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Your Turn: “How Long Should I Wait For a Proposal”

In a feature I call “Your Turn,” in which you, the readers, get to answer the question, I’m presenting the following letter — with a question that’s arguably the most common one I’m asked — without commentary from me:

I have been with my boyfriend for almost five years now. I’m 25 and he’s 34. We started dating when I was 18. I cheated on him, he wanted to work it out and I said no because I was young, wanted to experience life and wasn’t sure I could be faithful. He was hurt, of course, but I felt it was better to be honest than stay together and wind up cheating again. About a year later we got back together and have been together ever since. I will admit we had a few rough spots but the last three years have been smooth.

However, every time I bring up getting engaged he gets annoyed and upset with me. He says that I talk about it too much and that by doing so I’m going to ruin it if he does propose. “You keep talking about it and then if I do ask it will seem like I’m only asking because of your nagging. Even if I’ve planned it months in advance,” he says. He did get me a promise ring for Christmas last year but with all this waiting, my self-esteem is suffering. It makes me feel like he’s waiting for something better or that I’m not what he really wants. We’ve lived together for three years and share finances so I am slightly scared to leave for fear I may not be able to live off what I make alone. I love him deeply but I don’t want to wait another five years to find out he’s not going to ask.

I have told him several times how it makes me feel, and he tells me he’s going to marry me but I need to stop talking about it. He also likes to remind that that his parents didn’t get married until he was 9. I haven’t said anything for six months, and still: nothing. It’s gotten so bad that I think about saying “No” if he asks just so he can feel the embarrassment and hurt he’s putting me through. I am getting bitter and I’m worried he’s leading me on because of what I did to him at 18. I’m emotionally exhausted and extremely confused. How much longer should I wait for a proposal before I tell him its over? — Sad in Miami

*If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, send me your letters at wendy@dearwendy.com and be sure to follow me on Twitter.

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{ 212 comments… add one }

  • avatar melikeycheesecake June 15, 2011, 3:12 pm

    Whoa! There are many things in this letter… my head is spinning.

    If he says he wants to marry you then please chill and believe him. In your letter you gave no real reasons to think he is leading you on. He tells you he wants to marry you and he tells you he wants to do it when he’s ready not because you nag him into it… I have never understood women that nag their men into proposing… why wouldn’t you want him to be SURE he is ready for marriage… instead of moving too soon and making a mistake?!?

    “It’s gotten so bad that I think about saying “No” if he asks just so he can feel the embarrassment and hurt he’s putting me through.”
    This statement is so IMMATURE! I mean come on! You sound like you’re still 18. Listen you hurt him badly in the past and you two have moved on from that and been happy but that doesn’t mean he should have already proposed.
    You’re freaking yourself out for no good reason. I feel sorry for this man.

    • avatar KL June 15, 2011, 3:23 pm

      Yeah, she sounds way too immature to get married. At least her boyfriend realizes this and wants to wait.

      • landygirl Landygirl June 15, 2011, 4:47 pm

        I think the boyfriend is just as if not more immature than the LW.

        • avatar melikeycheesecake June 15, 2011, 5:02 pm

          @Landygirl You could be right but we are hearing directly from the LW and she is def immature. He probably is too or has his own flaws like we all do. There is always two sides to every story and we only get to hear hers and this is why I’m mainly talking about her immaturity…. seems like she wants a marriage just to be married…. it’s much more than that 1 piece of paper.

          • avatar emjay June 15, 2011, 5:21 pm

            So sorry I thumbed down, small button on evo screen! :) but I do agree with what your saying 100%

  • avatar justpeachy June 15, 2011, 3:12 pm

    This exact thing happened to me. Just give it time. What worked for me was that I intentionally got really busy. I was hanging out with friends all the time and studying for tests and working out by myself and it made him miss me. It gave him time with his thoughts to be sure he was ready and it gave me an avenue to keep my mind from screaming, “We sized me for a ring four months ago! Before our anniversary, Christmas, and New Years! When the hell will it happen?!?” If you pretend like the proposal, and in a way him, are the last things on your mind right now, he’ll come around a lot quicker. No one wants to feel like they’re being forced to propose.

    • avatar justpeachy June 15, 2011, 3:49 pm

      Ok, I hadn’t really read the last paragraph (skimming…). Since you’ve already given it six months, if you have the patience and really want to make it work with this guy, I’d try the busy thing for a maximum of another six months. If you’re not engaged by the end of it, well, you’ve laid a foundation of friendships and hobbies for your exit. Tell him that the two of you aren’t interested in the same things long term and head out.

      And say “No” when he comes running after you, trying to win you back with proposal.

      • avatar Jess June 15, 2011, 4:40 pm

        I’m glad someone gave the LW actual advice on what to do, and not just telling her she’s crazy or something!

      • avatar plasticepoxy June 15, 2011, 5:05 pm

        I don’t know, I think he’s been pretty clear that he’s interested in marrying her, just not 100% on her timeline. I think it’s fair of him to say, “I want to marry you, but I don’t feel ready to do it yet, or I want to ask you in a way that feels right to me.” Each person has a different set of expectations about marriage, including the proposal. She’s only waited 6 months, who’s to say that he isn’t planning a proposal for next week? I can understand that he doesn’t want to feel like the emotion behind his proposal is lost because she harps on it; also, I wouldn’t want to propose to someone who continued to make that their focus. I want someone to want to be with ME, not a wedding.

        • avatar justpeachy June 15, 2011, 5:10 pm

          I’d agree with you, but I think her main concern is that, at some point, this could all be talk to keep her on the hook. Maybe he will want to get married…in ten years. She needs to come up with a reasonable timeline for herself and herself alone about how much time she is willing to put into this relationship if it’s not heading where she wants it to go. It sounds like she’s been very up-front with how she feels and she feels like he’s waffling. At some point, actions speak louder than words.

          • avatar ape_escape June 16, 2011, 12:23 am

            I agree in that I totally got that from the tone of her letter. And I feel like, if she feels like he’s making statements just to keep her around, and in a sense, manipulating her whether consciously or unconsciously, well…I mean, do you want to put up with being manipulated, or not?

            I don’t think it’s selfish or wrong to ask where this is going, and be at least somewhat anxious about it after three years of “smooth sailing”. I get that you don’t want to have pointlessly invested time/yourself.

            But I think, when you talk about how your “self-esteem is suffering” and you worry you’re “not what he really wants” and are feeling “emotionally exhausted”…regardless of the context, I think this has much more to do with something bigger than your boyfriend, and I would encourage you to get to the bottom of it.

            • avatar kali June 16, 2011, 3:36 pm

              It’s kinda of douche-y of the BF to keep reminding her that his own parents didn’t get married until he was nine years old, too. I think that probably adds to LW’s unease about the proposal situation.

              Not sure either of them are ready for marriage but I hope we get an update on this one.

              • avatar Bree June 17, 2011, 1:02 am

                My ex fed me a similar line of bs that his dad didn’t marry his mom until he was 30. We were both 25 at the time. In my case, he actually proposed but kept finding excuses to not set a wedding date or do any planning what so ever. I finally woke up, realized I was being strung along, and dumped him. I think both the LW and her bf are both a bit immature, and I don’t think either truly want to marry each other. I agree with a lot of the comments about her pursuing her own interests, instead of waiting for someone to make up his mind.

  • avatar kerrycontrary June 15, 2011, 3:13 pm

    I think that wondering how long a woman should wait until a guy proposes is a common problem that we women face. We don’t want to seem desperate but we also don’t want to waste our time. I think there are a lot of things going on in your relationship that need to be addressed before you two get married, and your boyfriend may be right in not having proposed yet. First, why did you put yourself in a position where you won’t be able to leave your boyfriend because you can’t support yourself? It’s 2011!!! Your baby-boomer mother who experienced, first hand, the women’s rights movement should’ve taught you that. If you want to leave your boyfriend then you NEED to figure out a way to support yourself and quickly. If necessary, move back in with your parents for a while. You should never stay with a man just because you can’t leave. Secondly, you are considering saying “no” to his proposal just to teach him a lesson? I think your boyfriend may sense this immaturity. What is your plan then? Say no and then say “Oh I was just kidding…” the next day?? You shouldn’t be in a relationship where you are playing games like that. If you really think you may be wasting your time with this guy then you need to give yourself a deadline in your head. Don’t tell him about this deadline because then you will worry that he proposed just because you pressured him. Say “If he doesn’t propose in the next six months I’m leaving”. This should give you enough time to figure out your finances and a contingency plan. Then stick to this deadline!! And I’m sorry but one other thing….what 34 year old man buys a promise ring??? I thought only 18 year olds who were “waiting for marriage” did that.

    • avatar TheGirl June 15, 2011, 3:31 pm

      I have a feeling he only bought the promise ring because she kept bringing up marriage.

      • avatar thyme June 15, 2011, 6:47 pm

        No kidding. I’ve had several past boyfriends who constantly nagged me to want to get engaged soon. The pressure was really stressful. I’d stall them with things like, “we’re not old enough,” or “we haven’t been together long enough,” but the truth was,”I love you, but I’m not convinced that I’ll want to spend the rest of my life with you.” I should have said that, I know, but I didn’t want to break his heart. I would not be at all surprised if the LW’s boyfriend is doing the same thing I did.

  • avatar LSD June 15, 2011, 3:15 pm

    Holy Moly you need to chill out and listen to the person you love. He said he wants to marry you…trust him. If you want to get married right now then maybe he is not the person for you, because he does not want to get married right now. It is tough to be in a long term relationship with the pressures of getting married. But you are making this decision about you and your timeline and not about where your relationship is. Relationships have two people, your ready and he isn’t. Decide if you are willing to wait for him and if not move on. Stop nagging. Be a responsible 25 year old and look outside of what you want and think about what he wants too. Does he have the money to get you a ring? Does he feel like his life is stable enough to take care of you the way he wants to. These are all things he might be thinking about. You don’t want to get married before your ready. Just wait, Breathe, It will happen when it is suppose to happen.

  • avatar _jsw_ June 15, 2011, 3:16 pm

    “He also likes to remind that that his parents didn’t get married until he was 9. I haven’t said anything for six months, and still: nothing.”

    To me, this says it all.

    He’s not just waiting for you to stop asking so he can. I suspect – and I fully admit I could be completely wrong – that he has no definite plan to propose and probably is uncertain he will – or certain he won’t – ever propose but just wanted you to stop asking.

    If marriage is important to you, and if after half a decade with you – and 7 years since starting to date you – he’s not sure, he never will be. He might eventually concede… but I don’t think that’s what you’re looking for.

    • avatar mf June 15, 2011, 4:19 pm

      Yup, I thought the same thing when I read that line.

    • avatar Jess June 15, 2011, 4:42 pm

      yea if my boyfriend said that to me I would be PISSSSSSSSSEEEDDD.

    • avatar plasticepoxy June 15, 2011, 5:13 pm

      I can imagine situations where he would feel the need to ask her to back off (multiple daily conversations or “drops” in conversations). We don’t know how often she brought it up, but the tone of the letter makes me think it was a pretty popular topic for her. That in itself isn’t a problem, but if he wants to meet a milestone in his head first (he should tell her that), he may be working toward accomplishing everything he wants/needs to do in order to be married to her. The fact that he asked her to back off the topic makes me think he feels cornered.

      I guess in the long run I agree, this relationship is doesn’t seem to be going in a direction that will make LW happy. Either she’ll get her proposal and feel like it wasn’t genuine since she had to ask for it, he’ll feel browbeaten, or the whole thing will blow up and they’ll both become terrified of commitment.

      When I read the line about his parents, I took that as, “Here’s my perspective: my folks didn’t get married until I was 9, they’re happy now and they were happy then. Marriage doesn’t fix a relationship or make it perfect, the people in it do.”

      Also, IMO, 6 months of not bringing up engagement/marriage isn’t that long. I know it probably feels like a lifetime to the LW, but her BF is probably still wondering about the next time she’ll bring it up.

      • avatar melikeycheesecake June 15, 2011, 5:18 pm

        I like the way you think plasticpoxy!

      • avatar WatersEdge June 15, 2011, 6:40 pm

        6 months is so long! Half a year is a long time to avoid a topic. Why is everything supposed to be on the boyfriend’s terms? She has a right to know where her relationship stands, and where it’s going, and nobody should put her down for that.

  • avatar silver_dragon_girl June 15, 2011, 3:17 pm

    Oh dear.

    Do you really want to be married to this man? I ask because in your letter, you don’t mention a single reason you want to marry him. You jumped straight from “the past 3 years have been smooth” to “but every time I bring up getting married…” So why do you want to get married? Is it because it feels like the next step? Is it because you feel like your relationship is at a plateau?

    My impression is that your boyfriend doesn’t want to get married to you. At least not any time soon. He’s happy the way things are– you already live together and share finances, and hey, you even wear a ring. There are some people who see those things as basically equal to a marriage. The ceremony and stuff might not be as important to him as it is to you. From the way he reacts when you bring it up, I’d say it makes him uncomfortable, which is a bad sign. If you’re not nagging him about it (“Baby, when are you going to propose? When are we going to get married?”), that is.

    I think you need to sit down and have a calm, frank discussion about your relationship timeline. I think you need to approach this from a “where is this relationship going?” direction, rather than a “when are we getting married” direction. For instance, does he want kids? Does he ever plan on marrying at all? Can he even see himself marrying you? How does he feel about marriage objectively? Once you know where he stands, you need to explain how you feel. Why do you want to get married? Do you want kids? If so, when? What goals would you like to have accomplished before starting a family? Stuff like that. Or, you could just propose to him!

    Then, based on his responses, you need to decide if your plans are compatible with his. Will you stay with him if he says he doesn’t want to get married for several more years, or not at all?

    • avatar TMSC June 15, 2011, 3:31 pm

      I completely agree with the “sit down frank discussion about the relationship…” I don’t want to jump to the conclusion that he may just not want to marry you at all. I was with my (now fiance) for 4.5 years, living together for 3, before he proposed. And the reason it took so long had more to do with other life issues we were going through, but he had a plan the whole time. However, the biggest difference I sensed here that worries me, is that it seems your guy isn’t really willing to even discuss it beyond “stop nagging me” (which admittedly, won’t help in the long run). My fiance and I had very open, honest discussions about our future during this time. To put your own fears to rest, and to make a decision about whether to stay or go, you really need to have the discussion. If the two of you can’t have a relationship discussion like silver_dragon_girl suggests, I think you probably have your answer already.

