himself to ask your Father that question because he was feeling insecure about his financial lot in life.

    When I was single, nothing caused me to break up with someone more than meeting her family. When you meet them, all of a sudden everything becomes real. You see face to face the people who will be pissed off at you if you don’t do right by their girl.

    When they are just pictures and stories, it’s one thing. They really don’t exist. But when put face to face with them and realizing these are the people who will be part of your life til death do us part it can be overwhelming.

    There was one girl I dated who to put it bluntly I enjoyed having sex with tremendously. She kept pushing me to meet her parents and I resisted. When I finally did meet them, the relationship fell apart. There I was trying to make small talk with the people whose little girl I liked to bend over the couch and hold up by her ankles. I was totally freaked out and I realized that I didn’t want to spend forever with this girl and that it was a physical connection. Not an emotional one.

    The other issue is the age difference. Any guy at 38 holding fast to the hopes that he’s going to hit his financial windfall that will cure everything that is holding him back in life is a dreamer…and still a child.

    While he may find the financial security he seeks, basing life decisions on waiting for that is just a smokescreen.

    I think he’s afraid to be married. He’s afraid of the responsibility. He’s afraid you’re going to want children. He’s afraid you’re going to want to quit your job to raise them and all the pressure will be on his shoulders. He’s afraid what they’re going to cost. He’s afraid he hasn’t been Venice (or wherever he has always been telling himself he’s going to go someday).

    Frankly, he’s afraid.

    Can you assuage his fears? Yes. You can help him through this with love, patience and understanding. Not to mention being very open with him when it comes to communicating feelings.

    To give you some perspective, I dated a lot. I broke up with a lot of great women at around the 3 month mark because I knew once I got past that it was serious and they would be seeing a future with me.

    I went through life like this most of the my 20’s. When I hit 30, I met my wife. I asked her to marry me after dating for 2 months. I didn’t have a pot to piss in at that time and used the ring my grandmother left me when she passed to propose.

    We’ve been married for 7 years and are happy and fulfilled.

    I knew it was right. I knew she was right. I just knew. It wasn’t that I was tired of dating. It was I met someone who I didn’t want to go through life without.

    If he’s not willing to give you the commitment, pageantry and ceremony you seek and he knows is important to you, perhaps he’s not the right one.

    Using finances as a reason not to do things is completely normal. But sending you mixed messages about asking you to marry him and then backing out is suspicious.

    The only reason I could see myself doing what he’s doing is that he’s not sure about being a married man. It may have nothing to do with you. It may have everything to do with you.

    But if it were me and I knew I wasn’t putting a ring on your finger unless the stars aligned perfectly, I think I’d come to the realization that I’m using that as an excuse for some reason.

    1. I love this. Very well said and well thought out and also struck me as very honest. It’s not often we get to see a man’s perspective on these issues. Thanks.

    2. I love this too. Thank you.

      My boyfriend recently proposed with nothing but a huge bundle of flowers. And we had to use wedding money to buy the engagement ring. we’re getting married in early october and actually focusing on the vows, not the sometimes silly hub-bub that accompanies many weddings.

      neither of us have a pot to piss in, but I know if we can get through this, then we can handle anything.

      thanks for sharing.

  11. So, he told you he was going to ask your father for your hand the week before you went home to visit your parents in November of 2009, and he already knew by that point (in September) that he didn’t get the bonus and couldn’t afford the ring. He still could have talked to your father about it, told him his intentions of marrying you and that he was saving up but that it was coming. But he didn’t. Why?

    There is no “ideal” time to get married, to buy a home, to start a family. You could always be richer, more settled in your relationship, farther along in your career. You need to ask him — when will he be “ready” to get engaged, to actually walk down the aisle, to start a family? What specific changes does he need to make/see in his life in order for him to be ready, to not feel like “dead weight”? Saying he needs to be “in a better place financially” is not an answer. What does it mean? That he wants to have paid off his credit card debt? That he wants to be making a certain salary? Ask him for specifics. Then you can make a better decision about whether to wait around… or move on.

  12. Also, not to open up a whole other can of worms, but if this is how he is responding to the perceived financial burden of engagement, what’s it going to be like if and when you’ve committed your life to this person, and you’re trying to decide whether or when to have children? Or buy a house?

