Wait, so let me make sure I understand this: you want to get married, “mostly because” if your boyfriend moves several states away, you’d love for his family to be okay with you “tagging along”???? Are you insane? No, really. If you’ve read my column for even, like, a week you know that marriage is not easy for a lot of people. In fact, for a lot of couples, it’s really fucking hard. And I’m going to go ahead and put this out there: at least 50% of the time that it’s hard, it’s hard because the couple shouldn’t have gotten married in the first place. That’s not to say they weren’t right to ever get married — although that’s certainly the case sometimes — but that they weren’t ready for marriage yet. How do you know whether you’re ready or not? Well, a pretty good indication that you’re not ready is when your number one reason for doing so is so your boyfriend’s parents will be okay with you tagging along with their son to another state.
I am not going to give you advice on how to persuade your boyfriend to propose; I’m going to give you the advice you really need to hear: you are not ready for marriage and you need to drop the discussion or you’ll lose your boyfriend for good. I don’t even know you and I know that much. You aren’t ready. If your relationship doesn’t have a strong enough foundation to survive a year of distance while you finish undergrad, you aren’t ready. If you don’t have good enough communication to discuss other options, like your boyfriend putting off grad school for a year while you finish your degree, you aren’t ready. If your boyfriend values his parents’ opinion about your relationship more than he values your opinion about your relationship, you aren’t ready. If you can’t discuss serious topics with your boyfriend without him “brushing you off,” you aren’t ready. If you’ve given up all your power and handed it over to your boyfriend to decide the fate of such monumental occasions, like where you’ll graduate from college, and when you’ll get married, and whether you’re going to move several states away, my God, woman, you are not ready.
Frankly, it sounds like a year on your own is exactly what you need to gain a little independence, get to know yourself some more, and realize that, yes, you can be a-okay without your boyfriend steps away from you at all times. I promise that after four and half years together, if you and your boyfriend are meant to spend your lives with each other, a year apart will be but a tiny drop in the bucket. You’ll look back at your year of independence as a gift — a time to treasure before devoting yourself 100% to marriage and possibly parenthood. A year will go by so fast, and you’ll be a better person and a better partner having proved to yourself what you’re capable of. And a year without you right by his side, may be just what your boyfriend needs to figure out whether he’s finally ready to make choices for the good of your relationship instead of just what mommy and daddy want of him.
Trust me on this, drop the engagement talk. It’s a desperate act that will lead to desperate measures, and that’s not the way you want to start a marriage or end a relationship. When the time is right, it will happen. Pushing yourselves before you’re ready is something you’ll regret forever, whether the short-term outcome is one you think you want or not.
*If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, send me your letters at firstname.lastname@example.org.