Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“I Found An Engagement Ring He Bought… SEVEN Months Ago!”

My boyfriend and I are both 25, homeowners (house is in my name), and happy with our careers. We’ve lived together for two of the three years we have been dating. Everything had been going great until I found an engagement ring in his shirt drawer (I was looking for a t-shirt so I wasn’t snooping). The receipt from the store was also there and it turns out he bought the ring seven months ago. I asked my friends and family if they knew, and everyone spilled their guts. Apparently, he bought it, resized it, and even asked my parents for their permission to propose…..seven months ago.

Long story short, he found out that I found it and is now telling me the reason he hasn’t proposed is because he’s “not ready.” He assured me that I am the love of his life and he knows he’s going to marry me but that he just isn’t ready to pop the question due to his not being ready for marriage. It bothers me so much that he isn’t sure about our relationship and it makes me wonder if I’m wasting my time in a relationship that might never manifest itself into something more serious.

My question is: Do I stick around and wait for him to be ready (if he ever is) or leave and maybe give him a wake-up call? — Stuck In Girlfriend Limbo

So, “everything was going great” until you found this engagement ring? And the only thing that changed between your not knowing about the engagement ring and then finding out about the engagement ring is thinking that your boyfriend isn’t ready to get married? Am I understanding that right? But before you found this engagement ring, everything was great and you were under the impression that your boyfriend was ready to get married? Was that an understanding you two had? Did you believe a proposal was imminent and now you’re worried that it isn’t? I guess… I’m having trouble understanding how finding an engagement ring would worry you so much about your boyfriend’s intention and commitment to you. Shouldn’t an engagement ring symbolize the opposite?

Ok, I get it — it’s been seven months since he purchased it and asked your parents for permission to propose (ugh, by the way), and you think that means he isn’t sure. But there’s a difference between being unsure about a relationship and not being quite ready to get married. You two are only 25 — still pretty young by many measures. What’s the rush? What would marriage give you that you don’t have now? Reassurance that you’re in it forever? Health insurance? Insurance in an emergency or, god forbid, a tragedy, that you would both be able to care for each other in the best way possible? I think you need to be really explicit — both for yourself and your boyfriend — about WHY you want to be married. And then your boyfriend needs to be explicit about why he isn’t ready. And you both need to understand that neither of you is “right” or “wrong.” And neither of you loves the other move or less solely on your readiness for marriage. I promise you that readiness for marriage is not a measure — or at least not the sole or most important measure — of love and commitment between two people. (Some people might argue that buying a home together is a commitment as big or almost as big as getting married…).

Bottom line: If you are seriously thinking about leaving your boyfriend in order to give him a “wake-up call,” I’m thinking that maybe YOU aren’t as ready for marriage as you think you are either. You can’t just leave every time you are unhappy about a decision (or non-decision) your partner is making. You can’t be passive and hope for happy results. Life and relationships don’t work that way. It’s a super childish way of behaving and not reflective of a thoughtful, measured, mature individual ready to take a leap as big as marriage. Sit on this, sit with your boyfriend, talk about your feelings, talk about his feelings, talk about what you both need to feel confident and settled in your relationship and what might be keeping both of you from jumping in with both feet at this point. Try not to take a hint of hesitation personally, but see it as an opportunity to learn about and from each other and grow together. At 25, you both have lots of growing to do. The trick for longevity in your relationship will be to grow together and not apart (leaving him to give a “wake-up call” is a sure bet of doing the latter).

***************

Follow along on Facebook, and Instagram.

If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy​(AT)​dearwendy.com.

30 comments… add one
  • Kate B.

    Kate B. January 8, 2018, 10:49 am

    WWS. Also, I need a clarification. You say you’re both homeowners, but that the house is in your name only? If his name is not on the title, he’s not a homeowner. He is, at best, a tenant. This may not be a big deal for some, but it would be for me. It indicates an imbalance of power that might make him uncomfortable. Do you see him as an equal? Would you be willing to put his name on the title?