    • avatar DramaQueen224 June 15, 2011, 4:00 pm

      Seriously. If you really haven’t said anything about marriage for 6 months, then now would be a great time to have a real (non-naggy) conversation about your future. Make sure it’s during a good time and ask open ended questions about where he wants the relationship to go. Focus on his thoughts and timeline first- don’t start off with “I want to get married”.

      If he tells you to quite nagging him after all of that, then he’s a jerk who probably doesn’t want to actually marry you and you should MOA. If he hasn’t thought about it and doesn’t have a timeline in mind, then you two are in really different places and it might be best to move on. If he has a plan and wants to be married in X amount of time, then it’s up to you if that’s what you want.

      But really, prepare yourself for the possibility that it might be time to MOA. Not as an ultimatum, but simply as a realization that this relationship isn’t giving you want you want.

    • avatar Amber June 15, 2011, 5:13 pm

      It is important to her because she can sense his lack of commitment. Deep down she has a strong suspicion he never will marry her and is desparate to be proven wrong.

  • avatar Amber June 15, 2011, 3:17 pm

    What 34 year old man buys a “promise ring”?????

    Is he still in high school?

    Did he give it to you at the drive-in, after the prom?

    • avatar silver_dragon_girl June 15, 2011, 3:25 pm

      Yes. Seriously. A promise ring?! I thought those were the dumbest things ever by the age of 14. Wtf.

    • avatar Judi June 15, 2011, 4:54 pm

      This letter wasn’t titled, do Dear Wendy readers think promise rings are immature? Just because you don’t appreciate it doesn’t mean you should bash on her gift or make unnecessary comments about it.

      • avatar Amber June 15, 2011, 5:11 pm

        Mmmmkay.

        FYI, this ring was not a gift. It was a delay tactic to keep her content in this living together holding pattern a little longer. He doesn’t want to end it, but he doesn’t want to commit to her forever. The “promise” he is offering is to stay with her until she gets fed up and breaks up with him.

        He knew she wanted an engagement ring – he gave her a “promise ring”. Lame. lamelamelame. He doesn’t want to marry her. I think it’s an important part of the letter that needed to be commented on.

        • avatar plasticepoxy June 15, 2011, 5:18 pm

          I don’t think it’s lame. I think it’s an attempt to compromise, show her that he DOES want to marry her and make her happy. So yes, it’s a gift. Unless she said, “if you don’t give me a ring by summer we’re over!” and this was what he came to her with. I imagined he gave her the promise ring because he loves her. Loving someone makes us silly and stupid sometimes. She’s 25, why aren’t we bashing her for accepting a promise ring if it’s so immature and only high schoolers give them? I don’t think this is a detail worth being negative about.

          • avatar Jess June 16, 2011, 4:10 am

            i think the percentage of people who give/get promise rings who end up getting married is laughably low

        • avatar Judi June 15, 2011, 5:18 pm

          I agree with you here, but what you initially said, (“did he give it to you at the prom?) was just rude and unnecessary. Constructive criticism to an open forum is fine, but people on here just to make rude remarks and it’s really petty.

    • avatar emjay June 15, 2011, 5:46 pm

      Someone who can’t afford an engagement ring and is saving for one. I don’t know about your BF, but mine cannot afford to go out and spend thousands on a ring

      • avatar Amber June 15, 2011, 5:56 pm

        There is no reason the the promise ring could not have been an engagement ring.

      • avatar Amber June 15, 2011, 5:57 pm

        There is no reason that the promise ring could not have been an engagement ring.

        Well, other than the fact that he didn’t want it to be.

      • avatar Britannia June 15, 2011, 8:26 pm

        I believe that promise rings are all about context. The basic assumption is that once an engagement ring is on your finger, you’re actively planning a wedding. Promise rings basically say, “There is some reason – be it economic, emotional, or otherwise – why we can’t plan on getting married soon, but we are dedicated to eachother and plan to have it happen eventually.”

        I wear a promise ring because my boyfriend is saving up for an engagement ring – we are waiting until we are at least graduated from university before getting married, but we both know we want it to happen. He wears a ring with my name engraved on it, and I wear a ring with mother-of-pearl in it. It’s simply a sign of devotion. So, promise rings are not ALWAYS stupid.

        However, in LW’s case, I think that it was a dumb idea for her BF to give her one. It sounds to me like he was trying to solve the “fundamental problem” in his mind, which was the fact that she was pissed that she didn’t have a ring on her finger. I imagine that his reckoning was that once she had something, she’d stop bitching and buy him some time. Of course he doesn’t understand that she wants the COMMITMENT, not the bauble, but I’m figuring that that’s how he was thinking.

        • Caris Caris June 15, 2011, 10:04 pm

          IMO, you can have commitment with or without a ring. The ring is not what makes a promise meaningful.

      • avatar SpyGlassez June 17, 2011, 7:32 pm

        I wonder why, in this day and age, we women want our boyfriends to spend thousands on a ring. I would be pissed if my BF spend that much. I’d rather have something simple and meaningful to both of us, and put the rest of the money towards our eventual house, or a wedding trip, or even towards replacing some of our hand-me-down furniture. With the economy the way it is, why should a man – why should anyone – spend three months’ salary for a twist of metal and a polished rock?

  • avatar Amber June 15, 2011, 3:18 pm

    And yes, his negative reaction to the whole idea after this many years strongly suggests he does not want to marry you.

    • avatar LTC039 June 15, 2011, 4:45 pm

      I don’t get people. Life is short. If you know you don’t want to be with someone, don’t be with them! Why all this long-drawn out crap?? It just leads to hurt feelings, bruised self-esteems, & unhealthy behaviors! What’s the point? He should’ve ended things the second he realized he didn’t want to marry her (which was probably years ago) & when she started nagging.
      He’s 34, for God’s sake!

      • avatar thyme June 15, 2011, 7:05 pm

        Sometimes you love someone and want to continue being with that person, you just don’t want to commit to forever. That’s the point.

        The problem is not his preference to not get married now. The problem is that they aren’t on the same page about marriage.

        • avatar LTC039 June 16, 2011, 1:26 pm

          I don’t get that concept. If you don’t know for a fact that person is not the one you want to marry (& they keep insisting upon it/want to marry you), then you know this relationship has an expiration date, eventually.
          & the fact that they’re not on the same pg, are aware of it, but continue this sick cycle of cat & mouse is not worth it. Move on. Break up figure out what you want in life. All this sulking over another person is unhealthy.

  • avatar Cherry June 15, 2011, 3:26 pm

    Ahh, I think you are too wrapped up in the ‘idea of marriage’ which is really just the idea of the wedding. What you are living right now is the marriage, living together and sharing your life. If one or both of you is not happy in the state that it is at now, then when you are married it is not going to get better. I was the victim of that when I was young, and did as you did and the bottom line was we were not meant to be married and aren’t any longer. If i had focused on the relationship and not rushing things because ‘that is what is supposed to happen, if he doesn’t propose he doesn’t love me” or being obsessed with the ‘getting married’ part I would have realized that it was never meant to be from the beginning. You are young, if this is who you are really meant to be with you have time. All the time in the world, because at the end of the day that is what marriage is. The rest of your life, working through the ups and downs, together on a daily basis. Of course this is the older me talking now (if I only knew then what I know now thing), and no one would have convinced me otherwise when I was your age. 26 and having been with him for 8 years, 15 all together. That is a long time to waste because I didn’t recognize the signs. Live your life, find happiness outside of him, and really work on your day to day life that you have with him now. If you find that you are fulfilled, then when he does propose that will be the icing on the cake and you will know it is right. If you find that you are not fulfilled and still obsessing on when he is going to propose then you are looking for happiness in the wrong place and getting married isn’t going to fix it, in fact it often makes it worse. Good luck and listen to someone who has been there ;)

    • avatar Eagle Eye June 15, 2011, 3:34 pm

      This is the best reply so far!

    • avatar Amy June 15, 2011, 3:36 pm

      Love this advice!

    • avatar haggith June 15, 2011, 3:46 pm

      “If you find that you are fulfilled, then when he does propose that will be the icing on the cake and you will know it is right. If you find that you are not fulfilled and still obsessing on when he is going to propose then you are looking for happiness in the wrong place and getting married isn’t going to fix it, in fact it often makes it worse.”

      this needs framing

    • avatar beans629 June 15, 2011, 4:08 pm

      BEST. ADVICE. EVER. on getting married.

    • avatar Vathena June 15, 2011, 4:28 pm

      Seriously – this is what I was thinking, only you said it better. My now-husband and I were together for 3+ years, lived together for over a year of that, before he proposed. And I think you just have to know that whether you get married sooner vs. later, that this is the person of your future no matter what. There was no nagging, or even wondering, about when we’d get hitched, because it just didn’t matter that much in the end. We’d talked kids, real estate, etc., and I never doubted our commitment to each other. So getting engaged and married just made legal what was already there.

      • avatar Riefer June 15, 2011, 4:41 pm

        I agree with Cherry to a point. Yes, if they’re on the same page, and working towards a shared future, then I agree they’re basically in their marriage already, and a ceremony isn’t going to add anything. However, it doesn’t sound like that’s necessarily the case here. Are they at the same level of commitment? Are both of them thinking “this is it, this is the one”? I think maybe she is, and he isn’t, which is why she’s pushing for another level of commitment.

        The best thing to do is what was suggested above, sit down with him and talk about it. It’s not about marriage, I agree that’s not the issue. It’s about commitment. Is this a “for now” relationship, or a “forever” one? If you both agree it’s forever, then what’s the difference if you get married now or in 10 years? Like he said, his parents had him out of wedlock, and got married much later. Maybe he’s as commited as her, and he just doesn’t care about the formality of marriage. But maybe he’s not, and that’s really what she needs to know.

        • avatar Amber June 15, 2011, 5:17 pm

          “Maybe he’s as commited as her, and he just doesn’t care about the formality of marriage.”

          Sure, but the fact is that he KNOWS how important it is to her. If he really cared about her and was 100% committed, he would do it, because he knows how much it means to her.

          • avatar Riefer June 15, 2011, 5:32 pm

            Yeah, that’s why I’m leaning towards the fact that he’s not as committed as her, which is why Cherry’s advice doesn’t work in this situation.

          • avatar Britannia June 15, 2011, 8:29 pm

            I agree. When one partner very strongly wants marriage and the other is neutral toward the idea, but still very committed, it’s not going to kill them to get married. The only reason I can honestly figure is that this guy wants an easy way out of his “commitment”, and doesn’t want to get married because a divorce would make it much harder to dump her if he gets to a point where that’s what he wants to do.

        • avatar Hana June 15, 2011, 7:50 pm

          Maybe marriage is important to her. I think 5 years is a long time to not be at least engaged or know you want to spend your lives together. I would have been talking marriage years ago if we were in love and happy. If you know you want to be together and be married eventually, why wait? Because you have been dating so long and he won’t talk about it with you I wouldn’t be surprised if you break up and he gets married to someone else 6 month later. (not that he is cheating, I have just seen this pattern many times. )

    • avatar Jess June 15, 2011, 4:48 pm

      okay, there is some good advice here, but I think the idea that girls who want to get married just want a wedding idea is bullshit. everyone thinks girls who want to get married just want the wedding, like living together and marriage are the exact same thing other than that. Marriage is about FAMILY. Its choosing to start a new family with this person. Some people take the vows seriously and *thats* what they want, not the wedding, not the attention, not the validation. Family.

      • avatar Amber June 15, 2011, 5:17 pm

        Yep

      • avatar Lexington June 15, 2011, 7:08 pm

        Thank you!

      • avatar Hana June 15, 2011, 7:53 pm

        Thank you! I totally agree. Many readers of the frisky and DW consider themselves feminists and want to prove they can live without a man. I want to get married, and not for a wedding. Because I love my boyfriend and want to share the love, family and commitment with him. It is a statement. Sure, we live together now, but it is not the same.

        • avatar G June 16, 2011, 12:34 pm

          Thanks both Jess & Hana- exactly how I feel.

      • avatar Bethany June 16, 2011, 9:14 am

        I’m planning a wedding right now, and you hit the nail on the head. I don’t care about the party or the hoopla- I care about saying those words to him in front of my family. I’m just doing the rest of it because I know how happy it will make my family. They’ve done a lot over the years to make me happy, so now it’s my turn.

      • avatar Calliopedork June 16, 2011, 7:59 pm

        Im glad some people still get it

    • avatar Amber June 15, 2011, 6:07 pm

      Your advice does not really make sense.

      “I think you are too wrapped up in the ‘idea of marriage’ ”

      That’s extremely presumptive.

      “If one or both of you is not happy in the state that it is at now, then when you are married it is not going to get better.”

      So you’re saying that the problem, which is that she wants to get married, will not get better if they get married? Huh?

      And…the rest of your advice doesn’t even address the real issue…

      (not picking on you, just wondering what everyone is agreeing with).

      • avatar Cherry June 15, 2011, 7:07 pm

        Actually it has everything to do with it. She is “confused” and “emotionally spent”. Her “self esteem is suffering” and she is focused on why he won’t propose to the point of almost driving herself crazy. She is not happy and she thinks that by him finally proposing and getting married that she will be. What she fails to see is that the elusive proposal is a band aid, and that it won’t cure her unhappiness. There is more below the surface, and getting married will not fix it, yet she has tunnel vision regardless. I was saying that I have been there, and I understand it. It is easy to get in that frame of mind and not realize that maybe the relationship is not meant to be rather than pushing forward to what seems like “the next logical step” and what you think you really want- marriage. But by basing your self esteem, and happiness, on that one thing then there is no way that it will magically go away when it finally happens. If she was happy with herself, and happy with the the current way the relationship works, then she wouldn’t be so obsessed with WHEN it was going to happen she would be enjoying the reasons WHY is should happen. No need to explain you weren’t picking on me, everyone has an opinion and every one has the right to express it.