  13. Proposing to him is NOT the answer. This is definitely not about someone’s inability to ask the question. Clearly a) he’s not ready to be engaged + b) she’s so ready to be engaged, she’s ignoring every sign he’s giving to the contrary = c) disaster waiting to happen.

    WHY would she want to be with someone who isn’t even ready to say the words “Will you marry me?” Because she “should” be engaged? Because her friends are getting engaged? The fact that she became angry when the proposal didn’t happen as planned shows she’s more interested in getting engaged (i.e., saving face) than being with him. She can be hurt, disappointed, embarrassed, etc., but angry? I dunno.

    It sounds like they are two unhappy people whose unhappiness is only compounded by the other person’s expectations – he’s not happy with his financial situation, so he can’t/won’t propose, which makes her unhappy, and she’s not happy NOT being engaged, so she’s angry and having meltdowns because she’s not where she expected to be at this point, which I’m sure makes him feel awesome.

    His being “the one” for her doesn’t mean it’s mutual. She says their relationship is “great,” but it sounds like he’s trying to let her down easy by intentionally disappointing her at every turn. Anyone who would let “man-pride” keep him from asking a question he claims to have wanted to ask for months now is going to have these “man-pride” moments for the rest of their lives. And if every time something goes wrong, she thinks, “I’m fat” or “I’m ugly,” and that’s why we’re having problems…urgh.

    If she wants to give an ultimatum, I’m sure we can all predict how that’s gonna work out. What is it with ultimatums? I mean, we’re talking about people in relationships. Will threats and artificial deadlines really solve the problem(s) at hand? How could she ever feel confident that he proposed from the heart and not from some other place, namely fear?

    She may want to give herself a private deadline: He knows how I feel, so in two months, if nothing’s changed, I’m gone. And it has to be private so that it’s not just another manipulation of him; getting out by some deadline is for HER, so that she can stop waiting for the raise or bonus (and presumably outpouring of love and jewelry) to make everything better.

    She can’t be happy for friends who are getting engaged or stomach the snide comments to which she has no answer? When did others’ relationships become about her, and when did her relationship become about others’ perceptions of it? Come on, “Amy.” This is not working, and at this point, it doesn’t seem like it matters why. For whatever reason, he’s not ready. He’s been trying to make that clear since California. Don’t threaten, don’t give an ultimatum, don’t get angry – just get out.

  14. 1) who are these people telling you to propose? NO. You will never be able to live with yourself.
    2) I would not have moved in with him until engagement. Now you have lost a part of your leverage, and have little to hold over his head.
    3) Go on vacation by yourself or with girlfriends, little/no warning (he is not your husband). Just say, “oh honey, I need to clear my head and unwind. You don’t worry about me.” NO mention of the M word. Have a good time. You will be able to tell if he missed you and if he is “the one.”

  15. If he doesn’t know you’re it by now, he’s not going to ask you to marry him. In my opinion, he’s 38, never been married, and he’s probably one of those guys whom always feels like there must be something better.

    There is NOTHING. WRONG. WITH. YOU. But, for whatever reason, he’s not feeling it. He’s not feeling 100%. And he lied. After you planned and PAID for a trip for the purpose of meeting your family BECAUSE he led you to believe there was going to be a proposal, he didn’t ask your dad. There’s a reason. He keeps that reason to himself, continues on the relationship track, but isn’t moved to take the commitment to the next level.

    You should never have to beg someone to marry you. You want a guy at the end of that aisle with tears in his eyes because he’s overcome with emotion at how he got so lucky. You want to feel cherished and appreciated and loved like you’ve never felt before. Those things just don’t come with an ultimatum. They just don’t. You don’t want to go through life if he just accepted the ultimatum just because it was easier than starting over with someone new.

    He may love you, but just not in the way you deserve to be loved. As women, we often think we can love enough for both people…but you shouldn’t have to and shouldn’t want that. Love yourself more than to stick with someone who is 38 and can’t commit.