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    brise January 8, 2018, 11:05 am

    I would be pleased to find an engagement ring in my boyfriend’s stuff. It is a good sign that he thinks of marrying you. Be more patient. I don’t understand your reaction. Anyway, it ruined the surprise that you overreacted like this and spoke with everybody, including him. He doesn’t own you a proposal, he can take his time, you are young. Had you even spoken of a wedding? To say that he is not ready now doesn’t mean he won’t be in the future. I don’t say you should wait for ever though. But definitely, I agree with Wendy with the immature aspect of your reaction.

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      csp January 8, 2018, 2:33 pm

      I disagree with this. I would have real concerns if a man went from asking my parents to marry me then saying he isn’t ready. That is a situation that needs to be addressed. Honestly, this is embarrassing too because many people knew and all must be wondering what happened. This guy made this situation pretty awkward and needs to answer for it.

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  • avatar

    TheHizzy January 8, 2018, 11:26 am

    I feel like we read this somewhere else recently?

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  • bagge72

    bagge72 January 8, 2018, 11:49 am

    So I think that why you find out that he has had it for 7 months and you find out that he has had it for so long because he said he isn’t ready for marriage that would cause concern for me personally. I would be wondering why this person was ready to marry me 7 months ago but now all of the sudden isn’t. What changed? That would be my personal thinking, I would want to know why at 2 years in and living together for a year they were ready, and now at some point in the last 7 months there has been a change of heart.

    What part isn’t he ready for? You are already living together, and he knows he wants to marry you, what could be actually stopping him?

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    • avatar

      csp January 8, 2018, 2:34 pm

      I completely agree. I wouldn’t dump this man but they certainly need to have a conversation.

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  • avatar

    Nikita January 8, 2018, 11:51 am

    Instead of talking to your PARTNER you went to friends and family???

    How about talking to your significant other, it sounds to me that you are by far not ready to such a commitment as marriage if you cant even talk to him properly now.

    Also an engagement should be a mutual decision, something you talk about over the course of many months and even years.

    Surprise proposals are ridiculous.

    You need to talk about finances, careers, the future, the possibility of children or not and if one parent stays home for a few years, about possible future health issues etc etc etc.

    Marriage should be a joint decision thats been thoroughly discussed instead of this weird notion it must be a huge romantic thing.

    At age 25 you are still young, barely mature and hardly know anythjng about life yet, whats the rush.

    I can understand why he isnt ready yet and with an j secure and immature oartner like you it just intensifies the fact that he isnt ready

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  • avatar

    ArgyllWisp January 8, 2018, 12:01 pm

    He was sure enough he was ready to get married he bought the ring, and even asked her parents (that’s huge IMO), then cooled off to now not being ready 7 months later. I’m with the LW here: I would be concerned. It’s one thing if he said he was working up to proposal but wasn’t there yet, but he was presumably THERE and changed his mind. I’d want some serious discussion around why.

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      Fyodor January 8, 2018, 12:11 pm

      Maybe because 24 year olds make decisions that are impulsive or poorly thought out. Maybe he realized that he wasn’t appreciating the gravity and permanence of the situation. If she was happy with how the relationship was progressing before finding the ring, this shouldn’t change anything.

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        ArgyllWisp January 8, 2018, 12:17 pm

        It requires a conversation none-the-less, IMO. The relationship is not the same as it was yesterday; she has new information that he’s wishy washy on the subject. It’s like saying “the relationship was fine before I knew you were cheating, so now that I know it shouldn’t change anything.” Maybe it’s just me, but I’d be upset to learn he talked to my parents and then didn’t follow through. I just wouldn’t feel good at all about it

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        csp January 8, 2018, 2:37 pm

        24 isn’t 15. People keep saying that is sooo young but it really isn’t. He holds down a job and seems like a responsible adult. I do not believe young and dumb applies here.