      • katie Katie June 15, 2011, 9:02 pm

        yes, her advice actually makes a ton of sense… this girl is obviously wrapped up in the idea of a wedding, of getting married. there is no mention of i love him so much, he is the one, we are going to be together forever, ect, ect. for whatever reason it is, she is wrapped up in that.

        getting married is such a bad reason to fix a relationship. a relationship should be so perfect that it doesnt need a marriage to be valid or real. and by the sound of it, their relationship cant be all that great if she has been constantly nagging about when shes gonna get a ring… i mean after she gets the ring what will change? she will probably find something else to nag and obsess over, i think.

        the ring wont fix the underlying issue, which is that she is not fulfilled enough in her life and in her relationship to be content, which is what the rest of the advice talks about.

        wonderful advice.

        • avatar Amber June 16, 2011, 3:56 pm

          It’s funny how everyone is presuming that she is just wrapped up in wanting a wedding, when she didn’t actually mention the word “wedding” once in her letter.

    • avatar Dani1987 June 17, 2011, 12:32 am

      The counterpoint to the “if you’re happy in the relationship it doesn’t matter if you’re married” argument is that if two people are already living together in this sort of arrangement then why not make it legal. I was in the LW’s position a few years ago and think that the LW and her boyfriend need to have a conversation about what marriage means to each of them. There is no one way to be married. Perhaps the LW is pushing for other changes in addition to getting married, but the LW’s boyfriend may just be assuming that an engagement implies a major changes in their day-to-day life. To me (and my now husband) the LW’s current relationship is a marriage without the formalities and benefits.

      I think it’s important for the LW to find out how her boyfriends feel about marriage and why. From what he’s been telling the LW, he wants to wait for some indeterminable period before getting married. Is there a specific reason we wants to wait (financial, lifestage, etc.)? What concerns me most about this situation is that he’s not willing to discuss the issue. My husband felt the same way about expecting a proposal and needed to be able to make that decision on his own terms. Does the LW’s boyfriend need to spend a lot of time considering all of his major life choices? If he typically puts serious thought into his decisions then taking it slow is just his way. What concerns me most about this situation is that he’s not willing to discuss the issue.

      The LW is probably frustrated because it seems the future of the relationship is all his choice, and it does feel insulting if someone you’ve invested so much in doesn’t seem willing to return that commitment. Of course, she has a choice here, too, (even if it doesn’t feel that way). It sounds like some deeper concerns are starting to surface. (Particularly rehashing the incident from seven years ago, if you can’t both agree to leave the past in the past the relationship isn’t healthy enough to be considering marriage.) The LW needs to consider whether she’s positive that she wants to spend the rest of her life with her current boyfriend. If her boyfriend wanted to go down to the courthouse and get married tomorrow, would she be willing to go?

      My advice to the LW is to shift your focus somewhere else. You say that you couldn’t afford to live on your salary alone. Is there anything you can do to improve your financial situation? I’m sure that there’s much more to your life than just this relationship and whether or not there’s a wedding in your foreseeable future. If you’re truly unhappy, it’s time to MOA. Regardless of whether or not you marry this man you need to know that you can continue to move forward in building a happy life for yourself. Good luck with whatever you decide to do.

  • avatar Laurel June 15, 2011, 3:27 pm

    That really sucks. From your letter, it does sound like he’s stringing you along. If I’m doing my math right, you started dating when he was around 28. The median age of first marriage for a man (in the US) is 28. (I’m getting that stat from this website: http://pewresearch.org/pubs/1380/marriage-and-divorce-by-state) He’s now 34. He’s a grown man, and has been for the duration of your relationship. He’s not some young, confused guy still trying to establish his place in society, which is what you were when you first started dating. (Well, young *woman* obviously, but I think the rest applies.) If he’s holding your behavior from seven years ago against you, I’d say that’s reason enough to dump him.

    I think you should stop waiting. Do you really, honestly, in your heart of hearts want to be married to him? Think about it. Why do you want to be married to him, other than the fact that you share a home and finances? Do you have complimentary life goals? (Other than the obvious one of wanting to be married…Do you want to have children, and if so, what’s the timeframe? Is he supportive of your career? Would you like to relocate to a different area and do you agree on where you’d like to live? Do you have compatible views of what marriage should be like? Is your sex life satisfying to both of you? etc etc) If you’ve asked yourself those questions and still want to be married to *him*, have a conversation where you pose the same questions to him.

    Wanting to talk about your future, including talking about marriage, is not unreasonable. Bringing it up all the time would be putting undue pressure on him and the relationship. It doesn’t sound like you’re doing that. Tell him you have to bring it up because he hasn’t and when you have brought it up in the past he hasn’t given you anything conclusive to make you feel secure in the relationship.

    This is getting long, but I wish you luck. I don’t think you should wait on him. Have a heart to heart with him about where you both see your relationship going. If he attacks you (ie, why are you always nagging me about this / stop putting pressure on me / why are you/all women obsessed with getting married) that should be a wake up call for how different your priorities are and how little he cares about you. If he gives you a vague answer, tell him you have goals in life and that you can’t wait for him indefinitely (and to be honest, you’ve already waited a really long time).

  • avatar LennyBee June 15, 2011, 3:28 pm

    Instead of begging for a proposal, have you considered discussing timelines? It may be that your timeline doesn’t mesh with his timeline. If his timeline is “I’ve always imagined I’d get married after I have kids”, and your timeline is “I’ve always imagined I’d get married within the x years of dating, and definitely before I have kids”, you either need to figure out a compromise, or realize you’re not well suited. You could also decide on an internal timeline “If there’s no proposal in x amount of time, I’ll move on”. Just don’t mention your internal timeline – nobody likes an ultimatum.

    Also, seriously, figure out your finances! There’s no reason to not be sure you can live off what you make alone. You know how much money you make – do some calculations! Figure out the cost of an acceptable apartment in your area, calculate the cost of your bills and necessities, add in a slush fund for entertainment, and sum it. If you determine that you can’t live off what you make alone, then you need to figure out a financial plan. But don’t just live in insecurity because you haven’t bothered to figure out your cost of living.

    • avatar honeybeenicki June 15, 2011, 3:58 pm

      I definitely did a timeline with my husband. I knew that I wanted to be dating for a certain amount of time and wanted to be engaged for a certain amount of time, etc. It worked out really well and we were actually engaged well before the engagment timeline but after the dating one.

      • avatar LennyBee June 15, 2011, 4:10 pm

        I discussed timelines with my boyfriend when we’d been together nearing a year. It was a very useful conversation, and confirmed that we were on the same page. I’m the type of person who thinks about and worries about the future constantly, so having that discussion and knowing we felt the same way gave me the security to relax and enjoy where we are now.

    • avatar Bethany June 15, 2011, 4:48 pm

      I discussed the timeline with my fiance too- We’d been dating for about 2 years, and before we moved in together I explained to him that I wanted to get married, and if he wasn’t planning on proposing to me within 2 years of moving in together, then I wasn’t going to be moving in with him. It sounds a little harh, but I had expectations of where the relationship was going, and if he wasn’t on board, then it was better to know before we moved in. For the record, it took him less than a year :)

  • Tracey Tracey June 15, 2011, 3:29 pm

    This may sound cold LW, but I don’t think either one of you are ready for marriage. He’s not because the only reason he can give is that you keep asking and doesn’t want to seem pressured to ask – even though he’s given you a symbol of his committment with a promise ring. You’re not because you keep pressuring, because you think he’s punishing you for cheating years ago, and because you want to punish him by saying no when (if) he does ask in order to embarrass your fiance – the man you say you love.

    It’s time for the two of you to sit down with a therapist or pre-marital counselor and openly discuss what you two want. Do you really want to marry? Do you really want to marry each other? Do you want to be together? How, LW, did you allow yourself to get to a point where you’re financially dependent on him? Is he resentful or angry about this? Is he still angry about the cheating? Are you still feeling guilty about the cheating? What was the underlying point behind the promise ring – a pledge of commitment or a placeholder?

    The two of you have a lot of underlying issues to work out, so many that marriage is probably not the best idea for you at this point – unless you want to go straight from the altar to the divorce court. It’s time to talk in the presence of a mediator, time for LW to back off the pressure to walk a bumpy path down the aisle, and time for LW’s fiance to really say what’s on his mind. Here’s hoping things work out for the best. Note I’m not saying things work out the way you want, but for the best.

  • avatar Cherry June 15, 2011, 3:30 pm

    Oh I just noticed I left something out- 8 years together and after years of my nagging we got married (together 15 years total) but are since divorced. So much better to see the signs before then later is my point.

    • landygirl Landygirl June 15, 2011, 4:34 pm

      Was he on the same page as you were? You seem fairly unscathed, I hope that means that it was an amicable parting.

      • avatar Cherry June 15, 2011, 5:13 pm

        Oh this was part of my earlier post, I didn’t hit reply so it came up as a separate post (new here!). Um, no, not amicable at all. That is my point, I should have listened to my gut, his actions, advice from others but I didn’t. When you are young you tend to think that they will change once you get married even if it is not going so hot before it. At least I did. But then you realize that if problems were there before, they will be there later, and there will be new problems to deal with as you both grow and change, but at the time all I could think about was when we would get married but did not understand what ‘married’ or ‘marriage’ really meant. The good thing is that I have learned from it, I am in a really happy and healthy relationship now with someone that is on the same page as me in regards to everything- values, goals, ect.

    • avatar sleepy June 15, 2011, 4:51 pm

      My now husband and I dated for 8 years before “I Do” and have now been married for 8 years. I neared desparation, but really what it came down to, neither of us was ready to be married and grown up until we were 30, so it worked out for us. But we weathered many storms before we got married that proved we could make it happen. I agree that you need to really figure out what is going on in his head, but it does sound like both need some more growing up before making a serious committment like marriage.

  • avatar Amy June 15, 2011, 3:34 pm

    It sounds like you may not even want to be married to him. Perhaps you don’t want to cut your losses after this much time. You say your scared that you can’t take care of yourself without his financial support. You say you want to “teach him a lesson”. And you didn’t mention anything spectacularly wonderful about this man that is the reason for your desire to be married. If you just want to get married because it’s the next logical step – then DON’T do it!!! I don’t think it is unreasonable to want to be married after this much time together – and I don’t really agree with the “just be patient” advice – but I do think that you need significantly better reasons for wanting to get married than it seems that you have. If you decide that you do have valid reasons for being married – I like kerrycontrary’s advice above about setting a private deadline in your head for a proposal and sticking with it.

  • avatar Flake June 15, 2011, 3:35 pm

    I think this is actually pretty simple. Do you want to get married or will you be happy to just get engaged? If you want marriage, for whatever reason, you have to set a time limit and STICK to it. Instead of asking him every 6 month “are you ready yet”, decide on a time limit, and if by then he hasn’t proposed, then move on. And please, STOP talking about marriage to him!

  • avatar Meg June 15, 2011, 3:35 pm

    Wow, there are so many things wrong in this letter I don’t know where to start. While wanting to know where the relationship is heading so that you don’t invest more of your time and end up getting hurt worse is completely reasonable, the nagging/threatening to leave/etc is completely the wrong way to go about it. It reeks of immaturity.

    Your boyfriend clearly doesn’t have an immediate timeline for marrying you. At 34 after investing 5+ years in a relationship, I think this is a problem, as long as marriage is important to you. Maybe he doesn’t feel getting married is important at this stage in his life (based on his own beliefs, his parents’ example, etc) or maybe he doesn’t feel right about marrying you just yet (honestly- from the tone of your letter, I couldn’t blame him).

    What needs to follow is a mature conversation about what you both want out of life. Don’t nag- tell him what you want from your future and what kind of timeline is necessary- and let him do the same. Don’t try to convince him to see it your way. If you guys are right for one another, there will be enough common ground to make it work. There’s a good chance you’re not right for one another if your life goals/timelines don’t line up. That’s a chance you’ve got to take.

  • leilani leilani June 15, 2011, 3:36 pm

    Uhh my biggest piece of advice to you would be to definitely not wait around for a proposal and then say no when he asks what you’ve been waiting for. The desire for a proposal should be about the fact that you want to be with him forever, not your pride.

  • avatar SpaceySteph June 15, 2011, 3:36 pm

    If I’m doing my math right, this guy was 27 when you started dating. Why does a 27 year old man date an 18 year old girl?

    My friend dated a guy who was about 6 years older than her, but when she finally graduated college and moved to be with him, he ended it suddenly like a month later. Older guys date young, college-aged girls so they can avoid committment. Then, when the committment inevitably comes, they freak out about it and move on to their next target (he was 28 when he dumped my 21 year old friend… 2 months later he was dating a new 18 year old, its a cycle).

    Have you both discussed the future. How old you want to be when you get married? When you have kids? That you want to get married before you have kids (if you do- it seems from his excuse about his parents that he wouldn’t care)? These are not things you should be afraid to discuss with your boyfriend of so many years… and things he should not be afraid to discuss with you.
    I would suggest you tell him that you are feeling self conscious and concerned and ask him to please listen to your concerns and tell you a little about his timetable. If he can’t do that, then he’s clearly not ready to be your husband. A minimum requirement for a partner (even for a long term relationship), in my opinion, is someone open and honest about their own needs/concerns and who is willing to listen to my needs and concerns and then we can work together to meet them. If your boyfriend can’t give that to you, then I think you need to find someone who will.

    • avatar Laurel June 15, 2011, 3:56 pm

      I think you’re right on about the 27 / 18 yr old dynamic.

      • avatar silver_dragon_girl June 15, 2011, 4:06 pm

        Yep, that bothered me, too. Also the fact that she cheated and he wanted her back and SHE had to talk HIM out of it. Then he was still waiting for her a year after that.

      • avatar Britannia June 15, 2011, 8:32 pm

        I think that it’s entirely possible that this man’s first wife raked him over the coals in the divorce, and so he decided that he wanted a girl who he could have control over – a young, naive one who wouldn’t demand to be treated as an equal. Now that she’s recognizing her worth, they’re having problems (go figure!) and he doesn’t want to marry another woman who’s going to expect him to step up to the plate.

    • landygirl Landygirl June 15, 2011, 4:35 pm

      Your friend dated Kelsey Grammer? :-)

    • avatar Quakergirl June 15, 2011, 10:25 pm

      Interesting comment on the older guy/younger girl dynamic. I have a friend who dated (and was actually engaged to) a guy in his mid-20s when we were about 17-21. They were engaged for 3 years until he finally broke it off. He definitely was under the impression that he would never actually have to marry her, so when push came to shove and she started asking him to nail down a date he backed out.