  16. It’s Amy — we eloped last night, JUST KIDDING. Thank you all for your comments…they were very thoughtful and insightful. I’m going through a rough time with all of this and trying to figure out what makes sense for him, me and us right now, 5 years from now, etc. And, not in a rat-fleeing-a-sinking-ship exit strategy kind of way. He is sweet and kind and hopefully the (lack of a) proposal last November will just be a blip on the bigger picture. I haven’t thrown down any ultimatums and don’t intend to…I am not going to propose to him. I’m trying to be supportive of him — the economy sucks and to be honest, I’m just glad we’ve both got jobs. He certainly doesn’t need me breathing down his neck about carats and bling. I do feel like when you’re in the right relationship, you just *know*…and you make it work. Because he hasn’t put a ring on it, as cliche as this sounds…I let a little doubt creep in (I mean, holy crap…maybe my dude DOES want to go and explore Venice…?!?!)…which is exactly where my cry for advice manifested. And, seeing other people have their happy moments is a bit soul crushing because I want a happy ending too…and, this also makes me feel like a green eyed monster who should get a life or at least a hobby.

    P.S. As an aside, the trip to Cali was also a b-day gift from me to him. When he told me (unprompted) that he wanted to propose in November, I was like…um, crap, you haven’t met my family! Since he is an east coaster through and through, I planned the trip. While it makes me look like a huge pimp-mama, the trip was very affordable, but I still believe that I can be the man of all of your dreams :).

      1. Helen, you are an incredibly nasty human being. Happy, secure people don’t say crap like that. Are you happily married? You’re the anti-porn one, aren’t you? It makes me wonder what happened in your relationships to get you to this point. Get over it, and show some f-ing compassion for your fellow woman.

        Amy: not every relationship is the same, and we don’t know enough about yours to know if you should DTMFA (a Savage Love acronym) or try to make things work. The relationship advice everyone is giving is very good, but it works best when applied to the aggregate. Sometimes up close, things aren’t as black and white.

        Give him some time for his worries to dissipate (and do what you can to help alleviate his stress); if he’s still resistant after that point, walk away. Chances are, he’ll realize what he has and what he would be giving up before you make it out the door.

        1. Listen up Laura, go back to the Little House on the Prairie, this talk is for the woman folk.

          F-U-C-K!

  17. Proposing to him works for some people. No, really, it does. (Not me.)

    Ultimatums do work for some people. But there is the other half of them… ie, you have to be willing to leave if he isn’t willing to get married. And not expect him to chase you when you do. So… that’s scary if you want to be together more than you want to be married (but you want both!)

    Waiting works. Sometimes.

    Leverage? Hold over his head? Wow. I don’t want that relationship.

    Advice? I have none, because none of it is good, except to get the anxiety out of your head ASAP.

  18. I could have written this question and it kills me, daily. Amy, I understand.

  19. Yeah, DO NOT propose! a) it sounds as though you want to be proposed TO, and you’ll likely always regret ruining it for yourself. b) that will just give him an easy out to say “yes” out of fear while he privately tells himself it will be a long-ass engagement that perhaps never culminates in marriage, and then one day you find yourself 42 and never married (not to mention single because you’ve finally realized he ain’t the marrying kind).

    I feel for you, “Amy.” At 25 I suddenly found myself wanting to be engaged NOW. Never mind what my boyfriend felt, I was ready to go down the marriage path. He was in a similar mindset but had a slightly slower timeline. It was really hard to hold tight and wait. It did have something to do with finances, but he came up with a plan to pay off the ring on his own. I didn’t have to bug him about figuring out how to afford it and neither should you. And unless he makes very little money (like my boyfriend did), it shouldn’t be an issue (unless you are demanding a massive rock–which doesn’t sound to be the case at all). Hell, if he really wants to be engaged he will find a way. My brother was in grad school for 5 years and in major debt not to mention totally broke with an older girlfriend ready to issue an ultimatum. She didn’t care about a ring but he wouldn’t do it without one. He ended up using one of our mother’s rings. Emasculating? Yeah, but to him it was worth it. Losing a little (or a lot) of “man pride” should be a very small price to pay for not losing you.

    I hate to say it, but at 38 if a man isn’t ready to commit even to an engagement (cause let’s face it, many engagements do not result in marriages–the deed is not done until you say “I do”), I doubt he will ever be ready. A good friend of mine has been dating a guy since she was 29 and he 31. It was pretty serious from day one but she was afraid to push commitment fearing she’d drive him away. Finally, about three years in (after they are living together) she tells him how important it is to her to get married. He said they would but came up with a timeline (obstacles) first: 1. they had to pay off debt. 2. buy a house together. 3. then get engaged. Well, it’s now 6 years later, he’s 37, two of the three items have been checked off and still her finger’s bare. She mentions it periodically, he says it will happen, but I seriously doubt there will ever be a wedding. I just wish he had the balls to tell her (like, five years ago).