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      SpaceySteph January 8, 2018, 12:32 pm

      Yeah I gotta say I would also be concerned. Its one thing to buy the ring thinking you’d be ready soon and then not being ready as soon as you thought… but to actually call up her parents and then back out, seems like something more substantial is going on.

      It sucks overall in our cultural narrative that the woman has to sit around and wait for the guy to propose and she should be ready for a big grand surprise. But that’s not really how it should be. Regardless of who does the asking, you should talk about it in advance… Where do you see it going? On what timeline? What needs to happen before you’ll be ‘ready?’ If LW had been having these convos with her bf all along, this wouldn’t be a surprise to her.

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    • avatar

      Northern Star January 8, 2018, 12:51 pm

      Agree that this is what’s probably bothering her. He went from wanting to propose to NOT wanting to propose. And apparently a bunch of people know it. She’s got to be pretty embarrassed that he asked her parents and never followed through.

      On the other hand, wanting to leave her boyfriend to “wake him up” is immature. Either leave him or talk this out and stick by him—manipulation is lame.

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  • Copa

    Copa January 8, 2018, 12:50 pm

    I’m glad Wendy’s response touched on the “leave to give him a wake up call” line. The idea of leaving a relationship to teach your partner a lesson really stuck out to me as childish and make me seriously question her “readiness.”

    LW also doesn’t mention past discussions of timelines and marriage, which I assume means they haven’t happened and that LW has been twiddling her thumbs while quietly waiting for a big, romantic surprise proposal. So, yes, LW and boyfriend need to have explicit conversations about these things. Doing so will likely ease LW’s mind because she won’t have to guess where she stands, and if she chooses to walk away, it won’t be done in an effort to get him to realize the error of his ways.

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    • avatar

      JD January 8, 2018, 1:01 pm

      Right! Maybe he happened across this ring which he thought was so YOU and in excitement asked? Ok. That’s actually pretty sweet. Enough with the rush to be married at a young age. If you were happy before this then nothing has changed, except you found out your BF loves you so much he does at some point wish to marry you. Awful right!!??

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      • avatar

        dinoceros January 8, 2018, 5:25 pm

        I don’t think it’s a rush to be married so much as trying to figure out if she should continue investing more time. If it turns out he no longer wants to be with her long-term, then continuing to date him would not necessarily be very useful.

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  • Skyblossom

    Skyblossom January 8, 2018, 1:09 pm

    It seems like your boyfriend talked to everyone but you and then you talked with everyone but him. The two of you need to talk to each other about marriage. You need to discuss everything you can think of related to marriage. You need to talk about finances and how you would handle them. Will you have children? If so, approximately when. If you want children and can’t have biological children would you then stop trying or move on to adoption or surrogacy. Will the house be in both names. How will you care for children if you have them. What things, if any, do you feel you need to do before getting married? Do you plan to move in the future? Do either of you have long term health problems? How will you care for parents in the future? Is there a religious preference? Do you both like the friends you each have? Do you see any future serious in-law problems? Do the two of you make decisions jointly or is either, or both of you, still making decisions with your parents? What are your dreams? What are your goals? Do you both want to stay in your current careers long term?

    Have you had any of these discussions? The two of you need to talk and the talk needs to include why your boyfriend doesn’t feel ready for marriage. What has he realized since sizing the ring and talking to your parents. Is there a problem that needs to be addressed? Has he seen friends who appeared happy suddenly breakup? Do the two of you have appropriate boundaries with your families?

    The two of you don’t appear to talk with each other enough. You need to become a we before getting engaged.

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  • avatar

    PDXGirl January 8, 2018, 2:37 pm

    Admitting up front my perspective is skewed by my own experience. I was in a similar situation with my now ex-husband. I waited and we got married so I guess there’s that. But seriously, the hesitations on his part never went away . Eventually I realized I was way more into the relationship then he was and I didn’t want to be in a marriage like. It manifested in other ways as well – like not prioritizing time for us. I learned I want to be with someone who is as excited about me and I am about then.