  • avatar RMM0278 June 15, 2011, 3:40 pm

    No one else has said it so I will.

    If you want to marry him so bad, why don’t YOU ask HIM? I suggest this, not so you can get a proposal, but my hunch is that the answer you’ve been seeking all this time will be written all over his face.

    • avatar Christy June 15, 2011, 4:30 pm

      This is perfect. Why does a marriage proposal have to be the guy asking, is it more romantic that way? After all, you’ll be involved in the marriage, too.

    • avatar PFG-SCR June 15, 2011, 4:35 pm

      “…but my hunch is that the answer you’ve been seeking all this time will be written all over his face.”

      Call me a skeptic, but I think he’d say “no”. Him putting an engagement off isn’t about him not wanting to _propose_ to her – it’s about whether he wants to _marry_ her.

      • avatar SpaceySteph June 15, 2011, 4:53 pm

        I think thats what the OP means. The bf doesn’t want to get married, and if she asked him, she would see the shock/fear/panic/etc. and then she would see bluntly that he DOES NOT want to get married, no matter who did the asking.

      • avatar RMM0278 June 15, 2011, 5:06 pm

        Exactly, SpaceySteph. Like I said, the point isn’t to get a ring. The point is to see what his reaction would be if the question is posed to him for once as opposed to the other way around. Seeing the answer on his face and in his body language should tell her exactly what she’s been wanting to know.

        You’re still engaged regardless of who does the asking so I don’t get why she’s letting him have all the power. They’re a couple. Last I checked, women weren’t powerless to do these sorts of things.

        • avatar PFG-SCR June 15, 2011, 5:12 pm

          Oops, sorry! I misunderstood when you said “the answer she’s been seeking” – I thought you meant that she would see in his face that he _did_ want to marry her. I agree that he’d likely show shock, fear and panic.

      • avatar crazyayeaye June 15, 2011, 6:09 pm

        Agreed. It’s a very embarrassing way to end the relationship and I think could really screw with LW’s confidence. Even if he wanted to marry her somewhere down the line, the fact that this guy wants the proposal to be a surprise and of his own volition shows a certain amount of pride. I have a feeling her proposing to him would end up making him feel either cornered and/or emasculated and ultimately reek havoc on the relationship.

  • avatar Calliopedork June 15, 2011, 3:40 pm

    I think it would be reasonable for you to pick a deadlune you’re comfortable with, tell him what it is once and then stick to it. In the meantime work on being able to support yourself if it doesn’t happen

    • avatar MissDre June 15, 2011, 3:45 pm

      Don’t tell him… just leave when the time is up. If he really wants you, he’ll realize it once you’re gone and he’ll do whatever takes to get you back. And if he doesn’t try… it’s because he didn’t want to marry you in the first place and you’ll be much happier building a life of your own. Eventually, you’ll move on to someone who will want to marry you.

  • avatar Maracuya June 15, 2011, 3:43 pm

    So much to talk about.

    I think it’s a case of him not wanting to get married right away, and you wanting to get married right now. I think that he needs to give you more concrete answers than, “My parents got married when I was 9.” And at the same time, it sounds to me like you’re bringing the subject up a lot and making him feel pressured. (When did you first bring it up? Have you been bringing it up for years? This I’m not too clear on from the letter.)

    At his age, though, it sounds like he’s dragging his feet. I’ll be honest.

    But the fact that you consider saying “No” just to cause him hurt and shame if he does propose is so…petty! I don’t think either of you are ready to be married to one another. I would cool my jets and for the love of God, get your finances in order. How would you two even pay for the wedding if you can’t live on your own?

  • avatar honeybeenicki June 15, 2011, 3:53 pm

    I won’t even touch on the rest of the stuff in this letter, but instead just answer the question (with maybe a little commentary later).

    He says his parents didn’t get married until he was nine. Have you discussed having children before/after marriage with him? Have you discussed when you want to have kids or if you want to at all? You need to be on the same page and if this is something important to you and it is a deal-breaker, then you need to decide whether you’re willing to wait or if its time to move on. But seriously, sounds to me like you are way too immature to be getting married. He’s told you exactly how he feels and it sounds like you keep pushing. He’s been honest with you as far as his priorities and its up to you to decide what that means for your relationship.

    Anyway… I HATE HATE HATE when women (or men) do something you mentioned doing (or similar things)- begging for a proposal and then saying no out of spite. Don’t do that. If you truly want to marry him and if you truly think you’re mature enough to handle marriage, then hurting him out of spite is a bad idea and speaks volumes of what kind of character you have.

  • avatar BoomChakaLaka June 15, 2011, 3:55 pm

    Erm…chill out? Nagging about proposals is really annoying. Just think of your boss/mom asking you to for something for the x gajillionth time. Seriously, once is enough. If he says he’s going to marry you, then you have to believe him. If you absolutely need to be married by tomorrow, June 16th or you’ll die, then yeah, you should definitely look out for numero 1 and leave. I’m gonna go with that’s not the case, so I would suggest not bringing this up for a while, preferably ever again. You’ve already expressed to him how you felt about his “rejections” and you’ve made it very clear to all that you want to be proposed to.

    So, wait for it. And if you can’t wait, then leave. It really doesn’t help your case that you get angry about not getting proposed to and then actually stay in the relationship. All this boils down to is, if he really isn’t ever going to get married to you, he’s just going to learn how to deal with your angry fits and then make it up to you later with a piece of jewelry. But, if a lifetime with this man is what you truly want then waiting 1, 2 or 5 years is going to be a drop in the bucket.

    Which brings me to another thing:
    Are you sure you want to marry him? Like really sure? Because that immature behavior described in the last paragraph of your letter sounds like you aren’t ready to do anything of the sort. This isn’t just a “I cheated on him he forgave me” kind of thing. Though many people treat it as such, marriage isn’t a game. If you want to be a bride, that’s a different story and you can go and do that in Vegas 24/7, 365 days a year. But a wife? That should be a lifetime thing. Please think twice before you do this.

    • avatar melikeycheesecake June 15, 2011, 4:01 pm

      Because that immature behavior described in the last paragraph of your letter sounds like you aren’t ready to do anything of the sort. This isn’t just a “I cheated on him he forgave me” kind of thing. Though many people treat it as such, marriage isn’t a game. If you want to be a bride, that’s a different story and you can go and do that in Vegas 24/7, 365 days a year. But a wife? That should be a lifetime thing. Please think twice before you do this.

      YES!!!!!!!!!!! For once I’m not on the woman’s side of the whole ” when is he going to propose.” I don’t think she is ready and def not mature enough!

  • avatar oldie June 15, 2011, 3:55 pm

    MOA. You’ve talked about the future many times and he’s called it nagging or put you off. So many red flags. The suggestion that he may marry you after any kid you have is about 9 is a big one. Putting things off so long is another. A promise ring at his age is another. It all started with a red flag — a 27 year old hitting on an 18 year old. Too big an age gap at 18.

  • avatar LeahW. June 15, 2011, 3:57 pm

    Okay, take a deep breath, and really, really listen to what I’m about to tell you: you are not upset that he hasn’t proposed yet. Got it? You ARE upset. He has NOT proposed. But you are NOT upset that he hasn’t proposed yet.

    What you are actually upset about is woven throughout your letter, and it’s that you’re afraid he’s not completely committed to you because of your past history. This is a COMPLETELY reasonable thing to be worried about, but these feelings will NOT be solved by his proposing to you. He’s already told you he plans to marry you and it didn’t make you feel any better because for whatever reason you don’t believe him. So, have you told him this? You said you talked to him about how you feel about him waiting to propose, but have you told him that you’re afraid that he’ll find someone better or that he doesn’t really want you? Tell him that! And if his assurances don’t make you feel better, figure out what will. Have you asked him why he took you back after you cheated or what his thought process was during that period? Because, to me, that decision is proof of how dedicated he truly is to you and maybe hearing why he made it will give you the assurance that you need.

    But, most importantly, you are NOT upset that he hasn’t proposed because if he did, it would NOT make you feel any more secure in your relationship! Trust me, because I was you this time last year! Me and my boyfriend were going through a rough patch because I wasn’t sure he was responsible enough to be my life partner and I thought that if he followed through on his promise to propose soon, if he did it RIGHT, that it would PROVE that he was the right guy for me. But pressuring him just made us both feel like crap and didn’t fix the problem. But you know what, we DID fix the real problem, he worked on being more responsible and I worked on being less of a control freak, and I feel more secure in our relationship than I EVER have. Even though he still hasn’t proposed, it’s something that I’m looking forward to because it will be a true declaration of love and not an attempt to fix something that’s broken. We’re not broken anymore, so I’m happy to wait as long as he needs. I hope you get to that point, too!

    • avatar WatersEdge June 15, 2011, 4:03 pm

      I don’t understand the rationale that he said he was going to propose, so she has to chill out and believe him. If I said I was going to come visit you soon because I think you’re great, and 5 years later I never came to visit, would you still believe me? His actions and his words don’t line up.

      • avatar LeahW. June 15, 2011, 4:14 pm

        A visit is a one-time event, while a proposal is the beginning of a life-long commitment. The LW is making an illogical jump by thinking that he “hasn’t yet” so he “never will”. I didn’t say that she had to chill out and believe him, but that she should focus her attention on what seem like genuine problems in their relationship. The lack of trust is a real problem, and one that a proposal will not solve. If a couple are truly in a healthy relationship and don’t have a particular time to get married by (before we have kids, so I can get on his insurance, etc.) than what does it matter to wait? What if he is planning something special that he’s still planning? What if he’s saving up his money (as my boyfriend is)? What if he wants to propose on a particular date or a special event? If they love and trust each other enough to commit the rest of their lives to each other, why WOULDN’T those seem like reasonable reasons to wait?

        • avatar WatersEdge June 15, 2011, 4:23 pm

          Don’t you think she has a right to know where her relationship stands after 5 years? How come he gets to say “we’re not talking about it” and she has to just say “oh, ok, we won’t talk about it”.

          • avatar LeahW. June 15, 2011, 4:35 pm

            Because a proposal is not a promise to get married or a marriage. They can talk about where their relationship stands without discussing the proposal itself, which is what I recommended. A big part of the proposal is that he plans it as a surprise, and he’s already promised to do that. If she didn’t care about the actual asking, I would recommend that she propose herself or that they mutually agree to get engaged, but she doesn’t say that she doesn’t care about the proposal itself. Quite the contrary. It’s not that she doesn’t have the right to discuss their relationship, it’s that she’s focused on the wrong things. Micromanaging her own proposal didn’t make anything better, and ignoring her doubts didn’t either. So, yes, she should discuss where the relationship stands, but getting a proposal or even more details about the timing is not the same thing.

  • avatar WatersEdge June 15, 2011, 3:58 pm

    As a woman who was ready to get engaged before her boyfriend was, I understand the frustration of this scenario completely. A lot of people don’t understand how unique the “waiting for a proposal” scenario is in a woman’s life in today’s day and age. As a grown woman, you really call the shots in your life. You choose your major, your career, your home… if you want something, you go get it. We women are not the passive receptacles for whatever life throws our way anymore. So when you feel ready to get married, it’s natural to want to take steps toward that goal. But you can’t. You have to wait, and wait, and wait, until he feels like asking. And if he doesn’t feel like asking for whatever reason, be it timing, money, relationship uncertainty… it can be horribly frustrating. It’s really difficult to know there’s nothing you can do to work towards something you want.

    And yes, it DOES hurt your self-esteem when someone sends you the message that they love you and that they don’t love you quite enough, all at the same time. His refusal to propose is absolutely a rejection. She’s put herself out there and said she wants to commit her life to him. He’s made it clear that he does not want to commit his life to her… at least not yet. My self-esteem suffered when I was in the same position because I felt like I wasn’t important enough to make a REAL commitment with. I spent a lot of time trying to figure out exactly what his doubts were, and was probably way off (as I suspect the LW is about the cheating years ago).

    I think it’s unfair to call this letter writer immature or pathetic. I don’t think she’s either. She’s been with this guy for a long time. They live together, they share finances. I think it’s really disrespectful of the LW’s boyfriend to lead her on and do everything just like a married couple but still refuse to marry her. I think he’s being selfish and immature.

    LW, I don’t want to tell you to leave your boyfriend, but I think the idea about getting really busy and being unable to spend time together is a great one. When you tell someone how you feel and they don’t listen, it’s time to show them how you feel. You should probably start socking away some money in case things go south, too. Figure out a potential living arrangement and get your financial house in order. Maybe he will propose and maybe he won’t, but you’ve tried everything else, so I think pulling away is a good idea. I will give you one piece of advice- don’t make it an argument, don’t make it a big scene. Deny there’s anything wrong. I say that because you’ve tried talking to him in so many different ways that you know he will zone out the second you try to explain. He’s specifically asked you not to discuss it anyway. Again, show, don’t tell. Show him you’re not taking it anymore by getting your own life and putting the relationship lower on your priority list. He will know EXACTLY what it is about without you having to say a word.

    • avatar melikeycheesecake June 15, 2011, 4:05 pm

      “hink it’s unfair to call this letter writer immature or pathetic. I don’t think she’s either. She’s been with this guy for a long time. They live together, they share finances. I think it’s really disrespectful of the LW’s boyfriend to lead her on and do everything just like a married couple but still refuse to marry her. I think he’s being selfish and immature.”

      @Watersedge I see your point somewhat but her statements are truly immature. I realize this situation is confusing and hurtful…. I have been there but I can honestly say I never would suggest or OK a woman saying No just to get back at him.

      • avatar WatersEdge June 15, 2011, 4:11 pm

        I have to admit, I had that thought a few times. Because it feels like he’s rejecting her every single day. So she wants to reject him back, but she can’t.

        The refusal to propose while insisting that you will do it someday is really toxic to relationships. It’s a mindfuck, and it erodes trust. It turns into a negative cycle really quickly. She doesn’t trust him anymore- she doesn’t trust his feelings towards her, or his intentions for their future… So now she’s insecure in the relationship. So she’s not being her best self- she’s resentful of him, and it’s got to show in their day-to-day interactions. So with her acting resentful, he’s probably even less interested in getting engaged.