    I am not suggesting you give him an ultimatum. The unspoken threat of losing you should be ultimatum enough. The guy just doesn’t want to be engaged/married for whatever reason. (And it likely doesn’t have anything to do with you. He wouldn’t be wasting time living with you if you were inadequate.) As much as you love him, you should get out now before you waste any more time. You should never have to convince someone of your appeal.

    Sorry to ramble. I just thought I should write it all with the hope that at least some part of this is helpful to you. Good luck, and refuse to settle. You deserve better.

  20. I met a guy at the weekend that told me that he was sure he wanted to marry his wife, but he waited for her to ‘push him into it’. He told me, and I believe that this was his truth, that all men do this, some just take longer than others. He told me they were now blissfully happy after three years married. One drink later he told me that he meets women in hotel rooms when he’s on business trips…

    1. Maybe all guys who end up married and meeting women in hotel rooms while on business trips do this!

      Some men have balls to figure it out on their own…

  21. Speaking from experience let it happen. It could be that after this much time of making you wait he wants to make you feel it was worth it. You have to trust him that he means what he says and yourself that this is something you can be patient about.

  22. Too much worry and not enough trust and patience. I’m sorry ladies, but I personally have never been a believer in a woman asking a man. Not that it hasn’t worked, but if you “know” then you “know” that you two are meant for each other and the day will come, if you trust. No one, man or woman, should be put on the front burner, because I believe you truly know and your instinct, as well as their actions, will tell you what they want and if it’s forever, the one, all of that stuff we go home and talk to our girlfriends ad nausea. Like Steph said in her post today about the passion, etc., growing – I’m not necessarily in agreement with that, but I do believe that after 6 months to a year if you don’t know by what you’ve encountered together good and bad, then you should have your answer and move on. We analyze to death, too much and always think someone else is going to have the answer, but everyone’s situation is different even if they have some of the same circumstances. Regardless. Then again, I look at my soon-to-be 39 year old boyfriend who I’ve been with for nearly 2 years. I don’t worry, I don’t think about it, I don’t have a doubt however, by the way our relationship has transpired and what it is built on. One day someone asked, as they always do, “so when are you two getting married” and I looked at him (of course) and then turned back to the person who asked and said “some day.” Later I asked him, and mind you he’s not the “wordy” type of guy (been there done that, believe that actions truly do speak louder and his does), but I said “how do you feel about getting married, about people who ask, should we have a response because I feel like we’re on the same page”. His response was quite simple, if you’re together as long as we’ve been together, what would be the point if that “wasn’t” what our intention was. Then he proceeded to say that he believes the minute you bring it up, you spoil the romance. I have to say, I agreed 150% and I told him that I wasn’t the girl who wanted to pick out the ring, because thus far anything I’ve said he’s paid attention to, he’s bought me exactly what it was without my input; and I’d rather be surprised. If you have patience, and you trust and believe he is the “one” – then trust that it will happen. Why do we put time clocks on relationships, why do we assume someone is always dragging us along, and why do we not pay attention to the relationships that are solid out there that did, take a little longer than a year or two before they were consummated. We ourselves put so much on how relationships are built that we take away from the true meaning and specialness of them. Just my 20 cents. ;-)

  23. Bless you for having such a large heart and wanting SO BADLY for a happy ending…I think you should read “a guy”‘s comment again and again and again…

    When you know it’s the person for you, there is no waiting – not even for a day! My now husband and I started dating and within two month’s time, he moved in and we started talking about getting married – neither one of us had lavish jobs or were ‘financially stable’, but we both knew this was it…from the first date, we knew. He told his mom and used the ring left to him by his grandmother (40+ years of marraige in this ring); had it cleaned and polished and the first moment he saw it, couldn’t wait any longer…got down on his knee in front of his whole family and surprised me! We are still newlyweds until September :)

    Life is a gamble and you only get one shot, enjoy it while you can lady! You are 30 years old…just starting life really…yes, everyone else is settling down and getting married and you want so badly for that to be you — I WAS THERE TOO! Completely and utterly know how you’re feeling… I’d drop the “L-word” too soon to previous boyfirends or they’d peace out at the three month mark…I didn’t get it and just wanted someone to want to be with me forever. Life wasn’t fair; why was everyone else so happy but not me; why am I always a bridesmaid??? All I can tell you – and this is hard to do – is to focus on you. Focus on what makes you happy… Once you focus all your energy on making yourself truly happy, *someone* (maybe this guy, but probably not) will want to be with you…just you, only you, as you are and he won’t be able to wait another day.