    And I second everything in here said about communication. Sometimes a lack of conflict means someone is not speaking up for their own needs. I’m happily married now and my husband had to essentially say ‘ you’re clearly annoyed, what’s up’ rather than taking my surface ‘I’m fine’.

    Interestingly enough (to me) my ex and I and my husband and I dated about the same length of time before we got married. But in the first relationship I was always worried if we would ‘get there’ and in the second I knew we were both all in and it was a matter of paperwork. We eventually got hitched in like a week to add me to his insurance before I needed to get surgery.

    Good luck figuring out what is going to be right for you.

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  • avatar

    kali January 8, 2018, 2:42 pm

    We have friends who just got engaged on NYE in Paris. The groom-to-be has had the ring for THREE YEARS!!! Not sure if the bride-to-be ever found it but they live in a tiny place so I’d guess maybe she did. My sense is that, on top of not being ready to propose due to job and money issues, the GTB wanted to make a big splash with his proposal.
    .
    LW might want to chill out a bit unless she has doubts. I’d suggest an in-depth convo with the boyfriend to see what’s going on in his head and where he stands. She needs to be open and up-front with her expectations and thoughts too.
    .
    And yeah, the fact that the house is in her name only is a bit odd. That makes YOU a homeowner, LW, NOT your boyfriend.

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  • avatar

    Autumnrose January 8, 2018, 2:58 pm

    Ahhh… The first few sentences is not where I thought this letter was going….. Other than way to mess up your “surprise” proposal, I think maybe you address your letter with us homeowners aka my names on the home crap might have something to do with him holding us. I really don’t get why you put that on here. What significance does that have to do with 1. Finding an engagement ring and 2. Living together happily. It has nothing, NOTHING to do with it unless you are a bossy overbearing person who has to let it be known your a strong independent women who doesnt need a man. “Its our home, but my names on it” And… Your point? You need a chill pill. Go ask for forgivess and hand him the ring back saying when your ready ill be ready and I love you. The end.

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    • avatar

      Autumnrose January 8, 2018, 2:59 pm

      Us back**

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      dinoceros January 8, 2018, 5:23 pm

      I think you might need the chill pill. I think it was relevant because she was trying to convey where they are at in their relationship (owning a home), but clarifying that they don’t own it together. Buying a house with someone is a HUGE commitment, which is relevant to the topic at hand, commitment. Regardless, I don’t think it’s worth getting that angry at her over. Some people who say “I’m ready when you’re ready” end up engaged for 10 years.

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      • avatar

        Autumnrose January 8, 2018, 6:25 pm

        Stupid is as stupid does… You don’t make a financial purchase that big with someone when both names aren’t on it and when the relationship is not commited enough to put a ring on it and marry it before you move in. Men don’t commit to proposals when women play house prior. Usually theyvsee no point and then the women gets upset. It is not relvavant, it just means it will be a headache if the relationship goes south. And if it takes 10 years than so be it, she can move on. To some people marriage is a big life long commitment.

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        ktfran January 8, 2018, 9:57 pm

        There are plenty of reasons for one person to purchase the house without putting another’s name on it. For example, debt or credit score. Often, it has no bearing on level of commitment, but makes better financial sense.

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  • avatar

    sarahbelle January 8, 2018, 4:33 pm

    Is everything going great? That is what I tell my nosy aunt when she asks. I would guess that if you think back 7 months ago something happened either with you or with him. Also another red flag you have been happily dating for 3 years, living together for 2 and you are snooping and found an engagement ring and instead of scheduling nail appointments for the the inevitable facebook pictures, you called around and asked how long. Then your first response is to either wait forever or to leave him for his “wake up call”. You most likely know something or are leaving something important out or your response would have been to get excited.