        Men like this need to grow a pair and either get married or break up. It is not the woman’s fault for asking the man to do something perfectly reasonable. If he doesn’t believe in marriage he should say it, but I doubt that’s the case here.

      • avatar silver_dragon_girl June 15, 2011, 4:14 pm

        Everyone is jumping on her for that statement, but all she said was that she “thinks” about it. I think about a LOT of things I would never in a million years do.

        • avatar SpaceySteph June 15, 2011, 5:11 pm

          True. Sometimes I think I’d like to get up in this boring, stupid telecon I sit in twice a week, scream at my boss, then storm out. But I don’t actually do it. Although I’m getting close…

      • avatar JP June 15, 2011, 5:04 pm

        I think many of the readers are confused. I don’t think she really would reject his proposal if he asked her or even truly wants to reject it. She just feels hurt by his apparent lack of commitment and is frustrated that he does not understand why she is hurt.

      • avatar Hana June 15, 2011, 8:19 pm

        She said that out of frustration. She was not really intending to do it. I’m surprised so many readers didn’t understand that. I completely agree w/ watersedge and don’t think she is being immature at all. I honestly can say I feel that way sometimes because my boyfriend has not proposed yet even though we tell people we are each others fiance. I think its stupid he hasn’t asked me.

    • avatar RavageMaladie June 15, 2011, 4:12 pm

      The statements that if you don’t want to marry your significant other, ‘you don’t love them enough’ and ‘you don’t want to commit your life to them’, hurt me a little bit.

      This may be true for you, but I’m completely commited and devoted to my boyfriend of ten years, without either of us feeling the need to get married. And yet when he says he’d catch a bullet for me, I now he ain’t lying:).

      I understand where you’re coming from and that you read the letter this way – just know these statements don’t have to hold merit for every couple out there.

      • avatar WatersEdge June 15, 2011, 4:21 pm

        I don’t mean to be rude to you, but I think it was pretty obvious that I was only talking about people who value marriage. For the record, I am also only talking about people who can legally marry.

        This boyfriend has never once said he never wants to get married. He did make one comment about waiting until their child is 9 like his parents, but he never says “I don’t want to marry anyone”. So your point about happily committed couples is really irrelevant.

        • avatar RavageMaladie June 15, 2011, 4:45 pm

          Yeah, you’re right, I probably took it too personally.

          I was, however, honestly trying to put myself in the shoes of this man who, just because he doesn’t want to be forced into proposal, might not necessarily ‘not want to commit his life’ to her. Who knows what else is going on.

          Then again he’s 34, so I’m probably cutting him way too much slack:).

          • avatar Amber June 15, 2011, 5:23 pm

            yes but – if you boyfriend REALLY wanted to get married, and you knew it was REALLY important to him, you’d probably do it, correct? In your situation neither wants to get married. She’s made it clear that she does, and he brushes her aside.

        • avatar plasticepoxy June 15, 2011, 5:34 pm

          He did say he wanted to marry her, “I have told him several times how it makes me feel, and he tells me he’s going to marry me but I need to stop talking about it.” What I read is that he feels she was talking about it incessantly and he wanted space to approach the topic in a way that felt genuine.
          I’ve been in the “when are we going to get married already?” position. I initiated a conversation about the relationship, what it meant to me, where I saw myself and what I wanted in life, especially in the next few years. I asked my BF to tell me the same things. We weren’t on the same page with everything, but we were close if not of the exact same opinion about the important stuff. I think what might be hindering “progress” for the LW is that her BF may feel she’s more interested in a wedding than a life with him.

          • avatar WatersEdge June 15, 2011, 6:57 pm

            I think you’re giving him way too much credit. First of all, he said he wanted to marry her…. but he also said (explicitly and through his actions) that they are not allowed to discuss it. What kind of a message does that send? Why does he get to call all the shots? Why does she have to sit back and passively wait? The LW doesn’t say one thing about a wedding. I think that’s a huge presumption on your part. She’s in love with a man who she lives with and shares finances with. Marriage SHOULD be a no-brainer, for two people who both plan to get married someday.

            If you tried to have a conversation about your future with your boyfriend and instead of having a thoughtful discussion where you both voiced differing opinions, he got irritated and told you to stop nagging him, would that be ok with you? MAYBE she’s talking about it incessantly. Or… she was. She hasn’t mentioned it for 6 months. So she’s not talking about it incessantly anymore.

            The truth is that I wouldn’t blame her for talking about it incessantly at this point. I know it’s considered the feminist thing to not care about marriage, to be independent and self-sufficient and not rely on a man for anything, and to admit you want to be married is supposed to be desperate and pathetic. But I really do feel like if marriage is something you want for yourself, you have the right to ask for it, and that is also feminist. And to trash this LW and say she obviously has bad intentions, she is obviously annoying and she just wants a wedding, when really she’s living with a guy and together for 5 years… I really just don’t understand where you’re coming from. Maybe if he had given her a thoughtful, respectful, honest, detailed answer about his plans for the future, then she wouldn’t have to bring it up so much.

    • avatar MissDre June 15, 2011, 4:16 pm

      Holy crap — Your entire first paragraph is how I feel right now!!! My relationship is good so I’m not stressing. I just hate it that this is the one thing in my life that I don’t have control over! I do have a plan to get busier. Not because I want to take time away from him, more because I just want to fill my life up with other things so I stop thinking so damn much about the future.

      • avatar Fidget_eep June 16, 2011, 2:59 am

        I know, we have been together for about 4.5 years with a little over 3 month break needed due to major stress on both parts a little over a year ago. I know I want to get married, but we are both in grad school and can’t see past it for right now, but I am so wanting him to propose. One of us needs a real job though before either is comfortable with that next step and TA or student loans and a student job is not enough to get by. sigh…

  • avatar RavageMaladie June 15, 2011, 4:02 pm

    Just for some perspective: me (29) and my boyfriend (32) have been together for nearly ten years and living together for six. We’re completely happy and no, we’re both not the marrying kind, so a proposal wasn’t a requirement for getting there.

    Not that I’m against marriage in the least; I’m just inclined to think that you’re dealing with other issues here, namely power struggles and mutual jealousy and distrust. If I were you I’d sort those out first, before you get all worked up over how many months, weeks or days he takes to propose. Be honest with yourself – if he were to propose tomorrow, would you suddenly be rid of the bitterness that speaks from a statement like ‘if he asks me now I’m inclined to say ‘no’ just to make him feel bad’?

    There’s a lot more needed for a good relationship than a proposal.

  • avatar PFG-SCR June 15, 2011, 4:04 pm

    “However, every time I bring up getting engaged he gets annoyed and upset with me. He says that I talk about it too much and that by doing so I’m going to ruin it if he does propose.”

    I could barely get past this part – if he really wanted to marry you, why would he get annoyed and upset with you bringing it up? Those are not reactions of someone who is trying to secretly plan a proposal. Instead, that’s the reaction of someone who feels pressured to do something that they don’t want to do. There is nothing that you’ve described that shows from his behavior that he really wants to marry you – sure, he will say he does, but that’s to appease you. The promise ring? That’s to appease you. Will he possibly propose just to appease you? Possibly, but I’m not sure if you really want that.

    • avatar Jess June 16, 2011, 4:34 am

      I agree, he shouldn’t be getting upset with her for it.

  • avatar RJKUSER June 15, 2011, 4:05 pm

    Personally, I don’t think anyone should get married because they are “slightly scared to leave for fear they may not be able to live off what they make alone”.

  • avatar LTC039 June 15, 2011, 4:21 pm

    Ok, if you feel so bad that you’re thinking about saying “no” just to make him feel as bad as you do, how good of a precident does that set for the *rest of your lives*? Frankly, I feel this guy is taunting you. I think he still resents you for what you did when you were 18…What the hell do you care what his parents did? That should have nothing to do with you.
    The more the cycle continues, the worse you’re going to feel & the worse the relationship will get. I think this is a MOA already situation… You’ve repeatedly told your boyfriend you’re hurt by his comments & he disregards that blatantly, then gives you some bullshit excuse as to why you shouldn’t ask him, yeah, no! You should NEVER feel hurt or embarrassed by your S/O, & hun, he is not going to change. Tell him seriously that you are not going to continue this song and dance. You need an answer. If he gives you the same crap, tell him you’ve had enough.
    Ultimately, it’s up to you, but do you really want to spend another 10 years like this? Don’t settle for that shit! You deserve better. You’re only 24, you’ve got so much more to look forward to.

  • avatar Sarah June 15, 2011, 4:34 pm

    Ok, I’m going to try my best to get over the fact that a 27yr old dated an 18yr old without commenting that it seems to suggest that he is interested in younger women that probably wont require long term decisions from him. Whatevs, that’s in the past. Right now there could be one of two scenarios happening.

    1: He really wants to propose, but your insistence that he’s already messed it up has made him defensive about the whole thing.

    2: He doesn’t want to propose, but he doesn’t want to lose you, so he tells you what he you to hear so you wont break up with him.

    The problem is, you can’t know which one until after the fact. The fact that you have waited six months without a peep about it and that he mentions his parents not marrying til he was 9 as an argument is concerning. Who the hell cares about his damn hippie parents? Getting engaged is about you two. And he can obviously afford the ring since he bought you a promise ring last Christmas (LAAAAAAAAAME). He is handling this poorly. At this point, his refusal to broach the subject is sabotaging the entire relationship, not just a non-existent engagement. Something needs to be done to fix this, and him proposing may not be enough anymore.

    Imagine proposing to him. What do you think he would say? Would he be upset? Relieved? Do you think he would say no? Hell, ask him if you’re not sure. Get a finite answer from this man, and from yourself. Suggest couples counseling. What you don’t want is him proposing simply because he doesn’t want you to dump him. Use a counselor to help you say what you need to in a healthy setting, and then maybe he can figure out what is keeping him from taking the leap as well.

    • avatar emjay June 15, 2011, 5:40 pm

      I have to disagree with your first paragraph, only because I was 21 and my bf was 31 when we started dating. It was not because he liked other girls, it was because he felt a connection with me that he never felt with anyone else. And vice versa. So not always is it because “they like younger girls” because if I was under 21 he would have never asked me out, but we are both consenting adults and like I said above, we have a connection that we never felt with anyone else.

      • avatar emjay June 15, 2011, 5:41 pm

        *younger

      • avatar Sarah June 15, 2011, 6:19 pm

        Its not the age gap that bothers me, its where it was placed. An almost 30 year old man dating a girl fresh out of high school is concerning. Maybe it was a rare exception, but I can’t help but think its a factor as to why he’s waiting so many years to propose.

        I think we’re both making the same point because you said your bf would never have asked you out if you were under 21, and she was 18.

  • avatar Emsz June 15, 2011, 4:37 pm

    Why, oh why, oh why, in this day and age, does the WOMAN have to wait for the proposal from the MAN?

    I always figured if I ever got in a serious, committed relationship, we’d have discussed marriage, what it means to us, and when it will happen. And then sometime when we feel we are both ready, we will set a date together. None of this getting down on one knee with a ring stuff. If you’re already in the committed relationship, what will being married really change about it?

    • avatar WatersEdge June 15, 2011, 6:59 pm

      That only works if both people are ready to get engaged.

      • avatar Emsz June 16, 2011, 4:53 pm

        That might be true, but why does the woman have to wait till the man is ready? Why not have the woman ask the man? Or HEAVEN FORBID *GASP* have a conversation about it like you’re *gasp* actual adults!

  • avatar Beth June 15, 2011, 4:43 pm

    I don’t think you should get married to fix a relationship. Sounds like he might still have some issues with the past and him trusting you. You guys might benefit from couples counseling.

    With that being said, if he isn’t on the same path to marriage that you are on- you may have to be prepared to move on to someone that is willing to take that next step.

  • avatar SalMarie June 15, 2011, 4:43 pm

    I think this whole letter brings up the (false) idea that one can’t or shouldn’t talk about engagement in a serious relationship for fear of “ruining” a proposal. There is this fantasy that a proposal should just be out of the blue or else it isn’t romantic, but that is just so unrealistic in almost every situation. As others have commented, you should be able to sit down and have a mature, adult conversation with your boyfriend about the future of your relationship. And yes, this conversation should include some general time frames. If you can’t have a realistic discussion about this, how will you approach the major life decisions that you are certain to face in the future if you do get married? When you approach this topic be very careful not to come to it with a nagging attitude so your boyfriend won’t react defensively. However, if you do approach this calmly and not in a “WHEN are you FINALLY going to propose?!” type attitude, and he still reacts negatively, then that right there is telling you a lot. At this point in your relationship, he absolutely should be willing to talk about your future together when you approach it from a position of mutual respect for each others’ opinions.

    In addition to having a talk with your boyfriend including at least a general discussion of a time line, I also agree with those who have said that you should pick a deadline for yourself of how long you are actually willing to wait, and do NOT tell him about it. He should know that engagement and marriage are important to you and that you have a general time line in mind for your future, but you should NOT force the issue by giving him an exact deadline. This will probably help you handle the situation more easily as you won’t be envisioning yourself still waiting around years and years from now – you will have a date in your mind where a decision will be made one way or the other, and you can either get on with your lives together, or you can get on with your life without him. And if nothing else, PLEASE get your finances in order so that you can support yourself if need be, financial dependence should never be a factor.

    • avatar AKchic June 15, 2011, 6:06 pm

      And a note: If he brings up the “but your/my parents didn’t marry until you/I were/was 9″ it needs to be mentioned that the two of you are NOT your parents. You are separate people with a completely different relationship and that you have different expectations than your parents did at the time. Any diversions from the two of you and YOUR relationship is just that, a diversion. Stay calm, stay on task/subject. Don’t let him divert you. Diversions are meant to throw you off the subject and get you two to fight so you won’t WANT to discuss engagement anymore, maybe not even want to further the relationship to the next level at that point in time.

  • parton_doll parton_doll June 15, 2011, 4:52 pm

    My sister went through a similar situation (minus the cheating). She and her boyfriend dated for 10 years and lived together for 1. They talked about getting married but he kept finding excuses not to propose. So she gave herself a time frame (not him, her) that she would wait for a proposal and then she would move on with her life. When that deadline hit, she a had a serious conversation with him about how she needed to move on with her life and as much as she loved him she couldn’t wait for him any more. No ultimatums. No blaming him. She kept it strictly about her because you can’t make someone do something they don’t want to do.