  24. My advice is simple. Focus on what you have – not what you don’t have. You need to keep an eye out for the energy you are giving this, and thereby putting out. You said it yourself. You are happy. Be happy.

  25. In this situation I’m more of the guy. I have been in a serious and committed relationship for almost 5 years now. When we first started dating we talked of getting married about a month in. It’s now 5 years later and quite frankly, not so sure about marriage. And for me, really looking at the situation, it has everything to do with fear of divorce. My parents were divorced soon after I was born and continued a vitriolic relationship until his death 8 years ago. She still get retarded angry when she thinks about him too much. My partner’s parents got divorced when he was 8 or 9 and continued a very combative and undermining relationship post-divorce. His father did remarry and has remained married for almost 20 years now. Once I realized how much I actually LOVED my partner, it was hard to fathom or even stomach the concept of divorce. Do I want to spend the rest of my life with him? Absolutely, well the majority of days [because we all know how relationships are]. But quite frankly the fear of divorce keeps me from ever really broaching the subject of marriage with him.

    1. Are you going to want to have kids with him someday though? You can end up with a “broken home” (or not) whether you’re married or not.
      Personally I don’t think I would want to have kids with someone without being married. It can still end, yes, but because it’s a legal and symbolic commitment, it makes it that much harder to just walk away when things get tough.

  26. Every man and therefore every relationship is different- not that enlightening, I know. but what I’m saying is there is no way that you can look at anyone else’s situation and figure out what your man is thinking. You need to find out what’s *really* going on in his head, what is going to make *you* most happy and then go for it and try to be brave.

    I was in your exact shoes about a year ago (it was awful) and my boyfriend, now fiancé, needed his ass kicked every step of the way. we fought like crazy to get there but were open and honest with each other about what we each wanted. I was clear with what I wanted: we had dated long enough, we knew we wanted to get married so what’s the hold-up? He was feeling like he needed to take his time. Someone on the outside looking in could easily have seen “oh, poor girl- he’s NEVER going to propose” and maybe ½ the time they would be right. I was willing to stick around while he “took his time” and he was mindful that I was hanging on by a thread and needed him to pick up the pace.
    We would have the following conversation quite often:
    Him: So if I don’t propose by xx day, you’re going to leave me?
    Me: No. if you don’t propose by xx day, I will kill you. I’m not going to leave you, I’m going to kill you.
    Because for me, leaving him wasn’t an option, it’s not something that *i* was prepared to do. And living without him wasn’t something I was interested in- I love him and I know that he loves me. We just needed to figure out how to intersect our “wants”.

    My point is you need to a) say to your man- what the eff is actually going on here? b) think about if you can live with whatever he’s dealing with and c) trust in yourself and him that you guys can get there. If you can, great!, I hope you two will be very happy together. And if you can’t, then he doesn’t deserve you, keep walking and don’t look back.

  27. My opinion: DON’T PROPOSE TO HIM!!!! If suggesting you get engaged without a ring or with a modest ring hurt his “man-pride” what in the world do you think proposing to him will do? He sounds old fashioned (and frankly full of sh!t) so getting down on one knee in front of him will send him packing.

  28. I think the bottom line is if he wants it he will make it happen. And if he doesn’t, he just doesn’t. And works for you too “Amy’, if you want to marry him ask him. If he says no you totally know where you stand.

    Know when we discussed marriage I did have to mull it over a bit (having conducted a frustrating long distance relationship for too long) but after that? Having said Yes I was wholeheartedly married. Some 18 years later and three great kids later…

    With me it came down to push comes to shove. And I responded.

  29. Hi Rachel. Thanks for your post…thoughtful and good advice. Prior to Helen’s July 2nd post, I wasn’t sure if she has an off beat sense of humor or if she is is just damaged/bitter. I guess now we know.

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