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  • avatar

    dinoceros January 8, 2018, 5:18 pm

    I’d be a little concerned, but not like full-scale DEF CON 1. I would agree with some of the others that one of the concerns is that he potentially felt ready earlier and no longer does. What does that mean? Was he being impulsive earlier? Has his interest you changed? Has his feelings on marriage changed? Has anything happened to make him concerned?

    I don’t really agree that the fact that the ring situation raised these concerns means that it’s not valid. I see it as the ring being the conversation starter. I don’t know if you guys had discussed marriage previously and set a timeline, but regardless of the ring, if he later said, “Wait, no longer ready…” that would still be concerning.

    The big thing is you need to figure out why he feels this way, what it truly means (as in, not ready to marry YOU, not ready to marry anyone, or not sure he wants to get married ever), and if he can agree to another timeline. If after 3 years (and 2 of them living together), he can’t tell you what it would take for him to be ready or is wishy washy on whether he can confirm he will be, that’s more concerning.

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    • avatar

      dinoceros January 8, 2018, 5:21 pm

      Also, don’t leave as a “wake up call.” Leave or don’t leave. But don’t leave with the intention of convincing him to propose. If he’s not interested in marrying you, then being pressured into it isn’t going to make him more likely. It’ll just mean that you have someone who is very likely to cancel the wedding or divorce you.

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      • Skyblossom

        Skyblossom January 9, 2018, 7:20 am

        If she leaves it could also be permanent. Her wake up call might tell him that it is over. The I’m leaving can easily turn into you’re gone.

        LW In general, being dramatic, like leaving to give a wake up call, is a flop. It is over the top. It becomes emotionally exhausting to be with a person who always goes to the extreme. It is hard to like a person who does that let alone love them and want to live with them. If you sometimes go to an extreme like leaving to give him a wake up call you may have found why he is not ready for marriage. If you do this kind of thing from time to time he shouldn’t marry you. If you get dramatic to get your way he shouldn’t marry you. It is manipulative. It bypasses constructive conversation that could build the relationship to go destructive in order to get your way. You may get your way most of the time but he may decide he doesn’t want to live his life that way and leave.

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  • avatar

    CET January 9, 2018, 8:27 am

    LW, you are being immature and are overreacting. You are both only 25…so young. You’ve been together only 3 years. Instead of giving him a hard time about this you should feel happy that he is thinking about asking you to marry him. Do you always get dramatic about things? Maybe this is one reason he is putting off asking you. I think you should apologize to him for overreacting.

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  • avatar

    Anonymous January 9, 2018, 9:48 pm

    Everyone says three years is so short, but I disagree. Three years is plenty of time to figure out if he wants to marry you or not. And the ring is significant, not becai se you need a ring or a proposal or even-for some people – the institution of marriage itself, but because he clearly considered marrying you and decided not to. He even said hes “not ready”. After being together for three years, what is going to change in a year, or two years, or any amount of time that will make him ready? Most likely nothing.

    You need to have a serious discussion with him about what the future of your relationship looks like. What would it take for him to want to marry you? Is there some specific thing he s waiting for, like graduating a program or something? Is he just having cold feet about marriage in general? But also, what will youre life look like, where will you live, will you have children, how will they be raised, what will your finances be like etc. Hopefully, it’s just a misunderstanding and you have a happy life together, but I think it’s a lot more likely that he’s not ready because he doesn’t want to marry you, but it’s hard to break up when there’s nothing ‘bad about other than not wanting to be with you forever. If he wanted to marry you or for that matter have a non-marriage long term/permanent relationship you would know, because he would say do, and act lime that was what he wanted.

    His actions say he doesn’t want to marry you
    His words say he doesnt want to marry you

    Staying with him (unless your discussion brings very positive results) is just spending time you could be using to find the person who IS right for you. How many potential

    And of course I hope I’m wrong and you two have a happy life together or if I’m right you have a happy life with someone else.

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