    In her case, he did end up proposing (he knew he was going to lose her because of his hesitation) and they have now been happily married for a year. This only worked because my sister decided to work on her. I would advise you to take some time to decide what you alone want out of the future and how long you’re willing to wait for a proposal. Set that internal deadline. Make a plan for how you can divide your assets and provide for yourself (an exit strategy). And when the deadline comes, have a very frank discussion about how much you love him but you can’t put your life on hold, walk away and continue your life. Not because you want him to “feel the embarrassment and hurt he’s put you through” or to give an ultimatum to force his hand … but because you deserve the opportunity for your life to move forward. I understand that you have a lot invested and this won’t be easy, but for some reason he feels a hesitation and he has a right to the way he feels. So focus on you and your life. It may seem like throwing away 7 years of your life, but you could waste a lot more time waiting for something that may never happen.

    • avatar WatersEdge June 15, 2011, 5:23 pm

      I think this advice is perfect.

  • avatar Yozi June 15, 2011, 5:00 pm

    If this guy keeps repeating that his parents didn’t get married until he was nine, the LW could use that as a starting place for a conversation about marriage and what it means to each of them. If LW wants kids, and wants to get married before she has kids, she should say so, because it seems like he may not have the same ideals. That’s always been a dealbreaker for me because *ideally* I see having kids as a lifetime commitment to being a family together, and I would want to solidify that commitment before bringing them into the world. But different people have different ideas about the purpose and value of marriage, and if the LW doesn’t talk in depth with her boyfriend about it, how will they know if they’re on the same page? I agree that the LW needs to invest sometime in her friends and hobbies and in becoming more financially independent. I think if she gets enough self confidence to know that she will be OK without him, she’ll be in a better place to have a conversation about what her values are and what is and isn’t negotiable for her in a relationship.

  • avatar JennyTalia June 15, 2011, 5:10 pm

    Proposal aside, do

  • avatar JennyTalia June 15, 2011, 5:12 pm

    Darn thing…

    Proposal aside, please do NOT stay together for financial reasons. I understand that you live together and separating your finances would be a pain in the ass… but think about how much more of a pain it will be 10 years from now when you’re married and have a child. If you’re afraid that you won’t be able to carry the financial burden independently, don’t be. If you have family and friends who love and support you, they will never let you go under. The people close to you would much rather help you get on your feet than watch you flail in a sinking relationship.

  • sobriquet sobriquet June 15, 2011, 5:28 pm

    I haven’t read all the comments, and I am not going to speculate about whether or not you sound ready for marriage, so my only advice is to ask about a timeline. If he refuses to talk about it and throws a hissy fit, then he probably isn’t ready to get married. Like, if I’m having a romantic date with my boyfriend and I ask him, “So, what’s your timeline for the next 5 years? When do you think you’ll be ready to get engaged?” he should be able to respond to that question like a mature adult. He should NOT throw a fit and say, “Ugh, stop pressuring me! You’ll know I’m ready to get married when I ask you!” No. That is not an okay response.

    You need to approach your boyfriend and tell him this: “Listen, I don’t want you to think I’m pressuring you to get engaged if you’re not ready. I just need to know a timeline from you so that I know you’re serious about our future. I apologize for coming off as pressuring you, I’ve just been feeling a little insecure that we’re not on the same page. If I know a timeline, or a goal you need to reach before you get engaged, that’s all I need.” He should be able to respond to that with a mature, 34 year old man answer. Something like, “I hope to be engaged to you by next summer” or “whenever I have X amount of money saved up, which should take X amount of time.”

    tl;dr- Ask about a timeline. I honestly don’t think a proposal should EVER catch someone completely by surprise. You should discuss it with your partner beforehand. Then let whoever is going to propose decide how to make it a surprise.

  • avatar emjay June 15, 2011, 5:31 pm

    LW you have no idea what it means to get married, I am assuming here, but by the tone of your letter you are looking foward to the wedding day/reception, more than what being married means. I’m not innocent either, but I took myself out of the picture to look in (I.e. trying to see it from his point of view, not breaking up) and I saw that I didn’t need a pc of paper to tell me what I have with him. And when the big picture came into play I am a lot more content now. Plus weddings are stupid expensive, and so are engagement rings, maybe you don’t know the full extent of his personal finances and he wants to wait to give you the wedding of your dreams (or at least one you can comfortably afford). And. By saying NO if he does propose, you are just proving how immature you can really be.

    • avatar AKchic June 15, 2011, 6:00 pm

      *laugh* You can thank reality tv for that lovely new trend of lavish weddings that practically bankrupt the in-laws and the new couple. It’s sad that people divorcing are still paying off their debts from the wedding day/reception/honeymoon.

    • avatar Sarah June 15, 2011, 6:32 pm

      I don’t think that’s fair to refer to LW is immature. There’s nothing in her letter that implies that she wants the wedding more than the marriage. If he’s waiting because of finances, then that is something that should have been communicated to her instead of waiting six months after he was aware she wants to get married without any discussion of the matter. Could you have kept your hurt feelings aware from your bf for six months and then be jumping for joy when he finally does propose? I think her hurt and frustration is natural, given the circumstances. And a woman who waits five years for a man to decide what he wants out of life is pretty damn patient. I wouldn’t wait five years to know whether or not I’m going to marry a man.

      • avatar WatersEdge June 15, 2011, 7:00 pm

        a-greed

      • katie Katie June 15, 2011, 9:12 pm

        thats all true, but threatening to say no just to make him feel bad is a really immature thing to do…

        • avatar WatersEdge June 15, 2011, 9:51 pm

          she didn’t threaten it. she said she’s thought about it. as others have said, we all think about doing things that we don’t actually do all the time.

    • avatar Jess June 16, 2011, 4:57 am

      she never mentioned a wedding once. and marriage is a lot more than a piece of paper. if you think thats all it is, then i can understand why you would think its not important, but for many many people its MUCH more than a wedding, a ring, and a piece of paper.

  • avatar AKchic June 15, 2011, 5:58 pm

    Do you want an engagement ring/proposal/wedding day or a true marriage? Because I’m having trouble figuring that out from your letter.

    You say that you’ve brought up engagement before, but you don’t say when, and how often. That could help us get a better perspective on this. If you started hinting like a brick to the head 6 months after getting back together (and 2 days after moving in with each other), then yeah, that could be early. If it was 2 years after getting back together and 6 months after moving in together, then not so early.

    He claims it’s nagging each time, or just the last time you mentioned it? How did you bring it up? What words did you use? These are all important issues. If he uses the word “nag” each time, it could be a control issue. Especially if he is purposely waiting 6+ months now to “punish” you for continually bringing it up. Is he normally a controlling person about certain things? Does he have a more traditional view of “manly” things? Some guys don’t like it when women push for things that should traditionally be a “man’s role” (like proposals). Especially if he is working up the courage to ask your father’s permission first.

    There is an age gap there that does concern me. Mainly because of my first disaster of a marriage, but I won’t get into that here or now.

    I think you need to start working on saving your money and working towards strengthening your familial bonds and friendships outside of this relationship. Get hobbies, a gym membership, start meeting with friends more. Keep yourself busy and save your money. Be frugal. If he proposes, hey – you’ve got extra money for the wedding. If he doesn’t within the next 6 months, then you and your friends/family can look for a new small apartment/rooming situation for you to move to. He’s had 4 years it seems like, and at least 6 months already of pressure-free time to propose. He said he would, but hasn’t. What exactly is he waiting for, the Queen’s approval? Marriage is pressure at times. If he can’t handle pressure prior to a marriage, then he isn’t ready for one now.

    • avatar Clementine June 16, 2011, 12:23 pm

      I’m so glad someone finally thought to look at things from the boyfriend’s point of view. Women are empowered to make their own money, have their own careers, make their own decisions, propose their own marriages, etc. We have more power and control in our lives and relationships than in any other point in history. For good or bad, proposals are one of the few things left that men mostly get to call their own.

      So, here’s this boyfriend. He loves the LW enough to take her back after being cheated on. He doesn’t hold it against her or throw it in her face. If the LW doesn’t feel financially able to live alone, he may also carry the lion’s share of household expenses, so it’s not likely he’s using her for money.

      Is it not possible that he’s a good guy who wants to make his proposal special? Possibly, our LW has mentioned it so many times that it has become a cause of anxiety; he’s started to feel as though it has to be perfect or nothing. It’s possible that he’s giving it 6+ months to get over his OWN pressure-induced anxiety and to feel that it is, in fact, HIS show. If I were about to publicly confirm a huge life decision, I would want to feel very sure about it without outside pressure. He may simply be sitting on this decision to see how it feels without the pressure before acting on it.

      Is it also not possible that his parents’ waiting so long to marry has left an imprint on him? He may understand better than the LW that marriage is a big step and is not to be rushed. He is a 34-year-old unmarried man. That tells me he is cautious.

      I agree with much of the other advice offered the LW. If you’re sure he’s the one for you, and you two have the bond, commitment, and skills to make a marriage work, then go out, find some separate hobbies, develop your interests and identity away from him, and sock away some cash and an escape plan. Have the timeline talk, make your internal timeline, and commit to it. But also, let him be the man, if that’s who you want him to be. Do all these things, but continue to be loving and supportive. Show him that you love him, and you’re not punishing him for making you wait, because those aren’t the kinds of games people who love one another play. Show him how good it is to have your support and approval without the pressure, and then do what needs to be done to meet your own needs. There is a difference between making sure your needs are met and playing tit for tat.

  • avatar Monica M June 15, 2011, 6:27 pm

    I don’t like his answers when you bring up the topic of marriage. I don’t understand the idea of woman waiting for a proposal, like the decision solely rests on the man. Also, that line about how his parents not getting married until he was 9 is very telling. So he is okay with having kids and then finally getting around to marriage. Do you want kids? Does he? I think you both have different views on marriage. I don’t think this is about whether he is committed to you but that he doesn’t value marriage. I think you should drop the topic of marriage and work on your goals in life. It sounds like you are concerned about your finances. So while he is enjoying the status quo you need to work on getting a better job or going back to school. Once you have figured out who you are and what you want and have financial security you will know what to do about this relationship.

  • avatar MiMi June 15, 2011, 6:42 pm

    LW, do you see that you’ve allowed yourself to assume a passive and powerless position in your personal life with this man? You don’t feel you can support yourself and you are waiting for validation and meaning to be delivered to you by a reluctant man in the shape of a proposal. It’s time to take back your power and build your confidence. Get a second job and save that money in an account you open only for yourself, so that you’ll have a little cushion and/or moving money if you need it. Remember the things that fulfill you and feed your spirit and go do them, not as a strategy, but because they make you happy. Refrain from having so much of your energy revolving around the actions or non-actions of someone else. In the end, the point is to have a good marriage, based on great communication, great friendship, and loving give and take. That’s the prize to keep your eye on, so re-focus on doing what it takes to make yourself a confident, capable, proactive woman who will make a terrific partner in that good marriage – whether it is with this man or not.

    • avatar AKchic June 15, 2011, 8:28 pm

      And when you open that second account – don’t tell him about it and do NOT contribute any extra to the joint funds of the house.

      If he is what I suspect him of being, he will try to manipulate things to where there is more of a need for you to actually NEED that second job. Bigger cable package, internet package, more online ordering, etc. Don’t buy into it. Tell him that if he wants it, he has to pay for it. That you are saving up for something. Whether it be a new car (say you don’t want to take out a loan), a special cruise for your parents, a friend’s destination wedding – lie. It doesn’t matter. He isn’t being honest with you on this proposal thing, so you need to plan your exit strategy because I doubt he will get off his ass and propose and he is stringing you along because he has the control in this relationship. Take it back, but take it back gradually, in baby-steps.

    • avatar Painted_lady June 15, 2011, 9:29 pm

      Yes! If she is afraid to leave because she cannot afford to live alone, this is frightening. The money issue is becoming a great shackle for her to stay in a relationship that may or may not be one whose future will make her happy.

      Also, hate to be Eeyore, but what happens if he dumps her? I know so many women in her situation who thought her boyfriend was close to proposing and ended up homeless, brokenhearted, and financially screwed. It’s callous, but unless you’re common-law married (and even then sometimes), you have no legal claim to anything you can’t prove you bought, and you can’t trust your SO to be on their best behavior during a breakup.

      • avatar _jsw_ June 15, 2011, 11:29 pm

        “Also, hate to be Eeyore, but…”

        Please don’t do that. It forced me to read the rest of your comment with Eeyore’s voice in my head, which really slowed me down.

        • avatar RoyalEagle0408 June 15, 2011, 11:32 pm

          See, at first all I could think was, “I love Eeyore! I snuggle with him every night!” And now I too had to read the comment in Eeyore’s voice. Why, oh why must you ruin everything for me?!

        • avatar Painted_lady June 16, 2011, 4:18 am

          Haha! Sorry guys – next time I’ll invoke Debbie Downer so it won’t be slow or overly cuddle – you’ll just hear “wah-waaaah” at the end of my comment.

  • avatar Jshizzle June 15, 2011, 7:10 pm

    This guy is an ass, it’ll look like he’s marrying you because you nagged him to…Umm no it doesn’t, not unless you do it in front of other people all the time. The average person would just say “it’s about time” and will not think he’s whipped at 34 years of age and 7 years of knowing each other…

    • avatar Jshizzle June 15, 2011, 7:13 pm

      My boyfriend’s cousin starting dating her boyfriend when she was 15 to his late twenties (creepy as hell, I know). She’s in her late twenties now and is still waiting for her proposal.

  • caitie_didnt caitie_didn't June 15, 2011, 8:29 pm

    Eh, I think JSW’s response was the best and the most to the point- this guy isn’t interested in marrying you, but he doesn’t want to destroy the status quo so he’s doing everything he can to stall.

    Personally, I think you should figure out your “timeline” in your head- not just when you’ll get engaged, but how long the engagement period will be, how long do you want to be child-free after marriage and ultimately, when you’d like to have children. Then, sit him down and calmly tell him that you are at a point in your life where you are starting to think about marriage and life-long commitment. Tell him that you’d like to be married before you have children (if that’s the truth for you), and that you’d like to have children before the age of X. Then tell him that you are giving him X months/weeks/years to have made a decision and that if he hasn’t proposed by then you’re going to walk. If he truly loves you and wants to spend his life with you, he’d sooner injure himself than let you walk out of his life.

  • avatar Quakergirl June 15, 2011, 8:31 pm

    I think the better question is why you would want to marry someone who mind-games you, doesn’t value marriage the way you do, who you worry might be seeking revenge over something that happened 7 years ago, and who you could picture intentionally hurting.

    First and foremost, you and your boyfriend don’t seem to be on the same page at all, about when to get married or even whether to get married. He just flat out doesn’t seem to value marriage or being married to you. Big whoop that his parents didn’t get married until he was 9– that doesn’t mean that’s how things have to work with you two, especially when you clearly don’t want to wait (and who could blame you). And honestly, most people who wait that long won’t get married. Those people are the exception, not the rule.

    Yet he seems to be going out of his way to make it seem like you’re the crazy one and undermine your very reasonable requests for some damn answers/ an actual commitment. “It won’t be special if you keep asking”– what kind of crap is that? And what kind of grown-ass man gives someone a promise ring? He’s 34 not 14! It sounds like he’s trying to make the absolute least amount of effort required to keep you pacified. He’s putting out the fires as they spark without fixing the faulty wire in the first place. If you want to marry him, tell him that you’re done with his patchwork fixes. Tell him you want to have an actual conversation with him about when he sees you two getting married– and most importantly, what being married means to him.

    It honestly sounds like neither one of you wants to be married to each other. Like you want to be each other’s partner no matter what, to support and love each other, to put each other first and prevent harm from coming to one another. But if you really, genuinely do, then you need to have a serious talk about it, and maybe see a couples counselor to try to work through these issues from your past.

  • avatar RoyalEagle0408 June 15, 2011, 8:42 pm

    1. It seems like he doesn’t see marriage in the same way as you. That might be your answer. Also, to answer the question of how long to wait- only you know the answer to that. I think you need to have a serious talk about where you both see things going and when you see them going there.

    2. It terrifies me that you’re not sure you could support yourself on your own. That is not a reason to stay with someone.

  • avatar convexed June 15, 2011, 8:48 pm

    Whatever you do, don’t helpfully ask him if he’s noticed that you haven’t brought it up lately!

  • katie Katie June 15, 2011, 9:09 pm

    you do need seem ready to be married, and your relatinship sounds like one that will head for divorce if you do end up getting married. im sorry, but thats what i think from your letter.

    there is no talk about how you want to be with him for the rest of your life, how you love him and your life with him is so amazing, ect, ect, ect. the only thing you do really say about your lives together is that you are scared to be alone because you share finances… yikes. red flag.

    i truely believe that if you really love someone, a marriage isn’t really necessary… not that you shouldn’t get married, or anything, but it is like something extra that some people want (and some dont!!). as i said above somewhere, a relationship should be so perfect that it doesn’t need a marriage to validate it or make it real. the marriage is in your lives, in your hearts, so to speak.

  • avatar Painted_lady June 15, 2011, 9:15 pm

    Someone mentioned control issues above, and LW, you mentioned you’re concerned he’s punishing you still for cheating on him all those years ago. I can’t tell from your letter why you think that, but if he is still bringing it up, why why why are you still with him? Do not let him continue to punish you, and if he is still bringing up the fact that you cheated on him, make it clear that this is not acceptable.

    I’m concerned about the dynamic you describe. With his demand to never discuss marriage, your demand that he marry you on your timeline – whether right or wrong – his keeping you on tenterhooks for six months without so much as breathing the dreaded M-word, the appeasement promise ring which sounds like SUCH a consolation prize, and your thinking about saying no if he ever does propose – which is a fantasy, I hope and will give you the benefit of the doubt that it is – and potential that he still holds an ancient offense over your head indicates that there’s a real power struggle and cycle of punishment and appeasement that may never be resolved. It may have to do with the fact that there was a great age and maturity disparity when you first started dating, which is very often the case for men I know who are attracted to women much younger than them. It would be one thing if you were fine with him holding all the power – that is one of the choices women have these days, and it works for some – but he wants all the power and you are clearly not okay with having no say in when or if you get married. While this may be the only instance where your power struggle is manifesting right now, I worry it may not be so in the future when job transfers, major financial decisions, approaches to raising children and so on require compromises that one or both of you may not be willing to make. I would look at this very carefully before you actually decide whether or not you want to marry this man. When you’re in the thick of a drawn-out disagreement like this, you can lose sight very easily of what it is you actually want versus “winning” the disagreement. This is not immature or selfish – it’s human.

    If you do decide you want to marry him after all – this is just a single bump in the road, or you’re okay with the power dynamic being what it is, then fine. Do what others have suggested and discuss, calmly, openly, in your own home and outside the hearing range of others at a point where you have the time to have a lengthy discussion, what his timeline is for marrying you. Assure him that you have no choice but to trust that he does want to marry you, and you are not asking that question, but that you need to know so that you can see how your timeline lines up with his – again, not an exact date of proposal, but rather a general idea. Ask him what his reasons are for his timeline if he has one. If he doesn’t have a timeline or doesn’t have good reasons in the moment, ask him if he needs a couple of days to sort it out, and then figure out then and there when you’re going to talk about it again (a couple of days at most). When you do get both his timeline and his reasons, then explain to him (WITHOUT arguing) what yours is and why. And you should figure out these things for yourself before you talk to him. You sound like you’re panicking even in this letter, and no one thinks clearly when they panic, so sitting down and putting all this together will help calm you and understand what your fears are as well. If he won’t engage in any part of the conversation, then you have your answer. Trust that there are men out there who do want to get married, and that there are men who you will want to marry and will want to marry you, and don’t waste another moment on a man who will lie to you just to keep you around.

  • avatar Sue Jones June 15, 2011, 9:44 pm

    Jeez, you all make such a big deal out of HIM proposing to YOU! My husband and I just looked at each other one morning and decided mutually to get married, or why don’t you propose to HIM? I just don’t get this waiting for the guy thing… maybe it is some leftover thing from more chivalrous days, but I was never the type to wait for the guy to make the decision… Oy!

    • avatar WatersEdge June 15, 2011, 9:59 pm

      It seems like you have missed the main problem, which is that he doesn’t appear to be ready to get engaged or married…

      • avatar Sue Jones June 16, 2011, 10:56 am

        Perhaps, and then she should MOA, but he SAYS he wants to get married, they live together, so it seems like they are moving in that direction, but she wants the RING, the fancy proposal, all the silly storybook stuff that has nothing to do with a real marriage. And she is being absolutely POUTY about that!

    • avatar demoiselle June 16, 2011, 8:03 am

      The old fancy formal proposal thing is a way to make women dependent on a man’s will/timeline. Like a patriarchal marriage (like in some super-religious families, where the man has control over EVERY decision) it can work well if you happen to already have a functional, intelligent, and emotionally healthy boyfriend/husband who doesn’t get off on control.

      But most people aren’t so lucky.

  • avatar Spark June 15, 2011, 9:58 pm

    A promise ring?!?!?! Seriously? A THIRTY-FOUR-YEAR-OLD man bought a promise ring?! a TWENTY-FIVE-YEAR-OLD woman wears a promise ring? I just can’t get over that. I’ve never even heard of that term outside of the adolescent world. At this age, it’s an engagement ring or it’s not. I’m sure it was a lovely gift, but to call it a promise ring at 25 and 34 just baffles me.

    • caitie_didnt caitie_didn't June 15, 2011, 10:52 pm

      I know, right? My first thought was “what type of grown ass man gifts his girlfriend with a “promise ring””??????

    • avatar Painted_lady June 16, 2011, 4:22 am

      It’s like, “Hey honey, here’s this bone. Take it and shut up. K thanks.”

      • avatar Jess June 16, 2011, 5:06 am

        promise ring at 25 and 34 = “I promise to put off actual commitment for as long as possible”

        • avatar Jess June 16, 2011, 5:07 am

          i didnt mean to post this twice, im having wordpress difficulties!

    • avatar Jess June 16, 2011, 5:05 am

      “I promise to put off actual commitment for as long as possible”

  • avatar Anna June 15, 2011, 10:59 pm

    In a lot of ways, I feel like I could have written this letter myself. However, there are plenty of details I would add and I disagreed with the part about saying “no” if he asks just to hurt him. I’ve been with my boyfriend for 8 years and lived together for 7 of them. We have a terrific relationship and I can’t imagine my life without him. We were only 19 and 20 when we met so I didn’t care about waiting to get married for many years. Now that I’m 27, I’m getting kinda antsy and picturing my uterus growing barren as we speak. We talk about the future a lot, and about what kind of parents we want to be to our future kids, but the marriage issue is our one big disagreement. He thinks we should just be together and have kids but not get married because according to him it’s just a stupid piece of paper and he doesn’t like “religious/legal” contracts like that. I refuse to have kids until after my wedding, and my wonderful birth control pills allow me to maintain that control.

    LW, you just have to decide how important marriage is to you and if it’s something you are willing to wait for or even possibly never do. I have decided it’s not something I can imagine my life without, so in my case I have decided if it doesn’t happen by this fall, I am going to MOA. I was lucky enough to be given my timeline by his family, who recently announced they are moving to NC in the fall. He has decided he wants to go to. I told him if there’s no ring on my finger, I’m not moving to a new place where my only support system is him and his family.

    I would advise that you make your decision, then set a timeline for the latest date you will accept a proposal. If there’s no ring, MOA.

  • avatar MiamiMe June 15, 2011, 11:57 pm

    As the LW I am compelled to respond and also clarify.
    First, saying I thought about saying No wasn’t the best example I could’ve used to express my emotional state. I should’ve said that engagement ring commercials make me so emotional I have to change the channel to keep from crying and getting depressed.

    He doesn’t hold the fact that I cheated over my head, on fact he never mentions it even when we argue. It is more my own internal worry. It’s me trying to figure out just why he hasn’t asked yet like one poster figured out earlier.

    As for the age gap he was hesitant to even date me until we got to know each other and we have a deep connection and bond.

    I am not a big wedding type and have told him I’d be happy if we got married at the court house. His sister had a big fancy wedding and pretty much broke his parent. I would never do that to my family. Besides the fact that I only have my Mom and Grandma we aren’t a rich family so I would pretty much be financing my own wedding. I’m not going to put myself in debt over a wedding when that money could go to a house or future children’s education.

    The primary thing about this is the COMMITMENT. We don’t live in a common law state so if anything happened to either of us neither of us would have any rights or even see each other in the hospital. They repealed Domestic Partnership in our state other wise that would have been fine by me and I have told him that.
    It’s the fact that I love him enough to be concerned about these thongs and have expressed them to him but yet I’m still waiting that urks me.

    You have all given great advice and I do plan to talk to him and ask him where he wants to be in a year as far as us goes. Regardless of his answer I will spend more time on me and start a second job, save some rainy day funds And set an internal timeline. However the cookie crumbles its about numero uno.

    Please keep commenting and thank you all!

    • avatar WatersEdge June 16, 2011, 9:01 am

      Stay calm during the discussion. Don’t let him tell you you’re nagging. Keep your wits about you so that he knows that you’re serious. Try not to cry. You have a right to know; this information is just as much about your life as it is about his. You are not being immature here. If he refuses to give you a straight answer again, I think it’s time to set the mental deadline and break up with him after a few more months of waiting.

      • avatar SpaceySteph June 16, 2011, 11:36 am

        I agree. My favorite thing from this site is “having needs isn’t the same thing as being needy.” Its ok to want to talk about these things, especially after 7 years knowing each other and living together.
        It distubs me that he makes you feel like you’re nagging and pestering and ruining his big proposal plans by asking for what you need. Beware the man who makes it all about what YOU are doing wrong.

    • parton_doll parton_doll June 16, 2011, 4:54 pm

      Good for you on setting the internal internal timeline. At least now you can organize your thoughts and your feelings and make a plan so that you can move forward in your life. I wish the best for you and will send positive thoughts your way!

    • avatar LTC039 June 16, 2011, 7:29 pm

      Miamime…totally unrelated but by any chance (if you’re comfortable with answering, of course) do you reside in Miami, FL?? It’s cool to see people on here from my same city!

  • avatar Kare June 16, 2011, 12:46 am

    I haven’t read all of the comments, but I just wonder about how the LW said she hasn’t brought up getting married in 6 months. I really believe the LW hasn’t brought up getting married, but she may somehow imply it. I know when something is on my mind it leaks into conversation. Even simple comments about how someone had this at their wedding or did that, or that dress is pretty. Again, I’m not going to assume that, but it’s something I do a lot without realizing it if something is worrying me.

    • avatar demoiselle June 16, 2011, 8:06 am

      If he punishes her for nagging for her unspoken expectations that he can read in her eyes and actions, then he’s really being a controlling ass… And it’s his fault because of his guilty conscience not hers for having feelings about her own life.

      This letter is making me really mad. :-(

      • avatar WatersEdge June 16, 2011, 9:02 am

        me too!

  • avatar fuzzpedals June 16, 2011, 6:08 am

    I don’t understand. If she would like to be married, why doesn’t she ask him? If he says no, she can move on. If he says yes, cool. She is making herself crazy by leaving another person in charge of a question that she really wants to know the answer to.

  • avatar demoiselle June 16, 2011, 7:58 am

    A man should be eager and happy to marry you. This man isn’t. And a good husband should not be emotionally manipulative and accuse you of “nagging” or of ruining his Great Secret Master Plan that He Won’t Tell You About just because you DARE to have an opinion and feelings about the course of your own life.

    You may get this man to marry you, but I doubt it will be a happy marriage. These mean, manipulative behaviors will not magically go away when you get engaged. They will get worse when you are married and further ensnared financially and legally.

    A good man does not treat someone he loves this way.

  • avatar evanscr05 June 16, 2011, 8:16 am

    One thing I’ve learned about men is that, regardless of what we women think, they are VERY good at making it obvious what their intentions are. When you are in a solid relationship, you start realizing this. As many people have said before on DW and the Frisky, if a man wants to be with you, he will be with you. If marriage is even a little bit on his radar, you WILL know. The fact that you have been together for 5+ years and you have no idea what his thoughts are on the matter just says to me that you are the not the person he wants to be with for the rest of his life. But do you know what? That is perfectly OKAY! Marriage is so much more than fairy tales and romantic comedys like to show. If this guy cannot fathom having a real conversation with you about your future and his level of commitment to you, then you need to MOA. But before you start talking to him about what he thinks, you need to have a real conversation with yourself about what YOU think. Why do you want to get married? Do you want to have kids? If so, how many? What’s your ideal timeline for having kids? Do you have other goals you want to accomplish (education, career, travel, etc.)? Do you want to be a working parent, or would you like to have the option to stay at home? Do you want to move? Would you relocate for your partner? There is so much to ask yourself before you can ask him. And you need to be honest with yourself. Don’t short change your future just because this particular guy is someone you’d LIKE to fit into your life, versus someone who just fits. And definitely DO NOT PROPOSE TO HIM! I can almost guarantee you that he will say no, you’ll be embarrassed, and the relationship will end without you ever really figuring out the things you want to know. If marriage is important to you (not the wedding, but the real, every day, life of marriage) but it isn’t to him, you have to MOA. If you can’t be compatible on that, someone will end up compromising and being resentful. I don’t understand why this is such a difficult thing for you. Relationships are not that hard, not when they work. If you guys can’t have open and honest communication, then this isn’t the right relationship for you.

  • Skyblossom Skyblossom June 16, 2011, 10:40 am

    I agree with so much that’s already been said. He probably doesn’t want to get married, you should be able to talk about your relationship, you do need to set a deadline. In the meantime, you can and should work on yourself and your own circumstances. If you could do anything what would you like to do? You have some time so think about it. Think about job training, what’s available in your area? Find a program you like and get started on your own independence. While he’s putting you off you can get started on your own future. You can be independant and you can have self-respect that is totally independant of him. One of the great things about being 25 is that you have lots of time to pull yourself up and still have time to find a fulfilling relationship after finding a fulfilling career. You can do it! Start looking into your options and see how your bf reacts. If he isn’t supportive then that tells you as much about him as his refusal to discuss the future of your relationship does. Use this time to build a strong foundation that will support you through the rest of your life.

  • avatar jessielyn June 16, 2011, 11:28 am

    First of all, a promise ring after you are out of high school is SO LAME!!!

    Second, you guys need to get on the same page about this. Like the comment about how long his parents waited. I know that I want to be married before having kids and that is just something that is important to me. If that is the case with you, then you need to communicate that to him. It sounds like you may have different views on what marriage means to each of you.

    I also agree with previous posters that it doesn’t sound like he is at all ready to marry you. And after 5 years, I feel like that is something that you should know by now. I didn’t see in your letter where he said I want to marry you and I am planning on asking you one day.

    Finally, and this is going to be all caps. DO NOT SHARE YOUR FINANCES UNTIL YOU ARE MARRIED!! This is such a bad idea I can’t even begin to tell you. At the very least, you need a separate account where you can save some money for you in case you need it.

    • avatar Jennifer June 16, 2011, 12:13 pm

      Even married people should have their own sources of money in case they need it.

  • avatar HmC June 16, 2011, 12:06 pm

    So many issues going on in this letter, I feel like I’m taking a law school exam and “issue spotting”. Anyhoo… lol at someone going crazy waiting when they are only 25. LW sounds like some typical wedding-crazy person that has no room left over to seriously contemplate whether a *marriage* is really even what they want or need at this point. Evidence of immaturity; considering the idea of saying “no” out of spite, nagging the boyfriend (having a serious conversation and discussing marriage is of course ok, but consistently nagging is counter-productive and just annoying), and lastly, “I am slightly scared to leave for fear I may not be able to live off what I make alone”. Um. You’re not only staying, but nagging for marriage, because you’re “slightly scared to leave”? Because of finances? Staying with someone because it’s easier than leaving is asking for disaster.

    Girl, you are all over the place. You need to figure out what you want, and *why* you want it. Marriage is fucking serious business. Maybe that one year you had alone was not enough for the soul searching you mentioned wanting.

    • avatar MiamiMe June 16, 2011, 12:34 pm

      AGH! Again, I am the LW, I am not a wedding crazed person LOL I have even told him that I’d be fine getting married at the court house! Its about the commitment like I posted before. I should’ve clarified better. I dont feel that I nag. I attempt to have a serious conversation about it. I dont whine or say “Where is my D@MN RING YOU A-HOLE?” I ask him seriously, Why havent we taken that step? His response is always something along the lines of financial blah blah blah. Which doesnt even make sense since I DO NOT WANT A BIG WEDDING! I’ve told him that it makes me feel like crap. Just like Watersedge said: it feels like he’s rejecting her(me) every single day. So she(me) wants to reject him back, but she(me) can’t. I love him and all but I’m tired of waiting on him. I want to feel special enough for a man to marry me on his own accord. I dont want to beg him to marry me. I asked him last night Where he wants to be in a year and this was his response in the exact order: Bigger house, two cars, better job. I asked if there is anything else and he laughed and said he didnt want to say it because he knew that I had asked him just to see if he’d say “be engaged already”. “I want that but didnt want to say it because thats all you want to hear”. I’m giving him (in my head, didnt tell him) 8 months. Thats By Feb 2012. If he hasnt got it together I’m gone. End of Story. I REFUSE to wait around for him and would be almost 26 at that time so at least I would give myself time for me before feeling like my biological clock is ticking. He’s also said stuff like “OMG you’re 25 not 35! Why are you stressing?” Which to mean sounds like you all are right, hes never going to ask. So there. I’ve talked to him and set my own mental deadline and I look forward to updating you all in 8 months!

      • avatar SpaceySteph June 16, 2011, 12:42 pm

        Oh goodness. Please use the 8 months to start saving up to move out. I am really worried about the way he’s toying with you by not saying it because he knows its what you want to hear.
        Seriously a year from now he wants a bigger hour, a new car, a better job, but not you? Meanwhile saying that finances are what is keeping him from marrying you. He sounds like a jerk. He sounds materialistic and mean, too. I think your 8 months is very generous… I would say “the moment I have enough for first/last/security deposit in my personal separate account I’m out.”

      • avatar HmC June 16, 2011, 12:49 pm

        “I want to feel special enough for a man to marry me on his own accord.”

        Your self worth should not be based on what any man does or does not want to do with you. Chill out. To be brutally honest, you sound to me like someone that needs to be alone for a while.

        • avatar Maracuya June 16, 2011, 2:40 pm

          Are you just saying this to be mean? I think everyone wants to feel like they shouldn’t have to nag to get engaged. She means that him constantly rejecting her (and his response does not sound nice) makes her feel like she’s not special.

          • avatar HmC June 16, 2011, 3:02 pm

            I didn’t say it to be mean, no. It was my honest impression. Basing your opinion of yourself and how special you think you are on whether a man will marry you strikes me as very sad. But your explanation makes sense too. I dunno… we always have limited information here. If my response was harsh I apologize, but it was certainly my honest impression.

      • avatar Kristen June 16, 2011, 1:04 pm

        Just wanted to give you some encouragement and applaud you for moving toward a resolution, one way or the other. Getting married is obviously very important to you, so to me, it shows disrespect when he purposely leaves that off of his goals list “just because you want to hear it.” If he doesn’t want to get married, he should man up and tell you so you can find someone who does. Right now, he’s just keeping you on the hook because past experience has shown him that you’ll let him stay in this limbo area where he gets all the benefits of your love and commitment without having to actually marry you (which he knows is one of your priorities). Please take the other writers’ advice and busy yourself with things that will enrich YOUR life. Take a class, pick up kickboxing, volunteer at the animal shelter… whatever it is that makes you happy. One of two things will happen: He’ll either notice you’re not around or as “needy” anymore and will miss you and realize he’ll do whatever it takes to keep you in his life, or he’ll stay the same and not change anything. Either way, you’ll have an answer. I know this must be really tough for you; you’ve been with him for so long that anything else seems unfeasible. But you can do this! It will feel so good to take back control of the course of your own life.

        • avatar MiamiMe June 16, 2011, 2:45 pm

          DO you personally know me? LOL Animal Shelter is def something I want to do!LOL

          • avatar Kristen June 16, 2011, 4:31 pm

            Awesome! I think you should do it.

      • avatar Monica M June 16, 2011, 1:49 pm

        You sound found very mature and you have really thought all this out. I know you care for this guy but I must say that the way he talks to you is degrading. I wish you the best and I think you have a good plan.

      • Skyblossom Skyblossom June 16, 2011, 2:18 pm

        He does sound mean to the point that you’re fantasizing about being mean in return. I think that says as much as anything about where your relationship stands.

      • avatar silver_dragon_girl June 16, 2011, 2:26 pm

        God, he laughed? It’s like he’s playing with you, trying to see how long he can string you along before you leave. I’d say 3 months, not 8. Find yourself an apartment, STAT. If money is what’s holding you back, get out there and look for a roommate.

        You do sound very mature about this, and the more you update the more immature he sounds…best of luck!

      • avatar Maracuya June 16, 2011, 2:37 pm

        What he laughed? “I didn’t want to say it because that’s all you want to hear.” Why not just be upfront? Is it a bad thing? God.

        You sound very mature. I think 8 months sounds like a good timeline. You love him and you genuinely do want to marry him, and I don’t think you should rush out of the house even though other commenters are saying so. I know how long it takes to build a comfortable nest egg. Use this time to better yourself.

      • avatar Anna June 16, 2011, 6:38 pm

        Good for you! Now that you’ve set your own timeline, start preparing yourself for the worst: possibly leaving him. When that deadline comes, if there’s no ring on your finger you have to be strong and move on. There is a man out there who will want to spend his life with you as your husband. Good luck!

        As a woman who is in the same boat in an 8 year relationship (with a much closer deadline), I am dealing with the same conflicted feelings about leaving. But I know I must be strong.

  • avatar Monica June 16, 2011, 1:29 pm

    I had a similar situation with my now husband. We were together 5 years before he proposed and then almost another year before we got married last February. My advice to you, just try to calm down about it and it will happen. Looking back, I bugged him about it so much I’m surprised he proposed at all. At the time, I didn’t think I was nagging, but I totally was. Once I realized that I was annoying myself (and him) about getting married, I made a conscious decision not to bring it up anymore. He proposed on our 5th anniversary. So, just wait it out and I’m sure he’ll do it when he’s ready.

  • avatar Thomas June 17, 2011, 8:47 pm

    How about telling him that this is bothering you, and telling him he has a year to decide if he wants to marry you. Any time during that year he can surprise you with a proposal. If not, then you know what to do.

  • avatar Claire June 20, 2011, 12:15 pm

    You’re waiting for a proposal and he keeps putting it off using an excuse that has nothing to do with money or logistics. In fact, he tells you you’re nagging. As far as I’m concerned, playing the ‘you’re nagging’ card is what lazy men do when they want to shut down a conversation. I certainly don’t tolerate that from my husband.

    I have found that waiting for a vaugly promised proposal is silly and time consuming. If I communicate that I’d like to commit fully to a man and he doesn’t feel the same way (after YEARS of co-habitation), meh, it’s time to move on. Or if he agrees with me in words but not in actions, he’s wasting my time. Co-dependence is not such a hot reason to stay with someone who shames you for expressing reasonable feelings.

    That being said, low self-esteem will not be fixed with a diamond solitare. I would question why I needed his proposal so badly that I’d wait 5 years for it. Why am I not okay on my own? Why do I accept unacceptable behavior? Why is money such a big deal to me that I’m willing to stay with someone who doesn’t share my goals for the future?

    Sure, a lot of EVERYONE’S thoughts are immature. That’s unavoidable. How we react to them is the true litmus test of maturity.

  • avatar Kate September 3, 2011, 3:26 am

    Look, the cold hard truth is a man knows if he wants to marry you sooner rather than later. They make their minds up MUCH sooner than women do. That said, if your boyfriend wanted to marry you, he would have. A year is the maximum time I think a woman should give a man to propose. Not as some kind of ultimatum deadline, but to show you that he doesn’t want to live without you. Him saying he “wants to marry you” if only you “didn’t talk about it,” just tells me he’s stringing you along. Incidentally, 99% of promise rings are purchased by men trying to buy time…in my opinion and experience anyway. I think you being weak in a financial sense might be another way he keeps you by his side and afraid to demand a commitment. If marriage is important to you, then stop wasting time with someone who doesn’t want what you want. Start trying to ensure your own financial security so you can begin to break away from him. Life is too short and you are too young to be waiting around for someone who isn’t scared silly by the idea of not being with you forever.

  • avatar Amber June 2, 2012, 6:01 pm

    “and that by doing so I’m going to ruin it if he does propose. “You keep talking about it and then if I do ask it will seem like I’m only asking because of your nagging. Even if I’ve planned it months in advance.”

    The quote above is hot evidence of her boyfriend’s immaturity. At his age he still thinks he’s got to make it this big “to-do” surprise? OP has already expressed her wish for further committment. Like the 2 adults they are they should be able to figure it out. I call b.s. on him. He doesn’t want to marry her and she needs to move on. This relationship is toxic.

  • avatar DMR June 2, 2012, 8:57 pm

    1. He wants to emulate his parents, who didn’t get married until they’d been together for over a decade. For some, it’s a bit of a rebellious thing against social institutions to not get married. I know this because I used to be that way. (since married and divorced but now a marriage believer)

    2. But as LW says in comments: “We don’t live in a common law state so if anything happened to either of us neither of us would have any rights or even see each other in the hospital.”
    LW, play that to the hilt. Tell him that probably nothing bad will ever happen, but you would hate to be caught in the situation of needing it.

    3. Second piece of advice for the LW. If you really want it, then here’s a concession that you can make to close the deal. Tell him you don’t want an expensive wedding. Tell him it should be small and low key. Tell him that it would be irresponsible and shallow of you to demand he blow all his hard earned money buying you a princess fantasy. Suggest that the two of you head off into the mountains in North Georgia for the weekend with a few friends, and be done with it.

    • avatar DMR June 2, 2012, 10:11 pm

      OOps. Just realized this thread is a year old. Never mind.

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